Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Shanghai Diary: Movie Theater Follow-Up

Things didn't go off without a hitch for my first movie-going experience here in Shanghai but they went pretty well.

It took me a little bit to find the theater itself which was hidden among a row of restaurants down from the Venetian Hotel. I was having trouble getting China Mobile to connect while out riding my scooter to use AMAP (kind of like Google Maps or Baidu Maps) to direct me there. I don't understand the directions that the "map lady" gives but I know enough to listen for the pings and figure out when a turn is coming. Though, frankly, it should have been a two turn trip from work to the theater.

Once I found it, I had no problem redeeming my ticket via WeChat with the lone box office / concession worker. However, when it came time for me to try and get the concession items I'd pre-ordered (a bottle of water and some popcorn), I couldn't find the code and the girl behind the counter thought I wanted to order something.

She was far more ingenious than I am. She had seen that I had WeChat so she borrowed my phone, got me on WiFi, added me as a friend and then we proceeded to "talk" to one another via WeChat (which has a translate function built right into it). So, now I have a new "friend". She figured out where my concession code was and hooked me up with my stuff. The ticket taker figured out pretty fast that I was out of my depth so she called over to another usher who escorted me through the labyrinthine halls (which were decorated like one of the Studio Gibli films).

I was reminded of the old Movies at Briarwood and how many twists and turns my Mom and I had to make in order to find the little theater playing The Gods Must Be Crazy.

I had learned from the Two White Chicks in China podcast that the popcorn would be sweet and not salty. It was kind of like caramel corn and it was delicious.

There was little pre-show before the movie started. Once the lights went down we were subjected to about a dozen 30 second (or less) spots -- a few beauty products, a couple of car spots. Then the movie started. No previews.

I thought something was messed up with the projection until I remembered that the movie was in 3D. There were no 2D options available (I kind of hate 3D movies that aren't shot in 3D). Once my glasses were on, I started to really started to lose myself in the film (despite the Chinese subtitles).

I had chosen my own seat (suggested by the app) and no one sat in front of me so I had a hard time gauging reaction to the film but I know I was the only one audibly laughing. I'm wondering if that's because the movie didn't translate, translated a few beats behind where I was with the audio, or just wasn't that funny. The Elton John bits were a bit rough but the movie overall elicited a chuckle or two.

As soon as the movie ended, the lights came back up and I pulled up the "Run Pee" app to see if there was anything after the end credits. Everyone filed out fairly quickly while I stayed to look at the cast list. I know I wasn't the only person in the audience who could read the credits but it was kind of nice to be able to read something in English.

I left in a state of reverie, feeling like I'd made a major accomplishment and crossed another hurdle. I saw standees for Blade Runner 2049 and Thor: Ragnarok and now I feel safe that I can enjoy them while I'm here.

There was little-to-no traffic out on my scooter ride home and, for whatever reason, this song started going through my head:

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