The Films I've Watched This Year #7

Film Evening. If social media and my own experience are any measure, the Amazon's migration of Lovefilm into the main website and infrastructure has been a bit of disaster and much of it has to do with information. Unless current users followed the news they wouldn't have any idea of the changeover until they tried to log on to the Lovefilm website on Wednesday only to be met with a page pointing them in the direction of Amazon, either to migrate their account or if they'd done so already into deal with a whole new structure for their data which in some cases was either all over the place, didn't reflect recent changes with some titles having dropped off.  In seemingly taking the infracture of the US website and simply dumping the Lovefilm user database into it, there's been little care in explaining exactly how the new website works and the implications it has for users, at least unless they bother to click and look at the help pages, which judging by the confusion in a quick Twitter search and glancing at the Facebook page most people haven't.

The main problem seems to be that some users are now assuming that everything needs to be paid for (on top of their subs) or that items that have suddenly turned up in searches, mainly newer titles should be included in the package even though they're now being asked pay for them too - Amazon simply haven't made the difference between the new paid for downloads service ala iTunes and items in the monthly package clear enough other than a tiny "Prime" logo on cover graphics which is easy to miss because it's in the same place as "HD" logos on others.  This confusion has only been increased by the decision to suddenly start charging for some television series which were previously part of the package at the time of switchover while some people were in the middle of a season (with Grey's Anatomy a particular bone of contention) and what looked like a glitch which lasted two days in which items which were included in the package showed up on tablet apps as requiring payment.

All of which has led to plenty of people saying they're cancelling their packages both streaming and postal.  Not me, of course, because much of this really is just teething problems and managerial mistakes (and the like) and I'm also pretty stuck since I don't go to the cinema and these services are an entertainment lifeline.  Though it's also fair to say my experience has also been pretty bad, the disappointment epicentre of which was spending an hour on the phone yesterday with two advisors trying to sort out where my reserve lists (which are carefully curated events developed over months) had disappeared to after what should have been a simple update to the disc format of a title, conversations which (and I'm not at all proud to admit this) were pretty fractious.  Previously, whenever something like this cropped up, I'd phone Lovefilm and they'd tell me it was a system glitch or that I'd done something wrong and that was fine which is why I even bothered because let's face I should have more to do in life than worry about the disappearance of my "reserved list" on my old Lovefilm dvd by post rental account.  By the way this is a note I've written to myself.  Now I've typed it here too.

The first call was akin to speaking to The Happiness Patrol as I attempted to find out if the data had gone completely which he kept ignoring or not addressing, simply parroting the phrases he'd been given about waiting twenty-four to forty-eight for my account to transfer (which it already had) and that there were plenty of titles ready to be sent out anyway (which I knew).  I eventually coached him into admitting that he didn't have access to the information I'd been asking for during the previous twenty minutes anyway and gave me a telephone number to "someone who had more access" who turned out to be the Kindle helpline and all he could do was transfer me back to the call centre I'd already been talking to.  I'd asked the first advisor why he hadn't given the other telephone number to begin with.  Now I knew.  He'd given me this other number to get rid of me, bless him.  The upshot of all this is I'm waiting the twenty-four to forty-eight for my account to transfer, hoping that the system and website will have stabilized by then so I can trust any changes I'm making.  Oh and that the rental lists will be in alphabetical order again.

Meanwhile, Amazon Instant Video UK's online presence is an island with unanswered emails, social media boffins furiously deleting negative comments on the Facebook page rather than addressing them and Twitter searches which are a PR disaster area.  I don't know anything about how these big data transfers are carried out, but it seems to me that a more gradual process would have paid dividends, with only Lovefilm Instant customers sent over first to a website just offering in-package content, then the rest of us and after all of that had bedded in the introduction of the ability to download and stream and purchase additional items rather than the apocalyptic mess this is (not to mention the horrors of forcing Amazon Prime customers to suddenly stump up an extra thirty pounds for a streaming service they might not actually want) (and many of those, if Twitter's a guide, don't know that this extra charge isn't being added until next year).  The really galling thing is that no one in the mainstream media, who were quite happy to rewrite Amazon's press releases a week ago, has come back in to see how everything is going...

Stuck In Love
Nobody's Daughter Hae-won
Bachelor Knight
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Dark Skies
Better Luck Tomorrow
Trap for Cinderella

Well, that was therapeutic.  The shortness of the list this week can be explained by Doctor Who's The Web of Fear being watched on Tuesday and Game of Thrones's third series being posted to me Amazfilm (because despite everything they're still hard at work in Peterborough sending the envelopes out).  I haven't reached the Red Wedding episode yet, so no spoilers.  Not a spectacularly inspiring week outside of the Cary/Bowie excitement.  Alan Partridge is fine and actually quite poignant thematically about how local commercial radio and the DJ's direct connection with a certain generation of audience members is being eroded over time due to the intervention of large companies, but I didn't laugh half as much as I wanted to, though that's tended to be the case with much of this saga over time anyway.  Dark Skies is a pretty solid domestic alien invasion horror which isn't doing anything particular new but still manages to be spectacularly creepy, especially when the visitors themselves appear and menace the children.

Stuck In Love was the surprise.  A glance at the advertising which apes the Love Actually posters, as so many of these things do now, suggests its going to be one of those hyperlink romantic comedies like that and Valentine's Day but is in fact a family ensemble piece about three blokes and their manic pixie dream girls.  Which is an unfair description since all of the characters are intelligent, funny and literate and to an extent it's Woody Allen's Interiors with jokes.  The problem is if you're someone who notices these things, you can see that none of the women are in charge of their own stories.  Greg Kinear's failing author is fighting to get his wife, Jennifer Connolly back whilst enjoying Kirsten Bell's company as a fuck buddy (yes, really).  His son, Nat Wolff, is trying to clean-up the noxious substances act of prime MPDG Liana Liberato.  Lily Collins is the daughter, but that story is about Logan Lerman trying to become her boyfriend.  Nevertheless, despite all of this, I had a really good time with it in way I didn't with the highly similar Smart People.

2003's teen crime drama, Better Luck Tomorrow is The Outsiders meets The Inbetweeners set within the Asian-American diaspora and about bored grade-A students attempting the gangster lifestyle in high school.  At roughly the same time as he was playing MILF GUY #2 in American Pie, John Cho has a major part as the upper class love rival of the main character.  The reason I discovered and watched it is because as a connoisseur of the Fast & Furious franchise I knew this also featured the first outing for Sung Kang's character Han who would go on to feature in director Justin Lin's first of the F&F sequels, Tokyo Drift for which this now acts as an unofficial back story, though lord knows where it fits in the F&F timeline given that episode four, five and six are all effectively prequels to that third installment.  The Wikipedia page doesn't go there.  Its indie vibe makes it well worth seeing either way, not least because it was championed by Roger Ebert at the time.

Now, see if you can guess which of the listed films features Jane Birken as herself in a dream sequence.  It's not immediately obvious...

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