Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It, Is To Find A Screening of The Martian.
In English. In Bangkok.
“The usual hero adventure begins with someone who feels there is something lacking in the normal experience available or permitted to the members of society. The person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary…” – Joseph Campbell.
The objective seemed simple enough; last week anyway. Wait until my beloved Mrs. B had returned from her revitalising week-long meditation retreat; then take her to watch her fave movie star: Matt Damon. The Martian had been released – quite fortuitously – on her birthday! Seriously, how difficult could it possibly be?
Quite difficult as it turned out…
There is a tendency – especially in regional cinemas – to dub some of the biggest blockbusters into Thai, and our local multiplex is no exception. We didn’t have this problem with Guardians Of The Galaxy, or only last month with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Although The Martian arrived here only last Thursday with FOUR showings in its original English soundtrack, it has been reduced – just days later – to ONE showing in Thai only.
So be. Looks like a day trip to the Big Mango is in order. Travelling so far just to catch one movie – no matter how brilliant and unmissable The Martian may be – does seem a tad too extreme; still, this writer requires other things up north simply not available in our hometown. Brad will proceed. And with Mrs. B?
“What’s the matter, lov?”
“Sorry, hon. I’m not going…”
“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else” – Marco Polo.
The Mother Of All Malls in the Thai capital is the Siam Paragon; it’s hard to miss, nestling right next to the interchange MRT station slap bang in the city centre. Its plush, state-of-the-art multiplex theatre has provided us with some of cinema’s finest most recent gems ALWAYS in English. Even if a movie turns out to be utter crud, at least you can marvel at the exquisite finery of the drapes…
And the- hang on, just remembered! At the Major Cineplex, Central World, they have Special Cheezy Dip with their nachos. Yeah, will go there instead – just the next stop on the MRT. However, recent events – especially a tragic bomb attack in August at one of our favourite shrines – have made some tourists (Mrs. B included) extremely wary of Bangkok’s level of security.
“But this is what you wanted, lov. Your birthday treat! Hey, it’s about Matt Damon stranded on Mars. Just him, vlogging for two hours. Come on, hon! He’ll be staring right at you as you watch him! Couldn’t be better!”
The thought of going back to the intolerable noise, stress and pollution of the capital city – even for just one day – fills my lady with dread. Plus, a long and reckless mini-bus ride (which she simply cannot stand) must be endured before you can seize the chance to inhale that city air…
Then there are other reservations to consider: “What if this movie turns out to be just as terrible as that other space movie, hon?”
“Oh, you mean Jupiter Ascending? Good Lord, nothing else could be as dire as that, lov! The Martian has had some really encouraging reviews. Look…”
At this point, frantic scrolling at rottentomatoes.com on my smartphone ensued, but she didn’t look.
“No, someone’s got to stay and look after Sooty [our cat].”
“You know what the cinema’s like: by this Friday they will have reverted back to showing the usual rubbish.”
“I can wait until this comes out on disc. Besides, I can have my Bourne trilogy any time I want.”
“So, there’s… no way I can persuade you to come with me?”
“‘Fraid not, Ford. Anyway, I don’t have a movie-blog to maintain…”
“It is far. But there is no journey that a man may not make if he sets his heart to it. There is nothing that he cannot do…” – H. Rider Haggard.
The mini-bus from Hua Hin to Bangkok takes three hours (or two and a half if the driver thinks he’s Jason Bourne). Early morning, my bag packed with papers and two bottles of chilled water, we walked up to the main road together so she could wave me off.
“What are you doing, farang?” Mrs. B joked.
“Going to the big city to find Matt Damon, lov,”
As the bus came into view, on time, she chortled: “Send him my love!”
“Ha, will do! I’ll even Bring Him Home if I can find a pirate copy, heh heh!”
The bus screeched to a halt. My wife pinched my arm.
“Don’t go meeting any girls up there!” she whispered sternly.
“Perish the thought, lov.”
Time to hold her tight and reassure her.
“I’ll be back by nightfall. Don’t want to leave you for too long, hon; can’t. You’re the light of my life – the fuel on which I run. If I could reach up and hold a star for every time you’ve made me happy, my darling, the evening sky would be in the palm of my hand.”
“Ooh, get you,” she purred. “Did Matt teach you to talk like that?”
“Uff, gizzus a hug, me sugar…”
We shared a quick embrace. The driver started up the engine; I began to clamber in.
“Hey, what are you going to do about lunch?!”
“No worries, lov,” he was heard to exclaim, looking back over his shoulder. “There’s plenty of cake in the big city; I can pick some up there on my way back.”
“Oh for goodness sake, ya daft ham noi! I mean real food!”
“The cinema will have nachos – Brad will survive…”
The driver came round to slide the mini-bus door shut.
“I love you,” Mrs. B yelled out.