Film "Mother"

NYC weather was absolutely gorgeous today. I took the opportunity to go hang with my youngest and watch a movie. My research assistant on Friday suggested I go watch the Korean film ‘Mother’. Since I like Korean films, those I have watched via Sundance or IFC are very well made and have intriguing plots. Mother was no less disappointing the plot has you riveted to the very end.

As I write this I recall the first discussions I had with my husband about movie-going here in NYC. At the time society was transforming itself, being more social and reviving the city. In those days movie theaters had to be well-chosen because of certain pockets of seedy areas not yet redone to spanking clean status.
For us throughout the years it has become a social, intellectual exercise, and at times a feast for the senses. It’s the routine we’ve kept as a couple, as parents, and as a family as the times and our circumstances have changed.

The NYC cinema-going crowd has kept movie theaters in business, and cinema owners have learned to navigate the film industry; going to the movies is not about social perversion in most cases. Gone are the infamous 42nd Street sex theaters, making it once again a cleaner hang out. And with theaters like the IFC Center, you also get the international films in their own language with English subtitles. Restaurants and cafes have gravitated around theaters making it a simple solution to ‘what do you want to do today?’

But in Yemen, going to the cinema is still taboo-ish and a social bad word. It’s not a family based form of entertainment. My husband still gets raked over the coals for being an avid movie-goer. His compatriots say a DVD should suffice. Obviously we disagree, because for us its a whole outing experience to be shared by the whole family or with friends. It’s about brunch before and dinner after to discuss the movie, giving us a comfortable space to process what we have seen on the big screen. Giving way to all sorts of conversations and debates. It has helped us gauge our children’s mental and emotional growth as well. The compatriots say that all that is a waste of time; some still think movie theaters are sex havens for the perverted. You go, then you are just as perverted. Sigh…

For my husband that mentality is frustrating to argue against. I told him a similar ‘social shift’ happened in many Latin American societies. I remember when I first saw Lord of the Rings  – not the modern-day trilogy, but another that came out during the era of another blockbuster – Star Wars. This started a change in Santo Domingo where I was at the time. As well as Saturday Night Fever that changed ‘clubbing’ in DR for ever. Once the society started ‘cleaning up’ the theaters and nightclubs enforcing strict dress and behavior codes these became socially acceptable. But it took DR at the very least 25 or so years to turn things around. Now you go and the Mega movie theaters can be seen everywhere; malls in some cases are the showcase pieces for these theaters.

Will Yemen ever be a movie going society? I’m not sure that will happen anytime soon, its inherent ‘no mix’ views of everyone’s place in society splits it across genders where two societies have to uneasily co-exist. There are cinemas, but not exactly socially ‘friendly’ places. Well maybe things will improve in the next 25 years.

Here’s to hope.


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