Dubai – Home cinema vs cinema: which one do you prefer?
In a world called “pre-pandemic” (or pre-Covid, take your pick), I had made one last trip to the cinema to watch a film called Thappad. In English, this translates to ‘The Slap’. It was March 2020, right before the corona madness went down in earnest – but it was still like a hit on the fingers for me because fear had already gripped a lot of us, and we had – unofficially. , by reflex – started practicing social distancing. Inside this sparsely populated auditorium, whose giant screen displayed the story of what happens when (husband) Pavail Gulati slaps (wife) Taapsee Pannu, some of us looked for other (empty) seats ) to get away from the clusters.
Since then, for over 18 months, I had not been to the movies. Until last Saturday. That night, I got ready, took the metro to the Dubai Mall, and looked for Reel Cinemas. I had a date with Bond, James Bond, although I’m not particularly crazy about him. Looking back, I probably wouldn’t have made the effort if I hadn’t been goaded by a friend. I’m glad I did; I liked No Time To Die, the vertical of the voluntary suspension of disbelief neatly tucked into place.
What struck me when I walked into the dark interiors of a certain auditorium – popcorn and Pepsi in hand – was how empty it was despite the weekend and despite the crowds that crowded into the mall.
I think I may have added to the decreasing numbers. There was a time when I watched a movie once a week, sometimes twice a week. Then there was a time when I would watch all the movies in town (even the bad ones, looking for cool features) – and maybe visit theaters three to four times a week (there was that magical “night show” that you could do after working hours).
I consider myself a movie buff, I love watching them, I love revisiting them, reading literature about them, trying to stay on top of Oscar and BAFTA trivia, etc. I have (what I consider) the best movies – the ones I had watched on screen – in DVD format; and even though DVDs (and my DVD player) are now considered relics, I love that these movies are with me to have and keep.
But these days, especially after the Covid period, I barely make the pilgrimage to watch ‘newly released’ offers in a movie theater close to me – or far from me. Earlier, “What’s your plan for the weekend?” Would elicit a “meet friends for brunch, then watch a movie” response from me. These days, it’s more like “Put your feet up and binge on a show – order fatayer chicken and cheese.”
I had resisted the OTT revolution the longest, but during the pandemic I obediently surrendered. And then, it forced me to convert; I am now a sidekick in the home entertainment movement.
I originally watched Netflix and the rest of it on my laptop. For one simple reason: the furnished apartment I live in doesn’t have a smart TV (looks pretty fancy but, as they say, don’t be fooled by the looks). A few weeks ago, a tech-savvy friend introduced me to the wonders of I / O wiring. Now I can hook up my laptop to my mute TV – which has a big screen – and enjoy midnight mass at greater range.
Has it changed my life?
I really don’t think so. I was quite happy with my laptop. The big picture is pretty good, but when you’re drawn to a certain series or movie, it’s the content that counts, not the bells and whistles.
As most of us get used to living in a bubble more and more, the home front becomes the experience. Not the cinema. Yes of course we’ll be saying phrases like âNothing like a Digital Dolby experience,â like I did when I was watching No Time To Die and juggling the three-in-one popcorn bucket (the set at caramel flavor always comes out, but not so much if you buy just that, it has to be in company). So yes, from time to time “for the experience” will obviously be true. But no more compulsive flick to watch on a whim like I did in the movies, when I can work remotely from the couch – after popping the corn (no caramel variant, alas) in the microwave.