Midnight's Children

Handcuffed to the Feltham Cineworld


Whenever you see an author so desperate to sell his own movie, you must see it immediately.
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Reported on 17th of May, 2013

Where to begin. Salman Rushdie’s great-, great-, great-, great-, greatgrandability to fool critics was born in 1951, when there was a river metaphor. Water is life! But what you really want to know is where my journey begins. Specifically, my journey to see Midnight’s Children, which I inexplicably did, and just as inexplicably don’t regret. I didn’t say enjoy.

Midnight's Children

15 January 2013 @ Odeon Panton Street


$13.00 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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My hero’s journey begins on a sunny Christmas day. Weather metaphors are shortcuts to actual writing! You can read about the origins of Pagan Christmas here, but there’s a certain I’m-going-deliberately-construct-and-enjoy-the-opposite-of-everything-that-is-going-on-around-me quality that you may have noticed in every thing I do, say, write or eat. You’re going to have family; I’m going to isolate myself in a room of strangers. You’re going to make The Raven, I’m going to see it. You’re going to have turkey; I’m going to have pizza, which is less a rebellion, and more a reflection of the fact that turkey is disgusting. You’re going to kill pagans and steal their winter festival? I’m going to take advantage of the parking! Thanks!

My stab at being totally interesting and original gets a bit difficult on Christmas. Christmas is my day to see movies, and I would say, ‘You wouldn’t understand; it’s a Pagan thing’, but Christmas is a huge day for movies for everyone else, at least in America. So clearly there’s a bit of sin involved in taking a day that’s all about the birth of Jesus and celebrate by taking the family to see dinosaurs. Like the US, Paris where until recently I lived, is still Catholic, and thus a place where everything is open on Christmas, especially movie houses (I do miss my 9:45 showings of Wrong). I am currently stuck in the UK, which is a country whose religious is based on a king who wanted to fuck somebody else. As such, they actually shut everything on Christmas: trains, public transport, restaurants, grocery stores, 24-hour grocery stores, and worse still, movie theaters. One might say despite their secularity, but it’s really because of their secularity. They’re not so much Christians as they are Christmasians.

To recap: I have just written a mini‑novel and about desperately searching for a way to see a movie on Christmas, finding one, and then saying, 'eh'. The story explains why I see movies, and don't read books by Salman Rushdie. Real life is boring, and the characters are idiots.

For a Christian, this would border on the offensive, and as a Pagan the bizarre, since an English Christmas involves funny and totally inexplicable paper hats, extremely long Marks and Spencer commercials, knowing what Marks and Spencer is, an obsession about what song will be in the top 40, and which show that hasn’t technically been on the air in ten years will do a one-off Christmas special. And yes, the spirit of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, and how he did some nice things, and healed a dinosaur or something, but the real problem is that all the theaters are closed. What, I ask, about the Pagan? What about my goddamned freedom to worship?

But before I sued the British government, I did a final google search for ‘Movies theaters open on the UK during Christmas’. Being google, it gave me many results about movies about Christmas, including a bizarre and supposedly unwatchable rendition of the Nutcracker in 3D, which was about the ballet and putting on the ballet. A meta for children. This led to a double frustration, since the film had come out two years ago and I would never get to see it, and I still hadn’t found anything about actual showings. Yet, as is customary, google gave up its gold around page eight of the search, where I found a subpage of the Cineworld website and found three cinemas in all the UK that were in fact open on Christmas.

And here we must give praise to God for the Pagans, for these theaters can be found in communities that don’t celebrate Christmas. And yes, it’s true that Christians don’t celebrate it so much as endure it, but we’re talking about the various Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi communities that are bizarrely referred to in the UK as ‘Asian’, and are the only ones who would actual violate Christmasian doctrine. I don’t know why, since the understanding I have is from watching the Simpsons do Apu jokes about elephant gods and the slushie machine. This is because I hadn’t seen Midnight’s Children, which, in exploring the difference between the Sikhs and Hindi, would end in the story of the Feltham Cineworld.

It was a ninety minute drive to Feltham, but having driven three hours to see Chairman of the Board, this was not going to be a problem. No, the problem was: since I see everything, I had seen everything. The only exception was Midnight’s Children, which in theory I could see, but didn’t want to. Besides being very long, and it is, and looking unwatchable, which it is also is, it wasn’t really a Christmas movie. This is not racist by the way; the various Pagan/Apu crap above is racist. No, my Pagan Christmas films require a certain Tango & Cash quality: big budget, not good, no, but always great. Jack Reacher was definitely a Christmas movie, but I had promised to see it with Richard on Boxing Day, which is which is actually is pagan Christmas, which is only fair since Christmas is pagan.

To recap: I have just written a mini-novel and about desperately searching for a way to see a movie on Christmas, finding one, and then saying, ‘eh’. The story explains why I see movies, and don’t read books by Salman Rushdie. Real life is boring, and the characters are idiots.

I gave Midnight’s Children no more thought until one day at the Lewes train station, not the home of the largest Asian community, I saw this:

'True' 'Story'.

‘True’ ‘Story’.

Whenever you see the author so desperate to sell his own movie, but so embarrassed that he can’t even say something like ‘it’s good’, you had the same reaction I would: I want to see it. Seconds later, I checked the film times, and found, after one week, one week, it was only playing in one theater in the entire UK, at one time a day.

