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A screen wider than your imagination

We go to the pictures quite often nowadays. There's a multiplex in an otherwise more or less deserted and desolate shopping centre about ten minutes walk from home. I have no idea how the designers and promoters of the Mandarache shopping centre got it so completely wrong but they did. A couple of mobile phone shops - the only Phonehouse in the World without a queue - a pint sized bowling alley, a Chinese buffet and a couple of fast food outlets. All the rest is silence. Empty units, bored security guards and expansive Christmas decorations. But there is a ten or twelve screen multiplex. At it's busiest it fills maybe a fifth of the acres of idiosyncratic traffic system car park.

Multiplexes are multiplexes. Digital dsplays for the film titles and times, overpriced popcorn, bored ticket collectors passing the time of day with the broom leaning cleaner, piped music in the toilets and those odd booster seats for the children to fidget in.

Fare is Hollywood. Almost nothing else makes it to the screens - Woody Allen is high art though we did have a Ken Loach recently. No Pearl and Dean, no Kia Ora. A few trailers and then the main feature. It's all in Spanish of course, dubbed. I've commented before on the odd dichotomy - there's Clint or Jack or Goldie but the voice isn't.

We manage OK with the Spanish, usually, or we go to sleep unable to understand and bored. Iron Man is much harder than something with Jennifer Aniston. Spanish film titles don't always mimic their US originals - Green Zone became Protected Zone, The Sound of Music is Smiles and Tears and the Hurt Locker was In Hostile Territory. A recent trend though is to stick with the English title. It was Two Lovers yesterday. Maggie's Sunday Spanish - "Hola, dos entradas para Two Lovers, por favor." I always wonder whether to try to Hispanisise the English but they've only got 10 or 12 options so they can guess. Maggie never worries - she's pretty good at English.

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