Life, the universe, and everything! 42!

A new milestone was reached last Tuesday – the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything!  42!  But I don’t feel a day over 41.

I took myself off to the movies to watch Deadpool 2.

ALAS!

I’d forgotten quite how uncomfortable the seats at Ambassadors Cinema Woking were.  They kind of force you to slouch in a reclining position which makes it difficult to support the lower back.  After about an hour, I had to keep twisting and turning to remain comfortable.   Why didn’t I go to the Odeon?  Long story.

I cancelled my Odeon Limitless pass earlier in May before the next payment was due.  There’s no way to cancel the Odeon Limitless pass online.  Doesn’t even tell you if/when it’s going to renew.  But from previous experiences, it just expired.

ALAS!

It doesn’t expire, it turns out.  It just moves onto a 30-day rollover.   So, having cancelled the direct debit thinking I’d be safe and they’d just cancel the Limitless pass, I was immediately contacted by Odeon’s payment processor (Harlands Group) who threw down a £10 administration charge.  Here’s the letter (delivered by email):

“It may be a mistake, but we’re going to add a £9.99 penalty anyway”

Spot the mistake (clue – I have to email Energie Fitness Club?!).  After a couple of phone calls, it was resolved – yet they told me that I’d receive confirmation of the cancellation with 5-6 days.  It’s now been nearly two weeks.  Also never received any GDPR information from Odeon either.

As for “harlands-cloud.co.uk”, it’s leaking the version of PHP being used and also tells me which version of Ubuntu Linux is being used too.  Both very out of date.  CloudFlare will do so much.  This is terrible for any company dealing with financial data.  So I’m not at all impressed with Harlands Group.

Given the mess that Odeon Limitless has given me as a member, I’d rather not go back to an Odeon cinema again for a very long time.

Another tale of woe from using Odeon Limitless:

So that’s the reason why I decided to pay the Ambassadors Cinema in Woking a go.  Having bought my drink and made my way into the cinema, I was trying to get comfy when the film started.

ALAS!

The curtain on the screen didn’t open properly, resulting in a 4:3 aspect ratio presentation of Deadpool 2.  I waited a couple of minutes before I left the auditorium to find somebody to fix it.  Somebody went up to the projection room and shortly after the film stopped.  The curtains drew back properly, and the film began from the beginning again.  Except the lights remained on.  After another 2 minutes, somebody else went outside to complain.  Another 2 minutes later, the lights dimmed.

Cramped seating and poor presentation made me regret my decision.  Though I had to go back as I had also booked to see Avengers: Infinity War the next day (no spoilers: it was excellent).  Deadpool 2 was a good film, but the marketing team appear to have done a better job than the filmmakers.

In other news: sold the Apple Homepod.  Siri was truly a massive pile of donkey manure and thing just would just get confused when other Siri devices were about.  Sold it for a decent price – and replaced it with a webcam, since as I use a desktop now, and that I work from home on a semi-regular basis, Google Hangouts is a thing for me these days.

The Great British Bog Off

The BBC has just lost one of its flagship shows to Channel 4.  This is terrible for a variety of reasons, but on the other hand, the way the BBC finances its shows, it is is also to blame (via the government’s recent interference).

Since the BBC license fee affords some, but not all, programming costs, the BBC often turns to independent production companies – along with its own BBC Worldwide commercial division – to make up any shortfalls.  Costs are shared between private and public funds.  But the downside is that if a show that’s produced via a third party decide it can get a better deal elsewhere, it will.  But it also questions the loyalty of said production company at the BBC.  Will the Beeb likely to commission any more shows from these companies?  I wouldn’t.

The BBC has made some terrible decisions in the past – the most recent being the cancellation of the British version of Dirk Gently’s Detective Agency only to resurrect it in the US via BBC America.  BBC America is a joint effort between BBC Worldwide and AMC (which in turn is owned by Sony).  The only saving grace has been that Netflix has bought it, which means that it’ll be seen.  But will it last more than the commissioned number of episodes?  Who knows.  It’ll be an enormous waste of time if the show is subsequently cancelled if it is.  Why recommission a show (of which the original was partly funded by the  BBC license fee) to have it cancelled again?  Big risk of the BBC’s limited funds.

