Monthly Archives: April 2013

News That’s Fit To Punt – 23/Apr/2013

Why You Can’t Trust Inflation Figures

The curious case of mismatched experiences of inflation against the official figures has been something interesting for some time. Here’s an article that attempts to explain the gap.

The secret lies in the “basket” of goods and services the Bureau of Statistics uses to measure the consumer price index (CPI) each quarter.
About 40 per cent of the “basket” consists of tradables, goods that have prices determined on the world markets, such as clothing and electronics. The bureau deems goods as tradable if more than 10 per cent is exported or imported.

The other items are non-tradables – goods and services that have to be consumed where they are bought, such as rent, utilities, insurance and education.

“When you look at the path of tradables and non-tradables, what you see is the domestically generated prices in services have been growing much more strongly in the past five years than tradables prices,” JPMorgan economist Ben Jarman said.

One the one hand, non-tradable inflation – also known as domestic inflation – has remained over 3 per cent for the most of the past decade, while tradables have experienced deflation brought about by the strong Australian dollar, Commonwealth Bank chief economist Michael Blythe said about the “two-speed divide” in an economic note.

It’s been an interesting few years since the GFC. Australia has somehow managed to claw on to the asset price gains before the GFC in property, and regained much of the value in share markets. Unemployment hasn’t exactly exploded, but our productivity has caved in (more on that later). The problem of the mismatch then seems to come from the fact that our property bubble largely remains unpopped, and that we’re slowly grinding our way down so that the property values fall back in line with historic norms. This is possibly why the RBA remains steadfast in keeping rates higher. They’re looking to slow the rush to property as much as possible while the market readjusts.

Which leads me to this article here about the rising costs in Australia.

In the past 11 years Australia has become one of the most expensive places to live, costlier than New York, London, Frankfurt and Singapore on everything from five-star hotels, car rentals, public transport, a pint of beer, cigarettes, jeans and an iPhone.

The survey, compiled by Deutsche Bank on prices and price indices on a range of products collected largely from the internet, concludes the US is the cheapest developed country in the world and Australia and Japan two of the more expensive.

According to the survey, Sydney remains the most expensive place for a weekend away, almost double the cost of a weekend holiday in New York. To put it into perspective, New Zealand weekend getaways are 25 per cent cheaper than in New York.

Singapore-based Deutsche Bank global strategist Sanjeev Sanyal said the survey is a survey of prices and deliberately does not try to explain the data. It is more a case that the price comparisons speak for themselves and in Australia’s case it is massively more expensive on most goods and services. Like all surveys that compare prices, there will be some distortions but even if these are stripped out, a basic trend has been captured that is disturbing in a global context.

Australia is part of a global community operating in a competitive world. When prices are relatively higher than the rest of the world it raises questions about how we can compete and how do we become less expensive?

This is peculiar and interesting because if the first article tells us that inflation figures are somewhat distorted by the basket of goods used to measure the inflation, then the second article points out that it’s been going on for a long time – so much so that our situation is untenable.

The funny thing about markets is that if there’s a greater fool to pay the price for something, then there’s a market for that price. When you think about it, this greater fool philosophy has driven such things as Westfield rent price rises to Sydney property markets to prices of vintage cars and guitars and whatever else you can slap a price tag upon.

What we have in Australia and its pricing is the boiled frog effect where the gouge has been going on gradually for some time with little competition, to correct for the gouge, and now everybody is over-invested in the gouge growing because we think that’s economic growth. Except the problem is we’ve run out of greater fools to on-sell our gouge-prices and we’re wondering why we’re so damn expensive. We’ve been telling ourselves that the RBA has got inflation under control for some time, but clearly that’s been happening that way because the RBA is incentivised to under-report inflation so that they can look better. Then they complain about falling productivity.

More Taxes, Less Fun

Here’s the complimentary third piece of the day that’s worth a read and a think.

First, tax revenue has collapsed, and Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson warns that, on current settings, it will stay weak for years ahead. The high dollar has flattened profits or driven them down in much of the economy. Mining companies are making big profits, but they use depreciation deductions to write off their $284 billion of investment over the past decade against taxable income.

