My book The Victorian Planning System: Practice, Problems and Prospects is now available from Federation Press.
My book Movie Towns and Sitcom Suburbs is out now through Palgrave Macmillan.
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RCI Planning is my consultancy providing expert advice, VCAT advocacy and statutory planning services in the Victorian planning system.
Monthly Archives: October 2008
WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
Note: this review includes spoilers and my usual rambling ruminations about animation in general.
“There’s something warm and inviting about most animation in just about any classic Disney animated feature, and computers are just never going to pull it off.”
– Thad Komorowski, reviewing WALL-E
Pixar’s WALL-E is a refreshing change of pace. When almost all the productions of their rivals involved a group of animals teaming up and sharing an adventure (a format that even Pixar’s last film, Ratatouille, shared), Pixar have instead gone for a science fiction parable. The result retains their patented sweetness, but gives it a welcome sense of renewal. Pixar’s recent output had been invigorated by the recruitment of the immensely talented Brad Bird, but there was a feeling that Bird’s contribution to The Incredibles and Ratatouille might have been camouflaging a slide in the studio’s work. Certainly Cars, on which Bird did not work, was relatively dull and conventional. WALL-E, however, was written and directed by one of Pixar’s in-house talents, Andrew Stanton (who directed Finding Nemo and co-directed A Bug’s Life), and it shows that there is still a creative spark at Pixar beyond Brad Bird.
Coming out and calling for the government to spend up big on public transport can seem a little naïve. “More trains! More trams!” Such calls are seen as the business of lobbyists, not professional planners, who must face up to infrastructure costs and political realities. Two contributions to Planning News in the last 12 months, for example, have made valid criticisms of pie-in-the-sky transport advocacy. In the December 2007 issue, Gavin Alford wrote of the difficulties planners face in avoiding simply delivering wish-lists of proposals that are unlikely to be delivered. A related thought was expressed by Peter Jewell in March 2008, when he reminded planners that “public transport is not a panacea,” and questioned how much public transport improvements could realistically be expected to achieve. These comments pinpoint a real difficulty in talking about public transport. Demanding better infrastructure can become a cop-out: unless we’re the Premier or Transport Minister, it’s somebody else’s problem. At the level of day-to-day practice, Alford and Jewell are right to warn us off such an approach.