Monthly Archives: December 2011

Jim Schembri Makes Me Facepalm

"He said WHAT?"

I don’t know if a critic can be said to be trolling if he’s published by a major newspaper, but Jim Schembri is surely coming close with this piece on why Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked is a better piece of animation than Tintin.

My problem is not with the central thesis. I love championing of so-called “low” movies, and I love it when critics find things in a movie they think others have overlooked. I haven’t subjected myself to Alvin 3, and am not about to simply to see if Schembri is right. But just taking the Tintin side of the equation here, the article is full of comments that don’t add up.

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Stalking the Movies

My post a while back about the changes to L.A. since the 1940s got me thinking again about the experience of visiting real movie locations, something I wrote about a few years ago (here). As I said then, it can be quite an uncanny experience visiting the spot where a familiar movie scene was filmed. What has changed since that post, though, is the roll-out of Google’s Street View. Where seeing the real locations where movies were shot was once something of a pilgrimage, these days we can do it virtually. So I thought it would be fun to find a few familiar or iconic locations on Street View.

Unlike my earlier post, I don’t have any larger point to make about changes to the city as a result of this post. I just thought it would be interesting. Perhaps you see no point in dong this… if so, fair enough. Move along, there’s nothing to see here…

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Merry Christmas, from YouTube

Tim Minchin’s Christmas song White Wine in the Sun is now pretty well known in Australia I think – or at least no longer obscure enough to seem novel when posted on a website like this. But I want to post it anyway, and I figure it will be new at least to any overseas readers who haven’t been chased away by my articles about Victorian urban planning. What I like so much about it is that it so completely and comprehensively rejects two of the cores of traditional Christmas iconography – the religious underpinnings and the northern hemisphere winter imagery – but gets instead to the core of what Christmas is (or should be) all about.

While I’m posting Christmas clips from YouTube: another favourite of mine is this duet by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, recorded for television in 1977. It’s such a strange juxtaposition of talent, and very corny, and yet it works. There’s something about Bing Crosby’s voice, in particular, that evokes Christmas in a very profound Pavlovian way for me.

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Fixing the Victorian Planning System: Six Key Issues

building the new city

What follows is a slightly edited version of my submission to the Underwood review into the operation of the Victorian Planning System (I wrote about that review back in June). With the committee due to report back early in the new year, I thought it would be timely to post it here since it’s one of the longer pieces I’ve written about the systemic problems with the Victorian planning system. A couple of points have been altered slightly to make it read better in this context, but mostly it’s as submitted.

I took a long time to post it as I have some reservations about it. I would have liked to have covered more nitty-gritty issues, which would have allowed me to be more specific and hence more constructive. Unfortunately time – and more particularly, a disillusioned sense that I wasting mine – got the better of me, so it ended up tackling just a few of the higher level systemic issues, rather than delving into detail. A more comprehensive overview of my take on the problems with the system would be gleaned by taking this in combination with the article Building a Better System that I co-wrote for Planning News (from which parts of this are cribbed), as well as my submission to the review of the Planning & Environment Act.

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New Zealand

Some snaps from my recent trip to New Zealand. Most of these are from the Routeburn Track. All are clickable for a better look over on flickr.

Abel Tasman National Park

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The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg, 2011)

I don’t need to re-cap the level of anticipation to which I ascended in the lead-up to Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Hergé’s classic comic strip series The Adventures of Tintin; my salivating is all preserved on-line. Getting worked up ahead of the fact is part of the fun with modern blockbusters, but it means that actually seeing the film can often be a let-down. Amongst the recent mega-franchises we probably have to go back to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy to find one that truly lived up the hype; at the other end of the spectrum, and far more common of late, are wretched let downs like Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Tintin arrives heralded to the screen by both Jackson (as producer) and Spielberg (as director), so the form line for this was mixed. The good news is that their adaptation does justice to the source material and lives up to the expectations. I loved The Adventures of Tintin.

One of the key things that fuelled expectations was the talented triumvirate of geek favourites that Spielberg and Jackson had snared for screenwriting duties: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish. The trio have done well in forging a largely seamless hybrid of Hergé’s The Crab with the Golden Claws and The Secret of the Unicorn, with a few small details from other books thrown in for good measure. The start of the film recalls the tone of Hergé’s earlier Tintin stories, with Tintin entering into an adventure accompanied only by his brave and faithful dog Snowy; in the latter portions, Tintin meets and then teams up with the irascible drunkard Captain Haddock. Their quest is to locate a series of parchments which, together, will provide a clue to the location of a hidden treasure; racing them to the target is the murderous Sakharine. The adventure takes Tintin from Europe to north Africa and back again.

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