“Baby-sitting adventures” (1987) came out when I was 10 in the suburbs, and even though there weren’t any vampires, ghosts, or wizards, it looked like a fantasy movie. I wanted to be one of the young people under the supervision of a cool teenager (the babysitter is played by Elisabeth Shue, wearing the best coat in the world). I wanted to go to town with her, escape the criminals, sing the blues and come home, Ferris Bueller style, before anyone knew I was missing. A few years ago, I revisited comedy with a friend and her daughter, who was probably around 8 years old. A much wiser and more worldly kid than me, she also liked the beat of the movie – but was smart enough to ask why suburban kids would be so scared of downtown and why the city (Chicago) looked so isolated. . He held for the family discussion in new ways. Note: there’s a nice romance, too, and the movie features a nod to the Marvel superhero Thor, which will make more sense to kids these days than it did to me back then. Available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, HBO Max, Hulu, YouTube
With the exception of the CGI effects when the heroine dresses for the ball, there is nothing that hasn’t aged well in this multicultural version of “Cinderella by Rodgers and Hammerstein” (1997), with the soft-spoken Brandy as Disney’s very first Black Princess, opposite executive producer Whitney Houston as a luminous fairy godmother. Director Robert Iscove & Co. knew the strengths of the cast and ran with them; Veanne Cox and Natalie Desselle Reid make a perfectly matched pair as half-sisters, and âThe Prince Is Giving a Ballâ has gone from a throwaway ensemble number to a comedic extravaganza with Jason Alexander taking center stage. Bernadette Peters’ stepmother takes a starring turn with âFalling in Love with Love,â a cut from the Rodgers (& Hart) catalog that you’d never know wasn’t there originally. Perhaps most important: this Cinderella showed a generation of children a black Cinderella and a brown-skinned Asian prince (Paolo Montalban) falling in love, in a world where mixed-race families are not only accepted, but so normal that this is not the case. t even deserve a comment. Your move, Buckingham Palace. Available on Disney +.
My first crush on cinema was Doris Day. My second was the far more complicated and mysterious Julie Christie. I discovered it at the age of 10, when my parents took my siblings and I on the family station wagon and took us to see “Doctor Zhivago” (1965) at CinÃ©-parc Natick. Maybe because I was the oldest child, I was able to sit in the front passenger seat next to my dad while my mom sat in the back to make sure my brothers and sisters behaved well.
“Doctor Zhivago” lasts almost three and a half hours, and the little ones quickly fall asleep. Not me. I was wide awake, so captivated by the haunting Christie that I didn’t mind not being able to quite follow the plot of the film. What is a “Bolshevik”? When Christie’s Lara and Omar Sharif’s Zhivago finally succumbed to their long suppressed attraction and started kissing passionately, I almost pressed my nose to the windshield. Seconds later, the scene moved to Christie and Sharif in bed together.
I had no idea what was going to happen next – literally no idea; I was 10 – and I wasn’t going to find out that night, as a pair of hands suddenly materialized from the backseat and were slapped over my eyes. Despite my loud protests, those motherly hands remained firmly in place until the end of the scene. It took decades before I finally saw this “Doctor Zhivago” bedroom scene in its entirety, and it turned out, unsurprisingly, that there was a lot more to the implication than to the setting. work between Sharif and Christie. The next time I saw her was when “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” came out in 1971. A lot had changed by then – in the movies, in the world, in me – but Julie Christie was still bewitching. Available on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube
I wasn’t really a movie goer when I was a kid. I was a reader. That’s how I got to âEscape to Witch Mountain,â Alexander Key’s novel about orphaned tweens Tony and Tia, who possess mysterious powers and fuzzy memories they can’t explain. The story lived vividly in my imagination; at recess, a friend and I animated it every day, arguing over who should play which brother. (Tia could talk to animals, but Tony had telekinesis, which we found cooler and more useful.) It can be disappointing to see a favorite book come to life on screen: It is not what the characters are supposed to look like! But when we finally watched Disney’s version of “Escape to Witch Mountain” (1975), it seemed right, preserving the sense of wonder and alienation that drew us to it. It’s a film about feeling different and finding both an explanation and a cure for this disturbing condition. Offscreen, we spend decades doing this. So the movie was really an escape, and a gift, for two kids trying to figure out why they didn’t fit and where and how and if they could. Available on Apple TV, Disney +, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube
Get in the Wayback Machine, set the dial to 1966, and ask me, at age 9, who is the greatest movie star in the world? I’ll look you straight in the eye and say “Don Knotts”. The nervous comic actor used his fame as Barney Fife’s deputy on “The Andy Griffith Show” to make his way to the big screen, first as an amorous ichthyologist who, thanks to the miracle of animation, became a nazi fighting fish in “The incredible Mr. Limpet” (1964), then as a milquetoast reporter investigating a haunted house in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966), whose spectral organ music gives me a cold sweat half a century later. Both are available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube
“A Hard Day’s Night” (1964), the Beatles’ first film, is one of the great comedies of cinema. “To help!” released a year later. Great fun, nowhere near as good. But try to tell my 8 year old self. Things that limit “Help!” – the forced breadth of much of the humor, the absurd plot (Ringo wears a sacred ring for a religious cult, who wants to kill him to get him back, andâ¦ let’s stop there) – these were fine more appealing than the New Wave Style and false cinema-truth of “A Hard Day’s Night”. In addition, âHelp! Is in color. Color was still a big deal in 1965. Now, of course, I could watch Gilbert Taylor’s black and white cinematography endlessly – so much cooler than color – but that’s just another example of the way “A Hard Day’s Night” spent my young directing. To defend my childhood tastes, âHelp! Has a lot to offer: proto-musical video âThe Ticket to Rideâ; “The Night Before” played on Salisbury Plain, surrounded by tanks (I warned you of the plot); the recurring joke of the Channel swimmer. This one is awesome, up to Ringo standing on a Caribbean beach and pointing in the general direction of the White Cliffs of Dover – note, not the cliffs in black and white. Available on Amazon Prime
I don’t know if it was my favorite, but “The Poseidon adventure”, the 1972 film about an ocean liner that is swept away by a villainous wave and the ensuing chaos made a big impression on me as a child. One of the reasons was the stellar cast, most notably Shelley Winters, whose heroic death of the character shocked me. (Winters’ performance earned him an Oscar nomination.) The other reason? I couldn’t swim – still don’t – and the prospect of being plunged into the sea with only Jack Albertson to save me was terrifying. Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, YouTube