WITH cinemas now back under lock and key across England, it does rather feel this week that we’re back at square one. No matter. Film always finds a way.

Perhaps the biggest release of the week, then, is an early present for the coming festive season. A long time coming, A Christmas Gift From Bob is the sequel to 2016’s feline good flick A Street Cat Named Bob, itself based on the book by James Bowen. That film told the real life story of how the man himself was saved from a life on the streets, under the influence of heroin, by good will and a ginger tabby like no other.

Four years on, Roger Spottiswoode’s seasonal sequel opens with Bowen in a much better place. His book - and the cat that inspired it - is a hit. The film begins only a year later, however, and at Christmas time. Escaping a party, Bowen (once again played gently, superbly, by Luke Treadaway) stumbles across a young homeless kid on the streets. Inspired, James tells of his last Christmas in sheltered accommodation. It wasn’t pretty.

Somewhat implausibly, A Christmas Gift From Bob plays more sedately than its predecessor. Rather than a tale of beginning, middle and end, Spottiswoode presents vignettes of despair - Bowen breaks his guitar and overloads his gas meter in one fell swoop - to demonstrate how disaster can arise from microcosms of misery. And yet, the prevailing message is one of hope. Bowen’s book took its title from Tennessee Williams’ A Street Car Named Desire and tons from Blanche DuBois’ infamous line: ‘I have always relied on the kindness of strange’. Such is true again here.

For all it’s positive aspiration, A Christmas Gift From Bob has the unfortunate addendum of a devastating final note. In June this year, Bob - who ‘plays’ himself in the film - passed away. To this end, this can only serve as a fitting tribute.

For those averse to Christmas films in November, Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula offers another sequel, albeit with scares over saccharine intent.

Yeon Sang-ho‘s Train to Busan proved an outstanding blend of horror and social commentary in 2016. Peninsula is, by that virtue, nothing short of a crushing disappointment. Computer generated nonsense dominates nuance and originality is left on platform one. You can’t win ‘em all.