Regarding the Great British Bake Off, Love Productions & Channel 4 are gambling an enormous amount of money.  Will it get the kind of audience as before, given that it’s moved to another public broadcaster – albeit it one that is funded entirely by adverts.  The main presenting team and judges have yet to confirm whether they’re going to move.  £25 million is a lot to risk for a public broadcaster regardless of however it is funded.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering why the BBC have commissioned a number of TV comedies shot in 2:39 aspect ratio.  The kind of ratio that’s reserved for films.  The impact of this is that you’ll see much bigger black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.  This isn’t too much of a problem If you’re watching on a reasonably sized TV.  But if you’re watching on a mobile phone or tablet, you may be squinting a bit.  Sure, you’ll be able to get some beautiful landscapes in, and you can frame things in an interesting way – but it’ll still look ridiculously small on smaller devices.  You’d think these people are making a Western in Super 70mm/Cinemascope.  But nope, they’re 30-minute comedies.  Made for TV.  I’m not convinced it’s a good ratio to be using for the multi-platform device generation.  Not unless smartphones are bigger than 20″, and tablets are 40″ and require two people to carry them. Not until everybody has access to 80 inch super widescreen TVs.  Or run everybody watches everything at the cinema.  Or TV projectors.

1.85 is a much better ratio.  I’d even go as far as saying that, given that a lot of money is made from video on demand and physical media from films, you’d be better off shooting 1.85 for movies too.  That way, you’ll get a wider (but not too wide) frame that’ll make the best use of today’s multi-device consumption.

Or maybe it’s just me.  Art v. practicality.  Difficult choice.

Odeon Limitless Reviews: Captain America: Civil War; Eye in the Sky

On Saturday I pootled along to the local Odeon in Guildford to take advantage of my new Odeon Limitless pass.

I had already booked Captain America: Civil War for the Saturday and Bad Neighbours 2 for today (after work), but given that Limitless only allows for 2 advanced bookings (to avoid people booking stuff and never turning up), I’ve had to hold on until Sunday to book Florence Foster Jenkins.  Limitless does, however, let you book multiple same day tickets.  It just so happened that Eye in the Sky was showing straight away after Captain America, so I booked that on Saturday morning.

Captain America: Civil War had a Premium Seating booking (an extra £2.30), Eye in the Sky did not (therefore no additional charges).  Bad Neighbours 2 is standard seating, but I’ve gone for Premium Seating for Florence Foster Jenkins.

Picking up tickets

If you’ve paid for an extra (3D, seat upgrade, etc.) not included within the Limitless programme, you can collect your ticket automatically via the machines in the lobby.  For everything else you’ll have to queue, present your (temporary) Limitless membership card, and get them issued manually.  Not sure whether the card will be able to handle tickets automatically via the machines, but we’ll see.  The Odeon staff didn’t seem to know.  It’s all still very new.

The films!

Captain America: Civil War is currently showing in Screen 1 – one of two biggest screens at Guildford.  Unfortunately the air condition wasn’t working at the time, and combined with a very comfortable seat and a very slow first act, I keep falling asleep until the airport sequence which is when the film picks up the pace and action.  Overall a great film (when I remained awake), but needs a bit of a tinker to bring the running time down (147 minutes) and get that first act into shape.  I’d still rate this as one of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best films – but perhaps not THE best.  We’ll see what Avengers: Infinity Wars brings us.  Also it sets things up very nicely for the Black Panther and Black Widow films.

Eye in the Sky is currently showing in the smaller Screen 7.  Normal seating.  For a lad of my size, I started to get very uncomfortable towards the middle of the film.  I have long(ish) legs, so not much room to stretch out or change “bum: positions.   This may have been in part because I had already been sitting down for over two hours, so I have to rethink about double features in the future.  Not unless they’re both Premium Seating.

Eye in the Sky itself I found more engaging that Captain America.  As Alan Rickman’s last film role, it tells of a joint British-American-Kenyan operation to take down suspected terrorists operating out of a compound in Nairobi using a combination of remotely operated drones (the Eye in the Sky) that are under the control by the US military (specifically Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul) and Kenyan ground forces.  It’s a very tense drama.  Some of the spy tech seems a bit far fetched at times, but this is only a very small complaint.  The story as a whole is gripping from start to finish, even if maybe you can see where things are heading.  I wholeheartedly recommend this film.