Second, Labor has introduced three big new fiscal commitments without the revenue to pay for them. The mining tax was meant to fund the government’s share of the increase in superannuation contributions from 9 per cent to 12 per cent, but that is now essentially unfunded. So is the commitment to $9.4 billion of new education spending from the Gonski report and so is the national disability insurance scheme.

Third, the pressures of an ageing society on the budget, which Treasury has warned of for years, are becoming real. The Howard government only intensified this with new entitlements for older Australians, and Labor has done too little to right the balance.

None of that is terribly ‘new’ news. It kind of suggests that Australia is one country that could afford to tax a bit more and work a little harder (“yes you, laddie!”). Sounds a bit like ‘austerity’ to me and of course we know austerity has lost credibility in the last few years. I would say that just because the argument for austerity in countries like Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain Cyprus and so on has turned out to be a crock, doesn’t mean it’s uncalled-for; it is possible that a little bit of austerity might do us a bit of good seeing that we haven’t done much in that way since the GFC came to roost.

Gold Crashes

Look, I don’t really have a great nugget of thought about gold prices crashing. Marcus Padley on the other hand has a good column here. There’s this really crucial bit I want to share with you all.

If you consider all the gold ever dug up forms an essentially static 20.4-metre by 20.4-metre by 20.4-metre cube, a cube that doesn’t change much in size, then you begin to realise all the price really reflects is what a herd of hot potato passers are prepared to pay today.

Meanwhile the cube just sits there not doing anything, returning nothing, while the herd goes stampeding around and on occasion having a ”freak out” as it did this week. It must wonder what all the fuss is about because even it, a large lump of brainless inert metal, knows nothing is really changing at all, except the fear, greed and delusion that controls the price.

So there isn’t much value you can add doing fundamental analysis on the gold price and a lot of the highbrow discussion is redundant because making money out of the current gold price collapse is going to be a function of technical rather than fundamental skills, in which case 90 per cent of you can simply ignore it.

The man is right on.

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‘Wolf Children’

Daddy Wolfman

I got roped into being interpreter for Mamoru Hosoda, director of famed anime movies, who came down to Australia for screenings in Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast. I only got to do with Sydney leg, but it was plenty educational. Japanese Anime movies are a genre unto themselves in most descriptions of cinema, but Hosoda-san couched his film in terms of animation as a broad genre, and the drawing aspect deriving itself out of a long tradition of art.

Mr. Hosoda has got quite a passionate following in Australia, and probably right through Asia, though you wouldn’t know about it from the general level of name recognition. He’s already been compared to Hayao Miyazaki, who is seen as the grand doyen of the Anime movie and some people even say that it is Mr. Hosoda who is going to extend the genre into new terrain. Mamoru Hosoda has also started his own production company that specialises in the production of feature length Aime films for theatrical release, eschewing work or television and commercials.

As for the movie he brought out, it was quite the curiosity, so I thought I might jot down some things. As usual, here’s the spoiler warning. Don’t read on if you hate spoilers.

What’s Good About It

As Anime movies go, this one makes more sense thanmany others. The one premise that is outlandish is that it starts ass a love story between  University student and a wolfman. What follows is entirely logical, almost to the point of quotidian pedantry.

The artwork is nice and analogue-looking, with a strong emphasis on drawn lines and carefully assembled palette of colours. Rare for a Japanese Anime, the sound track actually is mixed with great sound perspective and the whole production is stylish without resorting to flashy tricks.

What’s Bad About it

I always worry about monster movies that get sentimental about the monster. Except in this case, the Wolfman isn’t much of a monster; he doesn’t go around killing people during the night. He just seems to turn into a wolf and ends up dead, drowned in a river. So on that level, it’s not much about a monster.

The love story still feels a little maudlin, and the film only really gets going when the young mother moves to the deeply rural village to raise her children far way from civilisation.

