Up until recently, and I mean very recently, legal ways to watch new films online had been non-existent in Ireland… However, with people here feeling the pinch of the recession and distributors undoubtedly realising that most folks don't want to wait up to a year or more to see new films, this is starting to change.
There have been a few UK-based services, but none of them have made their services available in Ireland until now. Curzon On Demand, for the UK and Ireland, is a streaming service from the Curzon Cinema group.
For those unfamiliar with Curzon – they do not have any cinema sites in Ireland – this cinema chain specialises in arthouse, world and indie film and are now bringing those films online to those who may not have a chance to catch them in their local multiplex.
I have to say, this is a sponsored post, but the reason I decided to write about was because this is something that I think is particularly pertinent in Ireland. There are only two cinemas in the country who bring these films in – The Light House in Smithfield and the Irish Film Institute – and they're both in Dublin. Anyone who want to see these films outside of Dublin have to either wait in hope that it will show up in their local DVD store or… find some other way. Films like these rarely show up on TV at all so the fact that Curzon On Demand is available in Ireland as well as the UK is a great step by them.
But I haven't told you about the service yet…
Curzon bills their service as "In Cinemas – On Curzon". What this means is that, as well as their curated library of older releases, they offer same day screening of some of their films that are in their cinemas now. Pretty handy.
They also aim to offer more than just a home cinema experience – in addition to the usual cast / crew and plot synopsis information, they have image galleries, trailers, comments, options to buy the DVD or BD (if available) and extra content, such as this interview with Tilda Swinton about We Need To Talk About Kevin.
I was given a chance to try it out and here are my impressions. First off, signing up was very easy. Fill in the usual details and click on the e-mailed confirmation link.
Browsing for films was not as simple. The Curzon On Demand home page lists three films for New Releases, Best Sellers and Recommended, however, after that you need to browse the whole catalogue. There are two main ways to do this. You can order the full list in various ways – alphabetically, by release date, by price etc. Or you can filter by various categories such as Distributor, Language etc. so far so usual. Problems arise when you find you can't search the On Demand catalogue itself, you need to search the whole site and it throws up all Curzon site results, rather that just On Demand. It's a minor problem because you can then choose the On Demand section, but it is messy. An alphabetical section or a simple but full list of their films wouldn't go astray to help casual browsers out.
Despite the slight problems navigating the catalogue, it was easy to see that they have an excellent range. With films like the Romanian double prize winner at Cannes, Police, Adjective, cult director Miike Takashi's 13 Assassins and Andrea Arnold's provocative feature film debut Red Road, there's plenty of choice on offer. I chose Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World to sample as I'm on a Herzog buzz since Into The Abyss and I hadn't seen this doc yet.
The film itself is stunning work by Werner Herzog and his team. A fascinating exploration of the characters and creatures that inhabit and surround McMurdo Antarctic research station, on the tip of Ross Island on the Antarctic continent. Herzog takes us on a journey, letting the people he encounters tell their own stories, while adding his own ruminations on the people, the surrounding and the concepts he meets while there. Definitely worth a watch.
Quality-wise, Curzon are providing an excellent service. The film started up almost immediately after I pressed play and you are able to jump ahead to different parts of the film with only a few seconds delay while the player finds the part you're looking for. Picture and sound was clear with only one or two minor picture and sound shudders through the full 1hr 39 min run time. Pausing caused no problems, it restarted after a 20 min break with no issues.
Prices are quite reasonable with library films like Encounters or Hanake's original Funny Games at £2 for 7 days. Newer films cost either £4 or £6 for the 7 days, depending on how long they've been out. Where available, and dependent on your broadband speeds, they offer HD streaming so that you get the best possible quality out of the service.
All in all, it could to with a few tweaks but I would have to say that it's a welcome addition to the online streaming options, especially with its independent movie focus.Read More