On Wednesday, I ran around the house singing this little song from the movie musical Annie, not just because my kids have watched the movie about a thousand times and someone in this house sings a line from it at least every day. I had a special reason. Guess what I did Wednesday afternoon? I went to see The Hunger Games at a theater here in Colombo. I read the books last summer, over Fourth of July Weekend when The International Man of Intrigue and Gertrude Bell had what was probably the worst stomach bug of their lives. It just happened to hit while we were in a hotel in Las Vegas, where we’d met The International Man of Intrigue’s family for a mini-reunion. It also just happened to hit right after he and I and his sister and brother in law had gone to see the movie Bridesmaids and laughed until we cried over the scene where everyone gets violently ill. I told you guys, we don’t do normal or boring in this family. Anyway, that is all a story for another time (or maybe for never. It’s pretty gross and involves the word “poop”, again, of course.). The bottom line is, I spent an entire day in the hotel room and between taking care of the sickies and also nursing Arthur Dent, who was still a mere infant and nursed all the time, I read the Hunger Games Trilogy.
Like most people who read The Hunger Games books, I was anxious to see the movie, so I was thrilled to go with some ladies from my book club and their teens and tweens. I was not, however, sure I would be thrilled to see a movie in Sri Lanka. I’ve only been here three months, but that is long enough to make an educated guess that something like going to a movie is going to be a cultural experience in and of itself. It was. Let’s discuss the differences, shall we?
We saw it on “opening week” here, which was a week later than the rest of you saw it.
It cost a mere 340 rupees to get in. At the current exchange rate, that’s about $2.65. Did I mention that the $2.65 also included a Coke and two popcorns?
Let’s talk about that free food for a minute: The Coke here comes in glass bottles that have to be opened with a bottle opener. You get a long straw to drink it out of, which makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time about 70 years. Adding to the effect is that it’s the Coke made with sugar instead of the corn syrup stuff. I'm a die hard Diet Coke drinker, and I can not stomach a regular Coke in the States, but, I guess because of the sugar, I will drink it on occasion here. The popcorn was surprisingly good, despite the fact that it was not popped on site, but came in little chip size bags. Of course, it could just be good because after you’ve lived in a strange place long enough, anything familiar tastes good.
Now, if you can get past the fact that I paid $2.65 for a first run movie, Coke, and two bags of popcorn, we can move on. Actually, we can move on anyway, because I still can’t get over it. I’m glad that’s all I paid, though, for a couple of reasons.
The previews/commercials here are insanely loud. It might be tolerable if the sound quality was good, but it’s horrible and so is the picture, often.
Next up, the theater is kind of, hmmm…gross. I was convinced at one point I was going to get lice. I swear, I’m not a complete germaphobe, although I did completely freak out earlier this week when Arthur Dent had a giant cockroach clutched in his chubby little hand. Aaah, the joys of tropical island life. Anyway, I’m telling you, the seats in this theater gave me a bit of the creepy crawlies, and I know I’m not the only one since one of the other moms confided she made her kids take showers right after they got home.
Can we talk about the noise level from the audience? Luckily, the theater was mostly empty, besides us, because I can’t imagine how it would have been had it been a packed house. Unfortunately, just like in the US, some couple brought their 5ish year old, who was obviously too young to see the movie and wasn’t very well behaved. There were also plenty of poorly behaved adults messing with and talking on cell phones, but instead of it being an isolated incident, it seemed like everyone was doing it.
There is intermission in every movie here. Sounds like a great time for a bathroom break (if you can stomach a public bathroom here), but it’s just a disappointing moment when some character gets cut off mid sentence and you are jarred out of your voluntary suspension of disbelief for another set of annoying commercials.
Now for the absolute worst part of the whole experience, possibly worse than the thought of getting lice (which I didn’t by the way): The projectionist was watching a movie. I know, you are thinking, “Of course he was watching The Hunger Games, he was running the projector.” Well, that’s where you’d need to get out your mat, because you'd be jumping to conclusions. He wasn’t watching The Hunger Games. I don’t know what he was watching, but it wasn't in English and it was turned up full volume on his portable T.V. For real, the guy was watching a movie at full volume on a portable television in the projection room. As if it wasn’t bad enough, during the most dramatic scene in the entire movie, the one that I’ve heard from other friends brought them to tears, the movie’s sound was almost completely drowned out by the soundtrack of this winner’s movie. Of course, this is Sri Lanka, so it’s just one of those little parts of life you roll your eyes at and try your best to tune out.
I am very glad I got to see The Hunger Games, though. It lived up to my expectations even after reading the books and I’m really looking forward to seeing the rest of the movies as they come out, wherever we’re living then.
The bottom line is that, while I wouldn’t exactly dance around in my slip like Grace from Annie, I would go see another movie if I really couldn’t stand the wait for it to come out on DVD!
Oh, and since I’m talking about a movie with a mythical bird, the Mockingjay, I have to give a shoutout to my favorite mythical bird, the Jayhawk! I’ll be getting up early Tuesday morning to watch the Kansas Jayhawks play for the NCAA Basketball Championship!