VFW (2019)

This owes more than a little to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). When a young woman takes refuge in a veterans bar, a small group of old soldiers defend their last post against a murderous gang of drug fuelled crazies. As if paying homage to the the plot wasn’t enough there’s also references to the great man’s use of typeface, his style of titling, and the driving electronic beats that score all of his films. Beyond the obvious Carpenter references, it revels in the bright colour extremes and explosive gore you’d expect to see in one of Dario Argento’s “giallo” films of the 1970’s. There are great performances from a cast of veteran actors who feature in many of the VHS “grindhouse” films that might once have been slandered as “video nasties”. Entertaining stuff from new writers Max Brallier and Matthew McArdle, and the director Joe Begos, who’s other films I’ll be seeking out.


Life of the Party (2018)

Okay funny extracted from the tragedy of an older woman returning to university when her husband upgrades. Melissa McCarthy does her thing as the jilted wife, teaching the young ones their value a strong independent women. Alright Saturday night fun.

Gangs of London (2020– )

Warring gangs, high finance, and political intrigue underpin possibly the most brutal television series I’ve ever seen. It’s well crafted, excelling from the writing on down. Its big draw is bringing cinema style action to the small screen. It has the kind of fight sequences that you don’t see on television, and gun battles Sam Peckinpah would be proud of. I have to admit this took me a while to get through. All in it runs to about nine and a half hours. I probably realised too late that it’s one to take your time with. Bingeing though it will leave you dulled, mute to just how ferocious it is.

Reality Z (2020– )

An interesting reworking of Charlie Brooker’s series Dead Set (2008).

Transposed to Rio de Janeiro the original Big Brother backdrop is turned into something more Brazilian, a gameshow called Olympus.

The first five episode run close to the original storyline. Then it runs off in a new and interesting direction. These additional episodes blends perfectly with the original, opening out the story, and bringing all kinds of new drama.

As you’d expect from the genre the blood and gore is viscous and sticky. But while Brooker’s original is a swipe at unreality of reality television, and a critique of that kind of celebrity. This deals with a more authoritarian world, plagued by corruption and criminality.

There’s a bleakness to the way this all plays out perfectly in keeping with the genre, and more importantly with the series. Definitely worth watching.

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