Sunday, April 25, 2021

QUEER AS FOLK: FILM AND TV ESSENTIALS PLUS "A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE" VARIETY PACK

 QUEER AS FOLK: ESSENTIAL MOVIE AND TV PICKS (PLUS "A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE" VARIETY PACK) 

Here are films and TV shows I love or just need to be seen, whether they're queer or just queer adjacent. 


ESSENTIAL MOVIES 

THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT 

AMMONITE 

ANOTHER COUNTRY 

APARTMENT ZERO 

AUNTIE MAME 

BEACH RATS 

BEAUTIFUL THING 

BEAU TRAVAIL 

THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VAN KANT --so, so many films by German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Toss a dart and start here. 

BOOGIE NIGHTS 

BOUND 

BOYS DON'T CRY 

THE BOYS IN THE BAND (1970) -- groundbreaking, then seen as embarrassing, then as amusing camp and now seen as groundbreaking again. Not really, but worth watching once (and certainly watch the original instead of the remake). 

BPM 

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN 

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN  

CABARET 

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (1979) 

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME 

CARAVAGGIO 

CAROL 

CAT PEOPLE (1942) 

THE CELLULOID CLOSET 

CHRIS & DON 

CHUCK AND BUCK 

CIRCUS OF BOOKS 

CLUELESS 

COMMON THREADS: STORIES FROM THE QUILT 

CRUMB -- maybe on a double bill w Treasure Island (1950) 

DEAD POETS SOCIETY 

DEATH IN VENICE 

DESERT HEARTS 

DOG DAY AFTERNOON 

EDWARD II 

END OF THE CENTURY 

FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!

FOR A LOST SOLDIER 

FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL 

FOX AND HIS FRIENDS -- so, so many films by German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Toss a dart and start here. Querelle, however, is a slog.

GODS AND MONSTERS 

GOD'S OWN COUNTRY 

GREY GARDENS 

HAIRSPRAY (1988) -- Director John Waters is always fun. He has more outrageous films worth seeing (Female Trouble et al) but none more subversive than this family friendly comedy with Divine as a housewife quoting Bob Dylan.

HAPPY TOGETHER 

HAROLD AND MAUDE 

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH 

THE HEIRESS 

THE HOURS AND TIMES 

HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE 

THE INCREDIBLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF TWO GIRLS IN LOVE 

LAURENCE ANYWAYS -- any movie by director Xavier Dolan is worth watching, like any movie by Rainer Warner Fassbinder or Francois Ozon. This movie about a man transitioning is his masterpiece (so far), but I Killed My Mother, Mommy, Matthias & Maxime...you can't go wrong with Dolan. 

LAW OF DESIRE -- Almodovar! Start with Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown.

THE LONG DAY CLOSES -- director Terence Davies has a string of memorable films. This one is a titch more hopeful than his equally brilliant, brutal Distant Voices, Still Lives and is def where to start. 

LONGTIME COMPANION 

MAURICE 

MIDNIGHT COWBOY -- it has kind of an ugly attitude, not just towards gays. But the unspoken romantic love that Dustin Hoffman has for Jon Voight rescues this and keeps it from being just a scuzzy time capsule. 

MOONLIGHT 

MULHOLLAND DRIVE 

MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE 

MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING 

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO

MYSTERIOUS SKIN 

MY SUMMER OF LOVE 

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDYS' REVENGE 

ORLANDO 

PARIAH 

PARIS IS BURNING (1991) 

PARTING GLANCES 

PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE 

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY 

PINOCCHIO (1940) 

A PLACE IN THE SUN 

PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE 

PORTRAIT OF JASON 

PRICK UP YOUR EARS 

PSYCHO (1960) 

PURPLE NOON 

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE 

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW -- but only if you can see it in a theater

ROPE 

SHOWGIRLS 

A SINGLE MAN 

SOME LIKE IT HOT 

A STAR IS BORN (1954) 

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN 

SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY 

SWOON 

THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY 

TANGERINE 

THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK -- definitely watch this excellent doc rather than the well-intentioned feature film Milk. Or at least watch it first. 

TOMBOY 

TOOTSIE 

TOP GUN -- watch Quentin Tarantino on the gay subtext of Top Gun, one of the funniest things he ever wrote. 

TREASURE ISLAND (1999) -- this has nothing to do with the Robert Louis Stevenson novel. 

VELVET GOLDMINE -- Todd Haynes is a queer director, whether making something explicitly gay like Swoon and Poison or gay adjacent like Far From Heaven. Start here. 

