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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Hidemi's Rambling No.554

I hadn’t been to a movie theater for fifteen years. The film I saw at the theater fifteen years ago was Brad Pitt’s ‘Meet Joe Black’. It was surely a disappointing film but that wasn’t a reason why I stopped going to a theater. Back then, I lived in the States and movie theaters there were clean, modern and comfortable. They had also a reasonable matinee price. And I moved back to Japan where the movies from the States became the foreign ones. Movie theaters in Japan hadn’t been modernized yet with cramped stiff seats, and didn’t have a reduced price like a matinee. A ticket cost about $17 that was too expensive for me. On top of that, every foreign film had Japanese captions at the bottom of the screen, which obstructed each scene. Those theater circumstances in Japan were the reasons why I stopped going. But I like movies and had regularly watched them exclusively on the TV screen in my living room. My partner loves movies much more than I do. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday this year, his answer was a movie ‘Birdman’ at the theater. And for the first time in fifteen years, I got in the movie theater. While I was away from them, Japanese theaters had been transformed dramatically into modern, clean, gorgeous ones. The seats were large with padded backs and arms. The rows were placed so steeply that I no longer have trouble with someone’s head in front of me. They were just like US theaters and I loved them instantly. They also had a variety of tickets of a reduced price. Japanese captions were still there, but I managed to ignore them. ‘Birdman’ was such a good film by which I was moved so much, and I was completely awake to the charm of a movie theater. When I was leaving, I found a piece of information that said an advance ticket for a coming movie ‘Tomorrowland’ came with a pin. The film was what I had been interested in and I’m a pin collector. Since the advance ticket had a reduced price already, getting a pin with it would make the price for the film even lower. I purchased the ticket, got the pin, and set out for a trip to U.S. wearing the pin before I saw the movie. In Disney Resort, quite a few people approached me to talk about the pin. Most of them asked where I had gotten it. A cast member told me that the park had carried those and they had been sold out within a week. Those experiences made my expectations for the film higher. I saw it at the theater after I came back to Japan. I was deeply moved to tears that didn’t stop falling. It was so hard for me to mute my sobbing. The last time I cried this hard on the film was when I saw ‘Field of Dreams’. I remember that I wrung my T-shirt at the bathroom that was soaking wet with my tears. Only a couple of weeks after I saw ‘Tomorrowland’, I had an urge to see it again. As the nearest theater from my home had already ended showing it, I went to a distant theater. I was moved even more than the first time. I returned to that theater a few days later to see it for the third time. Then, as no theater around my home showed it any more, I took a trip to a theater in Tokyo by bullet train to see it for the fourth time. Considering the amount of money I had spent for ‘Tomorrowland’, I looked stupid myself. Still, I couldn’t stifle my urge and saw it for the fifth time at the same theater in Tokyo a few weeks later. A few more weeks later, I happened to know that the theater in Tokyo was the only one in Japan that still showed it, and would end that soon. If I missed this opportunity, I would never able to see it at the theater ever again. I felt I would be a fool if I didn’t see it one last time. I hopped on the bullet train yet again. The last week’s schedule for ‘Tomorrowland’ was moved to a late show slot, which meant a day trip was impossible for me because I couldn’t catch the last bullet train home. I stayed at a cheap hotel for the night to see it for the sixth time. My adventurous summer of ‘Tomorrowland’ had thus ended. It reminded me of my teenage time when I was hooked on going to concerts of my favorite band. I’ve made an advance purchase of a ‘Tomorrowland’ Blue-ray and DVD set at Amazon and now can’t wait for the release. One thing I don’t understand is that it wasn’t a mega hit…

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