I have about twenty minutes before I have to leave the house and there were many goings-on yesterday, so I think I will confine myself to talking about the evening's events, and come back to work-related stuff later, since work-related stuff continues this afternoon (which is why I have to leave in fifteen minutes) and it'll be more coherent if I talk about both afternoons' worth together.

The only important thing you need to know about yesterday's workplan seminar is that it ended only ten minutes after its scheduled conclusion time at 5:30 pm, so I speedwalked to the MRT station, hopped on a train, tried to do a crossword during the three-station journey to keep my stomach from flipflopping further at the thought of missing the opening of LotR and to prevent myself from checking my watch every other second, got off at Orchard station and elbowed my way further to Lido cineplex, and managed not to growl too loudly at those pesky people who hand out flyers at every underpass corner.

I got to the cineplex at 6 pm and all was well, except that I was out of breath and my stomach was twisted into wretched knots still, since my friends were still waiting in line to get into the theater. The previous showing had just ended and people were filing out still. We got seated within five minutes, then settled down to wait till 6:27 pm (by Terx's watch) before the movie began. So I speedwalked for nothing. Bah. I should've known it would've started late --- this is Singapore, after all --- but I was really, really anxious not to miss anything.

The movie was really good, but I think I will have to write about it in greater detail after seeing it again. See, I was too distracted this time. Firstly, there was the time issue that gave me the stomach-wrenching fear that lingered even after I was safely ensconced in my seat. Secondly, there was the fact that twenty minutes into the movie, THE MOVIE REEL BURNED UP AND THE LIGHTS CAME UP AND SUDDENLY THEY WERE PLAYING BEATLES MUSIC AS IF THE MOVIE HAD ENDED.

Needless to say, people were pissed. Some people hammered on the window leading to the operators' room. Other people raised a ruckus. A lot of people got up to use the washroom, like it was a scheduled intermission or something, which puzzled me greatly. The movie image reappeared for a few minutes, but without sound and with the house lights still on so that the image wasn't distinct, and then it vanished again.

It was about ten or fifteen minutes later when the movie continued --- except that we had skipped over all the intervening material!! People yelled, "Rewind the movie!" and other less courteous/more impatient versions of that request, but to no fucking avail. The movie continued. We missed about twenty minutes' worth, according to Mr B. Mrs B said afterwards that her sister had come out of the film screening just before ours and had made the same complaint.

Fucking hell.

The moral of the story, ladies and gentlemen? NEVER EVER WATCH A MOVIE AT LIDO CINEPLEX. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell anyone you know who might so much as transit through Singapore for a day. LIDO IS RUN BY INCOMPETENT IDIOTS, so incompetent that at certain quieter points in the movie, because we were sitting four rows from the back, we could actually hear bits of conversation between the operators in the operators' room. Fucking idiots, the lot of them.

NO MORE LIDO. Terz and I are swearing by Grand after this.

Oh, and this isn't the first time it's happened. Apparently, a similar situation occurred when another friend (who was, alas, in our LotR group last night) saw one of the first few screenings of The Phantom Menace in 1999. On hindsight, since I watched a midnight preview of that movie at Lido, I'm now grateful my preview viewing at least went off without a hitch.


I'm sorry to belabor it, but I'm really pissed. If my brain is still intact after this afternoon's stuff, I will probably craft a complaint letter (for all the good it'll do, my cynical side reminds me) to both Lido and the local newspaper's forum page. Maybe I should CC the letter to Lido's main rival, the cinema chain that runs Grand.


Okay, so LotR proper. I think I will write in white, so that you're not inadvertently spoilered. Highlight the white space below to see my admittedly incomplete thoughts on the film. [Ed: White text changed to default colour for ease of reading, since I'm migrating this to my blog 3 years after the movie came out and there's really no spoiler issues anymore.]

It brought the story to life, without a doubt, and certainly conveyed the scope of the tale. The narrative was compressed, of course, and as someone who finished reading the book less than a week ago, I'll take the book's extended version any day. In the movie, there's less sense of the real grit, struggle and terror in the hobbits' fleeing from the Shire. Of course there are moments of terror, but they tend to be moments --- that's it --- and then someone saves the day, and the terror is suspended, for now. Which is not quite the same effect one gets in the book when it feels like someone is hounding the hobbits constantly.

I wasn't so hot on the inflated role given to Arwyn, but I can live with it. I really didn't like the romance between Arwyn and Aragorn at first, because I thought it was gratuitously Hollywoodesque, but a friend remarked afterwards that the romance was from one of the poems in the book, one of the songs Frodo hears during his sojourn at Rivendell. So that made me feel better about it, especially since my friend added that this interpretation coheres with the part in the novel when the author tells us Aragorn never returned to Rivedell as a man ever again. (I'd look up the chapter reference, but I really don't have the time to right now.)

The one thing I didn't like, as I told friends as we dissected the film at dinner later, was what I thought was over-the-top use of special effects to convey how the ring corrupted Bilbo and Galadriel, and twisted their yearning for it into a vile lust. I understand the corruption of the ring and I think it was sufficiently conveyed in other scenes with these two characters. I didn't like the whole Bilbo/Galadriel-momentarily-morphing-into-demon thing. I GET IT. The ring makes people crazy. Let the actors act and stop showing off your CGI budget!

Similarly, I thought Boromir was portrayed too obviously as well. In the novel, the ring's influence on him is quite insidious and you can really sense how little by little, he's being consumed with lust for it. In the movie, it was there right from the start, in some kind of mad way; after the Council witnessed Boromir's attitude towards the ring, why would they let him be a part of the Fellowship when he was the prime candidate to snatch it from Frodo?

So, yeah, a little more subtlety, guys. Tolkien had the subtlety and while this movie certainly wasn't as anvilicious as most Hollywood productions, they should trust themselves and the actors more. Let the story tell itself.

At any rate, I liked it. Loved the elves, loved the blondeness, loved the arrows. Really liked all the depictions of the various landscapes. Not so crazy about the way the narrative was reordered, but I can see why it's necessary for a the movie to be accessible to an audience that may not have had the time or patience to read Tolkien.

Okay, movie review over for now. More tidbits will surely come when we watch it again, probably this weekend.

After the movie, we went to Brewerkz for dinner and drinks, and wound up loitering there till closing time and beyond; they kicked us out of our seats at 12:30 am. Wahj & Kay the newlyweds went home after that, because Wahj was still under the weather from the wedding exertions, and X-Man went to join his girlfriend, but the rest of us trouped over to The Peak at Mohammed Sultan for several hours of karaoke. I don't sing, but Terz loves to, as do a number of our friends, and I'm okay with watching and laughing and cheering, as long as no one sticks a mike at me. The Bs know the boss at The Peak (which boss along the MS strip don't they know), so we got a room with a discount without any problems, and stayed till closing time at 3 am (and they don't let you overstay there, probably because their entertainment licence is at stake). Mr B had many drinks and was very funny, Terz sang till his voice was all croaky, and much fun was had by all --- without incurring a gigantic bill, thank goodness.

Teraz and I got home and went to bed at about 4 am; I got up at 10 am, for some reason, but allowed myself to loll in bed till 11 am. Terz's still asleep. He had a lot to drink.

And now I really must get dressed and go.


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