Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

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colour, musical (rock opera) drama
released: 1973
director: Norman Jewison
starring: Ted Neely, Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman
rated: G   (PG would be more accurate, due to the violence – see below.)
length: 1 hr, 48 min

age: 12+

interests: musicals, rock music, theatre, religion, history

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Movie Night: Watching Classic Flicks with Your Young Adult

My eleven-year-old has become more reclusive and immersed in her own activities and projects. She heads up to her room after school and apart from a hastily eaten dinner, I don’t see her again until I have to start bugging her about bedtime.

Okay, so I’ve been feeling a little lonely.

imagesI wanted to reclaim at least one evening a week for us to spend time together, so I announced that from now on Saturday night is Movie Night. We are going to sit down every Saturday night and watch a movie together. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Oh, and we’re going to watch Old Movies.

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Rear Window (1954)

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Rear Window

colour, thriller/mystery

released: 1954

rated: PG – “for Some Mild Sensuality and Thematic Elements”

length: 1 hr, 52 min

age: 11 +

interests: mystery, crime, murder, suspense More

Film Club and Cultural Literacy

Here’s a TED talk about visual literacy through watching old movies, similar to what Martin Scorsese talks about here.

What do you think? I’m a big fan of showing old movies to kids, and I think showing them movies that are radically different from current offerings (ie. historical settings, foreign stories, subtitles, art films, experimental narratives, silent movies, etc.) serves to broaden their experience and knowledge of film and of the world.

So many movies today, especially ones made for kids, are such formulaic, pandering pieces of junk that I can’t help but worry that we’re limiting the very scope of their imaginations. As well as shredding their attention spans and ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Too fast, too loud, too violent. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – watching old movies is a wonderful way of slowing down the frenetic pace of our lives and opening up a window to other times and places.

Related posts:

Watching Old Movies

Click on “Old Movies” in Categories over there on the right, to see all the old movies I’ve reviewed.

Martin Scorsese on Visual Literacy

Here’s a great 2006 interview with the director, in which he makes the case for teaching young people visual literacy by watching and making movies. (courtesy of Edutopia)

With the increasing dominance of media imagery in our daily landscape, it’s important that our children learn how messages are put together, how their eyes are being directed, how their emotions are being played, and maybe even how to craft images themselves. After all, the rise of digital media has made image collection and manipulation available and affordable for everyone. The next generations are increasingly going to be confronted, pummelled, swayed and played by the media-makers, and basic visual literacy will help them negotiate this new landscape.

Free Chaplin films online

Man oh man I wish I had more time to explore free movies online! Here’s a terrific source of Charlie Chaplin films, thanks to the good people at opensource.com.

Many shorts listed, as well as feature-length films. On this blog I have reviewed City Lights (1931, good for 6+), and The Gold Rush(1925, good for 5+).

Introduce your child to a genius of the silent screen!

Annie Get Your Gun (1950)

Annie Get Your Gun

Colour, Musical

Released: 1950

Rated: Approved (G)

Length: 107 min

Age: 4+  (5 or 6 for fuller comprehension)   (commonsense media sez 6+)

Scary Factor: nothing scary

Violence: a lot of guns, naturally, but all used for target shooting; only one re-enactment of an Indian attack, make sure kids understand it’s all a big circus act and nobody is really being shot; Frank gets mad at one point and punches somebody, but it’s a rather isolated event

Other: racial insensitivity, depicting Native Americans as uncivilized for comic purposes; lots of “ugh’ and “how”-type dialogue

Interests: famous women, history, cowboys, Wild West, circus/theatrical, musicals

Next: for girl cowboys see Annie Oakley (1935), Calamity Jane (1953); for Wild West musicals see Calamity Jane (1953), The Harvey Girls (1946), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954); or visit your library to find historical accounts of the real Annie Oakley and her times

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City Lights (1931)

City Lights

Black & white, Silent

Released: 1931

Rated: G

Length: 87 min.

Age:  6+           commonsense.org sez:  8

Scary factor:  Guns are brandished, especially during burglary, but more for comedic effect – no harm is done.

Violence:  General slapstick knock-about humour. The Tramp is (cleanly) knocked unconscious in the boxing ring.

Questionable behaviour: drinking and drunken behaviour (including reckless driving) for humour; smoking cigars; wealthy drunk friend is suicidal in several instances

Interests: silent movies, history, city life, love story, money and class

Next: The Gold Rush, Modern Times, Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Junior

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The Music Man (1962)

The Music Man

Released: 1962

Rated: G
Length: 151 min.
Age: 6+  (for comprehension)                     Commonsense media sez: 6 +

Scary: nothing violent, only the talk of angry townsfolk about tarring and feathering Hill

Sexual Innuendo: in some dialogue and songs, but all G-rated and too oblique to be picked up by small children

Interests: musicals, song and dance, marching bands, history, small town life, con men

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Top 5: Old Comedy Clips

Oh boy do I have a treat for you today! Sometimes it takes a little digging around, but there’s a wealth of great stuff on youtube to share with your kids. I’ve discovered some classic old movie moments from the comedy masters for you. If you’re wondering about how to introduce your children to the look and the style of silent movies and early talkies, short clips are fantastic.

Enjoy!

1. Charlie Chaplin – “Dance of the Dinner Rolls” from The Gold Rush (1925)

Sweet and simple. Entry level viewing for the brilliance that is Chaplin.

 

2. Marx Bros. – Mirror Scene from Duck Soup (1933)

This has been copied a thousand times since, and it’s likely even Groucho and company were borrowing this routine from someone else, in the old vaudeville tradition, but nobody does it better.

 

3. Buster Keaton – Chase Scene from Seven Chances (1925)

Ah, there was a time when people did their own stunts! Buster Keaton never ceases to astonish me.

 

4. Laurel & Hardy – Pie Fight

I’ve never been a huge fan of the pie-in-the-face gag myself, but this is a pretty epic example of the genre. And it all starts with a banana peel!

 

5. Abbott and Costello – “Who’s On First?” from The Naughty Nineties (1945)

And finally, something a little more ‘talkie’… This routine delighted my 5-year-old and my 9-year-old nephew this summer. The writing, the delivery, the timing… perfection.

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.