Mission Impossible 4

I went to Stratford with Cheryl, JonP, Mikey, and Irina last night. We got some food at TGI Friday and then went to the cinema to watch Mission Impossible 4. Now, I don’t want to ruin any of the film or anything but my favourite bit is right at the beginning.

Simon Pegg is sitting at a laptop and then he decided to let out a prisoner at a Russian prison. A guard comes in while working his rounds, potentially a few hours from going home to his wife and kids. Then he opens up a couple more cells and more prisoners come out and commence beating the shit out of the guard. Pegg lets more prisoners out and the guard continues getting the shit kicked out of him on the floor while we watch.

I’m not really sure of the exact reason for this whole scene because it’s not really a requirement for any of the stuff that happens during the next 5 minutes of the film. Seems like they just wanted to show a Russian prison guard being savagely beaten by hardened criminals.

Transformers, Harry Potter, Submarine, Zookeeper

I watch a lot of films. If you don’t already know that about me then you probably don’t know me very well at all and I wonder why you’re reading my blog. 😛

Cheryl and I used to go to the cinema between 4 and 10 times a month when we were in Nottingham so it’s been a bit strange not to go very often while we’ve been in London. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had quite a few visits to various cinemas though and it’s been quite nice.

We went to see Transformers 3 at Paramount’s office in Chiswick and they gave us free drinks and pizza before the film. That was pretty awesome. The film wasn’t too bad either, if you forget about the acting of a certain member of the cast.

Earlier this week we went to Cineworld in the O2 to watch the final instalment of Harry Potter with Dan, Fran, and Hannah. Most of the film was pretty good. A few bits seemed a bit lame, or funny, or just awkward, and then at the end it flashed up with “19 years later” and Dan I looked at each other with a look that said “what the hell?” The last few minutes basically made me come away with a worse impression of the film. it was completely unnecessary.

Yesterday Cheryl and I went to see a screening of Submarine at the Charlotte Street hotel near Tottenham Court Road. After the film–which is brilliant–we took part in a Q&A with the writer/director Richard Ayoade. That was really cool. I’d never taken part in something like that before so it was pretty exciting to be there. Richard Ayoade was very self-deprecating during the whole thing, which is how I think I would be if I ever became famous. I spent the entire Q&A session thinking whether I should ask him the stupid question I’d come up with or not. I went with it for the last question of the night: “how deep is the ocean?” If you’ve not seen the film then you won’t get why that’s funny. Everyone in the room laughed though, so my worries about nobody getting it were baseless. 🙂

Next week we’re going to Sony’s cinema to watch Zookeeper. I’ve not heard a great deal about it, but I’m hoping it’s good. Definitely looking forward to the refreshments. 🙂

George Takei keeps me awake at night

I’ve had a headache for most of the day and so I should really be sleeping now so I can get up in time for the F1 qualifying session at 6am, but instead I am writing a blog post about George Takei.

The reason for my annoyance is actually his annoyance. He has posted on Twitter a couple of times since I started following him about how the new Akira movie is not including any Japanese actors in the lead roles, despite the original Akira movie being Japanese.

My knee-jerk reaction was to agree with his disdain, but then I thought about it for a few seconds and completely changed my mind. Different countries remake movies or TV shows in their own languages with their own casts all the time. Did George Takei complain that the fairly recent Italian Job film featured very few English actors and was mostly set in L.A.? Is he complaining about the upcoming Bollywood remake of the same film not containing English or American actors? No. Of course not.

It makes complete sense to cast people who are from the country in which the movie is being produced. Stop feeling so targeted, it’s nothing personal.

New job

Since Cheryl was looking like getting a job in London I’ve been looking for one myself. I sent an application to LoveFilm after thinking about how much of a good fit it would be for my interests. They’re a Perl house, so I know the language. They’re a company that deals with films, which I spend a lot of time and money on. The Playstation 3 app kind of made my mind up because I thought that it would be something I would like to work on.

I had to complete a programming test before anything else. After doing that I thought that I hadn’t done very well, but apparently I was worrying over nothing. I was offered an interview last Friday and so I went out and bought a new suit, got a haircut, had a shave, and went down there.

The interview itself went pretty well. I had a technical test/interview with two of the developers there, and then I had an interview with the head of the digital distribution team. I felt fairly comfortable during most of this process. The only issue was the pressure of being tested on programming stuff without a computer nearby. I don’t like writing SQL on paper. I much prefer to try a query once, then adjust it if it’s wrong, but oh well.