VICTIM 

VICTOR/VICTORIA 

WATER DROPS ON BURNING ROCKS

WATER LILLIES 

THE WAY HE LOOKS 

THE WEDDING BANQUET 

WEEKEND 

WHAT'S OPERA, DOC? 

WILD REEDS 

WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971) -- NOT the Johnny Depp

WITHNAIL AND I 

THE WIZARD OF OZ 

THE WOMEN 

WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN 

WORD IS OUT: STORIES OF SOME OF OUR LIVES 

XXY 

YOSSI & JAGGER 

YOUNG TÖRLESS 

YOUR FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS 

Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN



ESSENTIAL TV SHOWS/MOVIES  -- most tv shows aren't good from start to finish. If I list a sitcom, you can always stop watching after three or four seasons, with no loss. 


ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS -- not gay at all and yet very very gay. 

AN AMERICAN FAMILY -- for some reason, PBS is not streaming this groundbreaking reality series about the Loud family from the early 1970s. Lance Loud coming out on TV amidst his parents' divorce was a massive moment for the LGBTQI community. 

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER 

LOOKING 

THE L WORD 

MY SO-CALLED LIFE 

QUEER AS FOLK (1999) UK original. If you watch the first season of the American version, that's plenty. 

SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESS OF POWER 

SIX FEET UNDER 

SOAP 

STEVEN UNIVERSE 

TALES OF THE CITY 

VICIOUS -- shamelessly bitchy and cliched show starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi. It's like having Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh starring in Three's Company, but you can't help laughing. 

WILL & GRACE


"A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE"  

"A very special episode" is the way TV shows would tease an episode of a sitcom or drama that dealt with something controversial like alcoholism or suicide or bulimia or anything queer. They're not necessarily good but they are fascinating and fun to watch. 

THE REJECTED -- aired on San Francisco's WQED (September 11, 1961)  

CBS REPORTS: THE HOMOSEXUALS (March 7, 1967) 

THAT CERTAIN SUMMER (November 1, 1972) CHEERS -- Season 1, Episode 16 (January 27, 1983) 

AN EARLY FROST TV movie (November 11, 1985) 

thirtysomething -- Season 3, Episode 6 (November 7, 1989) 

BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 -- Season 2, Episode 3 (July 25, 1991) 

ROSEANNE -- Season 6, Episode 18 (March 1. 1994) 

THE REAL WORLD: SAN FRANCISCO -- Season 3, Episodes 1 and 19 (June 30/November 3, 1994) 

FRAISER -- Season 2, Episode 3 (October 4, 1994). 

ELLEN -- Season 4, Episodes 22 and 23 (April 30, 1997) 

DAWSON'S CREEK -- Season 3, Episode 3 (May 24, 2000) 

ONCE AND AGAIN Season 3, Assorted Episodes 8-19 (arc begins November 30, 2001)

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND -- Season 1, Episode 14 (March 7, 2016) 

BOJACK HORSEMAN -- Season 4, Episode 3 (September 8, 2017)

DERRY GIRLS -- Season 1, Episode 6 (February 8, 2018) 

ONE DAY AT A TIME (2017 reboot) -- Season 1, Episode 10 (January 6, 2017) 



Saturday, April 24, 2021

FAMILY FRIENDLY: SOME GREAT MOVIES AND TV SHOWS TO WATCH WITH YOUR KIDS

FAMILY FRIENDLY FARE:

Movies and TV shows to Watch With Your Kids

Hey, a lot of great films can be watched with your kids. And you can find a mountain of "family friendly" movies. This is my list of films for families, films with kids at the heart of the action and some films that are great intros to mysteries and musicals and westerns and the like for your kids. They're just great films and TV shows you can enjoy on your own or share with your kids. 

NOTE: this all depends on your family and your kids, needless to say. I've got stuff here great for kids under 8 and stuff appropriate for teens and stuff some parents might never show to their kids at all. But hey, I meant well! 

Wondering where to find this stuff? A great resource is JUSTWATCH.COM. Go there and you'll  get a sense where a lot of this stuff is streaming or available .


MOVIES TO WATCH -- ages may vary!


ALL AGES -- really, these are great films and not JUST for little kids. Not at all. I'm not offering up time killers. These are all really great movies and tv shows that everyone should watch. Yes, Sesame Street and whatever are lovely but those are really JUST for kids. This stuff is for everyone. 


THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) -- the classic adventure tale. 

