Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mission: The Dark Knight Rises

Well, given how EVERYONE I know back home is raving about The Dark Knight Rises, I wanted to see it.  I loved the first two movies in the trilogy, so I of course had high expectations for the third, even with the sad passing of Heath Ledger.  But China allows only 20 foreign movies to be shown in theatres per year, although there's been talk of it expanding to a higher number (no idea if this has already happened).  As well, due to the movie's content, my Mandarin teacher (a big movie buff) said she thinks The Dark Knight Rises may not even make it into China this year for censorship reasons.  I heard there's this big riot scene, maybe that's why.  Heck, apparently even The Dark Knight (2nd in the trilogy) did not get released in China.  Although my Mandarin teacher said that it was, except they cut out some scenes?  I don't know.  Anyway, seemed my only chance to see it in theatres lay in Hong Kong.

So off to Hong Kong I went.  Weekends are the only option, just because of the amount of time it takes to cross the border.  Except this weekend, I'm busy with church stuff, so I decided to go on Friday night, with a plan to come back either late Friday night or Saturday morning.  Future weekends were out of the question, and by the time my weekends freed up again, I was worried that the movie would already be out of theatres.

The trip could not have started off worse.  Finishing stuff at work is always a logjam, and Friday was no exception.

6:17pm:  Finally leave work.  Run to the subway station where all the electric mopeds are.
6:22pm:  Arrive at the mopeds.  Ask one to take me to Keyuan Station, as it's faster to go there directly by moped, and then by subway to the ferry terminal, where my ferry is scheduled to leave at 7:15pm.  Tight, but I can make it, if the moped shufu (general term for service guys, such as drivers) knows where Keyuan Station is.  And really, why wouldn't he?  I've done this lots of times.
6:30pm:  Finally find a moped willing to take me to Keyuan Station.
6:32pm:
Me:  Shufu, why are we going this way?
Shufu:  Don't worry, sir, this way is faster!
Me:  OK....
6:35pm:
Me:  Shufu, this is not Keyuan Station.  This is Shenda Station.  Keyuan Station is on the Shekou Line.  We were just at Exit A2 of Shenda Station.  You brought me to another Shenda Station exit.  I need to get to Keyuan Station.
Shufu:  Oh, sorry, I thought you meant this station.
Me:  No, this is Shenda Station still...  We're wasting time, just go, go!
6:40pm:
Me:  Shufu, we're totally not going in the right direction.  We're way west now.  Keyuan Station is way east of us.  Forget it, just take me to Shekou.  I need to get to Seaworld, somewhere around there (I can't remember how to say Ferry terminal, so I say Seaworld, since it's close by).
Shufu:  I can't go to Seaworld, it's too far.
Me:  Yes you can, I can tell you how to get there, I'll pay extra too.
6:50pm:
Shufu:  Hey, Shufu 2, you know how to get to Seaworld?
Me:  Shufu, I said just go down this road!
Shufu:  He's trying to get to Seaworld
Shufu 2:  Yeah, I know.
Me:  Hey, Shufu, mind if I just switch bikes?  I'm going to be late.
Shufu:  OK.
Me:  OK, how much do I owe you?
Shufu:  10RMB.
Me:  OK, here, thanks (for nothing  @@).
Shufu:  OK, sorry, I really don't know where it is.
Me:  Yeah (obviously!!!), it's OK, thanks.
Shufu 2:  OK, Seaworld, right?
Me:  Gah, not really, honestly, I need to get to Hong Kong.
Shufu 2:  Ah, the Bay Port then?
Me:  Well, I actually wanted to go another way, but given I'm late, that's fine.  (Bay Port is not the Ferry Port.  From the Bay Port, you can take buses and cars across the border to HK, crossing this massive bridge).  How much?
Shufu 2:  15RMB
Me:  (what? so cheap?)  OK, fine.
7:05pm:  Arrive at Bay Port, give the guy 20RMB (he admits he underestimated the distance)
7:10pm:  Buy a bus ticket to Causeway Bay.  Bus leaves at 7:15pm!
7:15pm:  Realize that I forgot I need to get through immigration.  Will need to target the 7:45pm bus.  Lucky, the ticket is transferable to later buses.
8:02pm:  Bus actually leaves Bay Port.
9:00pm:  Bus arrives at Times Square.  OK!  Plenty of time to catch the 9pm movie, assuming trailers, or 9:15, or 9:30, or whatever is there!
9:10pm:  I swore there was a movie theatre at Times Square before!!  What happened to it???  (Oh, I guess that happened.  Crap.)  No biggie, ask around, people say there's a movie theatre at Sogo, only a few minutes away!
9:15pm:  Need... liquid... orange... with sago??  :D
9:20pm:  Arrive at Sogo's movie theatre.  What???  Only one showing of The Dark Knight Rises per day, and it's at 5:15pm???  No, I do not want to watch The Bourne Legacy, I want to watch The Dark Knight Rises!!  Some people tell me there's a movie theatre by Tai Koo Station, Exit D.  Cool, OK, it's only 9:15, I can do this.  I'm sure there's a 9:30pm showing or a 10pm showing.
10:00pm:  Ticket purchased for The Dark Night Rises!!  10:10pm showing!  Bathroom!  Bathroom!
10:11pm:  Finish pouring condiments on my hot dog in time for the trailers!
12:56am:  Movie over.  Spend the rest of the night fighting crime in Hong Kong, stopping bank robberies, terrorist plots, and saving kittens.  Rain comes with the morning.

Two comments on the movie:
1.  Wow!  Amazing movie!  Wish there was a part 4, but if there was, I guess I'd have to make a second trip!
2.  Wow, I can understand now why my Mandarin teacher thinks this movie isn't going to be shown in China.  Heck, I'm 99% sure it'll never make it past the censors.  There's just no way.  You have to understand the political and economic situation in China to know why.  I've written a lot about China stuff, from my amateur limited perspective.  I guess my next post will again be on that type of topic, discussing why The Dark Knight Rises is the type of movie that freaks the government out.

A cool book to read on China

I read a book by Leslie T. Chang, titled Factory Girls - Voices from the Heart of Modern China.  Leslie Chang was a former Beijing correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, and this is the fruit of a lot of her personal primary research, directly interacting with the young girls who left their villages to become factory workers in Dongguan.  Dongguan is actually very close to Shenzhen, where I live now.

I have to say that this book is probably the most amazing work on China I've read to date.  Many things about people in China suddenly make sense to me now.

As well, the diary entry from one of the subjects in the book makes me understand women a lot better than I ever have.  At least, I think the actions of women make more sense to me now.  I think.  Hey, I'm still clueless.
April 1, 1994
Yes, I am a person so ordinary that I cannot be more ordinary, so plain that I cannot be plainer, a girl like all the other girls.  I like to eat snacks, I like to have fun, and I like to look pretty. 
Don't imagine that I can be superhuman. 
You are just a most ordinary, most plain girl, attracted to anything that is pretty or tasty or fun.
So from being ordinary and plain I will make my start.
From page 55, chapter 3 of Factory Girls, by Leslie T. Chang.
Honestly, I wanted to write a huge article about this book, in the context of the Foxconn controversy.  But I've never had the time.  Look, if you want to understand something about modern China, go read this book.  That's all I'll say for now, and maybe one day I'll finally get around to writing that article about what I got from this book.