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January 03, 2003

Armchair Critic
The Armchair


I don’t know if you’ve caught many movies lately, but if you haven’t seen “Catch Me If You Can” you should. The story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a sympathetic teenage forger and imposter, it is set during the Sixties—but not the Sixties of heroic myth, rather the unheroic, domestic Sixties of homes, apartments, motels and airports. For an aging Baby Boomer, the accuracy of the textures, the furnishings, even the light in these scenes (everything looks a bit orange, like slightly faded Kodachromes in a family photo album) was quite touching—a visit to the half-forgotten world of childhood. While Tom Hanks as the dogged (but goodhearted) policeman is functional--his Boston accent comes and goes--Leo DiCaprio is excellent as the teenaged con man, reminding me of his role in the underrated “This Boy’s Life."

Con Man at Work

But the standout is Christopher Walken. As Frank’s improvident father, Mr. Walken does the best acting I’ve ever seen him do. Mr. Walken turns his often-cliched reptilian quality into a convincing neurotic subtext as he plays a failing and terrified middle-class man.

cstncrw-walken.jpg Reptilian but real

The movie is certainly one of the best things Steven Spielberg has ever directed, indeed, possibly his most impressive effort.



posted by Friedrich at January 3, 2003


I agree that the movie was terrific, although I think time will tell how this is ranked among Steven's other films. His "serious" moviemaking efforts (among which I count this, even though it's primarily a comedy) tend to get short shrift compared to his genre efforts. But he certainly did a great job of capturing the tone -- I didn't even live through the era, but it felt right to me. John Williams's score and Kaminski's photography really worked together to place the movie in the proper setting.

Walken's scene with DiCaprio in the "fancy restaurant," when he doesn't know about the chilled salad fork and is aghast at his son trying to give him a new Cadillac in the midst of IRS troubles, should be enough to secure him a Best Supporting Actor nomination. In a just universe, anyway.

Posted by: Phil on January 3, 2003 10:57 AM

I agree. Although I'm not quite as convinced on the Walken front: I couldn't quite get the feeling out of my head that his monologues were being told in exactly the same tone of voice that he used in True Romance and Pulp Fiction...

Posted by: Felix on January 4, 2003 12:04 AM

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