Book Extract – Movies in a Austin Mall

On the second last in Austin, I had nothing much to do. I headed out for the nearby movie theatre in the GateWay Mall near Austin Arboretum. It was Friday afternoon and the traffic was just about to pick up for the multiplex theater. I bough two tickets , one for Max Payne ( in the afternoon ) and the other for the new Oliver Stone Presidential Movie , W ( based on George W Bush).

The tickets cost some 7 $ and 9 $ , and that seemed a lot compared to the Indian multiplexes that cost around 150 rs or 3 $. Thanks to this I decided to fore go my boss’s advice on eating pop corn or sodas ( mostly Coke). Instead I would just grab a bite in the evening social.

On entering the movie theatre – I was really astounded. I mean the theater was BIG, it had some 20 odd screens. Easily the biggest theater I even went to- but that point would be lost if you see the new upcoming theatres in India. For the first fifteen minutes I actually went up and down the place looking for the screen which I was supposed to be seated in. Finally I found the place.

Max Payne starred the Oscar winning actor Mark Wahlberg ( of the Departed and Marky Mark fame) so I was hoping to watch a decent all male violent action standard Hollywood movie. The theatre hall was a bit deserted , which is understandable for an afternoon flick and there were some couples ( looking like teenagers) giggling and murmuring in the edges of the back rows. That was something that is now universal and so I turned attention to the screen.

The movie was preceded by a song by Kid Rock , which mixed Nascar racing Iraq War glimpses and good old rock into a heady recruitment song called ” The Warrior”. I could see the middle class kids in front of me, especially the male ones, nod their heads to the catchy tune.Heck, I would have signed up for the National Guard , bu the time the song ended.

Fortunately, the movie began, and we settled down to watch Mark Wahlberg, one fine young actor of the male violent genre get into his role of an avenging detective on the run, while paired with a beautiful girl. The plot was as predictable as a Bollywood movie with none of the song and dances unfortunately.

Max Payne lived up to its name. It pained me to the maximum extent. After watching the bizarre tale (it’s based on a video game) the audience and I couldn’t help but rushing out for a breath of fresh air – as if eager to leave the countless explosions behind us. As I brushed against one white teenager, he looked at me and said- ” Man, best movie I ever saw”. That sardonic comment almost made up for the time wasted.

I walked back to the Hyatt Austin Arboretum. I bumped into the front desk lady, Paris , who was nice ,pleasant and around 40 sh. ” So how was the movie and which movie did you see ?”.

“Max Payne-dd” I said, stressing the D a bit too loud. ” But that’s a terrible movie, said Paris. My son watched it yesterday and it’s all weird”.

“Great, I thought. There goes 7 dollars.

I am watching “W” next, I told Paris. ” Now that’s an interesting movie, said the front desk lady. ” Best of Luck”.

I was thinking of taking a plateful of turkey ( no religion aggravating beef , no stomach aggravating ham) and a beer glass from the free 5 o clock social, but it turned out to be Friday with no social for that day. The quantity of food served and wasted in America had ceased amazing me a week back.

After a brief rest, I went back for the seven O Clock and the Nine dollar movie.

Now a bit of background about W. The time of watching this movie was October 2008, the atmosphere was charged up with Obama and McCain in a fierce battle to be the inheritor of crisis-es from the current United States President.Texas , Austin is almost all white , with a smattering of Hispanic people ( who mostly do the lower end jobs – it seemed like an agreement to divide labor not unlike our caste system in India).

George W Bush was a popular Texas two time Governor until 1999, and the state of Texas is considered a red state ( it mostly votes Republican – who have a red color). The tendency of the media to paint the country red, blue,purple,white,black,yellow ( but fortunately not brown) led to a feverish charged up atmosphere.

I went in the hall with trepidation- halfexpecting to be lynched if the movie turned bad.

What followed was sheer Hollywood magic as George W Bush’s Yale University classmate delivered a subtle yet powerful movie.

To be continued-

This is anextract from the book ” Flying with the Cougars” . I am publishing extracts as an experiment. All rights and copying rights reserved with Ajay Ohri.

Author: Ajay Ohri

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