Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Seven weren't even the best Australian olympic broadcaster (SBS); how can they possibly win any world award?

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

while i'm in a blogging mood...

I inadvertently had a weekend during which I watched a lot of movies. On Saturday I picked up my IMDB list and settled on The Day The Earth Stood Still - the 1951 original, not the current Nenanu remake (which I haven't seen, which I won't see, and which I am nonetheless quite prepared to put in a basket with other crap remakes of classic films). The film does a good job at the science fiction edict of using tehnology as a McGuffin in order to shine a light on some aspects of human nature. Perhaps its more by the accident of a stretched budget than by design, but the film also does a good job of using special effects matter-of-factly and not letting them overshadow the film's story and message (a restraint I can't imagine being respected by the remake). Also, the performance by its lead, Michael Rennie, is surprisingly good for an early film of a genre not known for acting.

On Sunday Mick brought round a DVD of Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, an ensemble drama with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei. Its essentially a character study of family members perpetuating and dealing with an event that messes with their identities and relationships. The performances are strong, and although the first half of the film has some pacing problems - it seems to hurry the event itself in a rush to explore its consequences - it's a solid effort.

Come Sunday evening, the next IMDB flick picked out was The Sweet Smell of Success. Burt Lancaster headlines ahead of Tony Curtis, but in reality its Curtis' film, and a pretty solid one, about the New York journalism/gossip machine but mixed with a nice dose of charisma, fuelled by that pre-70s style of scriptwriting that died with the mainstreaming of realist dialogue.

I had an ambitious plan to turn it into a double feature, and started watching Fritz Lang's Metropolis. I was impressed by what I saw, particularly in terms of the scope of the technical achievement, but my eyes had been bigger than their capacity to stay open, so I had to abandon after 40 minutes.  To be continued...

My IMDB list progress has essentially stayed stagnant over the last month or two at roughly 230/250. My plan is to get that up towards 240 over the coming break, and hit the line some time in the new year.

5% is bollocks

The government yesterday announced their intention to cut emissions by 5% from 2000 levels. Not only is this at the lowest end of what had been predicted (between 5 and 25%), but it is against 2000 levels, and not against 1990 levels. I understand that it is comparable on a per-capita basis to the reductions discussed by the EU of 20% from 1990 levels, but this argument only holds water if you think that developed, higher per-capita emitters should not be aiming to reduce their emissions by more than others, which I don't think is valid. It is by any measure a very conservative commitment, and the industry reps are doing everything they can to keep from grinning in the press they are doing (while the environmental lobbyists are doing everything they can to keep from yelling or crying).

To make it worse, the scheme will be accompanied by a rash of middle-class ("working families") and corporate welfare, the former to the extent that they will be reimbursed more than 100% of the increase in costs due to emissions trading, making behavioural change towards lower energy consumption much less likely. With a budget already slipping into deficit, this was a prime opportunity to break from the contemporary populist politic at throwing cash at the mortgage belt, but it seems that Rudd lacks the courage or inclination to do so. 

The government also mentioned a cut of 15% in the event that a consensus is reached amongst the key countries in global talks (including Copenhagen). However, having failed to commit to a significant reduction ourselves, it will now be very difficult for Australia to play any significant diplomatic role in the negotiation of significant global targets.

This sort of scheme was one of the key reasons that I voted Labour at the last election (not that I ever could have voted for a Howard government candidate), and as such I am very, very disappointed. They have followed a process (they are known for following processes) to get what I've heard described as a very sound scheme, but have wilted under pressure when it comes to configuring it (certainly with a reduction target, and in my opinion in terms of compensation, as well).

Between this and the clean feed debacle (which I haven't blogged about, yet), as well as other areas (education, for instance) upon which they promised much but have delivered little, my optimism of a year ago has much faded. More and more when I look at politics I am finding that I like (Tanner, Gillard, occasionally Turnbull) or dislike (Conroy, Pyne, Bishop) individuals, but can find little to like about the parties and their policies. Its unlikely that this will change my broader voting tendencies - Howard's legacy is still too much in evidence, both in my memory and in parliament - but it is loosening them to the point where a genuinely good candidate on either side (I've never really had the chance to vote for such in the House) could change my vote in a specific contest.

To summarise, partly for Ali's benefit, 5% is bollocks.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

neither a borrower nor a lender be

Shakespeare was wrong on that point; I love lending people things.

Last night, Andy told me that he had started on the IMDB 250 list, and had seen about 70 or so. Watching those films has been one of my great pleasures over the last 4 or 5 years, and I relished the chance to talk up old films that he might otherwise be deferring (he's quite reasonably starting with the more recent films). I also managed to lend him a few of my DVDs to further his quest - Rear Window, Vertigo, Lawrence of Arabia and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I always get a buzz when I can relay my enjoyment of films to other people, and especially when I can put the film in their hand to make it happen.

Movies are probably my bigger passion, but I've had similar experiences, albeith to a lesser extent, and probably with a little less success (I heartily recommended Ilium and Quicksilver to Lee and Ali respectively, but they haven't gotten far with them, AFAIK) with books and music, too.