Thursday, August 06, 2015

Kabul: Milano Cinema

With a limited pool of diversions from which to choose, Eitan and I were in agreement: The best course of action was to space out the fun.

It was this line of thinking that led us to change our evening plans.  We downgraded from dinner and a movie to just a movie.  We would save dining out for another day.

This would be our first foray to Milano Cinema at RS NATO Base, and we were pretty stoked.  Ted 2 was playing, and while neither of us had any strong desire to see it, neither of us had any strong objection either.  Three cheers for indifference!

We had been told on our familiarization tour that Milano Cinema was a "proper cinema" that showed first-run movies, but things aren't always as advertised.

We arrived a few minutes before show time and found a seat on the back row.

The cinema was outfitted with cushioned theater seats, but many of them were damaged or missing.  As a result, every row of plush blue seats was peppered with random metal folding chairs.

Eitan had carried in a Coke Zero in his pocket, but before he popped the tab, I pointed out a sign: "No food or beverages allowed, except water."  Taking note, he left his drink unopened and secured it between his leg and his chair.

People continued trickling in, and by the time the lights were dimmed, the theater was half filled.  It was a pretty good turnout, I thought.

The experience was a bit surreal, for there sat Eitan and I, and all around us were soldiers in camouflage uniforms.  Most of them were carrying weapons, and not just sidearms.  There were plenty of assault rifles too. I guess if the shit hit the fan, we'd be covered.

It also struck me that there were no women present.  There were women on the base itself, but I guess Ted 2 was not a big draw.

At the appointed time, the projectionist entered the room -- with his laptop.  After a brief moment of cable connecting and menu navigating, he started the show.  Much to our surprise, he actually played some previews before getting on to the main attraction.

As the show flickered on the screen, under cover of darkness, I could hear some familiar sounds - the pop of a soda can here, the crinkling of a bag of chips there.  Yes, friends, it was the sound of snacking.  I guess everyone else had overlooked the sign banning food and drink.

The film quality waxed and waned, giving us the impression that maybe this was more of an online bootleg than a first-run master copy, but the crowd certainly didn't mind.

Maybe because of the conditions - both the combat outside the gates and the restrictions and boredom within - these guys really seemed eager to enjoy themselves.  The laughs were hearty and abundant, and in many cases, they seemed disproportionate to what was happening on the screen.  Then again, maybe the demographics in the room just suited the movie to a T.

Despite the lowbrow and raunchy humor, I too enjoyed the movie, and like the soldiers, I had some laughs.

There was even one soldier on the left side of the room who seemed to share my sense of humor.  In one scene, for example, the heroes are camping in the wilderness, and the young lady among them starts singing and playing a guitar.  In cheesy Disneyesque fashion, the singing is so captivating that forest animals start to gather around.  A deer stops by.  A raccoon rolls up.  A chipmunk appears.  After five or six other animals mosey in, however, the gag starts to wear thin.  The laughs in the theater pretty much dried up.  Then a trout leaps onto the riverbank to enjoy the music, and there were precisely two laughs in the entire theater - from me and the man on the left.

I guess it's true: There's one in every crowd (or in this case two)!


Anonymous said...

Make that 3

Unknown said...

Okay, I won't complain about Mexican theaters anymore. They're quite luxurious compared to yours! Haha

Bart said...

Heavily armed people don't read signs. That's why I don't want anyone carrying in the metro, the theater, Kennedy Center, the Space Needle, Disneyland--anywhere!!!

Ollie and Floyd said...

Sounds fun - thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...


Which do you prefer? The Milano Cinema or picking up a DVD from Illusions and watching it at home?

Ray P.

Anonymous said...

Kabul is improving if there is now a movie theater to visit! It's the little things in life..cup half-full mindset that will get you throught it all! Michele