This is serious. The newspapers recently reported that cinema
attendance has dwindled by almost six million admissions in the last
Where have all the Singaporeans gone? Aren't we the number one
cinema-goers in the world? Reportedly, multiplexes are no longer in
vogue. The big screen is losing its allure not only to pirated VCDs,
but to a whole gamut of other distractions, like cable TV, Internet,
cyber-cafes, LAN gaming centres... even the pubs and the coffee club
culture were blamed.
Wait a minute, I thought kopitiams had been around since
time immemorial. But I'm digressing. The point is Singaporeans now
have a lot more ways to spend their $8 (or $5 for a weekday
entrance) than to go to the movies. This is not necessarily bad.
After all, we've always been complaining that there's nothing to do
here except to go to the cinema. Now I'm getting into knots...
Whatever it is, the reason for this piece is to celebrate our
beloved irreplaceable silver screen and here are 10 reasons why we
should muster all our kiasu energies to keep up our excellent
There is nothing like the mega screen to catch epic films like
"Star Wars", "Dances with the Wolves" and "Titanic". The looming
proportions of everything, accompanied by today's super duper sound
systems, promise a unique sensation which the humble gogglebox can
never match. Case in point: Would the much-featured bathtub in "What
Lies Beneath" look so ominous and sinister in a 14-inch frame?!
The best place to pop popcorn (in the old days, kacang
puteh) is undoubtedly in a movie house. Today, any respectable
multiplex has armrests with ring holders for those too lazy to hold
their popcorn cups.
Which dating couple in Singapore has not gone to a show together?
The "un-nameables" in the dark shall remain unnamed. Suffice to say,
savvy cinema operators are pampering this segment of the audience
with coyly-named "lovers' seats".
Speaking of pitch darkness, the ambience is perfect for those who
want to catch a quick snooze. Coupled with cool aircon comfort, the
plush seats are so comfortable these days I would be hard put to
stay awake at a mundane show. Strictly for non-snorers.
The cinema is educational. And I'm not just talking about shows
like "Shakespeare in Love" to get students to read their literature
books. Those who miss their hokkien classes in National Service can
get remedial classes at no extra charge from Taiwan-dubbed Hong Kong
I suspect the phrase "larger than life" evolved from the big
screen. Literally and figuratively, matinee idols have never looked
so good than when they are up there. Think Julia Roberts in "Pretty
Woman", Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic", and closer to home, Ling
Ching Hsia in "Swordsman II", Chow Yun Fatt in "A Better Tomorrow"
and Jet Li in the "Once Upon A Time in China" series. The "swoon"
factor is in direct proportion with the size of the screen hero or
heroine, where the close-up is such that a pimple would look like a
Experience the cutting-edge (and I would add, "cutting-front",
"cutting-middle") skills of our "acclaimed" films censorship board,
which is more adept at confusing the audience than Wong Kar Wai's
avant garde Chungking Express-style jerk movements. From
homosexual kissing scenes in "The Wedding Banquet" to just before
the punchlines in "Mickey Blue Eyes", the impeccable timing of the
Board's snips truly deserves an Oscar for "Best Editing".
Next to soccer matches, the cinema is a great spectator activity.
What better way to watch a horror movie than in a hall filled with
500 other people? There is safety in numbers. Nobody will ever know
if you've screamed your head off since everybody else would be
simultaneously screeching or keeping their eyes clutch tight. And
when it comes to tearjerkers, there is shared comfort too. You won't
need to feel embarrassed as the only one coming out of a "Joy Luck
Club" run, doing the dust-in-the-eye trick while pretending to
shield your red eyes and discreetly dabbing the kleenex on your,
ahem, sinus-inflicted nose.
Given our time-pressed schedules, sneaking a meal into the
picture house is one act which is probably committed by every
cinema-goer at one time or another. After all, that hocus pocus
excuse on dirtying the premises can't hold water (no pun intended)
when "authorised" popcorn and drinks are allowed. In our rule-ridden
society, there is almost a thrill in breaking a little harmless rule
once in a while.
Most importantly, national pride is at stake here. Hey, if we
don't keep this up, we could (gasp!) lose our No.1 ranking as the
most avid cinema-goers in the world!