Thursday, June 28, 2007

Take Me To The Movies!

I watched Transformers yesterday, and I can't remember the last time before this that I caught a show on opening day - heck, it's not even out in the States, where it's scheduled for the Independence Day weekend. The verdict is basically that it's a bam-kabam rat-a-tat show with the occasional pun doing better than the occasional hint at a storyline. And truth be told, as one of the legions of fans who watched the cartoons as kids... I'm duty bound to remind myself that, gee, did I really expect more than that? There is a kind of wishful dreaming that seems to creep into people my generation that seems to reimagine our childhood treasures as being particularly sophisticated. News flash: we were probably too high on morning cereal sugar.

Cheerios aside, also keep in mind that, as a friend reminded me, ten years after watching the original Transformers, our favorite song was "I Swear", which had the following lyrics that no doubt competed fiercely with the depth of Shakespeare:

I swear
By the moon and the stars and the sun

Truth hurts, baby.

With shows in Malaysia of course, sometimes the best movie lines weren't written in Hollywood. I mean, the West might misinterpret Fiona's "Awaiting a knight so bold as you to rescue me", as being, instead:

but it's nowhere in the league of the Malaysian translation of Captain Barbossa's "Man the sails and hold the water!" which became "Tahan kencing!"

I kid you not.

For those unfamiliar with the lingua franca, that basically means hold your bladder, which, in the light of today's three-hour movies, makes more sense than one may expect.

I've been reminded recently that the reason why Titanic remains the number one hit is, quite simply, the novelty then of being the first modern three-hour film for my generation. We never had anything like it then, and I'm just curious how many people made it without a trip to the loo in between. Not just because it was the first three-hour film, but quite simply because in that show, there was so many reminders of, you know... water.

Back then - and it wasn't that long ago, just ten years or so, movies were a big deal, in more ways than one. We didn't have the shiny cineplexes in shopping malls - we had actual entire buildings which were entirely the theatres, with manually stamped tickets and more than one floor for one movie. You hoped that you'd get a seat without springs coming out of it, and had Ratatouille come out then, it might have had a warm reception from the local four-legged population. And the toilets - ah, now I remember why we didn't go to the loo during Titanic.

All that aside, there was a certain charm to it all. The simple fact that things like meeting times, where to do lunch, etc. had to be planned out so much more in advance because no one had cell phones and the most advanced form of transportation had two wheels and a solid life insurance policy (if you haven't been on Penang streets, you're missing a real adventure, my friend).

The whole thing had a mystique to it, all the way to the sounds our shoes made as we walked on the not-always carpetted floor. No matter how much I may enjoy being able to jump up and be in front of the silver screen unplanned within the hour, that whole aura - even the dank air had it's own character...

...and it's not because we didn't head for the toilet, mind you, heh heh. Though we learned over the years never to speak for the rats, for whom those buildings were their home, and we were their occasional and graceful guests, who never talked on cell phones during their dinner of pop corn.

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