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Hooray! Post-COVID mood lifts following cinema visit

Updated: 2020-08-13 08:24:09

( China Daily )

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Okay, I've done it. Finally! I've gone boldly where no colleague or friend in Beijing has presumably gone since the COVID-19 outbreak.

For the first time in nearly seven months, I went to a Beijing cinema and watched a movie (Hollywood's Dolittle, starring Robert Downey Jr).

The last movie I watched at a cinema was Angel Has Fallen in early January. Prior to that, in a 51-month period from September 2015, I had watched some 78 movies at various Beijing cinemas (plus a few more hundred films, documentaries and serials on TV and DVD).

You could say I, a 52-year-old, never-married single (and a former movie reviewer), am a film buff now. Regular escaping into fantasy, let me inform you, helps one to better deal with reality.

Before the show

From the Maoyan mini-program on WeChat, I figured there were no new releases. Most of the films being screened were previously popular hits like Interstellar and The Pursuit of Happyness. Despite mixed reviews of the "kids-flick "and a colleague's friendly warnings, I settled for Dolittle as I hadn't watched it yet. Maoyan's e-ticketing process was smooth, just a tad longer due to additional steps like submitting my name and passport number. I was glad I wasn't the only viewer for the 8:45 pm show.

During the show

Entry into the cineplex building required a check of my Beijing digital health-kit that confirmed my identity and safe health status. The box office was unmanned but functional. An usher helped print the ticket from the automated machine that scanned the cinema's QR code on my smartphone.

I noticed the snack bar was closed. Sad scene, but, truth be told, I don't usually buy the obscenely expensive stuff there anyway. The usher, too, checked my Beijing health-kit and directed me to the auditorium. Inside, I realized it's almost "back to normal".

That is to say, there were just a handful of viewers, all wearing masks and filling about 10-15 percent of the seating capacity. Four (male-female) couples in the 25-35 age-group, two females together (25-30), one young married couple with a 6-year-old son, two single females (early 30s), and two single males (30-40).

All of us sat wherever we pleased, but quite far apart from each other, except the family. From my seat in the middle of the back row, under the projector window, I had a good view of both the screen and the auditorium (The CCTV camera above me, mounted on the ceiling, probably had a better view).

The two single females seated apart in the row before mine whipped out their smartphones, converted them into e-mirrors, adjusted their hair and eyebrows, nicely positioned their dark sunglasses on their head, turned back and, well, took numerous selfies of themselves, with the screen as the backdrop. One of them held the ticket in her left palm and took more selfies, probably to announce on social media that life in Beijing is getting better.

Several rows in front of mine, the boy begged his parents to allow him to don his goggles whose orange frame shone brightly. Just before the movie began, he rose from his seat and went and sat in his dad's lap.

After the show

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the experience. The 3D movie, judged from the context of its genre, wasn't too bad. The special effects were spectacular.

Viewers marched out visibly pleased that they could regain a certain aspect of their pre-COVID urban life.

A 10-minute wait for the Didi cab turned pleasant under the bright full moon in clear night skies dotted by colorful candle-lit kites flown by some enthusiasts.

Now, time will tell if my "adventure" of sorts was risk-free. Keeping fingers crossed.

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