Whenever I watch TV, I turn on the close-captioning. It's partly because my aging earparts can't hear as much as they used to, but mostly because the ambulances and garbage trucks and overall hubbub outside my window preclude me from hearing much of anything without cranking the volume high enough to blast the children out of their beds.
Subtitles have always annoyed me, because they distract from the overall visual experience of a film. You can't appreciate performances and cinematography and such when you're busy reading all the time. In recent years, however, I've become a parent, which means my body will fall fast asleep at the slightest hint of horizontality. I've therefore learned that subtitles perform a vital service for those who have so little unfettered consciousness.
For years, I've heard how wondrous The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is. A masterpiece of bittersweet, romantic, pop-art confection. So I taped it off of IFC and sat down to watch it, knowing only that 1) it starred Catherine Deneuve (which is dandy), and 2) every line of dialogue is sung (which is ameliorated by #1).
It languished there in my "Don't Erase" queue for weeks until I finally got the chance to sit down and watch it. So a I sat there. The singing started. The vibe was groovy/kitschy, as Deneuve and her Serge Gainsbourg-y suitors crooned at each other. But time went on. And they were still singing. Every stitch of conversation. It wouldn't stop, even though it most definitely needed to before I plunged my face through the TV screen.
This was not a masterpiece of bittersweet, romantic, pop-art confection. This was more like televisual waterboarding.
But then my hampered brain remembered that you can run your DVR at triple speed, and it doesn't matter that you can't hear the dialogue because of ... subtitles! So I hit the fast-forward button, summoned whatever speed-reading skills I could muster, and saw the whole film in 23 minutes. And now I have another pop-culture reference I can drop into conversation if I want to sound clever at my next cocktail party. Assuming I can stay awake long enough to attend one.