“Lust, Caution,” with its heady brew of retro-passion and unspoken, certain defeat, fitted the bill perfectly Sunday as Queen’s Theater in Hong Kong put on what was almost certainly its last-ever screening.
Once one of the territory’s three key cinemas, the Queen’s in Theater Lane, Central District, is now an anachronism, a single-screen moviehouse sitting plum at the heart of the world’s most expensive real estate.
Its closure was signaled a couple of months ago (Daily Variety, July 15), but at the theater’s own curtain call this weekend, Hong Kongers displayed interestingly mixed emotions of elation and resignation.
Outside there were TV crews with satellite uplink equipment and microphones. Inside, the 300-odd souls who had queued for tickets that were ripped from a book and numbered by hand were, predictably, mostly enthusiasts. They were a mixture of geeky movie buffs and a handful of faded stars who turned up for one last nostalgic photo in front of the neon-lit box office.
They were surprisingly nice to the grumpy ushers in their red uniforms and gold epaulettes. And there were raucous cheers and whistles for the manager who read from a card the standard warning about camcording.
No matter that the theater was slightly smelly, the projector bulb seriously underpowered and the advertisements beamed from a slide projector; the 9 p.m. auds were there to salute and to remember.
As the credits rolled on Tony Leung, Joan Chen and newcomer Tang Wei, spectators turned to one another, lingered some minutes to snap final photo memorabilia and then filed off into the heat of the empty Hong Kong night.