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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Memory that is Rex Cinema

ANY movie buff will remember that infamous shower scene in the movie “Psycho” or the gunslinging “Dirty Harry”.

If you remember watching those movies, you would probably also remember the place that screened them in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Rex Cinema brings a rush of nostalgia to middle-aged Malaysians who have had the chance to catch movie screenings there. It also holds memories of first dates and outings, perhaps even with a first love.

Back in its glory days, Rex Cinema was a majestic building by the standards of those days. It was the place to be and showed movies destined to be classics.

But what has become of the hustle and bustle of the place where many a cinema-goer had their virginal cinematic experience?

Well, in short, nothing lasts forever. What was formerly Rex Cinema is now a backpackers hostel.

The only semblance that it bears to its glorious past is the once grand but now faded carpeted stairway and the vendors parked out front peddling their wares.

Yet, many still reminisce about the days when smoking was allowed in the cinema, and the “No outside food allowed” sign had not been thought of yet.

Seventy-year old Leong Choi Wan has become a fixture outside the building; selling titbits,
cigarettes, and soft drinks.

“I’ve been here 30 years, my mother was here before me.

That was in the 50s. Business has slowed down so much due to the bad economy, but life
still has to go on,” said Leong, who made it clear that unlike the cinema, she plans to be here for good.

“When the cinema was still around, there was more human traffic, she said.

“Last time you could always tell whether the movie was a good one by checking out the number of people at the cinema.

If it was a good show, then this place would be so crowded, if it wasn’t, then you could also tell by the small number of people.”

Most of the vendors outside have come and gone, but Leong said she had no plan to move or change job.

“What can we do at our age?

I am a one-man show and honestly, what else can I do?”

While Rex Cinema is no longer there, its memory lives on, etched in the minds of many a Malaysian.


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