ALADDIN (1992) -- a great action film. And no of course you shouldn't watch the live action version. Be a good parent! 

ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES 

THE ARISTOCATS (1970) -- Actually, I don't recommend this Disney animated film. It's just a warning to make certain that if you ARE planning to show your kids The Aristocats that you do in fact show them the 1970 film The Aristocats and NOT the 2005 documentary film The Aristocrats. You're welcome. 

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS -- animated film about Santa Claus from the Brits. Great voice cast and charm to boot. Future classic. Warning: it does say that Santa is a family concern and the job is passed down from one generation to the next so proceed with caution. 

AZUR & ASMAR: THE PRINCE'S QUEST -- it's only our narrow outlook that makes us think cartoons equal Disney. This delightful French fable will enchant kids, given half a chance. 

BABE -- one of the great animal films, but be wholly prepared for your kids to announce they've gone vegetarian. That's not an agenda of the film but a little inevitable. If you're really into it (and I am), the darker sequel Babe: Pig In The City is also very good. This is an all-time classic. 

BACK TO THE FUTURE -- not the sequels. 

BAMBI -- perhaps the most beautiful animated film ever made. It's pitch perfect from start to finish but of course it DOES begin with a mom being killed by hunters and, like Babe, it might well make them think twice about eating meat.  

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991) -- The Disney animated version is one of the all-time great movie musicals. Full stop. And if you're a really cool parent, you will wait a bit and then show them the 1946 version La Belle et la Bette. Just saying. 

THE BELLES OF ST. TRINIANS' (1954) -- the chaotic original, please. 

BIG (1988) -- Tom Hanks classic. 

BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE -- goofy fun plus some not terribly accurate history lessons. 

THE BLACK STALLION -- absolutely gorgeous boy-and-his-horse movie, entrancing from start to finish. Bonus: the middle 40 min or so are akin to a silent movie. Point that out to them later. 

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN -- funny/scary entertainment. As a bonus, show them this and a little later you can spring Young Frankenstein on them and they'll laugh all the louder. 

BUSTER KEATON SHORTS -- I've got one or two movies listed here. But the shorts of Buster Keaton are the place to start. Just look for the ones viewed the most on YouTube or the most popular on whatever service you stream them. The younger the kids are, the less they'll realize they're not supposed to be watching a black and white short and the more they'll love them for life. Plus, they're short! Consider a black and white silent short or classic Looney Tunes cartoon before your feature film or TV show watching begins! When you're ready for movies, Steamboat Bill, Sherlock Jr, The General and so on. Suggested shorts to start: One Week, Cops, The Cook, Convict 13, The Haunted House. As with all the silent shorts, you can find tons of them on YouTube for starters. 

CAPTAIN'S COURAGEOUS (1937)

CHARLIE CHAPLIN SHORTS -- Chaplin has the feature length films best geared towards kids (more than Keaton et al, I think). But his shorts are amazing and you probably haven't seen most of them and they're very funny. When you're ready for movies, of course The Kid, The Circus, City Lights, The Gold Rush, Modern Times and so on. Some shorts to start with: Easy Street, The Adventurer, The Rink, One A.M. etc etc etc. See Buster Keaton shorts for my full advice on silent comedies. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951) -- the 1951 version with Alastair Sim, but you already knew that, of course. 

A CHRISTMAS STORY 

DISNEY/PIXAR FILMS -- I list some of them here. You know them, you love them or at least you see their usefulness in keeping the kids intelligently entertained for 100 minutes at a time. 

THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE -- a less appreciated Disney animated film, this is a great spin on those Bing Crosby-Bob Hope road movies. Follow it up with The Road To Morocco. 

E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL -- Yes, they're going to get upset and cry at one point. It's ok.  

FOR ALL MANKIND (1989) -- this doc about the exploration of space isn't well known but it's terrific. It combines footage from all sorts of missions to create a sort of idealized space flight from take off to space walk to moon landing and back to earth. Really, really absorbing. If older kids love it, you can move on to the miniseries From The Earth To The Moon and the film Apollo 13.  

GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE -- on the silly/dumb side (which is not my cup of tea) but Brendan Fraser is so appealing as George he makes up for any failings. 

GOING MY WAY -- another Christmas movie! This one has a lot of Bing and kids interacting and it's great holiday fare. Though non-Catholics may find it a bit much, it's great (as is the sequel The Bells Of St. Mary's w Ingrid Bergman as a nun!). 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946) 

THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE -- a little-appreciated Disney film that's perfect for parents and kids fond of mysteries. A gateway drug to Sherlock Holmes and mysteries in general. This is the real rebirth of Disney (not quite The Fox and the Hound, which came out before, or the brilliant Little Mermaid, which came out after). 

