Sunday, August 30, 2020

Getting To Know You...

Thanks to a rigorously enforced production code, much of Hollywood’s “Classical Era” can easily be enjoyed by the whole family. The modern era (roughly from 1966 to the present) is a much wider spectrum filled with tricky subjects and themes that each family must evaluate on a case by case basis. But even the thorniest of directors usually has at least one film in their filmography that is suitable for all ages.

On the audio commentary track for his notorious cult film, Pink Flamingos, John Waters tells the story of a suburban family scandalized by renting it because it was from the director of the PG-rated Hairspray. Clearly they were not familiar with the rest of John’s oeuvre. As a cinephile parent, I cherish films like Hairspray because they present a chance to introduce your kids to filmmakers whose larger bodies of work skew towards teens and grownups.

Films like Popeye (Robert Altman), The Straight Story (David Lynch), The Witches (Nicolas Roeg), Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme), A Little Princess (Alfonso Cuarón), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson), Speed Racer (The Wachowskis), and A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester) are great ways to familiarize your child with themes, styles, and worldviews that will pay off further down the line of their cinematic development. While your son or daughter is certainly not ready for Goodfellas, they’ll probably get a kick out of Hugo!

Another great way to supplement this approach is with film clips either from your own collection or off of YouTube. I don’t know when our daughter will be ready for Sweet Charity as a whole, but since about the age of three she has known all the choreography to the the “Rich Man’s Frug” sequence. Clips also allowed me to introduce her to The Blues Brothers via the various musical numbers and the car chase through the mall.

It’s all about making introductions and casting as wide a cinematic net as possible. Your child will let you know what they respond to and things can evolve from there.

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