Sunday, February 17, 2013

Misty: Movies in Thailand

Since I haven't posted since the SuperBowl, you can bet that I have plenty of stories to tell! I will try to fit a few in this post and save some for another so I can post at a more frequent rate. I've been doing a much better job with my videos-- those are easy AND quite descriptive.

This is a post about movies in Thailand:

Most recently: I just got home from seeing "Silver Linings Playbook". It was fantastic! There's a theater near all the big malls in downtown Bangkok that has $3 movies and real, American-style popcorn (no seaweed flavoring, thankfully). Anyway, the movie was a brilliant portrait of the lives of a handful of individuals with mental illnesses that demonstrates just how challenging all facets of life can be with an illness such as bipolar disorder or OCD. I'm so glad that this topic is being brought to the stage by these actors (and, occasionally, the news) for many reasons but especially in light of everything that has been happening in the U.S. for me to read overseas. Despite how I feel about the acting and the soul-moving story, the soundtrack was superb. One of the main features was Johnny Mathis' rendition of "Misty". Thank you, Hollywood, for reviving so many of my favorite songs in recent films. Here is the beautiful theater I will now frequent:

Thai Culture and Movies: I love seeing American movies in Thailand for many reasons. For one thing, I love movies in general. I also love feeling connected to U.S. pop culture (even though many movies come to Thailand months after their U.S. premiere), hearing English for a couple of hours, and sitting in a cool dark place after a long, hot day of mall- or market-walking. Here are some things about Thai movie experiences that you might not know:

  • Seats are assigned; you select a seat when you purchase your ticket and you must sit in that seat. This is so weird to me because I have found myself directly between 2 strangers every time I've seen a movie here (if I'm alone), even if most of the rest of the theater is empty. Perhaps this is for ease of cleaning the theater? Maybe for the fun of laughing with each other during the movie? 
  • Before the movie begins, there will be a few previews and then a note that reads "please pay homage to His Majesty" which means that the audience will stand and watch a short collection of pictures, videos, and songs about the King. 
  • A Thai audience may not interpret or react to emotional scenes the same as an American audience might; tonight, during "Silver Linings", the audience laughed pretty hard at some of the most intense, deep moments of the movie. I think this has to do with "saving face". I've also walked out of a different theater bawling to find that no one else had wet eyes.
  • The concessions are quite different; you might find seaweed or barbecue-flavored popcorn before you find popcorn with plain old butter and salt. You might also find Lay's potato chips before you find a box of Junior Mints. On the plus side, the concessions aren't $8 each like in the U.S.!

  • There are 3 types of available movies (language-wise): Thai movies with Thai only (or maybe English subtitles), English with Thai subtitles (the kind I watch), and Western movies with Thai voice-overs (which I don't watch but easily could if I wasn't paying attention when ordering my ticket!). 
  • Popcorn is often given in a box AND a plastic bag so you don't dribble popcorn everywhere. Which is an awesome idea! This is pretty standard in all areas of food in Thailand and I really wish we would implement this technique in the U.S.
  • Prices range anywhere from 3 dollars to 7 or 8. I've heard that there are ultra fancy theaters with recliners and provided blankets! That's on my to-do list for sure. 
As a side note to bullet number 3, the guy sitting to my right at tonight's movie was laughing hysterically throughout the whole movie and clapping after empowering moments and during the credits. In general, 18-20-something-year-old men are just really different here. "Saving face" seems to apply only to things that are sad or angering--laughter is acceptable any time. I have to say, though, it made the movie immensely more enjoyable. Reminds me of the time I went with a busload of KU students to the "Avengers" premiere and the audience cheered and laughed so much that I could barely hear the dialogue. It was really fun!

Other movies I have seen since I arrived:

"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters"... Whatever you do, don't see this movie. Unless you're SURE that it's right up your alley. We went to see an action flick and were alarmed to sit through a gore/action flop. Jeremy Renner seriously threw off his momentum with this one. 

"Les Miserables"; I'd been excited to see this movie since I learned about the musical during my second student teaching placement but hadn't made it to the theater before I left the U.S. How I hadn't seen it or heard the music beforehand, I don't know! But I can easily say that this is now one of my favorite musicals of all time. The acting, storyline, set, directing, music arranging... it was all magical. I cried for a solid 20-30 minutes in the theater and still can't get over how much I loved the film. 

Can't wait for "Oz", like I've mentioned. Thanks for reading!


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