HAIRSPRAY (1988) -- the stage musical is a lot of fun but watch the original John Waters film, not the musical version w John Travolta.  

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT -- So great, so fun, so original. It's a gateway drug to movie musicals. As a bonus, they'll be demanding to play Beatles music for weeks afterwards. See also Yellow Submarine.

THE HOBBIT (2012) -- No. Don't. Let them read the book, listen to a radio adaptation, but don't let them watch these movies. The Lord of the Rings? Yes. Not these. 

HOPE & GLORY -- the London home front during WW II from the kid's perspective. Charming. 

HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941) 

HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE -- definitely follow or precede the film with the novel it's based on by Dianne Wynne Jones. 

THE INCREDIBLES  

I WAS BORN, BUT... (1932) -- A Japanese silent comedy/drama about two kids who think their dad is kowtowing to the boss at work too much. Really great.  

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH -- a great score from Randy Newman and one of the more offbeat offerings from Disney. A peach. (Sue me.) 

JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963) -- stop motion action at its best since the original King Kong

THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967) -- another great collection of songs by the Sherman Brothers make this mid-period Disney a classic. The Mowgli stories are actually more complex and better than this movie or the many live action versions, with more of an emphasis on the inherent danger of the jungle, rather than it being a playground for humans.

KOYAANISQATSI -- Kids are so visually savvy from a young age, they may get it more quickly than a lot of adults. This is an 86 min mostly wordless documentary. It's been so influential it might not wow as much as it did in 1982. But it remains a mesmerizing spectacle with much to say about the beauty of the planet. Gorgeous. Ideal for everyone from kiddies to college students. 

KUNG FU PANDA -- you can stop here or hit the sequel if you like. Great fun. Follow it up with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or some Jackie Chan when they're ready. 

LABYRINTH 

LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955)  

LASSIE COME HOME (1943) 

LAUREL AND HARDY SHORTS -- Start with: The Music Box, Busy Bodies, Brats, etc etc. Kids will love them, especially when you're watching and laughing along with them. Laurel and Hardy have some decent movies but really the shorts are where it's at. Plus, they're short! See also Buster Keaton for my advice on black and white silents. 

LIFE WITH FATHER (1947) 

THE LITTLE FUGITIVE (1953) -- great film about a seven year old boy tricked into thinking he's hurt his brother so he runs away to Coney Island. All non-actors and it shows but also a loving look at NYC in the 1950s. Avoid the remake. 

THE LITTLE MERMAID 

A LITTLE PRINCESS (1995 and then 1939) -- the Shirley Temple version is solid but this remake is even better. Then you can read the novel! 

LITTLE WOMEN -- Like many, I have major problems with the novel. The first half is delightful. The second half is the sequel Good Wives but it's long been packaged as one novel and that's where Louisa May Alcott undercut everything she accomplished with the first book. And yet, it's been turned into a string of delightful movies. Though of COURSE Jo should have married Laurie, especially when he's embodied by Christian Bale. Despite this, the movies are great, by and large. The 1933 version starring Katherine Hepburn, the terrific 1994 version with Winona Ryder and the 2019 version with Saoirse Ronan probably in that order. All delightful in various ways. 

LOONEY TUNES CARTOON SHORTS -- Hey, before you watch a movie or tv episode, toss on a cartoon or silent short! If you're not sure where to begin, you can find a thousand lists online from people naming their favorite Looney Tunes cartoons. Or go to Amazon and check out a DVD with the 50 Best Looney Tunes for a great sampler suggestion. They'll all include stuff like What's Opera, Doc, One Froggy Evening, Scaredy Cat, Duck Amuck, The Rabbit Of Seville, Rabbit Hood (after you've shown them The Adventures Of Robin Hood), Duck Amuck and a million other greats. Hard to go wrong! 

THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH 

MARY POPPINS (1964) -- and no, I don't recommend the books but this has one of the great scores. 

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) -- dear god, NOT the remake

THE MUPPET MOVIE -- but then proceed to the classic TV series from the 1970s before tackling the many sequels of variable quality. 

MY BODYGUARD 

MY LIFE AS A DOG --  a little stranger than you remember but wonderful. 

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO -- another animated gem from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. I just list this and Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, assuming anyone who loves these will seek out the rest. 

