Joe Does the Movies: Accessible movie reviews in Toronto

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The Ring

Seen: 2002.10.21   ¶   Reviewed: 2002.10.26

A first instalment of an ill-advised series. And I do not refer to the movie.

Sony has decided to save some money and caption all “wide” releases, describing only a few of them. Caption files are, in fact, transferred from WGBH to Captions, Inc. and, in some cases, NCI for home-video use, so it’s a sort of two-for-one deal.

And terribly cheap.

And unfair. Deaf people aren’t more important than blind people. Some Deaf people (note the capital) do hold that belief, but they are wrong. And I reckon a majority of deaf people are quite willing to sit there and let this inequality pass. They got what they wanted, right? Principles aren’t important as long as they’ve got their precious captioning.

Well, learn this, deaf friends. Blind people are ten full years behind the deaf in access to audiovisual media. You’ve got a very big head start, and studios quite obviously pay attention to you. Use your power for the forces of good. Stand up for others the way others stood up for you in years past.

It puts “exhibitors” in a bind. Captioning is the cheaper of the two access techniques to create (US$2,000 vs. US$12,000, assuming a 120-minute runtime). But it’s the more expensive of the two to show because you need the big LED display.

Everyone’s conversationally familiar with captioning because they’ve heard the term “closed captioning” (often whittled down to the malapropism “clozecaption”) for 20 years. Description they don’t know about. Further, deaf people can see, so it’s easy for them to write letters demanding captioning. It is difficult for blind people to do the same. (Consumer demand is one of the putative reasons for the captions-only policy.)

It’s all rather pukey.

At any rate, after some hemming and hawing, Famous decided that a captions-only movie could run in a MoPix theatre if there were no other captioned and described movies available, which, it should be mentioned, means either “in existence at all” or “that can be shown under distributor contracts.”

So here we are. The Ring, which makes no sense whatsoever. The précis of the Japanese original sounds excellent, though I find it hard to accept Japanese policiers or horror pictures because the Japanese cultivate such an air of uniformity. Are there even psychological depths to plumb? (Apart from self-repression?)

I suppose this is the way of Hollywood. Turn Abre los ojos into Vanilla Sky. In the former case, I got the impression that a second viewing would make fit every piece together. In the latter case, no amount of gluing can reassemble the broken vase.

I’m not even going to bother. You try sitting at home on a Saturday night writing this stuff.

Yes, I am.

Anyway, we found another problem. Since the headsets weren’t being used for description, shouldn’t they work for assistive listening? In a proper installation, both amplified main sound and described audio should coexist in the same movie. They do not, as the case of Minority Report proved.

All Mr. X could get was static. This is gonna have to be fixed. On the way out, though, there was some reason to believe Mr. X had a bum headset. The managers said they’d call the sound techs to look at it overnight. I doubt anything will change without substantial involvement from Famous Players Technical Services.

Caption quality

( grunting ): Holdover from Line 21 captioning again. No spaces inside parens, please.

More with the use or absence of quotation marks around publication names:

It think we should go to the Island together: Proofing, anyone?

Jerk off! as a noun is at least hyphenated.

A video numbered SM015 is shown as such on screen twice, but is of course captioned, yet bloody again, as S-M-0-1-5. Oh, grow up.

(wallpaper ripping): We’re watching them rip it! Like, hello?!

(stone scraping): We’re watching the stone scrape. Like, hello?!

Description quality



Also inapplicable.

Exit interview

Some to-and-fro about the headsets.

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