What’s Interesting About It

The film had me wonder in about the archetype of the dog-masked man that appears in myths and fiction. On one level, he is Anubis, Guardian of the Afterlife. The father figure thus casts a rather gloomy shadow over the family he begets. The other reference I could conjure up was the main character Harima from the Sun episode of Osamu Tezuka’s ‘Phoenix’. ‘Phoenix’ of course is a work deeply interested in reincarnation,  but in the final installment  drawn by Tezuka, the affirmation of Buddhism and reincarnation breaks down, and Tezuka breaks ranks with religious thought.

With both Anubis and Harima, the symbol seems to lead through death and transformation, while the reference to Harima evokes a strong sense of the nature deities of Japan. The question that begs to be answered is whether the wolfman really is a wolf – descended from the extinct Japanese wolf, or whether he is in fact some kind of incarnation of a natural deity of Japan.  Not that it gets answered, but it is there to be pondered.

The reason why Tezuka breaks down is because he finds himself Japanese first in a very organic, attached-to-the-land kind of way, and the abstraction of Buddhism comes to him as foreign. Indeed, the story of the adoption of Buddhism plays itself out as an epic battle in the spiritual realm in ‘Phoenix’, and it is clear that Tezuka’s compassion and empathy resides with the indigenous natural deities who get squeezed out  by the ferocious foreign deities of the Amida Buddha.

In ‘Wolf Children’, Hosoda is explicit in outlining two choices, one that leads back to the indigenous deities, and one that leads to conformity and loss of identity. Ame, returns to the wild as a wolf-god, while Yuki decides to hide her nature and submit to the consensus that forms civilisation.

Life As Transformation

Japanese Anime and manga hold a fascination for transformation. Transformation is the central theme in most of these shows. A normal person by day turns into a superhero or a super villain with a sudden flash. The fixation on transformation appeals in the same way that Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ appeals to us, for in transformative change we can abandon the restricting logic of reason and truth. At the heart of fiction is an impulse to refute life and thus we’re drawn to possibilities and stories of enabling people and characters.

The weirdest scene in the film might be the sex scene, where, once the man reveals himself to be a wolf man, he makes love to the woman in his wolf guise. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one because it’s all very ‘Pony the Orangutan’ to me.

Still, the notion of transformation is everywhere in the film. The mother willfully makes herself into a rural farmer, the children slip in and out of their wolf identities, people change in their attitudes and reveal themselves to be unlike the first impressions they give. As long as we hold out hope to change, the film seems we have a chance at being better than who we are.

As it turns out the one of the main criticisms of the film in Japan according to the directors was that the mother seemed too much like a super-Mom. Yet, it seems to me that, that is exactly the point of the film; that all of us have within us a kind of transformative potential. Whether that’s actually true or not may depend on how much you acknowledge the power of reality. 🙂

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‘Trouble With The Curve’

The Anti-Moneyball Movie

Long time readers know how much I like sabermetrics and ‘Moneyball’ and the interesting things quantitative analyses have revealed about the fine game of baseball. So I was extremely leery about seeing this movie.

Having watched it, I’m less hostile to it. If you could split the world of baseball movies into good baseball movies and bad baseball movies, this one probably crawls over the line into good than bad.

The usual spoiler warnings apply.

What’s Good About It

The baseball action in the movie is good. It has the nice dynamic feel of a pitcher pitching, hitter hitting and fielders firing balls back. We’re watching a scout watch a high school talent around, so the baseball action has a focus that is nicely aligned with the drama.

The performances are good, but you expect that with this cast. Clint Eastwood reprises his grumpy old coot persona from ‘Gran Torino’, while Amy Adams shows off her versatility as an actress. She argues, she dances, she hits, she cartwheels, she plays pool and even dons the ‘tools of ignorance’ to catch some fastballs and curveballs. John Goodman, Robert Patrick and Justin Timberlake are pretty solid.

