Journey To The Centre Of The Multiplex

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It, Is To Find A Screening of The Martian.

In English. In Bangkok.  

martian-in-thai

“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 fortuitouslyon 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. 

Bugger… 

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…” 

siam-paragon

“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…”  

themartian

“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.

“I know…” 

"HANG ON IN THERE, BUDDY! You stay alive, no matter what occurs! Brad will find you! No matter how long it takes, no matter how far! I will find you"
“HANG ON IN THERE, BUDDY! You stay alive, no matter what occurs! Brad will find you! No matter how long it takes, no matter how far! I will find you”

to be continued...

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Hell For Leather: Warriors Of The Dystopian Wasteland

The Maximum Force Of The Future! Refueled and Revised…

MAD AS HELL: Take it to the Max
MAD AS HELL: Take it to the Max

“Where must we go… we who wander this Wasteland in search of our better selves?” – The First History Man. 

Extraordinary. Long before Fury Road (hands down: the best, most enjoyable movie of 2015) but trailing woefully in the skidmarks of The Road Warrior, the wasteland – created by the ravages of armageddon – brought forth a terror quite beyond imagining, revving, racing, screeching and tumbling from your neighbourhood video rental store during the 80s.

Here, in this blighted territory, i.e. a bargain bucket of dodgy old videos, some of the most horrendous post-apoc movies can be found. After the skills and thrills of the original Mad Max movies, how did their imitators manage to turn out so unbelievably crap? It’s nuts.

By definition, nothing should exist in the “wasteland.” It serves merely as a pitiful reminder of humankind’s inept irresponsibility when it comes to the physical environment; the corruption of moral values we (used to) hold most dear. It’s no more than a harsh representation of dreams shattered and hopes crushed. And yet it is a potent symbol destined to feature consistently as the bleak and unforgiving terrain on which dystopian adventures will unfold.

“The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise. Your greed made a desert of it,” as one wise old ape will moan many centuries from now…

THE-NEW-BARBARIANS

“Mad Max is a movie about a post-disaster world, and its success has inspired oodles of disastrously bad films. Witness Grade-Z movies so execrable that you’ll be yearning for a couple of minutes in Thunderdome” – Cyriaque Lamar.  

Holy guacamole. And you thought the end-of the-world was bad! “Post-apocalyptic” truly is a byword for tosh!

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior has a lot to answer for! It inadvertently spawned a whole slew of dire rip-offs, mostly emanating from Italy – the hub of nearly all cheesy sci-fi ever produced. Those of you too young to remember: count yourself the lucky ones.  

What better example to throw in than Il Nuovi Barbari (The New Barbarians) – aka Warriors of The Wasteland (1982), a riotous piece of Italian crap featuring the Templars: a hilarious gang of gay roadsters in souped-up go-karts and dune-buggies (come on, the wasteland is a gas, isn’t it?!) terrorising any pitiful bands of apoc-survivors delirious enough to stray into their “territory.”

Then came The Atlantis Interceptors, aka The Raiders of Atlantis, aka Atlantis Inferno, aka call it what you will – it will always be crap. Someone had the nerve to distribute this fantastic rubbish. Nevertheless, you just could not take my eyes off it. More crazy, contrived vehicles (knives sticking out of the hubcaps, for goodness sake!), shoulder pads and helmets, but this time they came through a portal from another dimension to unleash havoc in a high octane bat-shit frenzy! Radical. 

Amazing to think how – on the other side of Armageddon – people will still rely on four wheels to get by. Not only that, apparently people willingly don American Football gear(!), have mohicans, and engage in other bonkers behaviour simply too ludicrous to elucidate here.

metalstorm-warriors

Mad-Max-Toecutter

“Maximise your madness, and shift into overdrive as we make the world safe for burning rubber” – Sybil Danning.  

Spare a thought for the much-maligned: Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn. This “High Noon at the end of the universe,” starring Jeffrey Byron, Tim Thomerson and Mrs. John Travolta was released in abominable 3-D. At the time, this was exactly the sort of madness worth cramming into my overworked and overheated VCR.

Say what you will about this universally-derided crud, for me it was an intensely enjoyable madhouse. Unlike it’s contemporaries, Metalstorm did not hail from Italy. It was produced by Charles Band, who – during the early 80s – carved out his own unique batch of ultra-cheap shoddy flicks.

Moreover, the vehicles seemed to be more practical armour-plated kubelwagens (with warped engine noises), and – what was more gratifying – there was no shitty American Football gear on show; heck no, these dudes looked like they were destined to duel in the desert. By 1983 standards, Metalstorm (in Standard format, not that tacky 3-D anaglyph version, thanks) is not as awful as most people would have you believe.

Thankfully, 2019: After The Fall Of New York never crossed my sensors. Just as well, sneaking a peak via Youtube now it looks more mediocre than The Atlantis Interceptors (if such an unenviable feat is possible). Still, at least deliberately setting it Stateside meant that the ubiquitous American Football clobber wouldn’t look so incongruous. 

Exterminators-finalfront

“Its in your nature to destroy yourselves” – T-800 Cyberdyne Systems Model 101. 

Extra tail-gating and hub-cap-hurling mayhem was to come via Exterminators Of The Year 3000, an Italian Mad Max rip-off (also from 1983) which, again, had to be rented to be believed. A heavy slab of (grilled) cheese – synonymous with the 80s, for sure. Gingerly rewatching it in the comfort of hindsight, actually, it ain’t half-bad; it grips from the get-go and has an amazing original score by Detto Mariani. 

In conclusion then, rather than contemplate whether we exist only to destroy the land and deplete our resources, we should question whether there is an unwritten law stipulating that these mixed-up denizens of the “wasteland” have to arse about in American Football gear. 

As we speed – indeterminately, (ignorantly?) and inexorably – towards an unknowing future: where must we go?

Wait!

Just had a groovy idea: turn down the volume of the above classic clip and run this grungy track from Amphetamine Reptile Records (below) instead.

Hardcore road-ripper! Pedal to the Metal!

“Dear Future Generations,

Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum” 

Kurt Vonnegut.  

Metalstorm_2_450_311

What a waste…

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