For my 40th birthday..

.. (which was yesterday, BTW), I was stuck indoors having had a chest infection for the past two weeks.  During that time I’ve been on holiday and off-work, and have had my ex-wife come by to help sort out her stuff at the house.  But as the coughing/vomiting wasn’t getting any better, I went along to the docs on Tuesday to get some antibiotics – which is working, more or less.

During the time I was sick, I started to run out of food.  So I gave Amazon Prime Now a chance.  It’s pretty good – two hour, same day delivery window.  It doesn’t have as much selection as a proper supermarket, but it does cover the basics.  So I bought bread milk, cheese, mineral water and other bits and bobs.  As I was getting a bit bored, I also bought a 7 disc X-Men movie collection.  Due to an error in the checkout process, the promotional £10 off a £30 spend didn’t work.  So I called Prime Now support who credited me £10.  It was then I discovered that the £10 promo HAD been applied and in fact got £20 off the shop.  Effectively I paid for the movie, and got the food for free.  As I spend a lot of Amazon anyway, I don’t feel too guilty about getting an extra £10 off.

I also bought a few other Blu-Rays during the week: The Lady in the Van, Bridge of Spies, Room, The Hateful Eight, and Steve Jobs.  I’d already seen Steve Jobs before and deem it to be a most excellent film (interestingly for those looking for the excitement of product announcements, forget it – this is very much a human drama about his relationship with his daughter, Lisa).

I’ve never been too fond of westerns before my colleague Dave at work introduced me to some classics, but I really got into Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.  Shot in the good old Ultra Panavision (65mm, projected at 70mm) with lenses that came from the old cameras back in the 60s, this is a wonderfully tense western almost entirely set in a single location – a cabin caught in a dreadful blizzard.  As the drama unfolds, you’re treated to violence that would make Game of Thrones look like the Teletubbies.

The Lady in the Van was a pleasant surprise.  I wasn’t sure what to make of it when it hit the cinema (and had avoided it), but I’m very glad to have bought the Blu-Ray.  As you’d expect, Dame Maggie Smith as Miss Shepherd is wonderfully cantankerous.  She really did live in Alan Bennett’s drive for 15 years, and his interactions with her are comedic and yet heartfelt.  The ending is fantastic (both figuratively and literally).

Perhaps the best of all was Bridge of Spies.  Directed by Steven Spielberg from a script by the Coen Brothers and Matt Chapman, this film is inspired by true events.  In 1957, the FBI captures Rudolf Abel, a suspected spy for Russia.  Tom Hanks stars as James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer with criminal law experience who is asked to represent Abel in court.  When the US sends a pilot in an experimental plane to spy on Russian territory which goes horribly wrong, Donovan is sent to East Berlin to negotiate the release of the American – in exchange for Abel.  The entire story is riveting from start to finish, and one of the best Cold War thrillers I’ve seen.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I’ve not seen Room yet – probably will get a chance to do so this week.

So that was it.  My 40th birthday.  Two more years until the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything.