Curzon On Demand: Bringing Funny Games Into The Comfort Of Your Own Home

April 30, 2012 by Simon Kinnear in Opinion with 0 Comments

Distribution is often the biggest ballache for cinema lovers.  So often, you read about the latest masterpieces from around the world, only to find that they’re showing nowhere near you.  Even if you live in a city with a superb art-house cinema, like I do, print availability often means a sizeable wait and careful planning to catch it on the handful of nights it’s being screened.

Fair play to Curzon, then, who are augmenting their chain of cinemas with the new Curzon on Demand service.  New releases like Le Havre are available on release date, at a cheaper price than most cinemas – even before factoring in the hassle of getting there. Plus, you can make your own popcorn.

The back catalogue is arguably an even better draw, with classics from the past two decades of world cinema available, in some cases, for as little as £2.  I’m finally going to be able to catch up on A Separation

Does this cheapen the cinema-going experience?  I’m torn.  For many years, I was evangelical about the importance of seeing films on the big screen.  Nowadays, a combination of improved home cinema quality and changing lifestyle has made me more appreciative of the virtues of lying back on the sofa and less bothered about the lost art of sitting in the dark on my own, so it suits me fine.  

 Funny Games Michael Haneke 1997

I trialled Curzon On Demand with Michael Haneke’s original German-language version of his bleak home invasion anti-thriller Funny Games.  It seemed apt somehow.

Getting started was straightforward.  Once you’ve set up your Curzon On Demand account you can select your film and voila, it’s there to watch straightaway on PC, tablet or Internet-enabled telly.  You can keep it for a week, too, although Funny Games isn’t the kind of film you want to watch more than once.

Streaming was fine; just one or two momentary blips (probably caused by my wife stealing bandwidth to tweet) but the occasional pause only added to the Brechtian quality of Haneke’s film.  

Picture quality was DVD standard but , like I pointed out last year, I grew up watching ropey, 9th generation VHS copies of old Doctor Who stories so who am I to complain?You have to bear in mind I was watching a fifteen-year-old film made when Blu-ray was just the twinkle in the eye of a horny HDMI lead, so I’ll report back as and when I’ve watched a new release made in the shiny, high-res, HD era.

In truth, I’m very excited by the possibilities of Curzon on Demand.  Childcare and work commitments mean I have to plan cinema visits with military precision, so the option to watch, say, Le Havre right now, rather than waiting months for the DVD, is a tantalising prospect.

Next time, though, I’m going to choose a film for enjoyment value.

This post was kinda, sorta sponsored by Curzon On Demand, although I was going to check out the service anyway so it’s not like I’m a total whore.

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