Now, I wanted to see it immediately.

The next day, the day before it left cinemas forever, I took the train up to London, a £25 ticket, by the way, and obtained this, which, let’s be honest, is probably the only surviving evidence that this movie even existed.

The £40 Film.

The £40 Film.

It wasn’t Christmas, but to be fair, in some ways, I was expecting too much, in some ways not enough. The first hour of the film is terrible, and filled with every art house ethnic cliché, and the second half is so inexplicably insane, the extra oxygen your body takes in as a result of your jaw being on the floor makes up for it. I was reminded of the equally insane, though much, much shorter Guns and Roses video for ‘Don’t Cry’, and written by Mr. Axl Rose, and Mr. Josh Richman. Reminded because as part of a push to promote Wayne’s World 2, Mr. Mike Myers and Mr. Dana Carvey had donned their characters and given a kind of MST3K narration to explain the video. For the life of me, I can’t find the clip on YouTube, but I remember the last line in exact detail.

Axel is in the snow with gun. But he’s already dead.

I will never match the greatness of that perfect line, but it seemed the best way to describe Midnight’s Children, and so I shall:

I was born, but let’s put that to the side for thirty-five minutes because I want to talk about my grandparents. I will go into great detail, but because family is super important to me, I will never mention them again. This is perfectly understandable because I got distracted when my mom had to live with an ugly lamp for two months.

Two months!

Then there was the nurse. She wanted Joe the Marxist to love her, so she did the most Marxist thing in Lenin-town population Mao, she switched me at birth. She was trying to teach Joe a lesson. We know this because she said, say you love me. Say it once! It was sad…that the audience had to hear that. I wonder if Joe will inexplicably disappear, never to be heard of…ooh, a vent! I should hide there for no reason! I certainly don’t expect to hear my mother’s secrets!

Then I heard my mother’s secrets.

For a while I was schizophrenic, so my dad punched me. But I wasn’t schizophrenic, I was psychically talking to all the children born at midnight on India’s independence day. Children of midnight.

Pause.

Pause.

Pause.

No.

Pause.

Pause.

Midnight’s Children!

Then I went back to Pakistan to participate in their metaphor. After playing with some salt shakers that in no way symbolized tanks, I said the greatest thing ever: ‘In exile, I learned about power. After all I had helped overthrow a government! Also I learned about loneliness.’

(Editor’s note: Un. Re. Touched.)

Then I got sent back to another part of Pakistan, because they were about to have a more relevant war. My dad got mad at me because I was switched at birth, so he fixed my deviated septum. Then I had super smell for a while, but then at some point my other super powers would come back. At this point I said:

I can smell love.

I was briefly wondering if my mom would get back together with the poet dude, or if my dad would stop being depressed, or if my sister would become a famous singer, but who needs coherent story when you can just blow them up for no reason? So that happened, and also gave me amnesia. At least for a little while. Then I fought a war and didn’t have amnesia anymore until my wife got mad at me for having clairvoyance for a bit while we were having sex. I didn’t have sex with her because I saw the water in a vision so she psychically called my nemesis and had sex with him. I walked in graveyard for a while. Then he killed her with a bulldozer. He had a mustache.

Then we got married, and then the sun literally disappeared. This is not a metaphor. It literally disappeared. (editor’s note: Technically it literarily disappeared). This was because Indira Ganhdi ate some food in close up, which meant that an astrologer told her she had to kill all of the children of midnight. I mean Midnight’s Children. Midnight’s children! So then mustache dude tortured me to round them all up, which was my special power, but I never summoned them. This meant that somehow they got summoned and he killed them, unless he didn’t because then I got released, and they were all with me in the end.

Having killed us, and also not killed us, then they tried to kill us again. This was because we were already dead. My dead wife (or was she? No, really, somebody tell me because I have no idea) hid our son with magic. At least I think it was magic, since the movie kept showing her do magic over and over and over and also over. But then my son just kind of walked around a corner and said ‘Abracadabra’. That’s a word that people use in magic.

War is bad!

It’s a bit cruel, and one hundred percent appropriate, to mock this terrible, terrible, and yet in retrospect enjoyable, film. Cruel because there’s a nice bit at the end, and I mean that, where he adopts the mean dad’s son, and calls the nanny who screwed up his life his mom. There’s something potentially beautiful in the idea that we can find connection and forgiveness when there is none, especially in all that killing stuff that we do. It’s equally sad that this film so disastrously fucks it up.

Movies are the same as books in that they work if they’re about one thing, and not so much if they’re about fifty. This film is able demonstration of this, well, let’s just call it a fact for now, and we’ll argue about whether it’s a great truth later on. But there is an actual difference between films and books in that when you literalize all the magical shit and wax metaphoricals and tactile descriptions of colors that makes books work (and they really don’t), this makes films die. That, or Salman Rushdie is the worst writer who ever lived.

But we know that can’t be possible. After all, he is the world’s greatest film critic.

The Take

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Profits!
So 100 ml of liquid is no-no on planes, but poisonous snakes, that’s okay?
$4.00
The actual accomplishment is not just the ticket, but the act of sitting through it. Points to me!
$5.00
As memory fades into the mists of…come on. I’ll only remember the jawdrop parts.
$9.00
Total Profits
$18.00
Losses!
The parts that I don’t remember
$5.00
Total Losses
$5.00

$13.00

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