Sneezing In Cinemas
What’s that? Having a cold and watching a film are hardly a suitable premise for a blog entry? Shame on you, unbelievers.
Indeed, we have overcome a major hurdle for our Western sensibilities and managed to both enjoy and comprehend a Korean cinema experience. Of the many varieties of geekdom I adhere to, among the top three would be that of the James Bond universe: as any like-minded fanatic and/or social outcast would understand, I couldn’t resist watching the recently-released Skyfall at the local Lotte Cinema.
One would normally assume that any kind of self-respecting movie theatre – let alone one under the Lotte banner, one of the largest multifaceted corporations in Korea – would be a relatively easy thing to find in the wild. Directions on a horizontal plane were of no issue; I’d already Google Mapped the place, not to mention double-checking with colleagues. Upon walking among the numerous skyscrapers, however, it remained veiled in shadow. Meanwhile, James Bond was doing something with motorbikes and Turkey, and had been for five minutes already.
It was only after a particularly thoughtful baker walked us outside to point upwards that it transpired our target was, in fact, on the ninth floor. Horizontal directions: check. Vertical directions: rarely an issue beforehand, but to be considered from this point onwards.
Watching movies in Korea is a surprisingly straightforward affair. Animated films, ie. those where dubbing is less of a crime against cinema, are almost always translated for Korean audio (I still haven’t seen Brave), whereas the cinemas have enough of a cultural bone in their bodies to know that watching a live-action film with subtitles is far preferable to a stranger’s voiceover. This time, we were the foreigners laughing at the language’s nuances while our neighbours just got the scripted facts.
Also, we’re both currently phlegm factories. Thought I’d throw in that bit of alarmingly offensive alliteration right at the end, just to spoil the whole thing for you. Meg sounds like something out of a smoky Raymond Chandler bit, but is less enthralled by the sound of her misbehaving larynx than I am. I blame it on a lack of cinematic appreciation.