A writer/director with a perfect track record is a rare breed.
I say ‘perfect’ in the sense of not having a bomb on your resume.
The only living directors I would put in this class are Paul Thomas Anderson, Jason Reitman, Wes Anderson, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Frank Darabont, Christopher Nolan, Brad Bird, Quentin Tarantino, Jacques Audiard and Rian Johnson.
There may be more out there I’m not aware of. Comment if you think there’s a living writer/director that deserves to be on the same list.
It’s Oscar season, and once again I’m shut out from all the movies I desperately want to see on the silver screen. The worst part about it? There are 9 directors on that list and 5 of them have a new film out now or about to be released.
I could buy a ticket and go see the film but I wouldn’t be able to catch 100% of the dialogue. Even with my new hearing aids I rely heavily on lip reading because I have not learned all the new sounds yet.
My brain is building a linguistic vocabulary right now. Nearly every word I hear is new to me. I must memorize what that word sounded like and what word it was. To make matters even more complicated, people have accents, lower voices, higher voices, and different pronunciations.
It will take me years before I can understand a full sentence without the aid of lip reading.
But can’t you just lip read the actors on the screen?
Of course I can and that’s how I taught myself lip reading but I can only lip read close ups and that accounts for about 10% of an average film.
My only method of experiencing films in the theater is to go to a specific showing with subtitles.
That doesn’t sound so bad but its a ridiculous method because only the big release get the subtitle treatment. It’s usually only offered during the day at some theater hours away.
I work during the day so I missed my window of opportunity to see The Dark Knight rises.
That was painful but not as painful as the fact that The Master is being shown in its original 70mm projection at select theaters. As a cinephile this is a dream come true but crushed with the reality of my situation. Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite director and I can’t even describe the agony of the situation. I followed this film from the moment it was announced and now several years later its here for everyone to see except for the deaf community.
Another film I followed from its inception is Looper. I’ve had Rian Johnson on my radar since his masterful debut, Brick. My buddy in Hollywood sent me the script before production even started and I finished it in one sitting. I actually only had half a hour until my class but couldn’t stop reading so I blatantly ignored my teacher and interpreter to finish reading.
Looper is one of my top scripts of all time and I’ve read at least 500 scripts in the past few years. Its better not to know anything about the plot before going into this one.
Additionally, I wanted to see Moonrise Kingdom on opening day but unfortunately had to wait to enjoy it on my laptop. It’s my favorite Wes Anderson film and have not had as much fun since Midnight in Paris. The film opens right in the action and takes the audience on a whimsical journey highlighted by gorgeous 16mm cinematography. One of the best shots I’ve seen all year happens as they exit the wedding chapel.
Other films I’m going to watch on my laptop or blu-ray are The Master, Looper, and Djengro Unchained but the sad thing is that most of these films probably won’t be out on DVD until after the 2013 Oscars.
Even though I usually only have the opportunity to see a few best-picture nominees before the Oscars I’ve watched it every year. I’m not quite sure why, but I do know one thing- I do not want the next generation of deaf children shut out from the theater experience.
We already have the technology to provide captioning at any theater.
Various methods have been suggested and/or experimented with.
One is a device or a rear view mirror that displays the captions in the hands of the deaf person. I’ve used it and am not a fan. Red LED lights are a difficult typeface to read. Also some theaters project the subtitles on a 2nd projector but it doesn’t handle highlights at all. The words are washed out in daylight scenes.
A more promising solution is special glasses that enable the wearer to see the captions on the screen, invisible to the rest of the audience.
I don’t know of any manufacturers or how the heck we can make it happen. I’m simply voicing my own frustrations that I know many other people share.
This issue hits home for me because film is more than just my passion. The power of story saved my life when I was growing up. I was the only deaf student in my elementary school and did not have the ability to communicate clearly with my peers until high school at the earliest.
Without a voice, I turned to novels and films to immerse myself in. Now I find great pleasure in creating rather than absorbing.
I know that these gifted writer/ directors would want me to see their film the way they intended. On the big screen with surround sound and enough bass to rattle the chairs.
Let’s start building a better and more accessible future not just for deaf people but for every person that is cut off from their passion.
The world I want to live in is a world where every person has the opportunity to achieve their wildest dreams.
PS- Another film I cannot wait to see is Lincoln but unfortunately for Spielberg there are a few duds on his record but no other living director has as many classics under his belt. If he wins one more Oscar he will have the 2nd most best director Oscars of all time.