Small Screen Machine

Our weekly recommendations of great films on TV

This week’s Top Pick was chosen by Robert, who opted for The Far Country, while Drew has four other films for you, including three this Saturday.

The Far Country (1954, U)
ITV4, 11.25am on Sunday 16 August
The series of Westerns that James Stewart made with director Anthony Mann in the 1950s are a high point in cinema history. They changed Stewart’s image forever, from awkward romantic lead to tough guy loner, they’re brilliant exercises in taut story-telling, and the cinematography makes wonderful use of the widescreen format to place the action in stunning landscapes. This isn’t perhaps the best of the bunch, but they’re all well worth seeing. Watch out for a cameo from Harry Morgan, who’d later go on to TV fame as Colonel Potter in the long running ‘Mash’ series’. And it’s extraordinary to think this was given a ‘U’ certificate, back in the day!


Stranger Than Fiction (2006, 12)
Sony Movies, 2.45pm on Saturday 15 August
In this comedy-drama, Will Ferrell gives a tempered performance as a demure tax inspector who starts hearing a voice narrating his life. Fortunately, he is not going crazy. Unfortunately, it belongs to a famous author, played by Emma Thompson, whose protagonists always die a tragic death.


The Lego Batman Movie (2017, U)
ITV2, 5.55pm on Saturday 15 August
The Caped Crusader gets his second Lego incarnation following The Lego Movie in this visually exploding and thrilling adventure. Full of silly gags and references to virtually every Batman screen appearance, it features a large cast of famous voices, as well as Lego versions of many iconic movie villains.


Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, 12A)
BBC1, 11.35pm on Saturday 15 August
A perfect Saturday night film full of explosive action, humour, and the eternal battle between good and evil. In this Marvel adventure, a thief, two thugs, an assassin, and a maniac team up to stop a warlord from using a powerful stone to conquer the galaxy.


Sexy Beast (2000, 18)
Film4, 10.50pm on Wednesday 19th August
Ray Winstone plays Gary, a gangster whose quiet retirement in Spain is disrupted by the arrival of Don, a sweary old acquaintance played by a scene-stealing Sir Ben Kingsley, who wants him to come back for one last job. Gary, however, is intent on remaining retired.



Planning Screen Machine’s Safe Return

Last month we launched a customer survey, to ask your views on re-starting the Screen Machine service. The survey is now closed and we have analysed your responses.

We were delighted to receive 1,309 responses – that’s 17% of our distribution list. We received responses from an even spread of all locations that we visit. All age groups contributed – from 81+ to 15 and younger. 88% told us that you would visit Screen Machine just as frequently as you did before, or even more frequently.

But quite understandably, a proportion of you have concerns about attending during the COVID-19 pandemic. You told us that you were most concerned about:
•    Being in an enclosed space.
•    Protecting you or a member of your family who is shielding.
•    The films we will screen – quite rightly, you will only attend if we are screening a film you want to see!

We were delighted that 92% of you were either very reassured or somewhat reassured by the additional actions and enhancements that we are considering, in particular:
•    Provision of hand sanitiser.
•    Seats/arm rests to be cleaned with anti-viral cleaner.
•    Appropriate social distancing.
•    … and many others.

When asked if there was anything in addition that you would like us to put in place, many respondents felt that we had covered everything. But a sizeable number (7.5% of total respondents) said they would like to see all members of the audience wear a face covering for the duration of their visit. Please be assured that we are keeping a very close eye on Scottish Government requirements for cinemas, which we will carefully adhere to.

If you would like to see the results of the survey in more detail, you can do so by following this link: Customer Survey

Unfortunately we are still not in a position to give you a date when we will be back on the road. But please continue to keep an eye out for updates from us. Nearly five months have passed since customers last saw a film on Screen Machine, and all of the team here are humbled by the interest in and enthusiasm for your cinema that you continue to show.




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 this week. Once you are done, highlight the hidden text at the bottom for the answers.

1. In order to shoot scenes lit only by candlelight in ‘Barry Lyndon’ (1975), Stanley Kubrick needed lenses specially adapted for low light. What well-known science administration supplied the lenses he ended up using?
2. Carol Danvers goes by what superhero name?
3. The 1961 romantic comedy ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ was adapted from the novella of the same name written by which American writer?
4. What Bible verse does Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) quote in ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)?
5. What is Walt Disney Pictures’ highest-grossing film?
6. In 2001, Steven Soderbergh became the second director receive two nominations for the Oscar for Best Director in a single year. He was nominated for ‘Traffic’ (2000) and what other film?
7. One of Sigourney Weaver’s first film appearances was a non-speaking role in what Woody Allen film?
8. Who was originally considered to play Begbie in ‘Trainspotting’ (1996) before Robert Carlyle was cast?
9. The filming of ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015) required dozens of cameras shooting simultaneously to capture its many stunts and practical effects from multiple angles. This resulted in them amassing how many hours of footage?
10. Put these five Martin Scorsese films in order of release: ‘The King of Comedy’, ‘Raging Bull’, ‘GoodFellas’, ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, ‘Taxi Driver’.

1. NASA. They gave him 50mm lenses developed by Zeiss to film the Apollo Moon landings. 2. Captain Marvel. 3. Truman Capote. 4. Ezekiel 25:17. 5. ‘The Lion King’ (2019). It made $1.6 billion worldwide. 6. ‘Erin Brockovich’ (2000). He won for ‘Traffic’. 7. ‘Annie Hall’ (1977). She plays Alvy’s date outside the cinema showing ‘The Sorrow and the Pity’. 8. Christopher Eccleston. 9. 470 hours. It would take you three months to watch it all. The film’s editor, Margaret Sixel, who had never edited an action film before, was awarded the Oscar for Best Film Editing. 10. ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976), ‘Raging Bull’ (1980), ‘The King of Comedy’ (1982), ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ (1988), ‘GoodFellas’ (1990).



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