What’s Bad About It

The film lines it self up pretty hard to make quantitative analysis the bogeyman. The villain is a pretty callow ambitious jerk, and you squirm when he blusters at John Goodman’s character saying he wants to be the General Manager. Does the movie world really need to take another hack at Paul DePodesta? Wasn’t it bad enough that they turned him into Jonah Hill in ‘Moneyball’ itself? Not that it’s a great injustice, but the straw man gets knocked over pretty easily.

I guess the scouting department get a pretty severe pasting in ‘Moneyball’ so maybe it’s a fair cop, but it does seem Paul Depodesta gets it bad in both movies.

There’s also a moment when the computer-driven younger scout suggests they draft-and-trade. I don’t think that can happen under the rules as they stand. That bit sort of lost me. It’s the kind of thing with which scriptwriters should do better. It’s the kind of thing that makes it lose credibility.

Also, I don’t think people throw the cover of a ball. They occasionally hit the cover off a ball, but I really doubt they throw the cover off the ball.

What’s Interesting About It

Baseball culture in America is very rich. It’s part of the joy of any baseball movie that you get glimpses of how big America is, in a cultural sense. It’s weird that it’s taken Clint Eastwood this long to do a movie with baseball in it.

Anyway, much of the interesting bits in this film turn out to be baseball related.

The Atlanta Braves

This is the second time in fact that the Braves organisation has been depicted as being counter to the Oakland A’s ‘Moneyball’ ethos. ‘Scout’s Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team’ was a book that was written almost in response to  the success of ‘Moneyball’ by Michael Lewis, and it’s all about how wonderful the Braves’ scouts are in digging up talent.

And it is true that the Braves have dug up and nurtured a lot of top flight talent, but really, is it any bit interesting except as a culture? Maybe the Braves are the epitome of the hidebound scouting-first kind of organisation. I’m not so sure. It seems to me that the bigger problem of the Braves is that they stopped being the powerhouse they were in the 1990s around the time Time, Warner, and AOL merged, and Ted Turner lost the ability to sign the cheques to players. Ask Chipper Jones.

It seemed a little ludicrous that the Braves wouldn’t or couldn’t send a larger contingent to scout out their potential no.1 draft pick. It seemed really extreme that it was going to be Clint Eastwood’s Gus plus another covert stats guy, or nothing.  I mean, really?

An Army Of Straw Men

You know it’s the movies so arguments get telescoped, but a lot of the time they get telescoped into bad straw man arguments. The central conflict of ideas in this film is of course the limits of knowledge that can be provided through quantitative analysis. The absurd premise of this film is that all that computer gobbledegook is no match for a wise old scout, even if the scout is so old and broken down he has macular degeneration and can’t see.

It’s true Grady Fuson got a similarly terrible straw man treatment in the movie version (and some would say book as well) in ‘Moneyball’, and it’s certainly true that for all the vaunted success of the A’s in trying to find mareket inefficiencies and exploiting them, they’ve won about the same number of World Series as the Braves since 2000, which is none.

In both cases, it isn’t the problem that computers can’t see or evaluate, or that scouts don’t understand the logic of the numbers. The issue is when and how these observations and measurements are used to come at a kind of truth – and in this instance this truth is very delicate, mutable, and fleeting.

The fact is most situations are a lot more nuanced, and baseball is in many ways a very unpredictable game, just as players are subtly changing all the time. The certitude of knowledge in both this film and ‘Moneyball’ is in fact quite misleading. But I guess both movies would have been less appealing to the wider audience if these kinds of nuances were explored.

What It Looks Like, What They Say It Looks Like

The crunch moment of the film comes down to the title, where a young ballplayer has ‘trouble with the curve’. The film’s drama hinges on this point. This point is asserted by Clint Eastwood’s grizzly wisened scout Gus, who says the kid has trouble with the curve, and maybe could be fixed, but is unworthy of a first round draft selection.

The evidence for Gus’ claim is actually witnessed by his daughter Mickey who sees there is a waver in the hands of the hitter, which gives away he has trouble with the curve. This, it turns out in the film, is shown to be correct as the young hitter flails at a bunch of good off-speed stuff pitched by a talent Mickey has unearthed.

