Soul

This one comes from the Pixar Studios, which as far as I can remember, has never put a foot wrong. The film was supposed to be out last summer, but suffered the same fate as a lot of movies set for a June outing: faced with the prospect of empty cinemas, the studios delayed the release, hoping that the pandemic would be sorted by Christmas.

Well, for the UK and the US . . . not even close. So with no end in sight, the studios have three options:

  1. Keep delaying the film until audiences can return to the picture houses, and hope they’re still interested in seeing it. (No Time to Die)
  2. Release to the cinemas anyway and hope enough people are willing to risk infection to see it. (Wonder Woman 1984)
  3. Release it to a streaming service and see if it attracts new customers.

Pixar went for option number 3 (which they can do since they can stream on Disney+), and frankly, they deserve to have the gamble pay off.

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Another binge fest: What We Do in the Shadows

This bat-on-the wall documentary series follows a group of vampires living on Staten Island, New York.

Yes, it’s a comedy, based on a movie of the same name made by the awesomely strange Taika Waititi (Waititi’s version was set in New Zealand and I think he’s the executive producer of the TV series).

Now I’m a big fan of Matt Berry, so I’m probably a little biased, but I think it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen on telly this year. The script is hilarious, the acting is brilliant, with standout performances from Berry (of course), Natalia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Kayvan Novak, Mark Proksch … yeah, I know, that’s pretty much the whole cast, but they’re all really really good.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t so sure about Colin Robinson, but over the two seasons, he’s actually grown on me. He’s still annoying, obviously, but he’s supposed to be; it just took a while for my sense of humour to realign.

What We Do in the Shadows is definitely worth a look if you’ve got a few half hour slots to spare. Yet another ten out of ten.

Binge treat: The Umbrella Academy (season 2)

Season one was great, but the second run of this off-beat superhero caper turned out to be my binge choice for the summer.

Picking up straight after their temporal escape from the first season’s destruction of planet Earth (pretty much their fault), our barely competent crew of metahuman misfits land in the sixties, where they have to contend with the awakening the civil rights movement, same-sex relationships, an organisation of assassins tasked with maintaining the integrity of the timeline, the assassination of Kennedy, and a nuclear holocaust that is six days away (again, mostly their fault).

The little fella with blood on his face is in his late fifties, and the guy on the far right is actually dead …

With so much to pack into ten episodes, it cracks along, but amazingly, doesn’t feel rushed. There’s plenty of time and space to delve into Black oppression, attitudes to homosexuality, love, sacrifice and being willing to do anything for your family … even when you despise them.

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