Nicholas Quirke was thinking that he had finally got the opportunity to rest on 8 May 2021 but with an 10am screening of Zhang Yimou’s latest film booked at The National Film Museum, an hour and a half journey away, he was very much mistaken. In fact, it was still a 6km cycle ride away from the nearest subway and when he found himself pushing the limits of his peddling power and cardio-vascular ability to get there on time any thoughts of a day of rest were obliterated. Once they were seated, with only had minutes to spare, he was able to physically relax from the punishing trip although mentally there was no let up as from beginning to end the spy thriller from master film maker Zhang Yimou gripped him by the throat and never let go. While WWII was raging the Japanese invaded China and as a result of this occupation the Chinese resistance movement was born. In this background, against the impeccably shot icy setting of north eastern Harbin this taut, tense drama plays out. Traitors, torture, twists and turns kept the suspense going right to the conclusion.  Originally the western title was ‘Impasse’ which he thought far more atmospheric than the pedestrian sounding  ‘Cliff Walkers,’ which is a literal translation suggesting ‘knife  edge’ nevertheless, he felt it was still another great movie from a director whose vision never seems to diminish. An Italian style establishment advertising new vegan pizza had been promoted by the ‘Vegans of Beijing’ chat group and when the film had ended, too weary to cycle back to the subway they took a Didi to the Solana mall to eat. Making themselves comfortable and scanning the menu for the promised sustenance it did not take them long to discover there was nothing on the menu for them and the sister branch was the only place they could get the new products. They settled instead for a short walk to a ‘SlowBoat’ burger restaurant and enjoyed a vegan burger and chips. He was now way behind on his blog and sitting down to complete his next instalment in a tea rooms was next on the agenda. It required a short cycle ride to the and a couple of hour of industry. The subway sped them home to a evening sprawled in front of the television and a playful ‘rage against the machine’ animation, ‘The Mitchell’s vs. The Machines which, had some heart in its ‘father vs daughter story line and some nice observations on technology and our behaviour with it but ultimately insignificant. Feeling really tired and desperately in need of rest he went to sleep.

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