“Cinema is truth at 24 frames per second.”
– Jean-Luc Godard
“Cinema is lies at 24 frames per second.”
– Michael Haneke
Often, the best way to begin interpreting a work of art is to ask good questions of it. The following questions are not trivia prompts with open-and-shut answers to test one’s knowledge of the film; instead, they are meant to spark and sustain thoughtful engagement with the film, whether through individual reflection or discussion in a group setting. Do not feel impatient if you cannot easily answer any of the questions, and do not feel discouraged if any of the questions remain unanswered. Good films require multiple viewings; great films require a lifetime. A great film is alive, and its depths can only be plumbed with time, effort, contemplation, reflection. These questions are only meant to help you get started.
24 Questions on…
Catch Me If You Can
(2002, dir. Steven Spielberg)
- What does the opening title sequence tell us about the film?
- Why does the film use a segment of “To Tell the Truth” to set up the story?
- How does Frank Sr.’s speech about the two mice reveal his character?
- In what ways is Frank shaped by his father and mother?
- What is the significance of the moment when Paula spills wine on the carpet?
- Why is “Embraceable You” the song playing when Frank’s parents are dancing, and again when Brenda’s parents are dancing?
- Frank Sr. claims Frank needs a suit for a military funeral, and later claims Frank ran away to Vietnam. Why do Frank Sr.’s tall tales often involve the army?
- What is the significance of the repeated phrase, “To the moon”?
- Why does the divorce lawyer tell Frank, “It’s not a test”? Why does Frank decide to run away from home?
- Frank tells his father he can “get it all back”. What does Frank think he can get back, and how does he think he can do so?
- Why does Frank choose the professions (pilot, doctor, lawyer) that he does?
- Why does Frank collect product labels?
- Why does Frank choose the name “Barry Allen” as his Secret Service alter ego?
- What does the title “James Bond of the Sky” tell us about how Frank is perceived?
- Why is Frank’s scene with Cheryl intercut with Carl’s scene at the laundromat?
- How are Frank, Carl, and Frank Sr. revealed through their different conversations about the Yankees’ pinstripes and Mickey Mantle?
- Why are Brenda’s braces significant?
- Why can’t Frank stop? Why can’t Carl?
- When Carl nearly corners Frank at the engagement party, dollar bills are flying around. When Carl corners Frank in Montrichard, checks are flying around. Why?
- Why do Carl and Frank keep talking on Christmas? What does the Christmas setting mean for the story?
- Why does Carl lie to Frank about his daughter’s age? How are his lies similar to Frank’s? How are they different?
- In what way is it “easier living the lie”? Who is living a lie in the film?
- Why does Carl tell Frank, “Nobody’s chasing you”? Why does Frank decide to come back to the FBI?
- Why is Carl so interested in how Frank passed the bar exam in Louisiana?