The New Zealand Chronicles:Part 4 – Movie Watching


*** First written June 15, 2002***

Woke up at 11am.  Pretty late for us since we’ve arrived.  I think Jennifer woke up earlier.

Still working on Midnight Club 2 cover.  One note was that they want the street to look wet. What luck!  We’ve got really wet streets, and its REALLY raining.  I pop downstairs with the digital camera and saunter out to the middle of the street and take my reference photos.  Back in the room, I can basically pop that road into the MC2 image and there you have it.  Wet road within a half hour.  Looks smooth.

Or — Looks Flash.  (another little Kiwi term — flash = swank, spiffy, highclass). Pronounced “flesh”.  If you want to learn to speak Kiwi, just take the word and shift the vowel over by one letter and you’ve got it.  A bat would be a bet.  The name Brett is Britt – as presented in an episode of the amazing Flight of the Conchords.

Our meeting with the Real Estate lady is pushed back by a couple of hours, so we sit back and watch The Straight Story from David Lynch and the always good Quiz Show from Robert Redford (Scofield is brilliant in his supporting role as Charles Van Doren’s professorial father).

The real estate office is only 4 blocks away. In this weather? Thats 4 blocks too far. Decide to drive to the office.

Papers signed.  Agreements made.  We move into the apartment in a week and a half.

Try numerous restaurants within walked distance to get a bite.  No one opens until 5?!  Not too strange.  Los Angeles has those restaurants that are open from 11-2 and then close until 5 when they open for the dinner crowd.  We decide to drive around and get acclimated to the one-way streets and stuff.  We drive out to Weta and back.

What to do now?

Its Saturday night.  We must see a movie. Takes a couple times around the block to find the parking lot (or “CarPark” if you speak Kiwi) for the theater, but we get it.  Now — what to see. Its an odd choice of older and newer movies.  Attack of the Clones?  Seen it.  Spiderman? Seen it. Royal Tennenbaums!?!!  Yeah, seen it and loved it — but seen it 7 months ago.  Charlotte Gray? Eh. Maybe wait for DVD. Panic Room?  Yes! Love Fincher’s stuff. Oh wait — one showing.  4pm!?! Darn.  Surprisingly, Jennifer suggests Resident Evil.  Jennifer’s not big on the horror movie scene. I love horror movies. I have no objections. SO, why not — we missed it in the States, so this seems like destiny.  Or not.

The tickets purchased have actual seat assignments. J14 and J15. Now, I don’t mind assigned seating.  The Bridge in El Segundo has assigned seats — but this is the difference:  The Bridge lets you CHOOSE the seats.  WE have no idea the layout of the theater.  How many seats across? The “J” is a no brainer — 10 rows back.  But, we shall see when we get in.

An hour left before showtime.

Swing through the bookstore to browse. I decide I’d like to grab a couple books on New Zealand history.  Looks like the British had about as much luck with the Maori as they did with the North American Indians.  Treaties. Wars. It is intriguing how paralleled the events are to American history.  But, I made a commitment that I won’t buy a book until I’ve finished the last book I bought (or received as a gift) — my current book is a series of William Goldman articles that he wrote for The New Yorker that Tracy gave me.  I’ll probably whip through that so I can get to reading about the Treaty of Waupapi.  Jennifer picks up an issue of “Who Weekly”. We both have come to the conclusion that it is really “People” in disguise.

Pick up a bite of Japanese cuisine at a place called Shin Ju. Its a food court version of a Sushi place — with essentially the choice of Salmon — and … Salmon.  The Miso soup was tasty though.

Movie time.  There are posters around for up coming movies (which isn’t odd…you know…for a movie theater).  What is odd is the collection of movies that are coming out.  Looks like Ice Age hasn’t hit the screens here. Nor has Hardball (Keanu Reeves as a child role model in the projects of Brooklyn – whatever).  But neither has Black Knight with Martin Lawrence — this, I feel should probably be declared as dangerous material and not let into the country.  I’ve already been exposed to it once through US marketing.  I don’t feel that I should have to be subject to the abuse for a second time.  Other films like Minority Report look like they are going to have a similar release date to the US.  This is a good thing.

A couple theater rules to point out:

Must wear clean, presentable clothing…including shoes.

No laser pointers.  At last someone got the clue that these annoy the majority of the audience.

Seats aren’t too bad — I would have chosen different ones — but they aren’t too bad. Some guys behind us are acting really loud and pretty much moronic.  This lasts through the previews and I pray that it will subside once the film starts.  Most of the audience arrives late — or at least in my opinion, they are late.  They walk in during the previews.  Sacrilege.  I’m guessing that this behavior has emerged from having assigned seating.  No one needs to arrive early to get good seats. They don’t have to worry about their seats being taken. So — they arrive late.

The morons make comments until I hear a gasp when Milla Jovavich shows a brief view of skin – then they stop talking so much.

The movie is pretty much a piece of shite (not that I expected much).  Its a high budget Roger Corman film with cheap scares and horrible dialogue.  The visual FX are surprisingly horrible.  Jennifer finds nothing redeemable as well.

When the credits roll, one of the guys behind exclaims “Wow!” and starts to clap.  I have to turn around to see what a person who liked this movie looks like.  He doesn’t show anything indicative of low IQ.  I sigh in distress that you can’t profile IQ based on looks.

2008 Addition*

At the Reading Cinemas on Courtney Place — THE place to see movies…outside of the Embassy, perhaps, there is an upper deck known at the Cinelounge.  The Cinelounge is accessed through a mirror, guilded elevator like some kind of exclusive, elite secret.  But for a few Kiwis more, you too can live the lives of the pampered.  We walk out onto the deck, which is essentially a balcony overlooking the mall and moviegoers below.  Comfy chairs and high tables circle the area.  On one side, near the entrance to the actual theater, a cute redhead tends a full bar.  Not only can you order mixed drinks and beer, but Copenhagen ice cream! and sushi!!  I approach the redhead and order adult beverages and ice cream. “Would you like it now, or would you like it brought to you?”  I look at her sideways “Brought to me?”.  “Yes sir,” she replies in her delightful Kiwi accent. How much better can THIS get? “I think we’ll have it brought to us.”  She nods and makes a note “And when would you like it brought?”  Yes, it can get this much better. I smile, “I would like it half way through the third trailer, please”.  She squints her eyes and smiles.  I can’t tell if its a “You’re charming” response or a “Fucking American” response.

Jennifer and I go into the theater to choose our seats.  The balcony looks over the common area below which is filling with people trekking to their assigned seats.  Our seats, are WAY better.  The balcony is made up of three rows of Lazyboy Recliners (or the Kiwi equivalent) with tables inbetween.  Yes, fair reader, is just keeps gettin better.

We take our seats, and halfway into the third trailer, our ice cream and drinks.  I order the next round while our waitress is there, requesting that the next drinks come 27 minutes into the feature.

The only downside to that first Cinelounge experience is that the film is Mr. Deeds with Adam Sandler — a film that I categorize as a non-event.  A movie that is so mundane that I neither liked nor disliked it.  Just a waste of time.  But sitting in a movietheater in a recliner makes it worth it.

As you can guess, the Cinelounge became THE meeting place for the Weta artists.  Every Friday we would gather for the most ridiculous movies — all made better because of ice cream, alcohol and Lazyboy recliners.

New Kiwi words:

Clearaway = taking away the trash.  It indicates areas on the street where trash is put out and picked up that night by the sanitation department.  If you notice — this has the “way” word in it.

Rubbish = Garbage, Trash. Not a stretch, but not commonly used in the states.

Time to put time in on MC2 — should be wrapped in the next couple of days. Hopefully.

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