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Catch Me If You Can

Seen: 2002.12.31 (!)   ¶   Reviewed: 2003.01.19

Time to end the year on a high note: Sitting in a movie theatre lashed to weirdo cyborg gear.

I had this naïve impression that showing up for the 7:00 show would be smooth sailing. Nope: Gigantic queue at Yonge & Eg (the only cinema in town showing it), with many audible mutterings that 7:00 is sold out.

Ultimately I must go to Guest Services, ask for a manager, and ask in turn for a managerial override. Ten percent of the seating capacity is reserved for such overrides. When the computer claims the film is sold out, if no such overrides have taken place in fact only 90% of seats are taken.

I told the manager that someone requesting “RW®C” or “DVS®T” should automatically be given a managerial override. The manager claimed this is already done, but the playa I had just talked to said the opposite and disputed the whole idea. I want it instituted as policy.

I get my kit and leave. I zig instead of zagging, eventually find the theatre (it’s right across from Guest Services), and stride in. Oh, and is the place ever full. Lights are on full blast. I instantly spot a guy in a red shirt with a reflector and, retaining absolute cool, give him a little wave with the hand holding my own reflector.

I have no compunctions whatsoever about walking along in plain view of everyone scrutinizing the entire house for a central seat. One that is reasonably central (but will still doom me to some angular distortion) is available near the front. I get the neighbouring seat’s attention (using skills derived from dealing with deaf people) and am assured the seat is open.

I walk past many late-50s attendees to stow my gear. I then must walk past them again to go to the can, and once more on return. Guy to my left is fascinated by the gear. He asks, What’s that for? To watch the closed captioning? He didn’t know anything about it; it was merely a stunningly informed guess. A few others were eavesdropping. I think I briefed a couple of them.

The other reflector user was miles away and very far to the right. His experience was, I am sure, unpleasant, especially given the record number of technical cock-ups.

Now, le film? Involved typographic opening credits could arguably not be described in the exhaustive detail DVS uses. I remember the demo of Monsters Inc.: The detail was too much. I would say I find these consistently hard to follow. I assume a blind person would, too. (Discussion. Cf. Panic Room credits.)

The thing I have to get out of the way first is this strange mental loop I have with Leonardo DiCaprio’s name. I always envision it as ldicaprio, like a userID, and hear it as equivalent to “el DiCaprio.”

The whole thing was totally unfun and burdened down with reasons. Does a title of Catch Me If You Can not imply that ldicaprio is on the lam impersonating anyone he wants because he can?

I suppose not. Hollywood, dating back to the Hays Code, insists on a reason for everything, save for war movies, in which any unspeakable violence can simply be shown instead of spoken about, hence explained.

Tom Hanks did unfun so much better in Road to Perdition. He seems to mistake “unfun” for “dramatic.”

Caption quality

Serious technical malfunctions.

WGBH admitted that the former error is theirs but claimed the display must be at fault in the latter case. Oh, and was WGBH willing to correct the software error and re-service discs to affected theatres? There was nothing resembling a commitment to do so.


It gets worse: We’ve still got two emitters blocking the display.

Captioning issues per se:

Zero-two to a one-two, and many similar narrow phonetic transcriptions. Just write the damned digits.

Is that right? It's all right.
all boy have to eat, need a place to sleep old boy have to eat, need a place to sleep
The doctors, you know, they don’t know everything The doctors, you know, don't know everything

A perfect one-16th all around: It’s 1/16.

I'll going to let you fly tonight. I think not.

Description quality

“And discreetly folds the note in half”: No, in four.

What’s a DVS production without the word “gapes”? Here we get it five times. What if DVS were banned from using the word ever again?

At the beginning of the end credits, we hear “Remaining opening titles” and description. Could they have been fitted in with a less literal description of the title sequence?

Not all songs are listed – a pretty serious error given that blind people care about music. I think there was time, but I stand to be corrected on that. Instead, we hear “and other selections.” Previously, DVS used the phrase “and other songs.”


Watch this.
“mouths ‘watch.’ ”

Exit interview

I was trying to watch the end credits. An (inevitably) old person behind me asked what gave with the gear. I tried to explain it to him while also following the description, which I kind of gave up on. It took a lot of explaining, especially with the captioning, which he never watches at home because his TV is too old. He thanked me seriously before he headed off.

I of course reported the myriad technical errors to the manager. He couldn’t figure out what the two (count ’em) emitters were doing blocking the display. We theorized that Famous had finally figured out how to get assistive listening and descriptions running in the very same theatres – by adding another emitter. But why so ineptly installed? And why hadn’t it been fixed by now?

The manager gave me a free pass for next time.

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