Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sorry, wrong movie

I've just had a weird experience. I read that Maori TV was screening a movie called "Avalon", by Barry Levinson, and that it was about an immigrant family adjusting to life in New York. Here's how the New York Times review by Janet Maslin starts:

"In the fond overflowing family album that is Barry Levinson's ''Avalon,'' the prevailing symbol of both unity and discord is a Thanksgiving turkey. Or a ''toikey,'' as the participants put it, since the Krichinskys are an immigrant Jewish family in Baltimore and their every bantering, nit-picking conversation carries hints of the Old World."

Great, I thought, I'll watch that. I don't watch many movies on TV because I can't stand the ads, but this one looked good and wasn't something I'd easily stumble across for rent.

But when I switched on, it turned out to be something completely different - a weird science fiction epic. So I looked it up on line, and found that as well as the 1990 Levinson film, another "Avalon" was made in 2001:

"Avalon marks longtime anime director Mamoru Oshii's (Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor) first venture into the world of live action films, bringing a other-worldly vision to what might have been pedestrian fare in the hands of most other directors. For all of its high-concept theories about what is real and what is simulation, Avalon actually scores more points as a unique visual experience much more so than as a richly detailed story."

Oh dear. Did Maori TV think it was getting Levinson, and Oshii was supplied by mistake? Never mind - it's sent me back to the keyboard instead, which is a Good Thing.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The business of milk

Last year I was lucky enough to see Sally Burton's magnificent exhibition, "White Gold: The Business of Milk" at Nelson's Suter Gallery, where she pays homage to the M.P.U.’s (Milk Production Units) commonly known as cows - or as she calls them, the "working women of our most important industry". You can read about it and see images from it here and here.

I thought about Sally's cows yesterday when I heard that the government has called in current resource consent applications concerning proposals to keep 18,000 cows inside, in cubicles, for eight months of the year, and 12 hours a day for the other four months, in the Mackenzie Basin. There has been a huge surge of opposition to these proposals (see, for example, my last Letter from Elsewhere and other items on Scoop). As well as the massive environmental impact, this method involves treating cows as nothing but MPUs - merely milk-producing machines. It doesn't matter how we deal with them, as long as they stay healthy enough to keep on producing.

But cows kept inside in cubicles is not, of course, the image that our dairy industry has wanted the world to see. So if such proposals - and there are bound to be more - are allowed to proceed, they are likely to have a huge impact on the New Zealand "brand".

As this whole affair has proceeded, it's become clear that each aspect of such proposals is dealt with quite separately - and some aren't dealt with at all. This enables the big companies behind these schemes to amass all the consents they need, piece by piece, without the total impact and the wider implications ever being examined.

This time, though, the outcry has been too great to ignore, and Nick Smith has done the right thing. Now let's hope the commissioners get it right too, and stop these proposals going any further.