NATIONAL VELVET (1944) 

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS -- I could list a dozen great Christmas/Halloween movies. But this should be a holiday perennial. 

OCTOBER SKY -- a great family film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a kid in a coal mining town who becomes enamored with science. Butts heads with his father. Bonus: the memoir it's based on is great too and includes a few strong sequels. 

ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS (1961) -- please not the live action remake.  

PATHER PANCHALI -- the Indian classic about life for the little boy Apu and his poor family. In two minutes the kids will forget they're watching a subtitled film. 

PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE -- and then the TV show and then Pee-wee's Big Top. 

PETER PAN -- better they should read the book rather than watch the Disney cartoon or any of the awful live action versions over the years. If you must, you can show them the Mary Martin TV version but I doubt it'll pull them in. 

PINOCCHIO (1940) -- Of course I mean the 1940 Disney original, not ANY of the thousand awful to so-so remakes over the years. This is one of the most beautiful animated films of all time and the story is a thorough, complex delight. You'll like the end of Spielberg's "A.I. : Artificial Intelligence" much more if you see this first. Oh, and it's SCARY during the amusement park scene. Like many classic Disney films, this has bite.  

THE PRINCESS BRIDE -- perfectly captures the book and of course it should be seen and then read or read and then seen and then seen and then read and then read again and then seen.... 

RATATOUILLE -- then dive into the reality TV series Kids Baking Championship if they're suddenly into cooking. 

THE RED BALLOON -- a wordless French film about a little boy being followed around by a red balloon. Simplicity itself and a delight. And it's 34 min long. I am not dissing the 2007 remake with Juliette Binocche but really, you need to see this first.  

THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER (1975) 

RUDY -- the underdog of all underdog sports movies. Heart-warming and wholesome in the best possible sense. 

THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH 

SITTING PRETTY (1948) 

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS 

SOUNDER 

THE SOUND OF MUSIC -- haven't you shown them this already? What are you, a monster? 

SPIRITED AWAY -- A classic from Japan's Walt Disney, Hayao Miyazaki. He is a genius and almost everything he did is worth checking out. This is his masterpiece and it is VERY Japanese. That sense of discovering something new (rather than the latest spin on a fairy tale) is what makes it especially wonderful for Westerners. Just a delight. 

STAND BY ME -- a great coming of age tale. 

STAR WARS -- Duh. extra points if you can find a cut of the original theatrical cut for them to watch. Even more points if you stop watching after the original trilogy, at least for a while. Don't spoil their childhood so soon with the prequels and sequels. Bonus: like many movies and tv shows on here, you've got a LOT of books for them to dive into if they're loving it and want more. 

TANGLED -- this spin on Rapunzel is a top-notch Disney animated movie, ranking right up there. 

TARZAN (1999) -- only one or two Johnny Weissmuller movies can equal this Disney classic and it has no questionable portrayals of Africans to answer for. I have NO IDEA why they never made a proper sequel. 

THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1974) 

THREE O'CLOCK HIGH -- a showdown with a bully, captured in nerve-racking, amusing detail. 

TIME BANDITS 

TO BE AND TO HAVE -- a French documentary about a teacher in a small rural town, where he deals with numerous ages at once in classic, one big room fashion. Kids will be engrossed seeing how their daily travails become the stuff of high drama in a film. And the teacher is so so kind and empathetic (like Mr Rogers times a thousand) you'd go back to school if you could have him as your home room teacher. 

TOY STORY 1 AND 2 AND 3 (AND 4)

TREASURE ISLAND (1950) -- and the book! And then the book Kidnapped! 

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN -- and the book is even better. 

20, 000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954) 

UP -- It's awesome to see kids moved by the life of an elderly couple. Plus, you'll spend the next few weeks shouting out "squirrel" the way the dog in the movie does. 

WALL-E 

WARGAMES 

WE ARE THE BEST! -- pretty awesome Swedish film about 13 year old girls who want to rock out. In true punk fashion they have no clue how to play instruments but form a band anyway. The exclamation point is wholly deserved. 

WHALE RIDER 

WHITE FANG (1991) -- the Ethan Hawke version. 

WHO KILLED ROGER RABBIT 

WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971) -- the Gene Wilder version only, please. i don't recommend the books. 

THE WINSLOW BOY --  this remake of a classic play is the best version. A family's honor is at stake when they defend their son and take him at his word over an incident at school. 

THE WIZARD OF OZ -- See, I'm not taking anything for granted. 

