System Failures in Movieland

I like to see movies in the original language. I can’t stand dubbing. But, the resources I’ve found here to see which theatres are playing movies in English are quite unreliable. About a month ago, I was looking on www.afisha.ru which actually has a link for “movies in original language” but it only shows you a list of theatres which show movies in their original language. But, the links next to each theatre don’t give you a list of movies, much less a list of movies in the original language. Poor interface design.

In my case, I knew the name of the movie I wanted to see. So I just typed in “Da Vinci Code” and I was immediately shown that only the Oktyabr theatre was showing that movie. Great! So, that’s one option you can use: Search for the real, original language name of the movie. It worked for me. It also worked for “Cars.”

But, here’s where the System Failure part of the title of this entry comes in. It doesn’t work any more. Yesterday, it failed completely with a cryptic error message which indicated the entire search function was not working. Today, it simply doesn’t find “Pirates,” even though I know it is playing at Oktyabr. In fact, they are also showing “The Hills Have Eyes.” In an almost teasing fashion, the search function seems to work for “Hills.” The last search result has the title in russian but with the words “without dubbing” (без перевода). Success! Success? I clicked on the link and see a picture from the movie, some Hollywood info (director, actors/actresses, etc.), some reviews in russian and, where I expected to see the list of theatres it’s showing, the following line at the bottom: We have no information about this movie. If you know anything, please tell us. Can you imagine the Oxford English Dictionary doing that? We know there’s a definition, but we don’t know what it is. If you do, please tell us. How pathetic.

You thought I was done, didn’t you? Nope. Just like the Ginsu knives, there’s more.

One GREAT thing about the Karo Film chain of theatres is that you can reserve tickets via SMS. You don’t even need to know all the details. Just send an SMS to 7727. You are prompted for the theatre, the movie, how many tickets, etc. The first time I used it, I was standing in a loooong line at the theatre. It only took 2 minutes and I just stepped over to the empty Ticket Reservations line and was on my way before the other line had even budged.

Great system. Easy to use. Wonderful time saver. Doesn’t work now. It didn’t work yesterday. Doesn’t work today. Instead, regardless of which theatre I choose, I always get the same response: “No movies at the chosen theatre.” Hmmmm. Does anyone do any quality control in Russia? I know, that’s a big generalization. Nevertheless, I think it’s a valid question.

And of course, trying to tell someone that the system isn’t working is an exercise in futility. Unfortunately, my futility muscle is well developed. Buff. Ripped. Bulging, even.

Do you have your own story of System Failure in Moscow? I’d love to hear about them, and, more importantly, what can be done to fix them.

Update 11 Aug 2006: still doesn’t work.

Update 12 Aug 2006: still doesn’t work.

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2 Comments on “System Failures in Movieland”

  1. narya Says:

    Not so much. I’m using the online booking of the Bolshoi Theatre for three years now and we bought literally more than a hundred tickets that way without a serious failiure yet. Keep on hope! Not everything is lost yet in Russia.

  2. moscowblog Says:

    Narya: I have used the online booking system of the Bolshoi several times and have always been satisfied. Unfortunately, I think that this may be one shining example in a wasteland of …. less-than-perfect systems.


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