Monthly Archives: November 2008

Good Bond

Quantum of Solace (Marc Forster, 2008)

The new Bond film, Quantum of Solace, is a strange beast indeed. It aggressively imitates the rival Jason Bourne spy franchise; and yet despite that derivativeness, it somehow manages to impart a sense of renewal and vigour to the Bond series. In that sense it continues the work started by Casino Royale admirably. And while it doesn’t always feel like a Bond film, it does feels like those at the helm are actually concentrating – something that was missing in plenty of more identifiably “Bondian” entries in the franchise.

It starts mid-chase, in the immediate aftermath of Casino Royale, thus reviving the idea of film-to-film plotting that had been used (albeit more loosely) in the sixties Bond films. Bond is still smarting from the death of Vesper Lynd, and he’s following the leads she left him to try to find the organisation that was backing the previous film’s villain, Le Chiffre. Quantum thus gives a sense both of the film that should have followed the death of Bond’s wife in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and also of what the previous “renegade Bond out for revenge” film Licence to Kill should have been. It also very strongly echoes The Bourne Supremacy, right down to the icy Russian epilogue.

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Up Trailer Up

Here’s the new trailer for Pixar’s Up:

I like this a lot. As many others have noted – as early as the appearance of the first concept art – this whole project has a strong Miyazaki vibe. Again, Pixar seem willing to nudge their material in a slightly more whimsical direction: perhaps they did, in fact, learn something from their excursion into formulaic mediocrity with Cars.

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I occasionally feel like I should just give up on this site and just re-register this site under the domain name As I said at the start of October, other writing and projects have been taking me away from the website. But I can still find time to point out something good that Bordwell has written. This time, it’s his fantastic post looking at the US election campaign, and the attempts by Republicans and Democrats to shape “narratives” around the candidates, from the point of view of one of our foremost theorisers of cinematic narrative. Head on over: it’s a great read.

A far less intellectually rigorous link between the election and films was offered by the inimitable Shaun Micallef on Newstopia:

Watching it all unfold over the last twelve to eighteen months, it struck me how similar it is to the film Trading Places. An elaborate social experiment with Barak Obama in the Eddie Murphy role, elevated to a position of great power and influence in a normally Anglo-Saxon world. John McCain is the Dan Aykroyd character: moneyed, born to rule, and forced to work with a woman he normally wouldn’t be seen dead with. In the end, the combined efforts of Obama / Murphy and McCain / Aykroyd wipe out the share value of all the stocks owned by the people who put them where they are.

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Us, Them, and Reform

Originally published as an editorial under a joint by line with Tim Westcott and Gilda Di Vincenzo in Planning News 34, no. 10 (November 2008): 4.

In last month’s Planning News, Tim Biles made a call for reform from within (“Reflections on Reform School”). Citing the unhappy experience of friends who had been trying to get a simple renovation through Council, he queried whether “the rule book and its policies have become the refuge of the faint hearted,” and made the following call for change:

Is there something simple you could do to make our planning system more effective? To put a smile and not a snarl on the face of the constituents we are meant to serve? Is it possible that this change, the ideas for reform, could well up from the bottom rather than be left to others at the top?

We salute, and heartily endorse, Biles’ call for self-examination in the profession. Yet we would add one major qualifier to his comments. Because Biles writes as one of the state’s most longstanding and respected private consultants, and frames his comments in the context of an account of the difficulties dealing with an unnamed Council, these comments could be seen as a call from one side of the profession to the other to lift their game. That’s an impression we think should be dispelled. There is no point in advocating for introspection if that becomes call for others to take a good look at themselves.

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