This might be good enough for the movie, but I sat there thinking, this is really weird. Lots of successful hitters move their hands in anticipation of the pitch; and the way a hitter waits is to look for the fast ball, and then adjust to the slower pitch. This is because you can’t catch up to the fastball if you’re not looking for it. The waver isn’t there to add extra power (which is the movie’s explanation), it’s a function of trying to time the swing for the pitch.

Just as a conincidence, I found a Youtube clip of Sadaharu Oh in his peak years. I don’t mean to be contrarian, but there’s a waver in Oh’s swing as he anticipates the pitch and goes for footplant. I’ve seen Reggie have a waver. Jose Canseco has a full pump up and down before he goes into his swing here. The point is lots of good hitters have had a waver in the hands like the kid in the movie and have hit plenty of curve balls over the fence. So much for the secret insight of the scouts.

All this is to say, if this is the kind of empiricism that scouting knowledge can offer, then maybe the scouts who got supplanted by quantitative analysis were rightfully replaced.

Semiotics Of Cars

American cars say so much in film. Clint’s character Gus drives a mid-1960s Mustang. it’s a metaphor for his persona as well as a metonymy of his character. Justin Timberlake’s  character drives a 1970s Buick. Why? We never find out, but the open top and the muscular lines tell us all we need to know about his masculinity. It’s an amazing kind of shorthand.

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Jon Anderson – Live At The Factory Theatre Sydney 06/Apr/2013

“Seasons Will Pass You By, I Get up, I Get Down”

It’s all kind of weird when you cast your mind to it. Consider this turn of events. Jon Anderson is dropped from Yes as their vocalist; They replace him twice, not asking him back; Jon Anderson hits the road doing one-man shows; Jon Anderson plays in Sydney at a converted factory warehouse to a crowd of about 300. This is Jon Anderson, front-man for Yes for something like 39years.

So there we were – that’s KRK and Walk-off HBP and I – at the Factory Theatre. 1 week shy of 1 year since Yes came and played at the State Theatre. No spouses – they disdain our teenage attachments and frankly don’t get it. Oh well. Same as last year.

The support act was… I don’t want to be rude but much like a busker, who started bashing his originals out on an steel string guitar and made us walk out in the second song. It just wasn’t in us to sit through 45minutes of his set. Other people were more polite and stayed, but I can assure you the blunt, artlessness of the support guy was so awful, it set the bar very low for the rest of the night. Maybe this was a kind of blessing in disguise. We even considered maybe that was the point.

What’s Good About It

Jon Anderson’s stage persona is lighthearted and good natured. I won’t venture to hazard a guess at what he is like in private because, well we all know about the casualties of his iron fist in ruling Yes. Stories about how Peter Banks and Tony Kaye were got rid of, how Bill Bruford couldn’t take the process any more, and how Rick Wakeman was in and then out and in again and then out swapping Patrick Moraz in, then out (and Patrick still wants to play for Yes), all revolve around the difficulty of working with the man. Yet, here is the man, ousted from his domain, exiled with just an acoustic guitar or electric piano to accompany himself, singing his song catalogue, and all of it is a revelation. All of it!

Jon Anderson scats his way through the famous lines of songs such as ‘Starship Troopers’ and ‘Yours Is No Disgrace’, and it’s all quite fascinating because it reveals how he hears his own music. And it’s weirder than you think. He does what he calls a reggae rendition of ‘Sweet Dreams’ and a harmonically extended ‘Long Distance Runaround’ that doesn’t resemble the original recording at all – and it’s fresh and good.

The anecdotes about Chris Squire, Vangelis and jokes about Rick Wakemen are quite funny too. He also has a couple of cute stories about how he ran into Joe Cocker and Robert Plant way before any of them got to be famous.

He’s quite the seasoned show man unlike the awful support guy who just went on about his wife. This is a man who knows how to sell his songs to an audience.  If you’re familiar with the Yes catalogue, it’s a night of great entertainment.

What’s Bad About It

This show was marred by a faulty DI Box. The sound guy kept winding in the wrong amount of reverb into Jon Anderson’s in-ear monitors so the show was the opposite of seamless. It was all unraveling seam, like an old baseball.