YELLOW SUBMARINE -- Yes, it has awesome, psychedelic visuals that prove the handcrafted loveliness of Disney and Miyazaki is just one way to go when it comes to animation. Yes, it has great songs and hey, it's the Beatles. What I love most is the offbeat sweetness of this affair. The Blue Meanies are defeated and kids should believe that will always happen. They'll have plenty of time later to realize it's not alway the case. 

ZOOTOPIA -- if they love it, lead them into film noir and detective films. 


OLDER KIDS/TEENS 


AIRPLANE! -- a brief glimpse of boobies and some sexual innuendo. Let this warning stand in for all movies. But you know, the same can be found in Bugs Bunny and most of it will go over their heads. 

THE BREAKFAST CLUB -- of the John Hughes films, this is the one that has aged well. (Molly Ringwald is always great but Sixteen Candles and Pretty In Pink have problems.) And yes, it really is all the fault of the parents. 

THE CLASS -- French classic about Teacher and students in a high school class. 

CLUELESS -- timeless high school comedy. 

CRIP CAMP -- a great documentary film. It begins with kids at summer camp, except they're kids with varied disabilities in the early 1970s. Eye-opening and fun, with modest discussion of making out and getting lucky tossed in there, though the focus is on the kids who go there and their lives as activists later on. 

CROUCHING TIGER,  HIDDEN DRAGON -- quite long, with slow parts a flashback that will confuse younger kids. But it's a great film akin to The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) in terms of glorious entertainment. 

DAZED AND CONFUSED -- def for teens only with drinking and drugs and sex on tap. But one of the great high school movies. 

ELECTION -- high school politics at its worst (best). Def only for older kids. Pity it didn't remain satire. 

EMPIRE OF THE SUN -- a very serious film about World War II and one of Spielberg's best, it contains a riveting performance by Christian Bale as the young boy at its center. Deeply moving but a lot of heartache on the way. 

FAME 

THE FLAMINGO KID -- 

THE 400 HUNDRED BLOWS --  French classic about disaffected youth. Their Rebel Without A Cause. 

GOODFELLAS -- Good. You're paying attention. Just checking. 

GREASE 

GREMLINS 

HOOP DREAMS -- high schoolers with a dream of going pro. Should be gripping to any kids with a love of sports. You can break it up into three parts, since it's pretty long. 

ISLE OF DOGS -- delightful Wes Anderson film though kids especially sensitive to treatment of dogs should take care. Plus The Fantastic Mr. Fox. 

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE -- pretty darn dark, by the way. 

A LITTLE ROMANCE -- an absolute charmer of a movie where an American girl befriends a french boy in Paris and they decide their first kiss simply must take place at a particular bridge in Venice. Helping in their scheme is a wonderfully hammy Laurence Olivier as a pickpocket elderly man. The debut film of Diane Lane. 

THE LORD OF THE RINGS -- Quite violent and dark, ultimately but great. Do NOT let your kids watch The Hobbit movies, not if you love them. Let them read that book, or better still read it with them. Then when they're ready, the Lord Of The Rings movies. You can also find a GREAT BBC radio adaptation that runs to 12 or so episodes. It's terrific and a great new way to enjoy these stories. 

PAPER MOON -- During the Depression, a shady Bible salesman is saddled with a little girl. In black and white but since you've been showing your kids Charlie Chaplin shorts for a while, they won't blink twice! A gem, but a little downbeat and serious at times, so really for kids ready for that. 

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK 

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE 

RED RIVER -- a great western and ideal for its unspoken (substitute) father and son dynamic. This is a way into Westerns though many others would choose Shane. 

SEVEN SAMURAI -- Perfect for older kids. You might think they'll complain about subtitles but they've probably been seeing them on various tv shows for years. A great entertainment to get them into classic cinema from around the world. Wait a little and then you can show them The Magnificent Seven. 

SEVEN UP/14 UP/21 UP -- three landmark documentary films. The first focuses on a modest cross section of kids in the UK who are of course seven years old. The second film catches up with them seven years later and the third when they're 21. Kids will love seeing themselves the unvarnished focus of a film and taken seriously. Teens will be amused by the first and engaged by the second. If they ask to see the third and fourth and so on, you've done a good job parenting or they're just very very smart!

SPIDERMAN: INTO THE SPIDERVERSE -- a lot of the Spider Man movies are quite good, from the great first two Tobey Maguires to Tom Holland's run. But this animated version is great for how it uses so many different styles of animation and captures the vibe of a comic book more than perhaps any other film to date. It's just...fun though like all Spidey movies it gets dark and heavy too. 

