Life in Amman
Usra and I went to see Sherlock Holmes a couple of nights ago at one of the multiplexes here in Amman. These places show primarily American films and a few Arab films. There are smaller Arab film theaters around as well. There are also, erm, porn theaters. I hear that the way they work is that one goes in and a regular film will play, but then somewhere in the middle of the film, porn will be spliced in for a while; then back to the regular film. OF COURSE, I wouldn't know first-hand. No interest no access.
I’ve actually only gone to the multiplex theaters here twice. Once was during Ramadan; just to get out of the heat and pass time until we could eat (I started using semi-colons as a joke but now I find them indispensable). Typically, the films they choose to show are a selection of ridiculous comedy, horror, and action. The audience is apparently not much interested in the more subtle offerings. So far, the only releases in theaters that have been of interest to me, for example, have been Iron Man, the aforementioned Sherlock Holmes, and Dark Night. Of course, if I wanted to see Invictus or Up in the Air, I could buy it on DVD for $1.50 before it’s even left the top ten box office in the US. If you know where to go, the copies are flawless. If you don’t know where to go, you may see a silhouette of someone getting up in front of you while you’re watching the film.
So, the film is 5JD…about $7.50. Expensive for the average Jordanian but there’s a handful of wealthy Jordanians and an expat population that will turn up. When you buy your tickets, you will be shown a computer screen from which to choose your seats.
It’s reserved seating.
In a country where people don’t pay attention to lines or lanes or laws, there’s reserved seating. Of course, if a Jordanian were to go to the states, he may say “how funny! Here these Americans stay perfectly in the lane lines and even cross the street between crosswalk lines, yet at their theaters, they go in all willy-nilly.”
The popcorn is a bit cheaper than the US – 2JD for a large one. Also, they have caramel popcorn. Mmmm…caaarmmmel popcorrrn.....what? Oh, ehm...
Inside, the seats are luxurious; like pilot seats. They’re not heated or anything but they’re high backed and super clean. It may just be that these places are so new. Oddly, everyone here prefers to sit as far back as possible. So the back six rows are filled while the rest remain empty. Sure, the screen is big – I’d say it’s bigger that our multiplexes – but it ain’t THAT big. Maybe they’re all making out back there…can’t say I checked.
We sit, in front of everyone. Up to a half hour after the movie has started, people are still trickling in. Fortunately, during this film, no one is talking on their cell phones. This is something I see here frequently at musical performances, documentary film viewings, in meetings – people talking on their cell phones. It translates back to the home, I think, where you can’t sit and watch a TV show without people talking through it or just getting up and doing something else. The worst is, when you're watching a program and they just come in and change the channel on you...AND THEN LEAVE! Like the act of changing the channel is an activity in its own right.
More typically I go to the RFC, the Royal Film Commission, where they are always showing documentaries and art films. They have frequent film festivals – European, German, American Documentary, Arab Short Film, South Korean, Environmental…and on and on. All the films are free and opening nights tend to have snacks. There is nothing better than free snacks.
Also one of their theaters is outdoors on a hillside overlooking the city: