December 18, 2018, 22:32

What to Stream This Weekend: Five Grownup Movies to Watch With Your Kids |

What to Stream This Weekend: Five Grownup Movies to Watch With Your Kids |

Each week, Richard Brody picks a classic film, a modern film, an
independent film, a foreign film, and a documentary for online viewing.

Photograph by 20th Century Fox Film / Everett

“The Gang’s All Here”

This week, after being put off by the relentless and doctrinaire
sweetness of “Paddington 2,” I’m highlighting five movies that my own
daughters loved when they were young—not the ones that they discovered
for themselves but the ones that we introduced them to and which they
watched, loved, and asked to watch again (and again). When we started
showing movies as part of family night, Busby Berkeley’s “The Gang’s
All Here,”
from 1943—the Technicolor apotheosis of Berkeleyana—was
high on the list, and it made Carmen Miranda a hero of the household as
much as Berkeley was. It’s a romantic comedy of the Second World War at
home, the story of a young officer who’s the scion of a Wall Street
family and the fiancé of his father’s business partner (they live in
lavish estates right next door to each other). But the young man meets a
New York showgirl whose colleague (played by Miranda) helps to foster
the clandestine affair. A colossal war-bond party (featuring Benny
Goodman and his band) is the pretext for some musical extravaganzas, but
Berkeley doesn’t need any pretexts—the movie opens cold with one of his
most extravagant inventions, a singing face on a black screen that veers
toward abstraction before revealing docks, a ship, its cargo—and
Miranda. It also features Berkeley’s most gleefully loopy staging, the
giant-banana dance to “The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat,” a song that is
happily sung at home to this day.

“The Gang’s All Here” is available to stream on
YouTube, and other

Photograph from Alamy

“School of Rock”

Music, we discovered, plays a prominent (though not a decisive) role in
the movies that proved to be hits at home. Between Richard Linklater,
Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, Joan Cusack, and Mike White, we figured
that “School of Rock” would be well worth the trip to the video
store (The Video Room, on Third
Avenue, which is still in business), and our daughters’ resulting
delight matched our own. Linklater invests the specifics of the
conceit—a work-challenged would-be guitar hero (Black) impersonates his
roommate (White) and takes a job as a substitute teacher at a stuffy
private school, where he turns studious elementary-school kids into his
partners in musical ambition—with freewheeling energy and rowdy humor,
with sardonic wit and authentic longing. Plus, it has lines that quickly
became part of our everyday talk (“Cel-lo!”) and music that entered the
household vernacular (not the hard-rock classics that were covered but
the originals).

“School of Rock” is available to stream on
and other services.

Photograph from Alamy


Sure, they watched Disney and occasionally, even liked it, but the
animated film that made them laugh was “Hoodwinked!,” from 2005, an
independently produced C.G.I. version of Little Red Riding Hood that
turns the story into a sort of “Rashomon”-like multiple-version crime
story. The rendering of the animated characters is certainly cruder than
what Pixar has accustomed viewers to, but the personalities of those
characters are far more vital, less stereotyped, more idiosyncratic. The
writing, by the brothers Cory and Todd Edwards and Tony Leech, is bold
and funny, and the direction, by Cory Edwards, displays admirable comic
timing. Unlike most comedic animated films, “Hoodwinked!” is a comedy
that happens to be animated. The voice performances—by Anne Hathaway, as
Little Red Riding Hood, plus Glenn Close, Jim Belushi, Chazz Palminteri,
and Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner, among many others—have a zippy, brash energy
that doesn’t seem condescending.

“Hoodwinked!” is available to stream on
and other services.

Photograph from Alamy


You won’t believe me, but, when my younger daughter was about three
years old, we used to watch Jacques Tati’s “Playtime” repeatedly.
I’d shown it to her once, and, though she enjoyed the whole thing, she
loved one particular sequence—a scene in which workmen are installing a
large plate-glass window and seem to be dancing while doing so, as a
heckler in the foreground hums the tune that they might be dancing to.
This comedy, from 1967, is one of the most colossally accursed of
masterworks. To make the film, Tati built a small-scale skyscraper city
on the outskirts of Paris and, caught between the elements and the
government, was bankrupted by it. The movie, a virtual pantomime
throughout, with only shards of language, features Tati in his classic
character of Monsieur Hulot, who is lost in a glass-walled office
building, besieged by international tourists, enticed and bewildered by
the impractical luxuries of a high-tech high-end restaurant, and
frustrated by the flickerings of an elusive romance—all seen in vast
tableaux crisscrossed by jangling architectural lines and filled with an
overwhelming wealth of detail. The shot of the window installers, with
its multiple planes of action, ranging from closeups to cityscapes, is
just one example of its astounding complexity—and that complexity,
enjoyed effortlessly by a three-year-old, is proof that children don’t
need the oversimplifications that are offered to them in most children’s

“Playtime” is streaming on
Kanopy and the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck.

Photograph by New Yorker Films / Everett

“Poto and Cabengo”

Jean-Pierre Gorin’s documentary “Poto and Cabengo,” from 1980, is
about a pair of young San Diego twins, Grace and Virginia, who attracted
nationwide attention when they were found to be speaking to each otherin a private language, a language apparently of their own making. Gorin
films them with a warmhearted and good-humored involvement that brings
him into their family and makes the film a sort of personal documentary
as well—he had recently arrived in California from France and was
confronting, he says, linguistic issues of his own. At the same time, he
brings a wide-ranging analytical perspective to the social implications
of language, capturing the politics of the family’s circumstances, the
medical and educational issues that the family faced, and the role of
children in the American family. It’s a vision of childhood, of private
life publicly unfolded—and of the observer observing himself—that
fascinated my own children.

“Poto and Cabengo” is streaming on
Kanopy and
the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck.


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