After the interview I was told that I should hear back fairly soon, so I went away not knowing what would happen, or how long it would really take.

I met up with JonP and we went for some drinks before my train at 20:30. At around 20:15 we realised that there was no chance of me making the train to Nottingham, so JonP offered to let me stay at his. We left the Bull in Shepherd’s Bush and went to the London Cocktail Club for a couple of drinks. Then we headed to Soho to a weird bar that serves drinks infused with garlic and stuff. We each had a shot of tequila infused with chilli. It was disgusting, so we chased it down with a beer.

On the way out of that bad JonP realised that he no longer had his bag. We headed back to the London Cocktail Club, which was closed. JonP rang their phone and left a message while I banged on the shutter door. Eventually someone came to the door to clean the steps with a mop, and thankfully JonP’s bag was still in there.

We caught a bus back to JonP and Emma’s apartment and I fell asleep fully suited up. I woke up a few times the next morning, then eventually noticed that I had a missed call from my contact at the agency. He said he’d got some feedback for me, and asked me to call him when possible.

I called him back and he told me that the interview was positive and that I had been offered the job. 😀

I rang Cheryl and my immediate family to let them know how it went, and started to feel pretty happy.

We decided to go and get some Mexican breakfast at Wahaca. JonP got as far as the DLR station before he decided to go back home to sleep. Emma and I powered on through. We decided to begin the drinking straight away. We ordered a tequila and a Corona, and during the course of eating our lunch we also ordered another tequila.

At about 2:30 Emma had to go to meet some of her friends so I decided to wander around London on my own for a while.

Cheryl called just as Emma left and said that she was thinking of coming down to London for the night. We discovered that the coach would be much cheaper, and Emma and JonP were fine with it, so we made plans.

I decided that I wanted to read a book and enjoy the day. I bought A Room with a View by E. M. Forster and made myself comfortable in Costa Coffee. I was reading in there for about 4 hours while Cheryl made her way to London. JonP’s band were playing a gig in Camden so we arranged to meet over there. I set off for Camden and met Cheryl at the tube station. She’d just seen JonP walk by with his guitar, so we headed off looking for the pub.

The venue was pretty small and incredibly warm, but the gig itself was good. 🙂

After the gig we went back to JonP’s apartment and Emma was asleep on the couch. She woke up after a little while and went to bed instead. We stayed up and had some pizza and stuff from Pizza Planet, and then called it a night.

We left fairly early on Sunday so that we could have some of the weekend chilling out at home. It was a really good weekend. 😀

Problems with LOVEFiLM on PS3

I recently subscribed to LOVEFiLM again because I saw that I could stream movies to my PS3. I was mostly pleased with how the application worked initially, but now I’ve been using it for a while there are a few things that bother me about it.

A-Z should mean A-Z
When you view a genre of movies you can view the most popular ones, the highest rated ones (usually pretty much the same list), or you can choose to view the entire genre A-Z. I decided I wanted to view all of the comedy movies on there to look for something a bit less popular. I scrolled down until I reached somewhere in the B section of the list and then it stopped scrolling. The problem is that the application only lets you view 100 movies in a list. No more get added to the list when you near the bottom, and there’s no pagination at all. This means you have to search for a film specifically if its title comes after the beginning 2 letters of the alphabet and it’s not in the popular/highest rated lists. That brings me neatly to my next gripe.

Searching is clunky
Rather than use the PS3 system keyboard there is a very limited keyboard in the application. Every time you press any key the list of matching movies is fetched again. When the list of movies is being fetched the keyboard no longer responds properly. If I have filtered the results by clicking on the “Watch Now” tab then it flicks back to all movies before showing me the results. On most sites with an auto-complete field on the web there is a delay of half a second or so before the search begins. This helps to prevent extraneous searches, and improve the experience for the user. A delay of a second or so without the focus moving or a button being pressed on the keyboard before a search is sent would help greatly. I could type in a more specific search and find what I’m looking for much more quickly. If I’ve previously chosen the “Watch Now” tab then this should be the default tab that I’m shown when the results are returned.

I can understand that the keyboard isn’t the default system keyboard for the PS3 because LOVEFiLM’s keyboard allows a narrowing down of results in something like real-time, whereas the PS3 keyboard takes over the whole screen and only fills in the text field after you’ve finished typing. So perhaps there’s some work that could be done by Sony there to have a keyboard as a popup when in a text field or something. Perhaps LOVEFiLM could allow me to use the system keyboard if I want to. It would certainly make the search section easier to use for now.