Also, Jon Anderson is not a master musician like his Yes colleagues. Still, he sure hit a lot of bum notes on the guitar. his technique was a strummy drone mixed with a dose of high school barre chord parade. It was good enough to accompany the songs, but only barely. The whole night had a precarious stop-start feel to it as a result.

As shows go, the anecdotes and jokes seem spontaneous but also  underdone and haphazard. I’d sack the audio dude.

What’s Interesting About It

For a start, Jon Anderson’s notion of how Yes songs go are quite different to how they are on record when Yes play these songs. He plays them with a kind of folk-y strum and without the massively built up arrangements, the song expose themselves as rather innocuous, pretty, disarming melodies. If watching Yes play is like master class in how to play, then watching Jon Anderson work is like seeing an X-ray into the skeleton of Yes music. And as Yogi Berra said, you can observe a lot through watching.

When he sits at the Piano and sings the opening cantata from ‘Revealing Science of God’, you get the feeling that the harmonic relationship his voice has to the chords is only arbitrary and could be sung over any environment – which I’m sure is not true, musically speaking – and so he goes on to play the most bizarre inversions on piano while singing the bits he sang on the record, pretty much like the record.

The chords on half the song are not the chords played by the band so even when he sings the melody, just like on the album, the harmonic structure drifts into uncharted-weirdo terrain. If you didn’t have his voice and recognise the melody, you’d think it was a mad person babbling Yes phrases.

Which brings me to the strangeness of hearing the vocalist singing the melody without the band. Not to boast, but I’ve been listening to yes since I was a teen and I am an old fart now, I can tell you that their music is burned into my brain. So he would strum the guitar and sing over it, and I could hear the rest of the band in my head. It’s such a weird experience. In some ways, it’s very sad that it has come to this. He can still do it; but the band’s moved on without him, so he’s wandering the world like a minstrel, spreading peace, love and mung beans.

Musical Shaman

I’m pretty sure many of the early Yes songs originated from Jon Anderson strumming his acoustic guitar. These renditions sound very lived-in quite apart from the established versions we know so well. You can just imagine Jon Anderson marching in with these songs and the band being taken aback by the sheer primal rawness. Jon Anderson might think all that happened between his writing and Yes recording was  dash of arranging, but in fact the distance between the versions is mind-warpingly immense.

The chords are so simple while Anderson sings these intricate melodies and you come to realise that he’s somehow plugged into the musical world in a primal way. That’s why the music just comes to him in this raw state. The apparent absence of finesse is off-set by the stripped back beauty of the songs. These humungous Yes songs actually have at heart these strummy little songs – if you want it to.

All night long, I kept thinking that the man was like somebody channelling music, more than building a performance.  In that sense he is like a shaman of music; that is what he has made himself into.

Scales Of Economy

Maybe, I thought, this is one way for musicians to be in the future. Jon Anderson could have put together a ‘Jon Anderson band’ to replace Yes and tour with it, but he hasn’t. Of course, the financial risks are greater in doing so and perhaps not as rewarding. Traveling with a couple of guitars and a ukulele, while hiring the backline electric piano as he goes is probably lower risk and higher reward. It’s not that he’s regressed to an acoustic set up so much as progressed into a new method of traveling further with his music.

And as it was last year, the Yes audience is grey, old, fat and saggy. Newer fans are scant and far between. He can go further around the world to meet more and more fans who haven’t been able to see him live in the heyday. It makes some kind of sense.

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20 Million Dollars Over The Budget

The Teeth They Are A Gnashing

Julia Gillard is star-struck. Having had a jolly time on set with Hugh Jackman and his Wolverine sequel, she’s decided she’s going to spend 20million (need to point pinky at the corner of your mouth, lady) to bring Disney’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under The Sea’ down under. It allegedly stars Mr. Brad Pitt, though it’s not really clear how this is in anyway Australian.

