Friday, February 20, 2015

Hopper Cinema 101

I really, really, really enjoy watching movies with my two daughters, ages 10 and 6.  We stretch out on the floor among pillows, blankets, and bowls of popcorn and have watched everything from Barbie movies to Mel Gibson’s Signs.  Obviously, Patch, my six-year-old, was not involved with Signs, as she suffers from the occasional nightmare, but she did make it through half of 2014’s Godzilla.  Though she still remarks, “Remember, Daddy, when that lady died in the smoke?” (it was actually a nuclear reactor meltdown).

Over the past few years we’ve done a lot of the Universal monster movies, started on the Abbott and Costello ones, seen more than a few Tojo Godzilla flicks, watched some classic sci fi (Them!, The Thing from Another World), done the Ray Harryhausen movies several times, seen Charlton Heston battle monkeys in the Apes movies.  These I consider their monster movie education.  Cinema 101, with fangs.  Stuff I ate up as a kid, to the point of actually buying books about the movies I’ve watched. 

Recently, though, I’ve been thinking about themes.  Themes in regards to groupings of movies.  We’ve had a very pleasant experience  as a family watching the first and third Indiana Jones movies.  (Not so sure about putting the second and fourth into rotation, though.)  So what other movie themes can I come up with?

My first thought was the completely age-inappropriate Alien franchise.  Since I won’t even let the girls watch The Blob, these movies will have to wait until they are at least in Middle School, when I first watched them.  The wife bought me the Alien four-pack on DVD one Christmas, so I will have them awaiting on deck.

For both girls I’d have to keep it light.  I definitely would like to explore the Hammer films.  These are the colorized and Anglicized versions of those Universal monsters, and they all feature Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.  Me and Little One watched one or two (the Mummy and Frankenstein ones), but I’d like to see more and I think Patch could handle them.  That’d be fun.

Other films would be more Japanese monsters, though Little One is getting a bit long in the tooth for them.  However, her education must be complete.  Patch would definitely dig the Gamera movies, and both would be served well seeing the ones with Ghidora (a.k.a. Monster X), Mothra, and the mechanical counterparts to Godzilla and Kong.

Hitchcock is something I’d like to explore with Little One.  I have a five-pack of his works, too.  We could definitely see one of my favorites, Rear Window, though I think she’d appreciate more the semi-apocalyptic The BirdsPsycho would definitely wait until Middle School or later.

There are a lot of classic 50s sci fi I could and should watch with both girls: The Day the Earth Stood Still, This Island Earth, Forbidden Planet, War of the Worlds, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Sure, my daughters are desensitized by today’s cinematic technology, but a good story – and all these movies are good stories – does not rely on gimmicks to draw the viewer in.

Little One has expressed interest in Jaws – and the Jaws franchise – but as she is a beach lover I would not want to ruin that.  No, we won’t be watching that Spielberg flick.  But Poltergeist might be another story.  That was a good one, and I saw it in the movies back when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school.

We already did the Star Wars original trilogy, and I refuse to put the second trio on this list.  Similarly, we watched Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, and the girls liked it, but I don’t see following up with the other movies.  As far as Star Trek: The Original Series, the girls liked the one episode I played for them; I might watch another one with them (I think they’d enjoy “Arena,” where Kirk fights the lizard Gorn in hand-to-hand combat, which I got on the DVR).  Another franchise I won’t venture into is Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, at least not until they girls read the books themselves.  I don’t want Jackson’s vision to dominate in their little minds over Tolkien’s.

What else?  Let’s see … Exploring the 007 / James Bond movies might be fun if they’ll hold the girls’ interest.  More Vincent Price flicks is also a frequent request I get from them.  We did the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, but I’d like to test drive the Tim Burton Batman ones with them.  Possible 2001 and its sequel, 2010.  Maybe Dune.  Maybe Westworld and its sequel Futureworld.  Probably Chuck Heston’s Omega Man, maybe his Soylent Green.  Definitely the Terminator ones, when they’re a wee bit older, and the Predator ones, when they’re a wee bit older than that.  For extra credit we can go to the library and start borrowing X-Files DVDs, season by season.

And we’ll continue to watch more Barbie, Disney, and Pixar movies, and all those direct-to-DVD flicks with cute puppies and kittens and talking mice. 

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