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Are free film magazines worth the money?

Here in the UK, the two major cinema chains are Odeon and Vue (formerly Warner Village). I’ve recently been to both (as you can see by the reviews I’ve been doing) and pick up their free magazines to read. Not for their content, but to look for errors, ever since I read one issue where there was so many typos, fact-mischecking, and downright stupidity I actually wrote a detailed critique of the issue to the editor, offering my services as a proofreader. Strangely, they didn’t reply. But they have improved, so I feel some small sense of victory.

So, Odeon has Addict Magazine and Vue has Unreel, which calls itself the ‘UK’s Leading Free Movie Magazine’; this is quite funny, because how many are there, and what are you boasting about by that remark? Their page content is over half adverts, and the rest being mostly film reviews, with Unreel taking a slight edge in the professionalism stakes by having a news section of sorts. I say ‘reviews’ but they read like ‘previews’ as if the people haven’t actually seen the film yet, but are praising it in order to get you to see it (well, they need more people in the cinema, don’t they?), which I suppose must be quite creative writing on their part.

The only problem is when they get overcreative. Take for example, in the latest Addict, the review of the remake of Assault on Precinct 13, where they get the plot of the film wrong, not mentioning that the police are gunning for the Laurence Fishburne’s character, whose name they get wrong. Or, in their (p)review of Spanglish, where they call James L. Brooks ‘the master’. It’s quite bizarre, and it keeps me entertained until the lights go down and the rubbish trailers start.

Until I saw that they are both published by the same people, Concept Publishing Ltd, Bath, and done by the same people, Lisa Thompson (editor) and Sarah Thompson (contributor). My cynical nature leans towards nepotism but I suppose it is possible to have two people working at a magazine that produces content for a freebie who AREN’T related. The fact that these two people are responsible for these free monthlies saddened and impressed; saddened that two people produce so much pap, and impressed that they can sell the same stuff (but ever-so slightly different) to the two largest cinema chains in the country.

Actually, I don’t want to have a go at the cinemas, especially Odeon. In the Addict magazine, they have a Tenuous Link question (or Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon by another name). It’s not a competition, per se, but they give an email address for you to send the answer to, so make of that what you will. They gave the answer to the last one, and then ask if you can link George Clooney to Dennis Quaid in four films or less, the only caveat being the link must be between credited actors/actresses. I was bemused, because I can do it easily via either Catherine Zeta Jones or Don Cheadle, both of whom star with Clooney in Ocean’s Twelve and with Quaid in Traffic. So I emailed them with the answer, because I get bored easy, and told them that it wasn’t much of a challenge.

They replied, okay, so you want a challenge, how about linking Faye Dunaway to Ed Norton? Bemused again by the simplicity of the task, because Mark Wahlberg links them (The Yards and The Italian Job, respectively), I email them back. They reply to tell me that, because I’m so ‘Addicted to film!’ (to use their own tagline), they’re going to send me a free ticket to an Odeon cinema. I chanced my arm and asked for another one for my girlfriend, and lo and behold, waiting for me on Saturday morning are two free tickets. So, fair play to the Odeon team for being thoroughly lovely people and for giving me free tickets for no other reason than I know a bit about film.

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