The shortest day
Chicken Little

Screen Test

Animated films are invariably dubbed into Cantonese by local performers, and it is this version of the film that plays on most screens in Hong Kong - without English subtitles.

Fortunately, the original English version is available in a few places, which for those of us in the Kowloon and the New Territories means the AMC cinema in Festival Walk. Nothing wrong with the cinema (actually it's quite a pleasant place to watch a film), but their telephone booking system is agonisingly awful, having apparently been designed by someone with a grudge against the human race.

Its sheer awfulness is compounded by a total lack of common sense. To book a ticket you need to know the film number or listen to a list of all the available films - but the idiots don't print the film numbers in their advert in the SCMP. So far so stupid, but they haven't figured out that if you call the English number you most likely want the English version, so you have to listen to a list that includes Harry Potter and Chicken Little in Cantonese (one show of each per day) before it finally gets to the eight shows per day of the Chicken Little English version (at no.9).

You may be wondering if they are showing 9 different films, and the answer is that they are not. As definitive proof that this is a system designed to frustrate the customer, they actually ask you to choose the screen on which you want to watch Harry Potter or King Kong. Obviously you don't care - all you want to do is choose a convenient time, but somehow you are expected to pick a screen first. Would it really be so difficult to set the system up so that you could choose the film first and then listen to all the showtimes?

It takes a fraction of the time to make a booking on the Internet for UA Cinemas, you can choose your seat, and they have machines to issue the tickets (no queue). They do charge a booking fee, but personally, I'd willingly pay that and their higher ticket prices to avoid the pain of dealing with the AMC automated phone system. Or perhaps just wait for the DVD.


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