Last Week On Screen

January is always a good time to reflect and reassess. It is like starting from scratch with the whole year stretching out ahead. with this in mind, it seems like a good time to create a new, occasional, stream for the site covering what I’ve been watching on the big screen, the TV and on the go. As you can imagine, it could be varied in the extreme. I tend to watch as much and as diverse as possible. Hopefully, the list will confirm this going forward.

The first week in January is not really a great time for getting off the couch and actually going to a cinema. It is a perfect time for catching up with missed movies and what passes for festive fare. Movie wise it was a bit of a mixed bag. It was good to see a new Aardman movie popping up on Netflix and even better that it was Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget. The film is an absolute delight. Following on from the previous movie, it is full of comedic set pieces with a cast of lovable characters. The original film was near perfect and this film just about hits the same heights.  Since it was on IPlayer, a repeat viewing of The Big Sleep was in order. The film is timeless and despite having seen it more times than I would care to admit, it still holds the attention throughout.

For a change of pace, I happened across the film Take a Hard Ride on Talking Pictures TV. The film, from 1975, is a mix of a spaghetti western and a blaxploitation action movie. As with a lot of Westerns from the time it is a low-budget actioner on a limited budget. It more than holds up despite the restrictions and makes the most of the central cast of Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Lee Van Cleef. Keeping with the retro vibe the highlight of the week was found to be the Shaw Brothers film Come Drink With Me on Mubi. The Shaw brothers have been a blindspot in my movie watching and the introduction of a collection of the studio’s output on the streaming service Mubi was an ideal way to rectify that. The film itself was one of the first to break through internationally and is a fantastic martial arts film with exceptional fight sequences and great acting. This won’t be the last if the standard of the rest is as high.

In TV viewing it was a bit of a mixed bag. With mostly seasonal fare on offer, it provides the opportunity to catch up with a few shows. The second season of Vigil promised a lot given the success of the first but it failed to capture the audience in the same way. This time, instead of the Navy and submarines, we got a frame involving the Air Force and killer drones. The story was decent enough but there just wasn’t enough to justify six episodes. Four would have been more than enough for this case. With the second season of What if …? dropping this week on Disney+, it was a good time to catch up with a couple of episodes from the first season. The Zombies and Doctor Strange stories were both examples of excellent storytelling. With a trim thirty-minute run time, the episodes pack a lot in. There is not a poor story in the entire season and bodes well for the next set of tales.



John McArthur
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