Going to the cinema

I interrupt our regularly scheduled ‘Favourite Things’ post to provide an alternate glimpse into Being an Ex-pat.

Yesterday I was positively bouncing with excitement to finally see The Hunger Games. Ros had gamely offered to go with me, despite not having read the book, since everyone else we knew had already gone. I wore boots and my hair in a braid to channel Katniss and wished that I had a ‘District 12’ t-shirt. I smuggled in a bag of M&M’s, purchased a small sprite and salty popcorn, and joined Ros in a mostly-empty theatre with the best seats: as close to middle-middle as we could. Meanwhile, Ros was only beginning to be bemused. I was clearly displayingAmerican movie-going behaviour.

For one thing, she was surprised at my perfectly normal snack choices of popcorn & M&M’s. This is indicative of a larger cultural difference: most British people I know won’t mix sweet and savoury things together. They think it’s incredibly weird. Every Thanksgiving, this topic comes up, and the British people present express their bafflement that we Americans would mix something as savoury as turkey with something as sweet as sweet potato casserole. It is one of the reasons, I suspect, that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a truly foreign concept to my British friends. They know Americans eat them, but won’t themselves. And so it is with classic movie snacks: M&M’s and salty (but alas, not buttery) popcorn.

Secondly: I sat through the credits. When the lights came up, everyone stood as one and within minutes the theatre was empty. Ros stood as well, but I was sitting in the aisle seat. We sat through the credits, I casually commenting on this name and that, waiting to see where it was filmed (‘North Carolina! Good, I’m glad.’) and who had done the music. Once one of the cinema staff came in and pointedly looked at us, but I ignored him. So what if we were the only ones in the theatre? I wanted to see the credits. When we finally left the lights were out in the foyer and he was already locking up. Staying for the credits certainly isn’t a British thing to do.

There were other little differences: the types of adverts and previews before the film started. I visit the cinema so infrequently that I forget about them. The largest screen at our cinema is the size of one of the small screens at any of the Regal Cinemas in San Antonio. The small screen here is little bigger than watching something on a projector. There are only three screens. Granted, I live in a small town. The one time I went to the ‘proper’ cinema in Dundee, that felt more like a ‘real’ movie theatre: it even had escalators!

What did I think of the film? I really enjoyed it. I might have enjoyed it more had I not already read the books — I mean this only in the sense that because I already knew what was going to happen that this element of suspense was lacking. But I loved Katniss and Rue and Haymitch and Cinna and President Snow was creepy and the tracker jackers totally made my poor allergic-to-wasps housemate freak out (sorry Ros!) and it was filmed in North Carolina where it ought to have been, so I am glad. I noticed only one thing missing and that was the bread that District 11 sent to Katniss, which I loved in the book, but it also would have been rather difficult to explain. The sets, the costuming, the cinematic quality of it (it’s all about one huge TV show after all) was well done. This fan is happy.

Now, where can I get a mockingjay pin?