This Side Of Paradise
My travellogues of South Florida have given me tremendous pleasure to show you.
Previous entries have included:
But I have long wanted to start a new kind of travellogue; namely, incorporating my love of film into our travels.
For you see, I am in love with movies.
Cinema-going, to me, is THE ultimate communal experience.
Inside a cinemahouse, you are not alone, even though watching films is an introspective activity, 99% of which is internalised, ruminated upon, and mulled over for future review, just by you.
Unlike sporting events, silence is the norm, and yet laughter, chatting, and eavesdropping are all equally acknowledged as part of the experience.
I love that feeling of shared excitement, which our modern world, with its computers, video games, cable TV -- all that down time which leaves you trapped inside your home, has virtually shorn away from our lives.
Now you know why this old pollworker veteran doesn't encourage people to vote absentee ballot.
Get out there! Show your face, be part of the whole whacky, messy, time-filled democratic process!
Why live if you can't enjoy yourself in the company of others?
My excitement about cinema-going has been a constant throughout my life, which includes having worked with my local MP in England, to save some derelict cinemahouses from destruction.
We were only partly successful, but every time one saves a bit of the past, one is paying hommage to those whose ideas came before you, whose laughs filled the air, and who stood for something greater than the here and now.
Cinemas are part of history. They are living monuments to human enjoyment. And one day, we will be that history too.
Thus was my frame of mind when I went to the MUVICO PARADISE 24, in Ft. Lauderdale, recently.
See, it's a themed-cinemahouse:
Its theme: Egyptian kitsch.
Though it's starting to show the wear and tear which multiplexes seem unusually prone to, must be all those thousands, maybe millions of feet tramping up and down the carpet for years, it still jumps out at you, since it's so very different from your run-of-the-mill mall moviehouse.
Sure, some people may scrunch their noses at the hokey premise of "Luxor in South Florida", but I love it.
So won't you come with me, as I show you around this gloriously stylised joint?
NIGHT AT THE MOVIES - PART ONE
First that you notice is its massiveness. That's one huge multiplex, framed by those enormous pillars in front of the box office.
The Muvico Paradise is part of the Ft. Lauderdale chain of theatres, which are expanding their themed locales to a city near you -- including a new one in Secaucus, New Jersey, which will also walk like an Egyptian.
Shut up. You knew it was coming.
As you enter, you look up at these columns which must be 20-25 feet at least.
Don't let the cracks fool you -- it's not the product of shoddy workmanship which the Pharaohs would've killed you for, or the rough hand of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita or Wilma, no.
The fault lines are on purpose, the better to evoke the ancientness. That the multiplex is only 6 years old is beside the point. Like your grandmother's fireplace, it's been "antiqued".
Automated ticket service in Ancient Egypt? Why not! You think we invented impatience?
Now I've been to the true pyramids in Egypt and I swear to you, this is exactly like the real Sphinx!!
Okay, so I lie, but what do you expect for 9 bucks?
This is the Sphinx' twin, on the other side of the box office.
Speaking of which, both box offices are huge, but then, on a Saturday, the queues stretch for miles, filled with grubby-fingered youngsters dropped off by their harried, reckless parents, who are one-phone call away from being told their kiddies were kidnapped.
Once you're actually in, the first thing you notice is this funky carpet on the floor.
I bet you'll NEVER guess what that little Wizard of Oz-like road is?
That's right. The River Nile! Ain't that a pip?
Even the movie posters are framed as if they were announcing a megaspectacular fight between Spartacus and Moses -- and please don't tell me they were not contemporaries. I know.
Sheesh, you try to show people a good time, and they get all Trivial Pursuit on you.
Breathe in deep. Crane your neck. Take it all in.
Well-done, isn't it?
I bet this column detail with the scarabs, horus, and the pharaohs took the Jews years to chisel.
Art may give you sustenance, but let's face it, nothing beats popcorn.
This concessions stand is very fancy, and remarkably well-stocked. First time I had pizza at a movie theatre, since that time I shoved a Big Cheese slice down my brassiere.
Shame I didn't this time, since the overcooked, cardboardy "mini" pizza was over 6 bucks...
Once you're actually inside, and the lights have already dimmed, because as usual, you arrived ten minutes into the previews, this is the stunning visual which awaits you as you close the door.
Even that wayward roll of paper towel somehow looks artistic (though I should've moved it for this shot -- drat).
You can see that the architects spared no lack of attention to Ancient Egyptian detail even in the loos.
Shame the janitor didn't get the memo.
As you leave, you encounter one of the many Muvico employees, who you must admit, would've looked so much better dressed like King Tut or Cleo.
Though I make fun of the drop-and-drive parents who think the malls are a cheap babysitter for their kiddies, being a parent isn't easy.
So Muvico has made it easier for families, by having a little playroom with supervised, licensed professionals manning the romper-room, as mum and dad take in the latest flick next door.
That's really a good idea. Better than that Thai sushi bar, that's for sure.
So, did you like the theatre? Pretty neat, huh? Do you have a themed or special theatre around you, too?
But, now I know what you're thinking, as you finish this blogpost -- so, Vic, what movie did you see?
Come on, now. Sundries is a year-old, and you've had a chance to see just what kind of a girl I am, and where my interests lie.
Scan the "now showing" pages of your nearest theatres, and pick out the name of the film.
That's right. It was...
And I enjoyed it too.
Kendall, a sprawling neighbourhood in the southern suburbs of Miami, will be getting a new Muvico themed-theatre too! It's been in the works since 2003, but only in early January 2006, did the city fathers give the Muvico company the go-ahead to start building near the Hammocks.
Muvico Empire 20 Theater
Developer: The Rouse Company
Project: Kendall Town Center
20 screens; 4,250 seats
Ancient World theme
Ooh goody. Ancient World Theme. Rome, Greece, and erm, Egypt?
Either way, I'm so there! And thanks to Sundries, so will you.