This week I am going to begin what I loosely hope to be a monthly post on family movies. Since this is the first attempt at this, I will probably hit on some of the more familiar titles, but my plan is to get deeper into the library, and find some hidden gems that may be unknown to some of you.
No list of family movies can be complete without a title from the Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki. His films, some made for kids and some very much just for adults, are incredible journeys into mysterious and uncertain places and, though brilliant for many kids, touch on some very real situations. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is a great place to start. Totoro is a forest spirit, a sort of magical creature who lives in a huge tree next door to where two young girls, Mei and Satsuki have moved with their father while their mother recuperates from an unknown illness at a hospital far away in the city. This film manages to be an incredibly beautiful and gentle tale without shying away from many adult themes, such as loss, fear, loneliness. It is a perfect introduction to the amazing Miyazaki catalogue.
In the musical department, you can’t go wrong with THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Starring Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews (just a year removed from MARY POPPINS) the film won 5 Oscars in early 1966 and features a bevy of unforgettable songs as well as a relatively gentle introduction to the atrocities of World War II. The movie is long, nearly three hours, but somehow the story recently kept my children (4 and 7 years of age) captivated for the entire time.
TRON (1982) is one for the slightly older kids (maybe 7 and up?). A very young and thin Jeff Bridges plays an embittered ex-employee of a video game company who gets accidentally zapped into the Master Control program and is forced to fight strange and beautiful computer battles as he attempts to escape back into “reality”. This way ahead of its time film is gorgeous (watch it on a big TV) and humorously dated. The games are a tiny bit violent, but nothing like the video games of 2009.
In the slightly under the radar, but current animation department, SURF’S UP (2007) has been a family favorite of ours for the last couple years. Featuring the voices of such stars as Zooey Deschanel, James Woods, Jeff Bridges (again), Shia LaBeouf and Jon Heder, it is the story of Cody Maverick, a young penguin (17 years of age) living in Antarctica who dreams of being a famous surfer and competing in a world competition. Featuring great current music, amazing animated surfing footage, and humorously goofy lines, it is a fine full family film.
Let me know what you think of these! And send me ideas for future family film posts. Oh, and scroll down for this week’s releases.
Alrighty, that’s all folks, hope to see you at the store.
Love and Kisses,
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Links we are super hip on this week:
Beyond Asiaphilia- local filmmaker Valerie Soe's excellent blog focusing on Asian/American arts, culture and other related topics.
Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema festival.
Videofest 2009 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.
Pal’s Takeaway – Yummy yummy.
Do you have a link Four Star Customers should check out??? Email it to me.
DEFIANCE.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Daniel Craig/Alexa Davalos/Jamie Bell/Liev Schreiber.
Directed by Edward Zwick.
* In the deep forests of Belorussia, during WWII, a large population of Polish Jews and Russian freedom fighters lived. Based on a true tale, this film focuses on three brothers and their conflicting desires to protect the people living in the forest and fight against the Germans.
DELIRIOUS: 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION.
* Eddie Murphy was 22 years old when this brilliant, foul-mouthed scathing comedy show came out.
GRINDHOUSE PUNK DOUBLE FEATURE.
* I dunno...just watch it, dammit.
HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Ben Affleck/Jennifer Aniston/Drew Barrymore/Jennifer Connelly/Scarlett Johansen.
Directed by Ken Kwapis.
* There is like a bazillion hot young stars in this film about a young woman who just cannot read the signs that the men she is chasing are sending her. Shila says it’s awesome!
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet/Kathy Bates/Michael Shannon.
Directed by Sam Mendes.
* Based on the novel by Richard Yates, and reuniting Leo and Kate for the first time since TITANIC, this film is about a couple living a seemingly great life in the 1950’s. However, as good as it may seem, April is horribly depressed and repressed in her life as a Connecticut housewife, and Frank is angry and full of anxiety at his New York City office job. They dream of getting out and changing their lives, but unfortunately, the universe has other plans. Nominated for 3 Oscars including Best Supporting Actor for Michael Shannon
Amy Poehler/Parker Posey.
Directed by Ryan Shiraki.
* On the one hand this looks like a totally cheesy beach comedy flick, but on the other hand, it is starring Amy Poehler and Parker Posey! So, there you go… The basic premise is that three mid-30’s women living uninspired lives go to a famous Spring Break location to get some excitement in their lives.
UNE FEMME MARIEE.
Drama/Black and White/Foreign (French).
Macha Meril/Bernard Noel/Philippe Leroy.
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
* This not well-known Godard film is thought to be among his best. It is about the very over exposed Charlotte (Meril) and her relationships with both her husband (Leroy) and her lover (Noel).
HOME.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
* A documentary that contains footage from 60 countries whose focus is in interlocking the issues of planet Earth and making them into one cohesive problem.
NATURE’S MOST AMAZING EVENTS.
* More epic nature programming from the BBC.
DR. HORRIBLE’S SING ALONG BLOG.
Neil Patrick Harris/Nathan Fillion/Felicia Day.
Directed by Joss Whedon.
* From the creator of FIREFLY comes this strange and beautiful cult tale about a man who is actually trying to become a supervillain, complete with certificate from the league of bad guys, but in the meantime loves a beautiful good guy (or gal, as the case may be) and is struggling to balance the yin and the yang.
* Branagh plays WALLANDER, a British adaptation of the Swedish television adaptation of the popular mystery novels by Henning Mankell (they are great books!). Some say Wallander is kind of the Swedish Inspector Morse, so if you dig that kind of grumpy older skeptical cop tale, then check out WALLANDER.
WEEDS: SEASON FOUR .
Mary-Louise Parker/Elizabeth Perkins/Hunter Parrish/Kevin Nealon.
* Season four in the much acclaimed tale of Nancy Botwin (Parker) who early in the show starting selling pot to make ends meet. If you haven’t watched this show yet, you may want to check it out. It is one of the most popular current series on television.
ZEROMAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES.
* Bizarre and hysterical Canadian cartoon.