Saturday, October 08, 2016

One of the (many) great things about Singapore is that you get to watch movies at the cinema for almost nothing. In London, a ticket costs about £13 at the local Everyman cinema, a fiscal outrage that I’m surprised hasn’t led to a revolution.
            “Hah?” Sharyn said with typical eloquence as we settled in for ‘Revenant’ when it first came out. “Twenty-sick dollar? To watch a movie? Siow!”
            “You don’t even get a biscuit,” I told her.
Anxious not to be left out, Saffy leaned over to derail the conversation. “I’m so glad I remembered to bring a sweater this time. It’s ridiculous how cold theatres get in Singapore!”
“They keep showing the same commercials!” Amanda observed. She held a big tub of popcorn on the lap. The movie hadn’t even started and she was already a third of the way through it.
“Ay, this movie good or not?” Sharyn asked. “I ever watch this Leonardo dee Cah-pree-oh, but long long time ago in ‘Titanic’. Wah, dat time, hor, he so young and han-sum. Now so lao and fat!”
“He’s had a lot of rave reviews,” Amanda said.
“Issit? My son watch last week.”
“Did he like it?” Saffy asked.
“He say got lots of blood. And after he watch, he say he very cold.”
Just then, in the flickering gloom of the cinema, a mother came slowly down the steps, shepherding two little girls before her.
“Do you need to go shee-shee?” the mother asked loudly.
“No need!” one of the girls chimed, her clear voice ringing over the commercial for some crazy app game where you had to match the animal zodiacs.
In row G, seats five to eight turned their attention to watch with interest.
After a while, a collective decision was made. “I don’t mean to be judgmental or anything,” Amanda began, “but isn’t this movie rated ‘R’ or something?”
“Hannor!” Sharyn mumbled through a mouthful of popcorn. “I tell you, ah, today parent got no cow sense, one. How can bring chil-ren to watch this kind of movie? Aiyoh!” she added.
“Totally irresponsible!” Saffy concluded, her voice possessing the same penetrating power of Moses before the Red Sea. A few rows down, the No Cow Sense mother lifted her head and looked up towards us in the gloom, like a ferret sniffing the air. I sank further back into my seat.
“There’s a reason why movies are rated!” Saffy added, her voice rising several pitches.
“Should we complain to the security guard?” Amanda asked me.
I told her I really didn’t want to get involved. “She might be the wife of a loan shark,” I said. “I don’t want gangsters paying us visits in the middle of the night!”
“She’s too well dressed to be the wife of a triad gangster,” Amanda said. “She was carrying a Bottega handbag and she’s got Chanel jewellery on.”
In spite of myself, I was impressed. “You could see all that in this dark?”
Amanda shrugged. “I’m practically Batman.”
Saffy’s voice cut through the dark. “I’m sorry to interrupt this meeting of the Justice League,” she said icily, “but what are we going to do?”
I shook my popcorn tub at her. White confetti sprayed out. “Nothing!” I said desperately. “We’re going to do nothing! Those are not our children. If they have nightmares tonight, that is on the gangster mother! Not on us!”
“Yah, I oh-so say,” Sharyn said. “Not our ploh-blem! Anyway, movie start or-redi!”
Silence descended on row G. On the screen, Chinese logos and symbols flashed up.
“Gosh, Chinese studios funded this movie?” Amanda murmured.
            “Chinese money is everywhere these days. Look at ‘The Transformers’!” said Saffy, veteran movie financier.
“Even the music sounds Chinese!” Amanda said.
On cue, Chinese script scrolled through the screen.
“This is already such a strange movie,” Saffy mumbled.
“Hah? Sun Wu Gong?” Sharyn said suddenly.
“What?” Amanda said.
Behind us, someone leaned over and hissed. “Can you people stop talking, please?”
In the private recesses of my brain, something was politely knocking on the door. When I didn’t answer, it began whispering loudly through the key-hole.
“Oh God,” I said, and began fishing in my pocket for my cinema ticket. In the flickering gloom, I strained to read the details.
“What is going on with this movie?” Saffy complained. “Why are they all wearing Chinese clothes?”
“He looks like a monkey!” Amanda said.
“Ladies,” I said. “We are at the wrong movie!”
“Alamak, this is ‘Monkey King’!” Sharyn announced.
“What’s going on?” Saffy moaned.
“Will you please shut up?!”
“Aiyoh, you don’t so gun-zheong, can? We’re leaving!”
“This isn’t ‘Revenant’?”
“What do you think, Saf?”
“I am so embarrassed!”
From the front of the cinema, a little voice rang out. “Mummy, I want to go shee-shee!”

No comments: