LYDIA and JAN'S MIDWINTER FILM FESTIVAL
JAN 20 THRU FEB 9, 2003
Catch Me If You Can
Spectrum Seven Theatres
Jan 23th: Wednesday, 6:30PM
Albany temperature: High 12 Low -12
"What More Can I Ask?"
The plan was as follows - Lydia comes home from school at 3PM and
works on her homework. I come home from work at 5PM and work on
dinner. We eat and go to the movies at 6:30PM. The menu: Tacos
made with meatloaf mix, black beans (frijoles negro), cheddar
cheese shredded, chopped lettuce and taco sauce served in soft
flour tortillas (thawed). One of our favorite mid-week meals.
When I got home, at 5:20PM Lydia was not done with her homework.
She still had three articles to read and summarize for "AP", her
shorthand for Advanced Placement World History. As a sophomore
in high school, she is taking 2nd semester college history.
The articles she needed to finish, copied from professional
journals were: "Nation Building in 19th Century Ireland", "Scrooge
and Albert, Christmas in 1840s Britain", and "The Passion of
Antione Lavoisier" by Stephen Jay Gould. She had to read the
article then fill out a form indicating: author bias, a synopsis,
and finally list a few "catchy quotes". No way to get that done
and go to the movies. I suggested a compromise - she do one
more article while I finish dinner, we eat, go to the film, and
then when we get home, I read and help her finish the worksheets.
Just as a reminder, I haven't been in high school, or college
since the late 60s.
"Cool Dad," says Lydia.
As we gobble down the last bit of tacos, I notice the time is
6:35PM. We need to hurry if we're going to catch the film. Of
course by the time we get there, we're 15 minutes late.
"Let's see the film anyhow," I tell Lydia.
"No way Dad," she says, "I hate being late just as much as Mom does."
"How'd this film start?" I ask the clerk.
"Well, DiCaprio's a high school student, living in an upper-middle class
family, american father (played by Christopher Walken) and french mother.
The dad's got some kind of shady stuff going on with his stationery
business and the IRS is taking away a lot of the family money and stuff.
The mother's pissed and thinking of divorce, and Frank (DiCaprio) has to
quit his private school and go to a public high school. This is in 1965,
I think." says the clerk. "Oh, and the father has told his son that
under certain circumstances, lying is both o.k. and necessary."
Sounds like situational ethics to me.
'Well, what do you think?" I ask Lydia.
"Sounds good. Let's go."
"Two for Catch Me please," I tell him.
As we sit down, empty handed since we had no time to buy snacks, Frank is
walking into a French class wearing his private school uniform.
One of the class wise guys bumps him and remarks on how he, Frank, is
just another stupid substitute, like all the others. A light bulb goes on
over Frank's head and suddenly he takes over the class, brings them
to order and has the wise guy up front reciting the day's lesson.
"Par-lees-view. Sill-view-play. Eggs-cues-emm-wah."
When the real substitute enters the room, Frank sends her away saying
that there's been some mistake and he's got everything under control.
"Cool!" says Lydia, as I laugh.
Before long, Frank's parents have divorced, Frank's run away to Manhattan
from Long Island taking the book of blank checks on a non-existent
bank account his father had given him earlier as a kind of non-ethical
lesson. (An act totally in keeping with what one would expect from Christopher
Walken) Frank turns the checks into a bankroll and begins a career as a
virtual co-pilot for PanAm, flying around the county on all the other
airlines as a "deadhead".
"Dad, weren't Deadheads some kinda 60s thing?" asks Lydia.
"I'll explain later," I tell her.
When he's about to be unmasked as a 17 year old high school dropout
pretending to be a 26 year old commercial airline pilot's assistant,
through some diligent sleuthing by FBI agent Carl (played by Tom Hanks)
Frank hands Carl a line of bull and a wallet filled with magazine
coupons and splits the scene and morphs into a night supervisor at
a major metropolitan hospital. Now he's Doctor Frank, in charge of
eight other doctors and a dozen nurses. Franks sort of falls in love
with one of the nurses and ends up at her parents house to deliver
a virtual marriage proposal, just as Carl shows up at the hospital
with a bunch of FBI guys. Frank eludes Carl and convinces the nurse's
father played by the President from "West Wing", (here he's a rich
Georgian ditz) to hire him to work in his law firm.
"O.K.," says dad-in-law to be, "but you gotta pass the bar exam
next week, first."
