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Is the cinema dying?

When was your last visit to the cinema? Early this year, I paid my first visit to the cinema for the very first time in years. What brought me back to the cinema was “Crazy Rich Asians”, an American romantic comedy drama film which was much talked about in the newspapers because of its majority Asian American cast. Besides positive reviews from critics, the film also won praises for its performances, screenplay, production and costume design.

What drew me to the film was British-Malaysian actor Henry Golding, who was born in Betong, Sarawak and is half Iban. Another big attraction for me was Malaysian actress Datuk Michelle Yeoh.

I enjoyed the film, especially the photography and performances, and wrote about it briefly in Facebook, prompting a few friends to watch the film as well. Thanks to Henry Golding, movie fans are now curious a b o u t B e t o n g , S a r a w a k .

I am sure a few of them will eventually find their way to Sarawak. Some people say with the big presence of the internet with its online movies, the cinema will die a natural death soon. But I don’t think so. I think if there are good films, people will still go to the cinema because of the fantastic sound effects. On the day I watched “Crazy Rich Asians”, there was a long queue for the tickets at the cinema I patronised.

When I arrived at the MBO hall at the Spring for the 2pm show, only the front row seats remained. My son discouraged me from going for the front row seats because they were too close to the screen for comfort. The next show, around 3pm, was still fully booked Actulaly, I wanted to treat my son and his wife to the show.

I have never attended a movie show in the cinema with them before. In the end, I ended up attending the show alone because there were no empty seats next to each other for three persons that day. I was not free the next day and the next one week because I had to work. I’d love to visit the cinema again if there is another interesting film on show. Munching popcorns and drinking iced Coca Cola as the cinematic scenes sweep you away … it is a worthwhile and cherished experience. I have fond memories of visiting the cinema when I was growing up in Sibu.

W h e n I w a s i n p r i m a r y school, I attended many top Hindi films with my mother and siblings. Those were the days when the television had not existed yet. The TV set was first introduced to my house in 1975. For entertainment, before the advent of TV, we listened to the radio or watched films in the cinemas. S a n g a m, L o v e i n To k y o, Ev e n i n g i n Pa r i s, Ni g h t i n London, Elephant my Friend, Aman…these were some of the memorable Hindi movies that I watched as I was growing up. Whenever I hear songs from these films, I am transported back to yesteryears.

In Sibu, my family watched all the Hindi shows at the Lido Theatre. Now, the theatre does not exist anymore. As I was growing up, I also watched a lot of Tarzan films staring Johnny Weismuller, famous for making the class i c Ta r z a n ye l l o r Ta r z a n ’s jungle call, the distinctive, u l u l a t i n g y e l l o f t h e c h a racter.

I ca n n o t re m e mb e r w h o played the role of Jane (Tarzan’s wife). But at that young impressionable age, I was amazed at the size of the eggs that Tarzan and Jane ate. It was years later that I found otut that they were not chicken eggs or crocodile eggs but ostrich eggs. Did ostriches exist in Tarzan’s time and jungle? I wonder now. W h e n I w a s a t e e n a g e r, Taiwanese actress Chen Chen was everyone’s sweetheart.

I w a t c h e d a l m o s t e v e r y Chinese love stories starring h e r. St a r r i n g o p p o s i t e h e r were many handsome Chinese actors. After Chen Chen, then came another Taiwanese actress, Lin Ching Hsia who acted in many Chinese love stories too. As a teenager, my younger brother, who is now a cop, was an avid fan of Hong Kong and American actor Bruce Lee. He and his friends copied Lee’s hairstyle and antics and they watched all of Lee’s films too.

But i did not watch any of Lee’s films. because I was not interested. However, I watched many Chinese swordfighting films starring Chinese actress Cheng Pei Pei, Taiwanese actor Wang Yu and Hong Kong actor David Chiang. These were the days when I went to the cinema regularly, especially during the weekends. After “Crazy Rich Asians”, I wonder which film will attract me to the cinema again. Let’s wait and see.

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