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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Doctor Who - Aliens of London

One of my favourite episodes of Doctor Who stars Chris Eccleston who in my opinion made an all too brief appearance as the ninth Doctor. He quit in 2005 after making just one series because he feared being 'typecast'. He added a cheeky down to earth element to the role and made the doctor appear more human. As he is not human and is in fact an alien from the planet Galifrey you may wonder why I consider this a point in his favour. I think Eccleston brought out a quality in the doctor which we can empathise with whilst preserving the fact that he is also so different from us.

In Aliens of London the Doctor takes Rose back home to London to visit her mum. Rose (played by Billie Piper) thinks she has only been gone for a few minutes but in fact has been missing for a year. Her Mum has put up wanted posters and her boyfriend Mickey is suspected of having murdered her!! After the trauma of reunion with her Mum and Mickey an alien spaceship crash-lands on the capital. An alien is rescued and the whole country speculates about what is going on. Soon, the call goes out to the Doctor for help. But meanwhile, all is not well at the heart of the Government — and there are some very strange people populating 10 Downing Street....

The writer, Russel T Davies brings to life the characters of Roses family and boyfriend and explores more than ever before the life and background of Rose as the Doctors companion. No previous companion has received this focus and it certainly adds a more emotional dimension to the storyline.

Keith Boak's directing took a lot of critcism, as did the general tone of the episode. One moment it was emotional, the next amusing, the next embarrassing. However I found these contrasts interesting and funny and they increased my enjoyment.

For example one moment the doctor says (to an alien of the Slitheen race who is disgused as a human)

"Do you mind not farting while I'm saving the world" (in actual fact we discover later that the farting sound is caused by the gas escaping from the Slitheen as he is too big to squeeze comfortably into human skin)

Then the tone is emotional again as Rose says about the doctor -

"He's not my boyfriend, he's much more.....important than that"

Doctor Who originally ran from 1963-1989 and then remained dormant as a TV series until its relaunch in 2003. Let's hope David Tennant as the 10th Doctor decides to stay a bit longer than his predecessor.


Friday, January 26, 2007

The Last King of Scotland

Forest Whitaker gave an excellent performance as Idi Amin, a ruthless dictator who ruled Uganda in the 1970's. It shows that method acting really does bring results as while doing the part Whittaker ate only mashed bananas and beans and started learning Swahili and Kakwa!!

He managed to portray his ever altering persona of charm underpinned with evil and gave the character real individuality, never being guilty of overacting which may have been the temptation with this role. Based on Giles Fodens' novel of the same name the film is a fictional tale of young newly qualified Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (played by James McAvoy) and his friendship with Amin. Amin is genuinely taken with Garrigan and invites him to be his personal physician. In return, Garrigan appears to almost hero-worship Amin, blinding himself to the evidence of the dictators' uncertain sanity and increasingly violent acts. Although Amin is happy to introduce Garrigan to many attractive women, Garrigan decides to have an affair with one of Amins' wives and the mother of two of his children. It is hard to have any sympathy with a man who makes such careless and foolish decisions. When Amin dismembers the body of the woman who has betrayed him and the friendship between himself and Garrigan descends into hatred it is hardly surprising. It is as if Garrigan expects Amin to react like a mild-mannered middle-class British man might - he does not see Amin and Africa in a realistic light.