Friday, March 05, 2010

Relaxing, however you can

Last night I saw Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton's 3D epic, on its opening night in Hong Kong. It's a sign of how far 3D movies have come that the whole film didn't consist of things moving towards the screen and away again ALL THE BLOODY TIME.

See, I'm still bitter about Beowulf. The pain of watching a demon with high-heeled feet may never subside.

On the other hand, like Beowulf, Alice did suffer from rather too much stunt casting. Matt Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum was forgiveably brief, but Helena Bonham Carter was doing her best impression of Helena Bonham Carter being a bit MAD, complete with all-capital-letters dialogue, and I'm really not sure about Barbara Windsor as a combative dormouse. Then again, I thought for the whole film that it was Pauline Fowler off Eastenders, so who am I to judge?

Poor old Johnny Depp though. He'd had his signature cheekbones wholly excised via cgi, and replaced with a Scottish accent that flared up from time to time. Was the Mad Hatter signifying Hamish from the real world? Did that make much sense, given the implied chronology? Who knows?

So in short, the whole thing rather disrupted the illusion by reminding you that it was an illusion, but it's another important step towards 3D just being something movies are, rather than some sort of USP. (I wonder how long it will be before home cinema catches up with 3D - right now that's one good reason to choose the cinema over a $20 Shenzhen Special.)

And that wasn't to say it wasn't fun. Although I wasn't sure if Alice knows what she's into at the end of the film, sailing the seas in order to deal heroin to foreign folk. Wonder if there's a sequel in that, with the caterpillar having a good smoke in an opium den somewhere.

Today, though, I needed to relax in a more traditional way, so I went for a foot massage. Although when I say "relax" I may have meant to type "quiver in near-orgasmic happiness as the knot of muscle on my left shoulder gets squashed, before fighting back the urge to weep as a demure Chinese woman tries to separate each of my meta-carpals from its neighbours using only her curiously strong hands".

Because that's the thing: a foot massage is not always the relaxing break one might think of in the West. Out here, they go full force, pulling and squeezing at your feet for an hour before wrapping them in scaldingly hot towels.

Supposedly this is good for you, but at the time it can be just short of screaming pain. (If you're healthy, it's meant to hurt less - well, I'm pretty unhealthy, then.). Over time I've become inured to it though, to the point a woman can be attempting to render my ankles to powder and I'll just carry on typing this on my Blackberry. And if I do fall asleep, it's a sign exhaustion is trumping pain.

It probably has some benefit. By the end of an hour my feet feel much softer. And I'm generally much sleepier, although that could be the come-down from the adrenaline produced to handle all that pain. But relaxing? Perhaps not.

I can at least remind myself it's another way Hong Kong's cheaper than Europe though. Hurray for Fun Foot! ($150 for fifty minutes)


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