Default PS3 controls are replaced
I use my Playstation to play a lot of media. Whether I am watching a DVD, Blu Ray, or downloaded video I know I can fast forward by holding down R2, rewind using L2, and pause by pressing Start, which is pretty much universal in the console world. In the LOVEFiLM application fast forward is the right-direction on the d-pad, rewind is left, and pause is the X button. This was quite confusing at first and I always pressed the wrong button the first time. Why is there a disagreement? Don’t Sony have guidelines similar to Apple/Google when it comes to apps for their systems? Things should behave in a similar way across a platform. To do otherwise just adds problems for the user.

No personal recommendations
When it comes to picking movies to watch you’ve either got to know what you want and search for it, or find it in the Most Popular section, the Highest Rated Section, or the collections. LOVEFiLM have a bunch of ratings from films I’ve rented from them. They suggest films that I might like to watch when I visit their website. Why not pass that information over to the PS3 application? In fact, why not just return a section called “Films on your Rental List” that are available to Watch Now? The information is available with a simple call to their API.

I’m sure the whole thing will get better with updated versions of the software, and it is usable for now, but it could be so much better.

Subscription TV over the Internet

I recently signed up for Lovefilm again when I saw that I can stream a bunch of stuff via my PS3. They’ll also send me DVD/Blu-ray/PS3 games in the post and I can send them back when I’m done. I pay £14 a month no matter how much I watch, which seems like a good deal to me.

I pay for an Unlimited card at Cineworld so that I can go and see as many films as I like at the cinema for £13.50 a month. Cheryl and I tend to go to 4 or 5 films a month, which makes it considerably cheaper per film than not having the card and seeing the same number of films. We get to see all of the latest films as they come out in awesome quality complete with surround sound (and idiots with their phones on).

I pay £10 a month to Spotify so that I can stream whatever music I like (with very few limitations) to my work and home computers, and also my mobile phone without any advertising, at a high quality.

When I want to watch a TV show I have to watch it as it plays out on TV with advertising, or record it with a DVR when it’s on so I can watch it later. Other than sometimes on Virgin there seems to be no concept of an on demand catalogue of shows. Why? I would quite happily pay £15 a month or so for an archive of TV shows to be available at the press of a button on a variety of my devices in different locations. If LoveFilm had rights to more shows I would definitely go there for them, but sadly they don’t.

An additional problem is that I am a fan of shows on Facebook, so I get all sorts of updates as the latest episodes of How I Met Your Mother or House get shown over there, and then I get to wait 6 months for the episode to air over here on a channel (as part of a package) I have to pay Sky to watch even though I only want 1 or 2 shows.

Why would I do that? Why should I do that? If I want I can download the entire episode within hours of it airing in the US with ads removed and play it on my PS3, my phone, burn it to DVD and play it basically anywhere, etc..

It is obvious that the subscriber model works, I subscribe to almost all of my media these days. If you guys make it available in a sensible way then I will happily give you my money for it. If you continue doing it this way then people will continue to make it freely available. If you want to succeed you have to make your stuff as available as TeH pIrAtEz do, but legally and for a decent price.

Drinks, bad news, movies, Android apps

On Saturday night Cheryl and I went out with Holly and then Len met up with us in The Social. We had a bunch of drinks and ended up spending the whole night in there, leaving at about 2 in the morning. It was a really fun evening, and I was very tired by the end of it.

I got woken up by Cheryl at about 5 in the morning because she’d just had some really bad news about her uncle back in Singapore. 🙁 After a bit more sleep I commenced operation Cheer Up Cheryl. I made some American-style pancakes with chocolate chips in. Then I fell back to sleep again while Cheryl was speaking to her mum on the phone.

After 4pm we headed to town to the cinema to watch The Karate Kid. It was a good film. Jaden Smith is a pretty good actor and is somewhat like his dad at times, which is quite a compliment, I think. The name of the film doesn’t really fit any more since the entire thing is about Kung Fu, but oh well. Jackie Chan is always appreciated in any movie. 🙂

After the movie we went to Tamatanga where I discovered that they don’t know how to use capital letters on their menu (is that really stylish?). The food was nice enough, but we couldn’t take what we left because we were heading back to the cinema to watch Knight and Day. We had a bit of time to kill so we played on the IT Box again. We’re beginning to dominate the score board for Word Up. 🙂

I had very low expectations for the film, but I was quite pleasantly surprised by how not-shit it was. There were enough funny moments to make it light-hearted, and enough action to keep anyone interested. It was a bit like a Jason Bourne comedy, starring an crazy midget and Cameron Diaz. It could have been a lot worse…

When we got back I was updating some apps on my phone when I noticed that Google were publicising Sky’s app on the marketplace. I took a quick look and saw that it has between 10 and 50 thousand downloads already. It makes me so sad to know that the audience for my app was so large, but I hardly tapped it at all. Oh well.

