Entertaining Them


My mother used to turn off my Saturday morning cartoons and make me listen to 40s radio cartoons, very unsuccessfully as you might guess. But she did introduce me to something different, and knowing a bit about that genre later let me impress the coolest guy in my college English class, who had actually wanted to listen to radio cartoons as a kid. So she gave me a gift of sorts.

I now have four children ages 4-10 and have found myself, like my mother before me, aspiring to some level of intelligence in their media intake. To this end, I have really enjoyed introducing them to what is in their minds obscure cinema, rather than what they would choose, which would be crap. It’s true they groan when I announce a French title, but by FIN they are happy enough. They have learned to let a story unravel. They have followed tales without Hollywood endings. They have even read subtitles to their baby brother. Sometimes we measure success by whether they have stayed in the room, some movies we’ve watched again. Some we’ve had to turn off at the ten minute mark.

We’ve worked our way through much of the excellent DVD guide on gkids.com, starting with a big hit, My Neighbors the Yamadas. Here are a few other titles we’ve watched more than once, via Netflix:

The Way Home (Korea; 2003)

A city boy and his Gameboy are sent to live with his poor, mute grandmother in the country. He is angry and mean; she is incredibly kind, patient, and generous. She breaks him.

A Town Called Panic (France, 2009)

A cowboy, an Indian, and a horse–roommates–chase sea creatures in an ocean they find under their neighbor’s pond. Fantastic.

My Father’s Glory/My Mother’s Castle (France; 1990)

Simple stories of a happy childhood spent with loving, fallible parents. Aspirational.

M. Hulot’s Holiday (France; 1956)

Slapstick comedy right up an 8-year-old’s alley; all of director Jacques Tati’s efforts seem to satisfy.

The Cave of the Yellow Dog (Montgolia, 2005)

A girl and her sheepherding family live in a yurt; her freedom to roam the vast land alone fascinated.

In her pre-family life, Patricia wrote about film for New York magazine, and now is a mom of four living in New Jersey.


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Comments (2)


  1. My littles are still too young for full movies, but when we have them (2 yrs old, 4 months old) watch anything, I shoot for (in my mind) the classics. Fraggle Rock, The Muppets, Sesame St- only the stuff from my generation. Might sound stuck up but I just think Yo Gabba Gabba, Dora the Explorer don’t come close. I’d rather they be different among their peers haha.

  2. Posted by: Lisa

    I can’t tell you the hours I’ve wasted on Netflix and iTunes trying to find a great movie to watch with my kids that we hadn’t already seen. This list is fantastic!
    My boys and I loved The Way Home. Three thumbs up, and we are picky.
    Funny aside–I was wondering how my six year-old would do with the subtitles, when after a few minutes, he said, “Wow, Mom. I can’t believe I can understand Korean.”
    Can’t wait to watch the others.

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