As you can imagine, the Australian Film Industry is upset that some American Blockbuster production gets 20million from the Prime Minster while Screen Australia’s own production budget is $30million per year and scheduled to shrink even more. I mean, really! How could the Prime Minster be spending that much money to bring Brad Pitt and the Disney production to Australian shores?

Julia Gillard’s position is that the money spent on Wolverine turned into $80 million spent on Australian soil so it was well worth the investment.It was tenuous at the time, but Hugh Jackman’s name sort of kept the appearance up of the Australian Film Industry getting something out of it. With this vehicle, it’s clear that the pretense is gone. it’s just about harpooning themselves a big fish and landing it down under.

Which, in my books is fine. It’s an odd choice, but if the Prime Minister wants to keep the infrastructure end of the Film Industry going (and believe me, it does need a leg up, what with the high dollar), then this is entirely acceptable. I imagine the cultural nationalists and the xenophobic elements together with the traditionally anti-American Leftists would argue otherwise, but sometimes it’s just freaking business.

It’s not the most commendable move, but it’s not the complaint-worthy move it looks like at first glance. That 20million dollars would easily be misspent on politcally correct and ‘worthy’ docudramas about something miserable and awful that nobody wants to see.

Then There’s Ed Husic

Ed Husic, member of Chifley would prefer the Prime Minster bought an MRI machine for the hospital in his electorate. That’s Mr. Husic doing his bets to look like he’s fighting for his electorate at the expense of his Prime Minster.

Mr Husic said he had been trying to get an MRI machine for his local hospital at Mount Druitt ”for ages”.

”I don’t need 20,000 leagues of sea [sic]; I need an MRI at Mount Druitt Hospital,” he said.

Oh boy. There you have it. The reason why this country never can get out of the cultural cringe. Its own politicians don’t want to spend money on culture at all if they can shore up their own votes.

Comparing that expenditure to special expenditures by the Prime Minster’s office is comparing apples and oranges at the best of times. here, we have a politician who is trying  to maximise the parochial angle. What Mr. Husic should be trying to extract is a visitation out at Mount Druitt by Brad Pitt.

Speaking Of Which…

This isn’t exactly the first time ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ is getting shot in Australia. back in the late 1990s, Rod Hardy directed a version for TV starring Michael Caine and Mia Sara.

Something tells me this new version is going to be a dog, even with Brad Pitt’s involvement.

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Quick Shots – 01/Apr/2013

It’s Easter And I’m Bored

Actually, Ive been busy at work on a damn draft for a script. it’s turning out okay, but the director keeps wanting to add stuff without taking stuff out. This is bad because the script is already bulging at 125 pages in US letter. I’ve been cutting things out with the fury of a editor, but the added mass of stuff has pushed it back out to 125. Had I not exercised the brutal scissors, it would be sitting at about 135 which is just a non starter.

Anyway, I toil, I toil.

Skyfall

I watched Skyfall for the second time, thanks to it being on Fetch TV. It’s a better film than I remember it to be but in some ways had me scratching my head as to how technology is made into a kind of magic just so the story can go to places the director wants it to go. The expediency made it seem worse than I remember.

27 Dresses

Caught half of this on the hop – I was avoiding more toil on the damn script. It’s a film where you can see a scriptwriter busily trying to make tropes fit. the cause and effect, the foreshadowing and delivery is so clunky it makes you want to cringe, but hey it got made. More power to them.

The Love Guru

The film that sunk Mike Myers as far as I can tell. It has its moments but boy is the Guru Pitka annoying more than funny. A random thought watching this film: Jessica Alba really is under-utilised by Hollywood if all they can do is give her these girly love interest roles.

Elia Kazan

I’ve been reading his book on directing in my spare time. I recommend it for people who want to get to know how he worked the system. I don’t really know if his aesthetic survives our contemporary facile market-driven post-Star-Wars world. I’ve always want ed to know why he named names at HUAC. Now I have some insight, I think I can understand what led to that decision. I’m not sympathetic, but I can empathise with his concern and situation.

Anyway, that’s all I have this week. I’ll be back soon.

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