Eye of the beholder

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 June, 1997, 12:00am

It's always good to hear from readers. This week, I received two letters, both with pertinent things to say.

The first was from a gentleman (who, I'm sure, wishes to remain anonymous), wanting to point out that I was a 'little harsh' on Fiona Carver.

'I tuned in to Movie Watch just to see what you were writing about and I have to say you were a little harsh.

'She is still cute,' he wrote.

For the record, I agree. If this correspondent were to re-read my previous column, he would see that I said as much. A pretty woman she is, and no loss of hair will take that away from her.

I do not know whether the second piece of correspondence came from a man or woman as only initials were given, but the person didn't refer to Carver or her haircut.

What the writer did mention is the dizzying camerawork seen increasingly on television shows, notably ER (Pearl, 8.30pm), and, once again, I cannot agree more.

'Why, nowadays, does the camera-person have to move around so much?' the correspondent wrote.

'Why can't a stationary camera just show us the action? Last week, while watching ER, I just couldn't take it any longer and zapped the programme.

'While the nurses and doctors were standing by computers at the desk, the camera was circling them like it was on a small helicopter.

'It was dizzying! And what is the point? I became so irritated I couldn't follow the dialogue.' Indeed, I have thought the same, especially while watching fashion shows, when the programme seems to be about fancy camerawork and not fancy clothes.

You see more of the models' legs and midriffs than you do the garments they are wearing.

It seems that as good plots wear thin and ideas become more ridiculous, the subject being filmed becomes less important than the art of filming.

I cannot help thinking that shows such as ER and NYPD Blue (which my friend also criticised) rely on these devices to speed up the pace, to generate excitement, when plot and dialogue fail to.

Restrained use of clever camera angles and devices can create stunning effects; when they are used without discipline, they produce irritating and cheap images that fail to trick the eye.

Still, I am not so sure I will go as far as my friend and turn the programme off; not tonight, anyway, when Carter gets caught in a compromising position with Keaton, giving her a farewell present as she prepares to leave for Pakistan.

Richard Gere compromises himself for a living in American Gigolo (Pearl, 9.30pm), his first major role and the one that, apart from An Officer And A Gentleman and Pretty Woman, he is most often associated with.

But, despite its impact, the movie received mixed reviews, labelled by many as pretentious and others as stylish and cool.

Despite its subject - Gere is the gigolo of the title - it's surprisingly unerotic and, given that it's supposed to be a thriller, there aren't many thrills.

Perhaps more pertinently, as an examination of the seamy side of life, it lacks the compassion and sympathy necessary to make it engaging to the end.

The seamy side of Tokyo Bay is the subject of Global Family (World, 6.30pm).

In Japan's post-war period, much of the productive shoreline of Tokyo Bay was bulldozed by development - development that polluted the water and drove away the wildlife.

On the tidal flats that remain, a group of people have created a bird sanctuary at the back end of one of the world's busiest harbours. Their rewards are few but promising.