"No problem," says Frank, and he does.
Carl, meanwhile is driving around in his FBI Chevy with a couple of
fellow agents and is looking pretty sour.
"Don't you ever smile?" asks one agent.
"Yeah," says the other, "I bet you don't even know any jokes."
"Oh yeah?" says Carl.
"Yeah," says the first agent.
"Well, how about this one?" says Carl. "Knock-knock."
"Who's there?" they say.
"You, assholes." says Carl. "Now let's get a newspaper and find out
who's been recently engaged to be married."
"Where?" ask the agents.
"At a newstand, fuck-heads," says Carl.
Carl and his minions show up at Frank and the nurse's wedding shower
but Frank sees them coming and hides upstairs. The FBI guys ask the
President where his new son-in-law is and the President points
upstairs. The FBI guys run up the stairs. Meanwhile Frank has jumped
out the window after telling the nurse to meet him at the airport
in the morning and to bring a lot of money.
I'm hungry, so I hand Lydia money to get us snacks.
"No way, Dad," she says, "I'm not leaving my seat for nothing."
Looks like I'm going to stay hungry...
When Frank drives up to the airport the next day, there's the nurse
surrounded by a bunch of cops and FBI guys in not very subtle disguises.
Frank splits to a nearby college and invents an all expenses paid
trip for five young would-be stewardesses to accompany him, dressed
in his old virtual pilot uniform, to Europe. They do. He escapes.
Carl tries to arrest him but ends up with a kid Frank hired to pretend
to be Frank sitting in another car outside the airport terminal. The
kid comes out of the car with his hands in the air holding a sign
that reads "CARL".
Carl says, "Knock-knock..."
Frank goes to his mother's old house in France. Carl follows him
there and finally catches him, red-ink-handed.
"The game's up," says Carl.
"You got me, fair and square," says Frank.
The french police take Frank. Two years later Carl convinces them to
give Frank back to Carl who takes him home, but at the last moment
of the flight to LaGuardia, Frank jumps down the toilet of the airplane
and comes out the wheel-well just as the plane is landing.
"Knock-knock..." says Carl.
Frank runs all the way to his mother's new home in Long Island
and peeps in the window on Christmas Eve to see his five year
old half-sister looking out at him while Nat King Cole sings
a Christmas song about "... if raindeer really know how to
fly? And so I'm offering this simple phrase for kids from one
to ninety-two; although it's been said many times, many ways,
'Merry Christmas, to you'...", just as Carl shows up with a
mob of cops in cars who drive right up on the lawn.
"Knock-knock," says Carl, and takes Frank to prison.
The film fades out and a series of classic after-the-story
credits pop up telling us that this was, in fact, a TRUE
story and now Frank lives in Chicago and works for the FBI
helping them solve the toughest cases of bank fraud and
phony check writing and that Frank has invented super-safe
checks for all the major banks in the US, and that the banks
pay Frank about $1,000,000 every year for his hard work.
"You think that's true?" asks Lydia.
"We better get home and finish your homework," I tell her.
"By the way, how DID Frank pass that bar exam anyhow?"
"Dad, didn't you notice? He studied every night for
a week before the exam, and then, he aced it."
"Whoa," I tell her, "it wasn't like that when I was in
high school. By the way, who's Hobsbawm and Gellner
who they quote in that article about 19th Century
Ireland we're supposed to be reading?"
"A couple of important modern day historians, Dad."
"And just for the record, who's Antione Lavoisier,
that Stephen Gould is writing about? I know Gould,
I've read some of his books." I ask.
"Lavoisier was an important french scientist who
was executed in 1794 at the end of the french
revolution, not because of his science, but because
he had served earlier as a hated tax collector.
Lavoisier is considered the founder of modern
chemistry, named oxygen, figured out that water is
a compound of oxygen and hydrogen and disproved the
popular notion that earth, air, fire and water were
the primary indivisible elements. He determined that
there are smaller elements. He also uncovered the
principal of combustion, unmasking the made up
product phlogiston for the hoax it was. Just before
he was beheaded, Lavoisier wrote a letter to Benjamin
Franklin in America in which he said 'What more
can I ask?'"
"Uh, thanks Lydia," I tell her.
Jan's rating for this film: 32 degrees.
Editors note: Lydia's review to follow shortly - she's still got some homework
and a couple of take home exams for us to finish first.