Watching old movies with your kids; yah, I gotta do this more

As a lifelong movie fan, part-time art-film snob, and dad, I had a great time reading Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr’s new book”The Best Old Movies for Families: A Guide to Watching Together.”

Ty BurrFirst, I should disclose that I know Ty– we live in the same school district, and my son is slightly younger than the younger daughter he references so frequently in this book.

I think it is a wonderful idea to watch old movies with your kids– to open up enjoyment that is not solely dependent on dull kids’ TV and video games.

Ty is exhaustive in explaining why you should–or should not– sow different movies to your kids, what might need explaining, and what companion movies you should seek out for further viewing.

When my son was a bit younger, I showed him Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin films– which he ate up, and still likes, and this may give me the excuse to explore a bit more with him, starting with my own library and perhaps rambling over the nearby Brattle Theater in Harvard Square, Cambridge, or the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, Massachusetts for a revival show.

Now that I have praised the book, it’s time to get snarky. I need a list of films not to watch with your kids– or Old Movies Guaranteed to Mess with Your Youngster’s Mind:

  • Blood of a Poet” — Ty Burr recommends Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et La Bete,” and rightly so as it is fantastic. But Cocteau’s earlier, surreal mind-f**k of a short film should be good for a little bed-wetting and nightmares. (Also look for: “Un Chien Andalou” by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, especially if your child has been naughty)
  • Any film by Ingmar Bergman — I was a little surprised Ty could not find at least one Bergman film to include in his book, until Bergman died this week and I was reminded of his subject matter. Try the Seventh Seal, especially if your young genius is a budding chess champion.
  • Godzilla” — This is an old movie, from 1954, so it should qualify. No excuse for not including this in the book; I refuse to acknowledge this omission. It’s a classic, especially the American version with Raymond Burr inexplicably shoe-horned in.
  • Catherine Deneuve — Ty included the beautiful ribbon-candy of a film “Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” but could have dug deeper for follow-up films. I think “The Hunger” would be great. It’s not so old but it co-stars David Bowie; don’t kids still love Bowie?

Just a few helpful suggestions for the next edition of the book.

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5 Comments

  1. I watched Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movies with my kids when they were very young, too. They loved it. The comedy is so physical, but it’s pretty sophisticated at times. They got it, though.

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