Monday, December 27, 2010

collecting my thoughts, collecting the dawg

I've seen the Coen Brothers' new release, "True Grit," approximately 1.5 times now. The first time, I had attempted to see the film near where my buddy Mike lives, but ended up getting myself lost for nearly an hour in the vast, sprawling maze of streets, parking lots, and shopping complexes. By the time I arrived at the theater, I was thoroughly pissed off, but had no one to blame but myself, my own confusion, and the fact that the cinema was so new that it wasn't listed as a valid destination on my GPS.

Once in the theater, I experienced a further delay when the customer service guy, who was supposed to be holding my ticket, told me that someone had thrown the ticket away. This guy ended up escorting me up to my seat himself. The film was an hour and fifty minutes in length; I suspect I missed the first thirty or forty minutes, given that there were several minutes of previews.

On Christmas Eve, I saw the film again, this time with my buddy Dr. Steve. We drove thirty miles to reach our target theater, which was located in a town even smaller than the one I've moved to. The ambiance of the theater might best be described as David Lynchian: an overly friendly woman in her fifties offered to take our credit cards and spend them on herself, then gave us walking directions to a nearby ATM because her theater only accepted cash for tickets. A creepy old man hovered somewhere near the lady, and when he managed to pull himself away from her, he sauntered into a control room with a small bank of monitors. Once we got into the particular theater showing "True Grit," we saw what the monitors were monitoring: us. Perched atop every speaker along the walls were tiny CCTV cameras. Big Brother was watching.

The theater's interior did little to improve the David Lynch vibe. As Dr. Steve noted, the lobby's ceiling had the torn-open look of a place in the midst of a renovation. Over-plush furniture occupied the end of a carpeted hallway; Buddhist art adorned one wall, and Chinese abalone-shell frescoes decorated another. Our own particular theater, number 7, the one with the CCTV cameras on every speaker, contained a small, high-set movie screen flanked by niches in which stood two suits of knight armor, pole arms at the ready-- and weird chandeliers suspended over their helms. Beneath the movie screen was a row of differently colored lights that beamed upward onto the screen itself while nothing else was showing on it. The beams highlighted the fact that the screen sported a curious bump, somewhat above center, that bore an uncomfortable resemblance to an engorged pimple.

We had arrived very early for the movie, so no one was in the theater but us at first. As folks began to trickle in closer to showtime, however, we began to hear whispered reactions that mirrored our own. Once or twice I heard the utterance "This is unreal," choked out in a tone caught somewhere between reverent awe and humorous derision. The aura of kitsch was overpowering.

Then the movie began. The suits of armor were no longer visible, and we all plunged together into the story of a girl bent on avenging the death of her father. Sometime later, I'd like to write a review of the movie itself. I'm still collecting my thoughts, however, so it may be a few days, if at all.

And speaking of collecting: dog-sitting plans were changed by my brother Sean just before Christmas. After our original arrangement, which would have involved Sean dropping the dog off at my place on Christmas, Sean told me he wouldn't be able to drive out to where I live, so it was up to me to come back into town to get the dawg. I wouldn't have to collect the pooch until Sunday, he said. Now that it's Sunday, I'll be driving out to acquire Maqz and dog-sit for about a week. I also have to see about a slow leak in my right rear tire; might take care of that while I'm in Alexandria. My brother David recommended a Firestone service center in the old neighborhood, so I may stop there.

Ah, dog-sitting. Lucky for me, I've stocked up on lint rollers. These will prove useful with a dog in the apartment. (They've already proved useful with a Kevin in the apartment.) I became a lint roller and Swiffer devotee last year. Despite the expense, I think these products are well worth the price. If I were a movie star, I'd shill for them without a single pang of conscience.

And on that bizarre note, I leave you, Dear Reader, to your post-Christmas affairs.



Charles said...

I would love to have an experience like that. Alas, the day of the independent cinema is over in Korea and now everything is multiplexes with their multitude of screens and soul-numbing sameness.

John from Daejeon said...

Was the film worth seeing? I don't know how they could improve on The Duke, Robert Duvall, or Kim Darby.

hahnak said...

tentacles up or down for the film though? id love to see it in the theaters but too lazy to seek out a baby sitter. we will wait for the dvd... i have to say though i expect it to be good just because its a coen bros film.

Kevin Kim said...

John & Hahna,

Tentacles up, for sure. Roger Ebert's review comes fairly close to how I view the film.


Yeah, I guess it's the end of an era in Korea. Then again, I won't miss being told to scrunch down by the people behind me. Many of the older, non-multiplex theaters in Seoul tended to be of the old, sloped-floor variety. Because of assigned seating, I almost always ended up in someone's way. With the stadium seating found in most modern US and ROK multiplexes, that inconvenience is pretty much a thing of the past.


Charles said...

Well, I'd be lying if I said that the multiplexes weren't a lot more convenient. There's definitely a lot to love. But I'm also a nostalgic old fart.

Take 피맛골. My wife says she's glad it's gone because it was "dirty." Me, though, I'm a bit sad. Was it dirty? Yeah, and run down, too. But it was a part of Seoul's history. The sad excuse for a replacement they've built is just pathetic. What's the point?

I'll be in the rocking chair on the porch if you need me.