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Something’s Gotta Give

Seen: 2003.12.17   ¶   Reviewed: 2003.12.28

Another film about rich, artistique New Yorkers whose Jewishness goes carefully unmentioned. And yet another film in which nubile 20-year-old goddesses are claimed to be interested in a dilapidated old carcass like Jack Nicholson. And notice how the title has no relation to anything in the picture?

And as for the film’s line “So you’re as hard on yourself as you are on everyone else?” my response is “Yeah. So?”

My francesmcdormandist tendencies were for nought. She’s a bit player.

Theatre experience

Not so hot. I rang for showtime and was told an unfeasibly early 6:15. I get there in time for that and the board reads 7:10. I hang around and Mr. X appears, eventually. We’re chatting and suddenly the general manager of the house walks by. I beckon him over and we have a conversation.

The showtime might have been correct for the day I called, but what with Christmas movies, they can change from day to day. (I now pretend I’m dealing with a witness in the dock and ask about showtimes on specific days.) Now, as for the real issue – ratting me out to management for being “rude,” while the entire organization ignores ongoing MoPix system failures – the general manager admits he read the E-mailed complaint before it went out, does not come within a hundred miles of apologizing, and at no time whatsoever concedes that my personality is not important while the captioning and description system is. He simply will not concede that point.

I tell him I’m not going to deal with playaz at all anymore if they’re going to rat me out to their bosses all the way up the line. He says that won’t be necessary. (Later, seated in the theatre, I ask Mr. X if I really should deal with the playaz after all. Yes, he says. Why? I ask. Because the manager asked you nicely to. Couldn’t argue with that. So I am hewing to the protocol of dealing with playa problems via manager, general manager, and Famous Players executives, in order of succession.)

The general manager noted that they don’t even have a log of MoPix problems, meaning there is no record of “historical” failures. I have a hard time believing this given that I complained seven times about an emitter blocking captions. Why would they not be writing these things down? He pledges to consider doing so. That was his own suggestion. (He too thinks moving the LED displays is gradually damaging them and leading to breakdowns.)

My suggestion was to simply have a playa or manager sit and watch the first showing of a MoPixed movie with full gear on. That way we wouldn’t have to wait till n days later when I show up and find it’s broken. He was not wild about the idea, because it involves let’s say four additional staff hours a week during busy seasons. I suggested he ask Famous Players for additional funding for those four staff hours (less than $50 per playa per week at market rates).

We were talking for 25 minutes. I asked Mr. X if he had anything to add, and mentioned, with his permission, that he and Mr. Y were hard-of-hearing people. Mr. X told the general manager not to let the complaints overshadow the fact that it’s a good system when it’s working, and it has enabled him to go to the movies for the first time in ages.

I’m gonna say this one more time: It doesn’t matter what you think of me, my personality, my hairstyle, my clothes, my fingerprints, or anything else. Just get the systems running. That’s important; extraneous factors are not.

Oh, but wait. We’re not done yet.

It’s an auditorium crowded with women of a certain age (many Jewish) and their husbands, plus an inexplicable contingent of teenage girls. We get the good seats. The interminable adverts and previews run through, and lo and behold there are no descriptions. But then I notice there are no captions, either.

Off I go to the front desk, where, by coincidence, the general manager is tending to something on the computer. Two managers are with him. I tell him there are no captions or descriptions in Cinema 3. Another manager takes a headset and we head back in. He sees no captions and hears no descriptions. His walkie-talkie tells him the projectionist is already on it. I head back to my seat, wondering how many people are noticing.

Over the next seven or so minutes, at least one more manager and two playaz walk in, one of the latter walking all the way up to behind our row. By this time everything has resumed working. (At 7:40 things were back in order for th 7:10 show after an estimated 25 minutes of ads and previews.)

Caption quality

in "New York" magazine: We’ve seen on many occasions that, in the monospaced, roman-only MoPix typography, movie, book, and magazine titles should indeed be set in roman only with no quotation marks. Don’t fight it. (How do you make them possessive?)

with a schmahtah on her head: It’s shmatta.

♪ I've been really tryin' baby ♪: How does one “try baby”? With tomato sauce? Vocatives require commas.

Call 9-1-1: Oh, but how would they dial the dashes, dear?

Diane Keaton swears, but the caption reads (inhales).

Someone says “Knock-knock” Marge Simpson–style while knocking on a doorjamb, but it isn’t captioned.

Interstitial songs aren’t always captioned, either. This could have been a defensible judgement given proximity to dialogue. A single line from a song may not be “meaningful.” Non-speech information was captioned more often than the background song was.

- De ces beaux jours was missing staffnotes; it was sung.

-(cell phone rings): First of all, here as elsewhere, stop setting the opening dash (a mere hyphen character in this repertoire) in a centred caption with no space following. In any event, it was a cordless phone.

(erotic moaning). Yes.

tell'ment written thus twice. It’s tellement. (If you’re thinking the second e wasn’t pronounced so it doesn’t have to be written, well, where do you go with that, especially in French with its myriad silent letters?)

Me too.

Who said it, Julian or Harry? Slash can mean “or.” Just use “and” in lower case. Or two separate captions. Or BOTH:.

Description quality

Wow, here’s another new experience: Characters actually use instant messaging (in technically implausible ways, and it’s mere AOL product placement), meaning Something’s Gotta Give is merely You’ve Got Mail for the bifocal set. Anyway, the description narratrix, Gaille Heidemann (I think), has to read out the instant messages: “I think so dot dot dot.”

“Revealing her lacy bra and lean form.”

“Erica sees Harry walking with a leggy blonde.” The hoariest of sexist clichés finally heard in audio description.

Here’s a kooky one. At movie’s end: “As the happy adults dote on the baby” – does that refer to specific visible actions? – “credits roll. Remaining opening credits.” Bit of a clash there.


pj’s are rendered thus to match onscreen output of an instant message, but written PJ’s later. It’s PJs, canonically. Apostrophe-S isn’t a plural.

Exit interview

I don’t think there was one. I think we handed everything in and left.

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