Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Films in Dubai

Last night my husband and I went to see Robin Hood at the cinema here. A friend recommended we watch this in the VIP section here in the Dubai Mall. We had never gone there before, so maybe once a year we can splurge. They also have another VIP type section in another place that you pay extra for with similar service. Big lazy boy type chairs, popcorn and other things are ordered at your seat. A call button in case you need anything. The call button strikes me as funny because the only thing I've ever needed during a film was to go to the bathroom and I don't think a call button will help in that situation.

They also provide blankets...wouldn't it just be more logical to turn down the air conditioning and save money rather than cover up? Its a nice theater, but not necessary to have all that luxury - especially if it were to be a really bad movie! Like I said, maybe once a year.

There is even one VIP movie place in Istanbul who's big thing was that they serve champagne before the film. We went there once to see what all the rage was about and I found the people and everything a bit too pretentious. I think this has fizzled out a bit. Doesn't matter though because all the good movies are shown in Beyoglu where they have real movie theaters that are very old...A few even smell like the street cats have been visiting, but I guess that's what you get for good, cheap movies and hard core nostalgia.

We don't go to as many films here as we used to in Turkey or in the US and I think there are a few reasons for this...
- they only get the big Hollywood blockbuster types most of the time that aren't always that great and just as good at home. Also we don't have the same hype found in the States for them.
- sometimes movies are so over edited here its funny...I don't care if they cut out the sex scenes, but sometimes they'll cut something - you have no idea what, and it didn't seem like sex would be anywhere in that particular movie, but its like there was a bump in the road, but you're not sure. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does go wrong, its no good.
- there are so many people who talk in the movie, or leave their phones on and they actually take a call in the middle of the film. There is just no way to enjoy it. And Murphy's rule, it always happens at some critical point in the story.

The last one just baffles me beyond belief. And unfortunate to say, it is usually young Emirati guys...late teens, early twenties maybe. I also find Indians do it too. Yes. There. I said it. Sorry to seem like I'm generalizing here, but this is my experience. Disclaimer: Definitely not all Emiratis nor all Indians do this, but unfortunately every time I have experienced it, it's about an 80:20 split.

And its not just in films. We went to see famous drummer, Zakir Hussain, in Dubai once. He is from India, and a lot of his own people would not give him the respect he deserved. Everyone was late and they kept talking. So much that he stopped playing! We saw him in Istanbul a few years before and people were so into his music, you could hear a pin drop. I told my shocking experience to my Indian friends at work the next day and their response to me was that they were not surprised. I didn't dig any further, but I thought that was unfortunate.

Here, the first few times I came across it, I didn't want to over step my boundaries as I didn't know the culture very well and wasn't sure what the reaction would be. Sometimes I still don't say anything. However, when I was pregnant, it was great. That's just a license to be nutts. No one is going to say no to a pregnant woman!

It took me months to use the pregnancy card when I started to show, but once I learned of its special powers, I used it. I never abused it, but it did give me some super powers. One of those was going to ask people to not speak during a film.

I remember seeing The Kingdom here and a couple of guys started carrying on a fairly loud conversation during the film. Me and my 7 month pregnant self got up to tell them that pregnancy hormones effect the ears and I really needed them to be quiet because I couldn't hear the movie. They either didn't understand, or thought I was nutts, or perhaps both. But they stopped.

I usually find that when you do ask someone to stop, they generally do - but not right away. They finish their discussion at a lower volume first. I guess this is compromise.

Now when the phone rings in a movie that just drives me insane. I don't really find one ever has any chance there. It happens often. Now with a diabetic child, I keep my phone on vibrate in case of an emergency, but I will either leave the cinema or do some crazy yoga pose to put my head as far down near my feet as possible and whisper to try not to disturb anyone. I will not speak as though I am walking down the street for the world to hear.

I understand people can have emergencies, but if you are just chatting with your friends as if you are watching television at home, why? If you are expecting a call, just don't go.

I recall once in Istanbul when my husband and I took our then 16-year old niece to see her first concert, The Spice Girls, along with all the other parents and guardians and tons of screaming girls. It was fun. However, a man behind us got a phone call and proceeded to chit chat with his friend for about three or four songs. It was really annoying. You could not help but overhear every single word. Some Turks tend to speak very loudly into their telephones anyway, and the guy who was yelling into his phone was not the smallest guy, so he had a lot of power behind his diaphragm to get that conversation heard. It was as though he was using a cone attached to a string instead of a piece of modern technology. I was annoyed, but mostly for the poor girl who was experiencing her first concert.

The icing on the cake however was once in Dubai someone brought their baby to a rated R action movie. It was a midnight showing. I don't remember the film, but I'm sure it was something popular and the new parents really wanted to come watch it. Sure, why not bring the baby to the film? All they do is sleep anyway, right? Wrong. I was amazed at this couple's ability to under estimate today's sound systems. Even the deepest sleeping infant is going to wake up in a action movie...possibly even a drama because films are just so loud now.

I find everything else pretty standard about watching a movie here...popcorn, coke, candy, etc. Even the US larger than life sizes. There are no pickles...don't know if they still sell them in the US, but not here. That's just an odd movie snack anyway. They are all well kept, comfortable places where with any luck, you'll spend a couple of entertaining hours. We just have a little more entertainment than we would prefer sometimes.

The one thing that I did appreciate about the VIP section here is that no one is talking in the film, or answering their mobile phones. Or at least you can't hear them! Perhaps people figure that if they are going to pay that much for a film, they actually want to watch it.

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