Island Notes 38
Beyond the Last Picture Show
When we first started coming to the island back in 2003, there was the Bonaire Twin Cinema located a few feet down Kaya Princess Maria, just around the corner from the 6-lane, second-floor bowling alley, Bowling di Danilo. We were much too busy then exploring the island to take in a flick, let alone go bowling, but I was glad to know that in the future there would be a movie house to go to.
The Bonaire Twin Cinema was inviting. Painted on the building’s bold, yellow front were bigger-than-life portraits of Hollywood greats, complete with cartoon-like captions. Marilyn Monroe with folded arms cooed, “So where are we? In heaven?” A macho James Dean replied, “No, this is movieland”. A somewhat prophetic T-Rex dinosaur countered, “I know we’re all dead!” Unfortunately, the dastardly dino proved right. By the time we moved here in January 2008, the movie house had closed its doors. DVD rentals and satellite TV were probably the culprits. The Bonaire Twin Cinema became the island’s last picture show.
Boarded-up front doors greet me now at the theatre’s entrance. Hanging faded in an exterior glass case is a promotional poster from probably the last picture shown at the Twin, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. This 2007 film starred Adam Sandler and Kevin James, two firefighters who masquerade as a domestic couple in order to claim insurance money. It’s not the kind of film I would choose to see, and perhaps that would have been true for many of the films carried at the Bonaire Twin Cinema.
But that is not the issue. Once living here, I had to resort to downloading flicks from i-Tunes or going to a movie rental shop. There is Hums Video in Nikiboko that carries the latest DVD releases, in Blue Ray if you so choose. Even next door to the defunct Bonaire Twin Cinema is Movieland Rentals. Ten bucks gets you five DVDs for three days. They also have Playstation 2 games if you want to relive NASCAR 2007.
These options left me cold. I still yearned for that intimacy of the theatre crowd, that bonding event of watching films in the dark among strangers. I wanted the picture show experience. Thanks to our friend, Nathalie from Boston who visits here each spring, I was saved. She introduced us to the Caribbean Chillout.
The CC is a funky, mini resort with individual cottages and palm trees surrounding a swimming pool. But on Wednesday nights the place is transformed into a cinema. A white rectangle painted on one of the building’s exterior walls serves as the screen. Low rider beach chairs form rows of seating. They surround a low structure that houses a video projector. The Caribbean Chillout has become our new picture show.
For 15 guilders (approximately $8.45), owners Marloes and Eric serve up delicious plates of food under the tiki bar. These include spicy Indonesian chicken sate, hardy goulash over rice, and my favorite Dutch dish, boerenkoel—a mix of green kale and potatoes served with sausage. While dining, the crowd enjoys music videos by Eric Clapton, Santana, and Simon & Garfunkel.
By eight the sky has fully darkened, Eric leaves his post behind the bar and starts the movie for the evening. These aren’t any chump flicks. We have only seen newly released 2009 films—Doubt starring Meryl Streep, Personal Effects with Ashton Kutcher and Michelle Pfeiffer, and The Pink Panther II with Steve Martin. So much for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.
All the films are subtitled in Dutch. Occasionally, I see a “for promotion screening only” notice superimposed over the opening titles. But no matter. It is an under-the-stars, barefootin’ cinematic delight for us on this tiny island in the middle of the Caribbean. As I look up to see the Southern Cross dipping low toward the horizon, I am a happy guy. I got my picture show back. All that’s missing is the smell of popcorn.