Staff Picks: Michael Read

The Point directed by Fred Wolf featuring the music of Harry Nilsson

Parents take note: these are the movies you should be showing your children.

Fandor Creative Director, “über film geek” and father of two Michael Read is always on the look out for quality films he can watch with the kids. His advice? Feed your children a healthy diet of thought-provoking, stimulating and thoroughly entertaining movies and they’ll grow into bonafide cinephiles that would make any parent proud.

“As the father of two young girls aged 6 and 7, I am naturally concerned with expanding — and occasionally blowing — their fragile little minds with as much screen time as our pediatrician will allow. I rationalize this admittedly dubious parenting tactic by selecting films that are likely to stimulate their intellectual curiosity, inspire them to ask vexing questions, or shake their foundations enough that they are moved to seek comfort and reassurance from their father.

“While Netflix has thousands of hours of mindless dreck available for young viewers, letting my daughters loose on that service is tantamount to handing them a Costco-sized carton of Cap’n Crunch. Isn’t it better to nourish their super-egos with a handpicked queue of perplexing films so that, hopefully, they will grow up to be über film geeks like their father? I know, I know, this plan is apt to backfire, but in the meantime we can enjoy communal screen time on Saturday mornings, at least until their mother wakes up and commandeers the remote.”

Scroll down for some of Michael’s kid-friendly recommendations that you’ll enjoy as much as they will.

1. Sita Sings the Blues (2009) directed by Nina Paley

Sita Sings the Blues directed by Nina Paley

“While this animated feature inspired by an ancient Indian epic poem was not conceived for children, and much of it will sail right over their heads, my daughters were transfixed from the start. Filled with gonzo animation and wonderfully bizarre musical interludes, it gives me the opportunity to natter on about myth, religion and the doctrines of pantheism until the girls run screaming into the back yard for fresh air and strenuous physical activity.”

2. Where the Red Fern Grows (1974) directed by Norman Tokar

Where the Red Fern Grows directed by Norman Tokar

“Growing up in eastern Oklahoma near the Ozark mountains, Where the Red Fern Grows was read to me time and again by my father, whose sonorous reading voice made this tale of a ‘coon-hunting backwoods boy and his two hound dogs a bedtime favorite. This sweet-natured, sentimental adaptation initially bored my girls until they were moved to ask, ‘Daddy, why are you crying?'”

3. The Point (1971) directed by Fred Wolf

The Point directed by Fred Wolf

“Oh how I loved it when I was a tyke! This gentle animated fable about a round-headed boy living amongst the pointy-headed is full of age-appropriate psychedelia, ridiculous scenarios, hilarious wordplay and wonderful Harry Nilsson songs that will make your kids forget all about that questionable Miley Cyrus video. Being different has never seemed so cool.”

4. The Private Life of a Cat (1944) directed by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid

The Private Life of a Cat directed by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid

“We share our home with a beloved feline who is relentlessly anthropomorphized by the girls, so they were primed for this delightful drama about two bohemian cats shacking up in a Greenwich Village flat in the mid-1940s. The sequence during which a litter of kittens are born leaves nothing to the imagination, but you know, this is the stuff of life.”

5. Alamar (2009) directed by Pedro González-Rubio

Alamar directed by Pedro González-Rubio

“This beautiful and poetic film about a five-year-old European boy who is sent to pass some weeks with his fisherman father in Mexico got my daughters excited about skin diving, spear fishing and communing with nature. The sequences featuring a hungry scene-stealing white crane remain a family favorite.”

6. The Bolero (1973) directed by Allan Miller

The Bolero directed by Allan Miller

“Classical music is often played at our house, especially when I’m not at home, and the girls have attended several concerts featuring their mother playing french horn for our local civic orchestra. This short doc about an orchestra with an uncommonly charismatic conductor preparing to perform Ravel’s masterpiece helped my daughters grasp the complexities of symphonic music and, in particular, be able to hear the different voices within the score. Added bonus: watching my daughter take up the air baton in the spirit of ecstatic conductor Zubin Mehta.”

7. Abel’s Island (1988) directed by Michael Sporn

Abel's Island directed by Michael Sporn

William Steig’s beloved children’s book has lost nothing in its transition to the screen. This tale of a cultured mouse that is swept away in a rainstorm while trying to rescue his wife’s scarf is an intelligent and beguiling antidote to the childish twaddle of Dora the Explorer and My Little Pony.”

8. Darkness Light Darkness (1989) directed by Jan Švankmajer

Darkness Light Darkness directed by Jan Švankmajer

“This dark stop-motion allegory by the Czech is at once hilarious and terrifying. When my little darlings misbehave, I make them watch this as as a mild form of punishment. If they’re really, really naughty I cancel their play dates for the day and make them sit through Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice.”

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