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: June 2011
Super 8 (J.J. Abrams, 2011)
With Super 8, J.J. Abrams pays tribute to a body of work that some feel Hollywood has been methodically aping for thirty years: Steven Spielberg’s work of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Yet even if you accept the Peter Biskind “Hollywood drank Spielberg’s Kool Aid and was forever changed” school of thought – about which I said a bit more here – you’d have to acknowledge that it was a particular aspect of Spielberg’s filmmaking that Hollywood latched on to. The lesson everybody seemed to learn from Jaws, Close Encounters, and E.T. (plus George Lucas’ Star Wars) was that people were after escapist, wonder-inducing science fiction and fantasy. What almost all of the imitators didn’t understand, or couldn’t replicate, was Spielberg’s knack for depicting the real world setting and the domestic backdrop against which the adventure took place. That, of course, was what made the transition to the extraordinary and other-worldly in Spielberg’s work so effective. What makes Super 8 really interesting, albeit not completely successful, is the care Abrams devotes to replicating that more mundane side of the Spielberg formula.
A round up of various photos that I haven’t posted previously.
In posting these I make no great claim for their quality. I know the difference between my amateur efforts and really good photography. But this is my site, so I post my photos, modest as my efforts are.
All are clickable for a better view over on flickr.
So the Victorian Planning Minister, Matthew Guy, has established an Advisory Committee to “overhaul” the Victorian planning system. Talk about a mixture of feelings.
It’s worth reflecting on how many reviews there have been into the functioning of the Victorian system since the major overhaul in the 1990s that produced the VPPs. In terms of reviews or audits of either the overall operation of the system, or very substantial parts of it, we have the following:
- Better Decisions Faster: Opportunities to Improve the Planning System in Victoria (August 2003)
- Cutting Red Tape in Planning (August 2006)
- Making Local Policy Stronger – Report of the Ministerial Working Group on Local Planning Policy (June 2007)
- Melbourne 2030: Audit Expert Group Report (March 2008)
- Victoria’s Planning Framework for Land Use and Development (May 2008)
- Modernising Victoria’s Planning Act (various discussion papers throughout 2009)
It’s a bit shocking just putting the list together. That doesn’t include the various reports into particular bits of the system, such as the smaller system reviews still noted as active (as I write, this includes the controls for advertising signs, home based business, the residential zones, parking provisions, retail policy, and the State Planning Policy Framework) and a few others that seem to have gone AWOL (such as the review of the heritage overlays, or the functioning of Section 173 Agreements).
Update:Ain’t it Cool have now posted the full Spielberg interview referred to in this post: it’s here and well worth a read for Jaws fans.
Ain’t it Cool have released some snippets of a forthcoming interview with Steven Spielberg that are at once infuriating and gratifying.
Gratifying, in that Spielberg confirms that the Blu-Ray of Jaws (forthcoming at an undisclosed date) will have no Star Wars Special Edition-style alterations. Spielberg, it should be remembered, practically invented the modern craze for re-cutting movies with his “Special Edition” of Close Encounters in 1980. That movies’ muddied history shows both the best and worst of this kind of thing. The cut he eventually came up with the second time he revisited the film, in 1998, is in my view the best version of the film. Yet between 1980 and 1998 he managed to keep the original version out of circulation, prompting Pauline Kael’s memorable complaint that “…when you remember something in a movie with pleasure and its gone, you feel as if your memories had been mugged.” George Lucas’ butchering of Star Wars has become the key example of this kind of chicanery, although Spielberg’s recut E.T. is very nearly as bad.
I genuinely enjoy being an urban planner. But this video, it has to be said, has an awful lot of depressing truth in it.
For a more serious take on the subject of planner’s despair and self-loathing, see my post from the other day here.
Perusing through the Melbourne Curious blog alerted me to the fact that Australian Screen have some amazing historical footage of my home city, Melbourne, available for viewing and download. It got me thinking again about the role that films play in preserving a record of our built environment.
Before I expand on those thoughts, here’s a sample of the stuff they have. There’s extracts from Marvellous Melbourne: Queen City of the South, a film from 1910 by Charles Cozens Spencer. It gives a great sense of the feel of Melbourne’s streets at that time.