May 18, 2012

Blog Space Nine, part #4: "Melora"

An officer from a low gravity planet is temporarily assigned to Deep Space Nine. While attempting to find a way to enable her to move about the station without a wheelchair, Dr Bashir begins to romance her as well. Meanwhile, an ex-convict arrives on the station with a plan to murder Quark - whose betrayal put him in prison in the first place.

It's an odd coincidence that shortly after watching Babylon 5's "Believers", an episode with a good basic premise let down by poor execution, I found myself watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's "Melora", an episode produced with the best of intentions but let down terribly by very similar pitfalls.

May 17, 2012

Babble On, part #12: "Believers"

Dr Franklin struggles to treat a young patient whose parents' religious beliefs do not allow him to undergo surgery. Meanwhile, Ivanova manages to take a break from the station by escorting a damaged passenger liner through raider territory.

"Believers" presents me with a dilemma, because of all the episodes of Babylon 5 reviewed so far it is easily the most frustrating. It provides a strong, confrontational story, but it brings with it a horrible inconsistency with the rest of the series as well as (a standard failing of the series) some pretty ripe dialogue. In the end my overall opinion could go either way. This is also an episode I can't review without completely spoiling, so if you haven't seen "Believers" you might want to skip the rest of this entry.

May 5, 2012

Blue (2009)

I'm not averse to the occasional Bollywood film, when the mood takes me. Culturally speaking, Bollywood is a highly distinctive form of cinema. Genre in American-dominated English-language cinema is generally a set of hard-and-fast rules, where elements are fenced off from one another so that a film can only be one or at best two things: a science fiction film, a horror flick, a romantic drama, a musical, and so on. These definitions are much more fluid in Bollywood cinema. Pretty much everyone knows that it's a form of motion picture where song and dance numbers can be inserted into any story. A film can shift from slapstick comedy to drama to confronting violence without a pause or second thought.

Sadly this old-school Bollywood method of film-making - a sort of "stick everything to the wall and see what happens" approach - is in decline, replaced by new films that increasingly attempt to ape the conventions and appearance of American cinema. This is a shame; I think India is losing something very distinctive and rather wonderful in the process. Blue is a case in point.

May 2, 2012

Five Films: Lau Ching Wan

I've done a couple of Five Films profiles in the past, and the Mark Hamill entry in particular remains the most popular thing on this blog. Tonight I want to discuss five films starring one of my all-time favourite male actors, and I strongly suspect the majority of you won't have heard of him. He's critically acclaimed, extremely popular in his home town, and a multiple award-winner. His name is Lau Ching Wan, and he's an outstanding actor from Hong Kong.

Running Out of Time (1999)
I'm pretty sure that Running Out of Time is the first film in which I noticed Lau. He started off as a television actor before shifting to motion pictures, where he's been one of the key actors for director Johnnie To. I make no apologies for the fact that three of my five picks are Johnnie To films - no director working in the world today is as consistently good at what they do as To, and Lau is one of the best actors he uses. Here Lau plays Inspector To, a police detective caught in a cat and mouse game with a terminally ill master criminal (Andy Lau). Lau returned the role in a sequel.