A Movie Weekend in Singapore

Last weekend is pretty much a huge clusterfuck for the world: the Norway massacre, Amy Winehouse’s passing and my other blogging site went down. My condolences to the people of Norway, Winehouse’s family and fans and myself (because I can’t blog over at Livejournal and it just really sucks when this happens). And as if that’s not enough, for anyone living in Indonesia such as myself, we’re also still dealing with the Epic Movie Crisis of 2011 in which no blockbuster Hollywood movie is playing in Indonesian cinemas because A) the government is being stupid, B) the movie distributors are also being stupid, and C) apparently the Indonesian media can’t report news worth crap.

As for me, being the movie buff who’s more than just a little obsessed with Harry Potter, I hightailed it out of the country on Friday, flew to Singapore and stationed myself for three days in Shaw Lido cinema in Orchard Road to watch these summer movies that are not playing here in Indonesia. It’s my second trip to Singapore to do the same thing – the first being in last May, where I watched eight movies in the span of 60 hours – and I managed to amuse myself before the real world caught up with me and made me want to dig a hole and hide there with a Hobbit (preferably in the form of Martin Freeman, of course).

Arriving in Singapore’s Changi Airport at 9.30 AM on Friday, July 22nd, the first thing I did after passing the immigration line was to get a cab to go to the theater. Having paid SGD 19.80 in fare, I arrived at 10.15 AM in Shaw House in time to buy a set of movie vouchers from the ticket box and exchanged them with six movies that I wanted to watch. The first thing I watched there was X-Men: First Class, which I think is a movie that everyone ought to watch every Friday morning to kick start their weekend, and I made a note in my little black book of secret, random thoughts about it, writing “McFassy Bendervoy bromance first thing in the morning gives a whole new meaning to ‘first class’.”

After that, it was onwards to the second movie – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. FINALLY. I’m usually the first person in the planet to watch a new Harry Potter movie but this time around I had to wait a week to watch it. But I have no regrets because it doesn’t matter how soon or how late I watched it, my first viewing of it left me completely in tears. If you’d asked me right after the movie finished what I thought about it, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you because all I remembered was crying for more than half of the movie, especially at all the Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape’s moments.

I don’t know if watching  Green Lantern after Potter was a good idea but it wasn’t like I was given a choice of the showtime. The movie plays only once throughout the day and the 5 PM showtime was the only time I could watch it. So still riding high from the Potterdrenaline I watched as whoever wrote the script of the movie screwed up the story of one of DC Comics’ best superheroes (of 2010, at least, because Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night series was one of the best things to have happened last year). I’m also putting the blame on whoever decided to cast Blake Lively in this movie. But at least Ryan Reynolds remain extremely pleasing to the eyes so it was NOT a total lost.

My movie line-up for Friday ended with the clad-in-CG-costumes superheroes, allowing me to have dinner and meet up with a friend rather early. But come Saturday morning, it started all over again. I watched the 10.30 AM showtime of Kung Fu Panda 2 and both laughed and cried myself silly in the theatre; the movie was indeed made of awesome.

And I knew for sure this time that I made the right choice of watching that movie first before the next one because my 12.30 appointment at Shaw Lido’s Theatre 2 is going to be with a long, exhausting and utterly explosive movie directed by Michael Bay. It really is just better to start with something light before a movie like Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. That way, whenever you start feeling frustrated at Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s complete lack of talent, skill and ability for acting, you can just remember how Jack Black and Angelina Jolie’s characters in the previous movie have sort-of-kind-of-did-that-really-happen inter-species romance, giggle for a moment and say, “Really? Po and Tigress? REALLY?” To be honest, though, Transformers 3 was very good. The only bad thing about it was the female lead, if you could call her that. Other than her utter unimportance to the story and her bad acting, I liked this third Transformers installment quite a lot and not only because Alan Tudyk’s Dutch is probably the best character the franchise could have ever had. Then again, I’ve always been a fan…

Finally, I ended the day’s moviegoing activities by watching Your Highness. Mind you, this sort of comedy is really not my thing… it’s juvenile, it’s crude, it’s gory and it looks cheap (did they not get a special effects budget?) But surprisingly, I laughed a lot and it’s probably the first time ever in the history of me liking movies that I actually enjoyed Natalie Portman’s performance. Go figure!

Sunday was a day of repeats. I watched Harry Potter and Transformers again… and managed to come up with more substantial thoughts about other than “OMG SNAPE YOU WONDERFUL MAN YOU!” Which is good… because one of my assignments this month is to write a review for the movie for the magazine. I almost didn’t watch Transformers for the second time but, I thought, oh well, it shouldn’t hurt to watch Optimus and Megatron try and kill each other. Plus, it was worth spending money to see Alan Tudyk again. So I did. (Fair warning: I’m stalking this actor from now on!)

Having a movie marathon weekend is so much fun. I just wish, of course, I didn’t have to do it in Singapore. I think it’s extremely ridiculous that we don’t get to watch summer blockbusters in Indonesian cinemas. Some sources have been saying that the situation has been resolved now, the movies are coming back, and in fact HPDH Part 2 and Transformers 3 are going to play very soon in cinemas, and they are coming back this month, etc. But seriously? We shouldn’t have to be made to wait this long to watch them in the first place.

I’m not saying I don’t want the government and the movie distributors to collect their collective crap together, but I’m only saying: don’t you have a more efficient way to do that without sacrificing the people’s need for cinematic entertainment? Yes, I realize that not everybody thinks movies are all that great and I know there are other forms of entertainment that we can still enjoy, but have you tried talking to a foreigner about not being able to watch Harry Potter or Thor? Have you ever tried telling people who live abroad, “We don’t have Hollywood movies in Indonesia anymore”? Have you ever tried explaining the whole situation? If you have, then you should have felt what I felt when I tried doing – extremely ridiculous and pathetic.

Anyway, rant aside, this weekend has been fun for me. Of course it makes discovering the news about Norway and Winehouse, plus meeting a dead Livejournal website, all the worse because, after having so much fun, these incidents felt all the more rage/sorrow-inducing. But I can’t imagine where I would be right now if I hadn’t watched those movies before finding out for the nth time what a sad world we live in… I’d have probably drowned myself in a pond somewhere out of depression. The fun and entertainment those movies provide, at least, allowed me to escape to several fictional worlds where I can recharge my happiness levels if even for a short while. That’s why I enjoyed the trip and that’s why watching those commercial blockbusters was, is and always will be essential for my well-being.

Having said that, here is what needs to happen: WORLD, START MAKING SENSE AGAIN. You’ve had your chance to screw us over this weekend, now right yourself and make us happy again without us having to resort to Hollywood entertainment to smile.

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