Monthly Archives: September 2009

Polanski’s Repulsion

The arrest of Roman Polanski on the outstanding warrant for the 1977 charges of unlawful intercourse with a minor has brought new attention to an aspect of the directors’ life that many still find murky. It will also no doubt revive interest in Marina Zenovich’s Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, the documentary on Polanski that played at the Melbourne International Film Festival last year (which I reviewed here). With some reservations – explained in my review – I recommend the documentary for those who are finding the complex history of Polanski’s charge, trial and exodus confusing.

What I find both interesting and disturbing is, as I noted in that review, the extent to which Polanski has been rehabilitated into public life. These are, after all, very serious child sex charges, and normally our society would see nothing as more unforgivable. There are some mild mitigating factors, but nothing that comes even close to excusing what Polanski – even by his own account – did. Yet somehow excuses seem to be made for Polanski, to the point where we need articles like Kate Harding’s outraged reminder that Polanski raped a child to bring the focus back on the original crime.

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Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009)

As I suggested back in 2007, when reviewing Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, anyone trying to make an old-school intellectually-driven “hard” science fiction film faces a battle against both familiarity and economics. Familiarity, in that the key works in the genre (2001, Solaris, Silent Running, Dark Star, and so on) have mined so much of the territory available against the genre that it can be hard for newcomers to find new creative territory. And economics, in that those who finance such movies struggle with the constraint that in order to afford the special effects their plots require, they may get pushed to include action and spectacle that is at odds with the more cerebral thrust of their story. Boyle struggled gallantly with both constraints without quite prevailing over them, but now we have Duncan Jones’ Moon to demonstrate decisively that it is still possible to make smart, original science fiction that isn’t intimidated by history.

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Climate Change, Sustainability, and… (falls asleep)

CH2Originally published as an editorial under a joint by-line with Tim Westcott and Gilda Di Vincenzo in Planning News 35, no. 8 (September 2009): 4.

Have we allowed sustainability to become a boring topic? Is it increasingly tempting to flick past the articles in Planning News and elsewhere that stress the urgency of action on climate change with nothing more than a quick “yep, know that” shrug?

If you can relate to this guilty impulse, we have a problem. Sustainability ought to be our core business as planners. The primary rationale for having a planning profession is surely because in some situations the market, left to its own devices, can lead to bad outcomes: is there a better example of this than environmental degradation? (Indeed it is, quite literally, the textbook example: remember the “tragedy of the commons?”) There surely can’t be a bigger challenge for this and the next generation of planners than ensuring more sustainable communities. Anecdotally, an urge to help plan a more ecologically sound built environment is central to the reasons many of our keen young planners enter the profession.

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