Monday 26 October 2015 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 26/10/2015

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Home and dry?

For a city with 13 million residents, Tokyo’s population of homeless people living on the street – around train stations, along riverbanks and in parks – is curiously small: 1,555 according to a biannual survey released by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. That’s an 8 per cent decline from last year and the sixth year that the figure has decreased. It suggests that the city’s five support centres – which offer free food and lodging, as well as job-counselling services – are having an impact. But not so fast, say experts. Many argue that the survey isn’t comprehensive enough, pointing out that it doesn’t include anyone who spends nights in internet cafés or on a friend’s sofa and that many homeless people in the city have never heard of the support centres. Add to that two alarming trends: the city’s homeless are getting older (60.9 years on average) and they’re having a tougher time returning to work.

Channel hopping

Brazilian broadcaster Globo leads the airwaves when it comes to satisfying the country’s insatiable appetite for telenovelas. But Globo’s audience monopoly is being challenged. Record is Brazil’s second-largest network and it is trying its luck with a very successful biblical soap: its own take on the Ten Commandments is stealing viewers from the more urbane Globo soaps. Globo has responded with A Regra do Jogo, which has all the ingredients to be another success but is simply not performing as expected. It seems that in the midst of a troubling economic crisis, Brazilians are retreating to kitschier takes on more timeless tales.

Image: Getty Images

Reel returns

The Australian parliament has put AU$47m (€31m) into securing the filming of two bona fide blockbusters – but unlikely classics – on Aussie soil. Local industry stalwarts are considering the bigger picture. Screen Australia’s Richard Harris says winning Thor and Alien sequel productions will bolster a film industry that’s rich in talent but strapped for cash; government ministers estimate an AU$300m (€196m) investment in Australia as a result of the big-screen behemoths. “This allows our film-makers to develop skills and a crew base here who can work on Aussie films when they are not working on the blockbusters,” he says. With the emphatic Mad Max: Fury Road leading record box-office takings for Australian films this year and a soft dollar enticing overseas investment, that Aussie twang we increasingly hear around Oscar time may be turned up a notch.

Image: Getty Images

Espresso express

Istanbul’s Coffee Festival, which ended this weekend, was a success before it began: tickets sold out on the opening day. It was a sign that the flourishing of mini-roasteries and smart new blends across the city is getting broader appeal in this largely tea-drinking city. But the venue itself also got people talking: Haydarpasa Station was a neo-renaissance gift from Kaiser Wilhelm II at the start of the 20th century and the Baghdad Express once rolled on its tracks. Since 2012 – and the development of a high-speed rail line to Ankara – Haydarpasa has sat largely dormant. But as baristas brewed beneath its vaulted arches there was a renewed sense that this monument to the golden age of rail should be brought back to life permanently.

Image: Mauro Rico

The end of the Kirchner era

For the first time in more than a decade, Argentina will soon be ruled by someone who is not a Kirchner. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is stepping down, with her late husband Néstor Kirchner having governed for four years before her. Steve Bloomfield is joined by guests Virginia García Beaudoux, Maria Esperanza Casullo and Declan McGarvey to assess whether the era is indeed over.

Change of scene

Monocle’s editor Andrew Tuck takes an in-depth look at how metropolises are changing around the world and poses some fundamental questions to get urban-planners thinking.


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