Small Screen Machine

Our weekly recommendations of great films on TV

This week’s Top Pick comes from Angie, who’s chosen Summer of Sam, while Drew has picked four more films to round out our recommendations.

Son of Sam (1999, 18)
Sony Movies, 11pm on Monday 13 July
Did you see the Spike Lee film Blackkklansman in Screen Machine? It won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2019. On Netflix you might have seen his most recent film: Da 5 Bloods. Well there’s a chance to see another of his films, and a much earlier one, this Monday. I saw Summer of Sam at the time of its release in 1999. I found it an electrifying shock to the senses at that time. I’m interested to see how it feels now, 20 years later.

In an Italian-American neighbourhood in the Bronx, New York City, in 1977, with a soundtrack from the hits of that long hot summer, a serial killer is on the loose. The city is paralysed by fear and paranoia. The film is not about the killer or his victims so much as it is about how terror itself will undo people.

It’s got a fantastic ensemble cast including Mira Sorvino, Adrien Brody, and John Leguizamo. It’s also notable for having a lot of swearing in it. Until The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013 it held the record for the most expletives counted in a feature film. “I had no idea there was such various curse words in the English language,” the director of the recent hit film Parasite is reported as saying. A great fan of Spike Lee movies, while Bong Joon-Ho was studying English in college in South Korea it was his job to subtitle American indie films for illegal film festivals on campus. About that experience he’s said, “Thanks to Spike Lee, I learned so many things.”


The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975, 15)
Talking Pictures TV, 10pm on Friday 10 July
The standard bearer of cult classic cinema, this musical comedy horror, adapted from the stage musical by Richard O’Brien, is not just a colourful collection of songs and dance numbers, but offers clever satires of horror, science fiction, and Frankenstein, amongst many others. A perfect watch for a Friday night.


Monsters University (2013, U)
BBC1, 5.15pm on Saturday 11 July
Mike and Sulley are back in this prequel to Monsters Inc., this time as rival scare majors at the eponymous educational institute. Mike is the hardworking outsider, Sulley the cool guy with natural talent, but through navigating university life, friendships are formed, and lessons are learnt – inside and outside the classroom.


The Truman Show (1998, PG)
Sony Movies, 6.55pm on Saturday 11 July
Jim Carrey gives one of the performances of his career as Truman Burbank, a man who’s unaware his life is one large reality TV show, controlled by Christof (Ed Harris, also in stellar form). After a series of odd events, Truman starts questioning the world around him, but Christof is determined to keep his star where he wants him.


Crimson Tide (1995, 15)
ITV4, 9pm on Wednesday 15 July
Gene Hackman plays a trigger-happy captain of a US nuclear submarine who receives orders to launch his deadly missiles, but can’t verify the orders after the radio gets damaged. Denzel Washington plays his second-in-command who insists they wait for confirmation. As egos clash, lines are drawn, and talk turns to mutiny.



Brian Griffin: POP – You can watch this Photography on Screen collaboration with Street Level Photoworks about one of the most eminent British photographers of the seventies and eighties. In it, he discusses his music photography, including some insights into his techniques in making the images for the covers of Depeche Mode, Siouxsie Sioux, Iggy Pop, Kate Bush, and Simple Minds, amongst others.

Into Film – Into Film are offering many online film education resources for children and young people, including membership of their Youth Advisory Council, their Artemis Fowl and #Review100 competitions, and their Eco Explorers resource about key environmental issues. If you’re new to Into Film then you’ll need to sign up for a free account to access their resources.

MUBI – You can still sign up for a free three-month membership with MUBI, who recently added a library of hundreds of previously curated films for you to choose from. If you cancel before the end of your trial then you won’t be charged. If you decide to stay on, you’ll be charged a standard paid subscription with MUBI. (You’ll be entering into a contract with MUBI, not with Regional Screen Scotland or Screen Machine.)

BFI Japan 2020 – The BFI are releasing featured collections of some of Japan’s most lauded films on their online player, including the work of directors Akira Kurasawa and Yasujirō Ozu, as well as selections of anime, J-horror, and other classics. To watch, you need to sign up to the BFI Player for £4.99 per month. Please note that you’ll be entering a contract with the BFI and not with Regional Screen Scotland or Screen Machine.




Screen Machine Movie Trivia Quiz

Ten more questions for you to test your general movie knowledge. Once you are done, highlight the hidden text at the bottom for the answers.

1. Who was the first woman to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography?
2. While Ewan McGregor is well known for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in the ‘Star Wars’ prequel, who did his uncle Denis Lawson play in the ‘Star Wars’ original trilogy?
3. How long did it take to shoot the 1979 war film ‘Apocalypse Now’?
4. The science fiction films ‘The Thing from Another World’ (1951) and John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ (1982) were based on the novella ‘Who Goes There?’ by which American writer?
5. What fruit is said to symbolise death in the ‘The Godfather’ films?
6. Which American actor and playwright co-wrote the songs for Disney’s ‘Moana’ (2016)?
7. What injury did actress Charmian Carr sustain during the filming of the song ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ in ‘The Sound of Music’ (1965)?
8. What is Diane Keaton’s real name?
9. What is Michael Keaton’s real name?
10. ‘Casablanca’ has the most lines (6) in the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes. Can you quote them all?

1. Rachel Morrison, for ‘Mudbound’ (2017). 2. Luke’s wingman Wedge Antilles. 3.16 months. 4. John W. Campbell, Jr. 5. Oranges. 6. Lin-Manuel Miranda. 7. She sprained her ankle. It was during the first take. 8. Diane Hall. Keaton is her mother’s maiden name. 9. Michael Douglas. He supposedly chose Keaton in honour of Diane, but this is disputed. 10. #5: ‘Here’s looking at you, kid.’ #20: ‘Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’ #28: ‘Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’.’ #32: ‘Round up the usual suspects.’ #43: ‘We’ll always have Paris.’ #67: ‘Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.’ (Numbers correspond to their position on the AFI’s list.)


We’ll be back with more news next Friday. We hope that you all have a great week and stay well.

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