Sunday, August 18, 2013

Take Me to the Movies

My Mother was right when she said one of the simple pleasures in life is a cool movie theater on a hot summer day.  Unfortunately before last Friday, I had never set foot in a Chinese Movie theater.   Don’t get me wrong; I have caught up with western movies while I have been in Shanghai.  My local DVD man makes sure expats are hooked up with the latest and greatest flicks.  (And TV shows for that matter.) Why go to the movies when you can see the latest and greatest hits for 12 RMB ($2) in the comfort of your own home?

My movie store recently added a nail salon.  This is China.

The movie store is the place to go when you want to catch up on all of your favorite shows.
So many movies...such little time.

A few weeks ago, an email advertising the Shanghai Film Museum caught my attention.  I knew many movies have been shot in Shanghai, but I had no clue that there was a museum completely devoted to the big screen.  I had to check it out!

80 RMB will get you a behind the scenes look at Shanghainese movie history.

My friend, John, and I got to walk the electric red carpet.

After walking the red carpet, I learned all about different Chinese actors, directors, and technicians.

This diorama shows Nanjing Xi Lu as a movie set in the 30's.
The museum has an old Chinese movie camera display.  I loved the movie can decor.
Interactive movie tables allow visitors to learn about electric shadows (movies) made in Shanghai.

After learning about Shanghainese film, visitors can voice over Chinese movies.  I can't read Chinese Characters yet, so I created a very amusing dialogue in English.

Kids can have fun with green screen technology.

Visitors can have fun making sound effects.

Artists create cartoons on site.

In the olden days, actors and actresses were responsible for providing their own costumes.

The US has the Oscars; China holds the Golden Rooster awards every other year. Why the rooster?  The first award ceremony was held during the year of the rooster.
After an enjoyable afternoon at the museum, I was itching to go to the theater to see my first Chinese movie.  I admit, I was afraid of heading to the movies in Shanghai. How would I know what time the movie was showing? How would I order a ticket without speaking the language?  Would the popcorn be the same?  How would I know which theater to enter?  A process that is so simple in the States suddenly seemed so daunting. 

It then occurred to me that I was being completely ridiculous, so I immediately headed to the Yonghua Cinema City to catch a flick. 
Yonghua Cinema City was a nice place to catch a movie.
  In an effort to decease potential confusion, I snapped a picture of the poster advertising my movie to show the nice man working at the box office.  I matched the title on the movie poster with the title on the marquis and deduced that the movie I wanted to see, Tiny Times 2, was about to start in 15 minutes.  Perfect!  I creeped to the open box office window and showed the worker the poster and muttered,
“Wo yao yi ge Tiny Times 2”  (I want one for Tiny Times 2.)
“You want one for Tiny Times Two at 3:30?” the man asked.  YAYAYAYAYAY!  He spoke English! 
            “Dui.  Yes.” 
            “Yi Bai Kuai”.  (100 kuai, or $16 USD.)
            I handed the man 100RMB and headed to the concession stand to get some popcorn and a drink.  I told the counter man that I wanted a large, cold Pepsi and pointed at the popcorn.  30 RMB ($5 USD) was not too expensive for a mid afternoon snack. 

Chinese popcorn is candy coated.  Imagine popcorn with a M&M shell.  I am not a huge fan.

            I headed to theater 4 and found my assigned seat.  (In China, theaters assign you a seat when you purchase a movie ticket.)  For the next two hours I lost myself in the Chinese equivalent of Sex and the City.  (Except in the girls in Sex and the City never slept with each other’s boyfriends, and the movie took place in Shanghai.)  Miraculously, the movie was subtitled both in Chinese and English so I knew exactly what was happening.  According to my Chinese friend Michelle, most of the movies at this theater have English subtitles.  I will definitely be hitting the cinema in the near future! 

For more information about the venues mentioned in this post, click the links below:

I hope to see you at the movies!