SUMMER 1993 -- a Spanish film about a six year old orphaned girl who goes to live with relatives. Not strictly a kids movie but it's presented quite often from her perspective. For older kids. 

SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE - the grand daddy of superhero movies, this is also kind of beautifully SLOW. Like an old Bible epic. Then Superman II. Then stop. 

TAPS 

TWENTY FOUR EYES -- classic Japanese tearjerker about a beloved school teacher. As a bonus, it has a strong anti-war message.

VALLEY GIRL (1983) 

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE -- perhaps a little too intense for little kids, this imaginative film is the rare feature length film to tackle a picture book, expand it into a film and do it justice. A bold beautiful film.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN -- So, so funny. Even better, prepare them with some scary classic horror originals like Bride Of Frankenstein and the like. Not necessary to enjoy this  masterpiece from Mel Brooks. 




GREAT TV SHOWS TO WATCH WITH YOUR KIDS 


ALL AGES 

THE ADVENTURES OF PETE AND PETE 

ADVENTURE TIME -- 12 minute episodes make this perfect for diving in. 

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL (1978) -- definitely the original rather than the recent remake. The original is perfect for kids with a love of animals. Though some creatures die most cases resolve happily and the animals are messily, delightfully real. Bonus: the books are great too (and very well read by the lead actor if you're inclined to an audio book.) 

AMERICAN DREAMS -- hard to find right now, but when it reappears this is an excellent family drama w great classic music to boot. (Pity about the rushed ending to season three.) 

ANIMANIACS (1993) -- start with the original series. 

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (1985) -- I'm referring to the 1985 Canadian TV series, which surely will pop up again somewhere someday soon. Bonus: the books are great too. 

AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (2005) -- the animated series, NOT the live action movie. 

BILL NYE, THE SCIENCE GUY 

BLUE PLANET (2001) -- The quality of nature documentaries has gone through the roof in recent decades and you can credit Blue Planet for that. It's an absolute milestone and I couldn't give a toss for nature or the outdoors. Engrossing and thrilling from start to finish. Like Disney, you will be seeing some death and dying but by and large it's inspiring and hopeful. They can deal with it. 

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS -- the classic original. 

THE COSBY SHOW -- yep.  

DEXTER'S LABORATORY (1996) -- kid with secret lab he hides from his folks, though annoying sister complicates things. The gateway drug to Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2003) and Samurai Jack. 

DOCTOR WHO (1963 onward) -- If you're not a fan already, you probably won't be. But anyone with a zest for sci-fi should dive in. Especially fun with the kids and a great reminder how $5 special effects work great when you're ready to suspend disbelief. 

EERIE, INDIANA (1991) -- a Twilight Zone for kids. Gone too soon!

EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS -- a great show centered on a kid, very funny and sharp. 

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS -- irreplaceable. And dear god, not the film version with Jim Carrey. 

KIDS BAKING CHAMPIONSHIP -- very well done cooking show where kids age 10-13ish compete in a series of VERY challenging baking competitions. Fun spirit, generous hosts but kids do get very upset. If your kid is into cooking you're already watching this. 

LEAVE IT TO BEAVER -- early seasons especially are great. The pilot will open your mind to this show, for a scene where Beaver and Wally discuss how to handle their parents. Not so wholesome or dull as you'd think. 

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE -- stop after about three or four seasons, but it's saccharine good fun right up until Nellie Olsen becomes a demon child and one of the Ingalls kids goes blind. Bonus: you can get them to tackle the books. (And if you're that sort of parent, you'll follow with a discussion about HOW to read them.) 

THE MUPPET SHOW (1976) -- finally available again on Disney+ and worth the $6 a month for that alone. Old school vaudeville, this is great family entertainment in the best sense of the word.  

PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE -- sneakily progressive, but don't worry. It's mostly just silly fun. 

PINKY AND THE BRAIN -- worthy of comparison to classic Looney Tunes stuff. 'nuff said. 

THE POWERPUFF GIRLS (1998) 

THE ROCKY & BULLWINKLE SHOW (1959) -- missing in action, but awesomely fun in its absurdist and silly attitude. So keep an eye out. 

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK -- more great shorts to plug in before watching a movie or tv show. Reason enough to get Disney+ at least for a month or two. 

THE SOPRANOS -- You're STILL paying attention. Good! 

