Monday, November 14, 2005

Movies! Movies! Movies! (and TV)

Today I saw my first Malay movie called Salon. The ticket seller asked “Are you aware this is a Malay movie?” I answered “yes” with no further questions like “are there English sub-titles?” I have never seen a Malay movie so I didn’t care either way.

I missed the first 10 minutes and sat down. Two people were talking in Malay and there were no sub-titles. I thought to myself, now I have some feeling of what Kelly feels like when she’s watching a movie without sub-titles (my fiancé Kelly is deaf).

Then I noticed they would throw in some English words here and there like “hi”, “OK” or “bye”. In the next scene two people were speaking English but this time there were Malay sub-titles. It turns out that half the time they would speak in Malay and the other half in English even in the same conversation and even mid-sentence. One person might speak English while the other is speaking Malay.

I wondered to myself “is this what Malaysians do in real life?” Do they really toggle between Malay and English as they speak? I don’t really know since I hang around Chinese and they like to speak Chinese unless they have to speak English. Actually this may not be entirely true. I saw two Chinese people speaking broken English to each other and I thought “why are they struggling with English when they could communicate better in Chinese?”

Last week I saw a Hong Kong movie called “Tsoi suet yuk chi ngo oi nei” (all about love). Again the ticket seller asked “Are you aware this is a Hong Kong movie?” To my surprise it had sub-titles in English, Malay and Chinese. They spoke Mandarin Chinese in the film so why have Chinese sub-titles? Because there are hundreds of dialects of Chinese but they all use the same written language. If someone spoke Cantonese Chinese, they would have to read the sub-titles. The Chinese TV shows here in Malaysia often have Chinese sub-titles too. Kelly's parents speak the Hokkien dialect of Chinese.

Kelly did not join me to see this film but if she did, she would be able to read all three sub-titles since she can read English, Malay and Chinese. She also would have loved this love story. The cinematography was awesome and it was a pretty good story.

When a movie comes out you can also buy a pirated copy at dozens of stores at various malls. They only cost about USD $2.00 so you would think that I would have a giant collection by now but the quality is so poor that it annoys me. I’d rather pay full price for the real thing and get full quality.

They also have something called a VCD (Video CD). The quality on these is even worse since CDs hold less than DVDs. The quality is so low on these that they can squeeze 6 movies on a single CD! It looks horrible but Kelly is used to it and doesn’t seem to mind.

I think Kelly will be blown away by HDTV. Her digital Satellite TV is also low quality. I’m not used to having my TV be low quality unless I recorded it onto Tivo using the lowest quality.

DVRs similar to Tivo are just arriving in Malaysia for the first time but they are a high priced item for early adopters. Tivo is not sold in Malaysia yet. Sony has a player that cost about $2000. The salesman knew very little about it and had no brochure describing it's functionality. I searched the web and could not find much info on it.

I have described DVRs to various people but they just don't get it. This household watches TV morning 'til night and would greatly benefit from a DVR, especially a DVR that could record 3 shows at a time since during prime-time at night, many of their shows are on at the same time and they end up flipping channels during commercials.

They live their lives around the TV since they schedule their day so they can watch their favorite shows. One thing that would be lost if they got a DVR is that the family would no longer gather to watch shows together. Each person could watch it separately at a time that is convenient to them.

Perhaps this is not true. I know that my family would all wait to watch certain shows together like Survivor or Amazing race. Perhaps they would do the same thing.


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