Sunday, June 10, 2018

Taking new things for spins

It's been a weekend of trying new things on the movie home viewing front.

Originally this post was going to be entitled "Taking our new TV for a spin," but then a second "new" type of experience presented itself, even though it's of a more superficial nature.

But let's start with the big one.

We got a new TV this past week. It was something of a surprise, as in, we didn't even really talk about it. In fact, it was all transacted in a couple emails while I was at work one day.

We've had a pretty modestly sized 30" TV since moving to Australia, even replacing it with the same 30" make and model when the first one died after about two-and-a-half years. The price was right so we hoped it wouldn't have the same mechanical failure this time, and it hasn't so far. But some additional stability in our finances (I got some new security in my job) and end of financial year sales tempted my wife to check out the possibilities for an upgrade. A scant few days later, a 43" TV arrived on our doorstop.

I guess that means it's nearly 50% larger, and the difference is significant.

We originally expected it last Friday, and in fact, my wife made sure she didn't stray far from the house or for very long, in order to be around for their ridiculous 12-hour delivery window. It didn't come that day, meaning I couldn't revisit a visually dynamic favorite movie from my collection last weekend as anticipated. That was the way I wanted to symbolically break the thing in. But it did arrive the following Monday, meaning I ultimately had to make my first movie on it ... High Plains Drifter, which you know I really didn't like if you read this post.

But I knew another weekend, a three-day weekend, was on tap in just a few short days. We celebrate the queen's birthday here in Australia, so no one is working on Monday. Even though the queen's actual birthday is in April. But we have like four other holidays in April and none in June. (In fact, without the queen's birthday celebrated in June, we wouldn't have a single public holiday between the end of April and the middle of September. And that September holiday was just introduced since I've moved here, meaning the drought formerly lasted until November.)

So this past Friday night I planned the real debut of the new TV after its previous "soft open." And that was ... Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.

Perfume is one of a dozen "new favorites" that I watch every couple years ... "new" being defined as "post 2000" I guess. And since I do watch these movies pretty frequently, I was kind of surprised to see it had been more than three years since my last Perfume viewing. I originally planned to involve my wife in this viewing, since she had stated a desire to watch the movie again herself, having seen it only once. But she was too tired on Friday night, for any movie let alone a 140-minute one. I imagine she saw the disappointment in my eyes, and never wanting to hold up one of my own viewings for her schedule, she urged me to continue with it anyway. (She'll probably be content to wait another two years for her second viewing, at which point I'll be ready for my seventh.)

And yeah, it looked pretty effing great on the new TV.

This is going to be fun.

I should also mention it is, of course, a smart TV, but I couldn't have anticipated the ways in which that intelligence would present itself. Without even pairing them, the TV now has dominion over our BluRay player. That's right, its remote control allows us to control the BluRay player controls. Which is no small thing, because our BluRay remote has been dead for at least two years and we've been using an app on our phones to control it. That app relies on the WiFi, so if we are having internet problems, we can't use it. BluRays or DVDs are a good alternative to Netflix if we are having internet issues ... but not if we can't play them. (There are certain things you can control with buttons on the front, but certain things you can't, and some of those things are insurmountable.) So yeah, this is big, and though I suppose it also relies on the internet in some way, it's possible it does not. Hey, I don't profess to fully understand all this stuff.

The second night of the three-day weekend didn't involve another visual feast on the order of Perfume, but it did feature my second "new" type of viewing experience of the weekend.

Namely, I've got a new supplier for my movie kiosk needs.

Even though the rest of the world has moved away from physical media, I still like going to a kiosk and renting a movie ... even if it usually involves going out of my way on the second day to return it. It's the last vestige of the experience of going to a proper video store, which is now well and truly dead.

Kiosk rentals looked to be dead too, as I have witnessed and written about the steady demise of the Hoyts kiosks I've been using since moving here. They may be entirely gone now; I'm not going to their possibly former website at this moment to find out, as it's too depressing.

But in a sign of some optimism for the delivery method if not for Hoyts in particular, the last Hoyts kiosk I used, at the Woolworth's in Moonee Ponds, has actually been replaced with a different brand of kiosk. In all previous other instances I'd witnessed of a Hoyt kiosk vanishing, it disappeared from the location without a successor. But the Moonee Ponds Woolworth's now has a Video Ezy kiosk where the Hoyts one formerly stood.

Pretty much the same deal, except I think the movies are $4 rather than $3.50. That, of course, is not a deal breaker for me. The time and gas required to get to and from the store probably cost me twice that much.

That's not my closest Woolworth's, but I was going that way Saturday morning anyway because I needed to pick up my bike from the bike shop, where it had undergone some repairs. I had gotten a glimpse of the new Video Ezy kiosk on a previous occasion, and this time I planned to use it.

And fortunately, the first movie that came up when I browsed was one my wife and I both wanted to see: Game Night.

Alas, she ended up skipping out on this viewing too. We were over at a friend's house for dinner last night, and though I thought we might return around 8:30, it was nearly 10 o'clock when we got home. I will of course watch a movie starting after 10, especially a short one like Game Night. Not so with my wife, who was ready to retire to the bedroom with the TV shows that she watches that I don't.

Unfortunately, the drawbacks of the single-night rental experience were underscored by Saturday night's example. If I'd had my druthers, I might have put off my viewing of Game Night for a time when a) my wife could also watch and b) I myself was not so tired. But if $4 won't break the bank for me, $8 might, so I couldn't/wouldn't extend my rental of the movie a second night.

And so I can barely tell you what happened in Game Night, as I slept several times during it. I paused it each time and rewound when I noticed I'd slept through some actual content, but the whole thing is a bit of a mishmash in my memory. I do know that I marginally enjoyed it.

And also that it looked pretty effing great on our new TV.

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