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS -- You'll probably feel SpongeBob has drained Bikini Bottom of every comic potential after the fourth or fifth season, but the series is dependably delightful and I cherish any show that has a kind rather than snarky attitude. Who better to celebrate dorkiness and optimism? Pretty irresistible. 

THE WONDER YEARS (1998) -- getting a reboot but the original is still striking for its mix of comedy and drama and taking the kids' point of view w seriousness. 


OLDER KIDS/TEENS 


BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (1992) -- a gazillion comic book-based shows are out there. If you're into that stuff, you know what to enjoy with your kids. This is a high water mark and perfect for sharing.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER -- older kids. Great way to have boys watch a girl kick ass. Monsters! High school! Sex (eventually)! 

DARIA 

FREAKS AND GEEKS -- set in high school in the early 1980s. One of the great casting jobs of all time means this is filled with amazing talent. 

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2006) -- the 2004 movie is very good too. You can just watch the first season and be done. It's nigh on perfect. Or you can skip season two. (Trust me.) Or if you love it you can watch it all and deal with the messiness. Great kids, great for sports fans (but not just for sports fans; I don't care about football in the least) and great for showing a happily married husband and wife. 

GILMORE GIRLS -- not just for girls! Great watching kids deal with parents and parents deal with THEIR parents. Great dialogue and smart and funny and sweet. 

I'LL FLY AWAY -- this classic tv drama is impossible to find right now. But once it's available, this is great and enduring television. 

I  LOVE LUCY -- especially the first few seasons. Barely a kid in sight but who cares? 

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE 

MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS -- the kids will come for the silliness and stay for the bracing absurdity of it all. 

RICK & MORTY -- they're already watching it; you should too. 

SAMURAI JACK -- awesome cartoon series that notches up the darkness in the fifth and final season. 

SQUARE PEGS 

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (2003) -- Note, this is the 2003 miniseries/movie created by Genndy Tartakovsky, NOT the 2008 series overseen by George Lucas. Needless to say, the Lucas series is more readily available. Sigh. 

VERONICA MARS (2004) -- A great detective show. Great father-daughter relationship. Never comes close to equalling season one and I would advise you to watch just that. But you'll keep watching because Kristen Bell. I remain amazed by the voice Max Greenfield used for his character in this series -- how did he come up with it? Why? 


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The IRAs -- Best Picture Winners For The Past 20 Years

 The IRAs -- Best Picture Winners For The Past 20 Years


L’ Humanite (2000)
The Werckmeister Harmonies (2001)
Far From Heaven and The Son’s Room (tie) (2002)
Decasia (2003)
Kinsey (2004)
Mysterious Skin (2005)
L’Enfant (2006)
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)
The Edge Of Heaven (2008)
Hunger (2009)

A Prophet/Un Prophete (2010) 
The Tree Of Life (2011)
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (2012)
Laurence Anyways (2013)
Nightcrawler (2014)
Tangerine (2015)
Moonlight (2016)
BPM (2017)
Capernaum (2018)
End Of The Century (2019)  


And the complete list of Best Picture Winners: 


IRA BEST PICTURE WINNERS

Barry Lyndon (1975)
Lipstick and The Marquise Of O (tie) (1976)
Annie Hall (1977)
Days Of Heaven (1978)
Fedora (1979)

The Big Red One (1980)
Cutter’s Way (1981)
Victor/Victoria (1982)
Berlin Alexanderplatz (1983)
L’Argent and Once Upon A Time In America (tie) (1984)
Prizzi’s Honor (1985)
Eyes On The Prize (1986)
Housekeeping (1987)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Story Of Women (1989)

GoodFellas (1990)
The Man In The Moon (1991)
Raise The Red Lantern (1992)
Six Degrees Of Separation (1993)
Red (1994)
Exotica (1995)
La Ceremonie (1996)
Crash (the David Cronenberg film) and Grosse Pointe Blank (tie) (1997)
Gods And Monsters (1998)
Fight Club (1999)

L’ Humanite (2000)
The Werckmeister Harmonies (2001)
Far From Heaven and The Son’s Room (tie) (2002)
Decasia (2003)
Kinsey (2004)
Mysterious Skin (2005)
L’Enfant (2006)
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)
The Edge Of Heaven (2008)
Hunger (2009)

A Prophet/Un Prophete (2010) 
The Tree Of Life (2011)
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (2012)
Laurence Anyways (2013)
Nightcrawler (2014)
Tangerine (2015)
Moonlight (2016)
BPM (2017)
Capernaum (2018)
End Of The Century (2019)  

Kajillionaire (2020)