Another two films at the cinema

I met Cheryl on old market square after work yesterday and we went to the cinema in time for the 17:30 showing of The A-Team. It was every bit as silly as I imagined it would be. Some bits are even more ridiculous than I expected (flying a tank, etc.). It was also as full of explosions and shooting as I hoped it would be. 🙂 It’s worth going to watch if you fancy a funny action movie.

After the film we went to pick up our tickets for the 9pm showing of Twilight: Eclipse. when we had the tickets we headed to Chiquito to get some Mexican food. I tried another sub-par quesadilla while Cheryl had macaroni and cheese (yes, really).

Eclipse itself was kind of like this for me:

First 90 minutes
Bella looks just to the left of Edward with a pained expression on her face looking slightly confused by something in the distance.
Bella looks just to the left of Jacob with a pained expression on her face looking slightly confused by something in the distance, then breaks her hand punching him in the face after he kisses her.
Edward does his necessary macho thing to Jacob, then they both pull back with pained expressions on their faces.
Bella looks upset, still.
Bella kisses Jacob, Edward doesn’t mind because he knows Bella loves him more than Jacob.

The next 20 minutes
There’s an awesome fight scene with werewolves and vampires all over the place!

The last 10 minutes
Teenage girl heaven.

Cinemaness

Cheryl and I were talking about how many films we wanted to watch at the cinema yesterday, so we decided it would be worth investing in an unlimited card for Cineworld. It costs £13.50 and you use the card to go to as many films as you like.

We ordered our cards online yesterday and then printed the temporary passes out. We met near the cinema in time to watch Toy Story 3 in 3D. It was a really good film. It was sad in parts, hilarious in parts, and just plain great overall.

After that had finished we went to get our tickets for Inception. After getting the tickets we went to Subway for a quick sandwich. We sat upstairs and had to listen to chavs talking about their illegitimate children, or whatever it is chavs talk about these days. We left there as soon as possible to go play on the IT Box in the cinema. We ended up playing on Word Soup about 6 times. We did fairly well, but couldn’t seem to be consistent enough to win money.

We went into the screen to watch Inception and sat down. When the film was ready to start the lights came up to full brightness for some reason. They stayed like that until someone went to speak to the people. Then the lights dulled, then flashed bright again. Stupid lights or stupid staff, I’m not sure. Eventually they turned off and we could see the screen properly.

Inception itself can be a bit confusing with the timeline changes, but the film itself isn’t that complicated. I’m sure it could be difficult to follow if you have a short attention span, or if you lost concentration for a few minutes, but it’s still enjoyable. It’s jumped into IMDb’s Top 250 at number 3, which is ridiculous. I’m sure it’ll get lower and lower over the coming weeks, but I imagine it’ll stay in the middle of the list for a fairly long time.

We got out of the cinema at 11:50pm after arriving there at about 5:30pm. It was a long evening in the cinema, and there will be many more to follow. 🙂

The Collector

Cheryl and I went to the cinema to watch The Collector yesterday. I’m kind of struggling to make my mind up about this film. The opening credits were pretty cool, and it definitely grabbed my attention. The rest was suspenseful and horribly graphic, which is what you expect in a horror film. Quite a few bits and pieces were very predictable, and just as frustrating and unrealistic as most horror films tend to be.

I found myself trying to solve the mystery of who the killer was only to find out that it’s not really anybody you’re supposed to be able to guess, and it’s not really significant in any way. Perhaps it could have done with a bit more of a story-line, but that would probably only serve to alienate the intended audience who are incapable of following a complex plot.

The whole film was similar to what I would expect from a Saw film, if I ever bother to watch one. It did make me consider that the protagonists name–Arkin–was some sort of homage to Saw… Like Arkansas, but then I don’t know if either film has anything to do with Arkansas, so it wouldn’t really make sense. No really good reason for the guy to be named Arkin though.

Oh well, if you want a random Saw-like gory horror film then go see The Collector. 🙂