The longer I’ve been in Singapore the less adventurous my weekends have become. There was a time when I would go exploring places and museums. Not any more. There are both places and museums that I haven’t visited yet, and I definitely need to get back into touring around this country a bit more, but I tend to spend my weekends either drinking, eating, shopping or going to the cinema. The cinema is something I’ve always enjoyed, it’s like watching a movie at home, only the screen is bigger, the sound is better, and you get to eat exciting and unhealthy food that would just seem unthinkable if you were in your own living room. Also, you really have to think about going to the toilet before going into the screen at the cinema because they will not stop the film for you if you need to go halfway through. I never really went to the cinema that much at home because it’s just so expensive in the UK (well, except for when I was at Uni and went on Orange Wednesdays when it was only £2.50 a ticket. Those were the days). But it’s just so much cheaper here, it’s easy to go all the time, and I really can vouch for that claim – in the last 10 days I have been to the cinema 4 times which is pretty impressive, even if I do say so myself.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. Singaporeans are very predictable in their habits and hobbies. They do not like going outside or seeing things in Singapore. They like being indoors, and shopping, and eating, and sitting in a dark heavily air conditioned room watching a film. They also like doing all these things together, which is probably what has lead to the rise of the ‘Platinum Movie Theatre’. I’m not sure these exist anywhere else in the world, and I’ve never actually been into one, but they sound quite something. It’s basically a really, really upmarket cinema where the seats are living room recliners, there’s proper food and alcohol, and waiter service exists. Imagine eating in a restaurant while also watching a film. It seems like a weird concept to me but people must love it, I’ve seen them leaving the platinum screens in droves.
For those of us who are content with your usual, run of the mill cinema experience Singapore is still a pretty good place to be. You have to put up with the fact that every so often a movie you really want to see inexplicably comes out 3 months after its release date everywhere else, and the censorship rules here mean that not everything is shown (I saw Straight Outta Compton but it was in a special screening rather than a countrywide release, which is a little sobering when you think about it). Tickets average at about $10, which is roughly £5 and popcorn and drinks are pretty cheap too. I’m always saddened by the fact that they don’t do cinema pick’n’mix here, and I’ve never seen certain other movie favourites for sale – think maltesers, revels and Ben and Jerry’s, but popcorn is my movie jam, so I can forgive the snack omissions. Also, as with everything else in Singapore, movie theatres are always found in shopping malls so it’s pretty easy to bring anything you like in with you, I went to the cinema last night and the people sat in front were eating McDonald’s, because apparently that’s a logical thing to eat in a dark room full of strangers.
There are a few more odd things to get over when you go to see a movie in Singapore. The first is that the cinema is likely to be the coldest place you will ever visit in this tropical country. It depends which chain and location you’re going to but, generally speaking, I’ve never been so cold in all my time here as I am when I go to see a movie. I don’t know why they do it, but the aircon is always set to arctic levels. All movies have Chinese subtitles which can be distracting, but you get used to it. Finally, Singaporeans take their obsession with technology with them everywhere, including into the cinema. I’m used to being at home and having to sit through the unnecessarily scary video piracy ad, and the ridiculously annoying one about turning off your phone which is always accompanied by the Nokia ringtone from hell. But not here. In Singapore they encourage you to download apps that let you link into the movie, play games based on what you’re watching and basically flit between two screens for one and a half hours. I’ve also seen people just casually on their phones – and even iPads – in the cinema. No more do people switch them off for fear of receiving a phone call at the crucial emotional scene. I’ve seen someone shopping for a new car, someone reorganising their photos and many, many people texting and on Facebook for the majority of a movie. I’m not sure how you can enjoy what you’re watching when you’re manically stalking someone online, but apparently you can. Oh Singapore, you are odd in every possible way.
Leah Out X