Most of you know that I’m not really a film critic, but my friend who is asked my thoughts on Made In Hong Kong about a month ago, and I’m just getting around to posting them now. This isn’t really a review, just my opinion. I suppose that is a review, huh? Here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it:
I wasn’t sure I had seen the film based on the trailer. The cast looked familiar enough and I had seen plenty of movies back then. Even though the trailer mentions that this if the first time Made In Hong Kong was released in the US, there were plenty of movies shown in Chinatown (not to metion bootleg VHS tapes and DVDs) that never had official American releases. I don’t even know the titles of many of the ones I saw back then. It also mentions that this is the firstindependent HK film, but I’m sure Tsui Hark would take issue with that.
Turns out, I had not seen the film before. The 4K restoration I saw looked like the movie was shot yesterday. It looked better than it would have had I seen it back in the 1990s, because in those days the 35mm prints were beat up by the time I saw them. It was actually a little disconcerting to me at first, but not everyone is going to have that issue. While it isn’t for everyone, I enjoyed the movie. Given the plot, it could have gone the extreme melodrama route like similiar gangster youth films of the era. The director chose instead to keep things grounded, focusing on the characters, their relationships to each other and the greater societies they inhabit, occasionally injecting some social commentary. I wouldn’t call Made In Hong Kong a bleak movie, but it does have that streak of fatalism prevelant in HK cinema leading up to the Handover and uncertainty about the future. It’s worth a watch, but not if you’re in need of cheering up.
The title says it all, doesn’t it? In this video, I explain and demonstrate how to get around MoviePass‘ Countdown Clock and why it works. This doesn’t violate MoviePass Terms Of Service, either; I explain that towards the end, but once they get hip to this, I’m sure MoviePass will make some changes. Most ironic is that while MoviePass may not be too thrilled about this video, it’s the smoothest MoviePass transaction I’ve ever recorded. Seriously, I wonder how many MoviePass users have ever checked in and got their ticket that fast.
If you’ve read my other posts on MoviePass, it’s clear that overall I was happy with the service and how it was implemented for the first 11 months of my membership. Even with the Countdown Clock, many of you may find that MoviePass is indeed a great value that would suit your needs. The way the Countdown Clock was implemented and announced is only the latest in a string of ethically questionable practices that I have issue with.
Right off the bat, it was pretty impossible to recommend the service to anyone, despite how much value I was getting from it. Whenever I would tell anyone about MoviePass, they would ask, “What’s the catch?” at which point, I would rattle off a list. “So, the very thing MoviePass advertises as their service is pretty much bullshit,” is how people would basically respond to the list of restrictions on the “unlimited” service. I would contend that I didn’t believe it to be an intentional deception; the service was in still in “beta,” and I believed they were working towards offering what they were advertising.
If English isn’t your first language, that might not make sense. Hell, it might not make sense even if English is your first language. The distinction between a day and 24 hours is important. What is a day? That seems obvious: Monday is one day, Tuesday is another and so on. Now consider the period of time between 12 noon on Monday and 12 noon on Tuesday. Is that a day? What day? It’s 24 hours, and 24 hours is not a day.
The MoviePass card is actually a branded Discover Card, so it should be accepted at any theater with a ticket kiosk that accepts Discover for payment. This includes most (but not all) of the theater chains in America. Many independently owned and operated theaters also accept Discover, so you should be able to use your MoviePass there. However, you can only see movies at venues that are listed in the app. Even if a theater is listed in the app, not every movie showing will necessarily be available to purchase with MoviePass. This can effectively limit your choices based on where you live. You can see which theaters in your area accept MoviePass at their website before you sign up.
The video below illustrates this paragraph if you’d rather watch than read how it works. To use MoviePass, you open the app and find the movie show time you want. You can browse or search by movie or theater. Once you’ve decided what movie you’re going to, you have to technically purchase the ticket at the theater. I say “technically,” because even though you’re the one making the purchase, MoviePass is picking up the tab. Go to the theater and verify that tickets are available for the show you want to see. Open the app, find the show time and tap it to check in. A screen will appear with the details to verify. When you confirm, your app my ask permission to use your location, because you have to be within 100 yards of the venue to activate your card. Wait a few seconds for confirmation that your card is activated; the confirmation screen will also remind you what your home zip code is in case the kiosk prompts you for it. You’ll then have 30 minutes to purchase the ticket at a kiosk. Make the purchase the same way you would make a credit card purchase (you can even earn points for a theater loyalty plan) and that’s it. Not every purchase went 100% smoothly, but customer service always sorted it out without a fuss. I know this seems convoluted, but it’s actually much simpler in practice.
When I signed up for MoviePass, it was also described as a “Beta” service, so I was prepared for various quirks and adjustments along the way. At the time, you couldn’t just join, you had to sign up to an invite list on MoviePass‘ website and wait for a reply. I wound up being the only one I knew to sign up. Most agreed (myself included) that it seemed too good to be true. After reading some coverage on the service online, I decided to take one for the team and chance that it wasn’t some scam to harvest e-mail addresses or credit card details. I was able to snag an invite to skip the waiting list (from LifeHacker).
If you already know what MoviePass is and just came here to find out if it’s worth it, the short answer is no. As of this writing, I cannot recommend MoviePass. While it’s a great concept that shows a lot of potential and, despite some quirks, was implemented pretty well, poor decisions by management seem to indicate a fundamental lack of understanding of their customer base and consumer culture in general, as well as confusion as to what their long term business goals are. If you want to know what qualifies me to make said conclusions, read this. If you want more details as to how I arrived at these conclusions, keep reading.
For todays #ThrowbackThursday, here’s a video interview on TechCrunch TV with MoviePass CEO Stacy Spikes from about a year ago. Does any of MoviePass’ users think they have come closer to the product he describes here or further away from it in the past year? In light of the introduction of the Countdown Clock, the section from 4:10-5:05 sounds especially hypocritical.
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