The other day I was flipping channels on the TV while my daughter was sitting on the floor making a fairy house out of a discarded shoe box, fabric scraps and bottle caps. After clicking through our selection of a hundred or so stations I suddenly stopped; one of my favorite movies, like ever, was on.
As the soldiers crept across the deserted landscape of Vietnam in their search for "Charlie," a couple profanities leapt from the screen. I quickly hit mute and changed the channel. I totally spaced that my kid was crafting nearby. I had a mom fail moment and had got caught up in the drama unfolding on the screen. Full Metal Jacket is not, I repeat—not—appropriate for a 7-year-old. But Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece on the cruelty of war is in my top 10 list and a piece of cinema I cannot wait to share with my kid. When she is old enough, that is.
One of the things I adore most in life is sharing things I love and appreciate with my child. So every now and then I compile a list in my head of movies I look forward to sharing with my daughter, some for their artistry, others for the sentimental value. Here is my running list, which does change from time to time, including how old I think she should be before she sees them:
Roman Polanski's 1968 thriller may be haunting and eerie, but it is beautifully executed and is one of the best of the genre. Mia Farrow gives an unforgettable performance, but the creepiness of the film is really for a more mature audience, demon seed and all.
Age I'd share: 16
This is a sentimental favorite and the best John Hughes film in my opinion. Sure, others adore The Breakfast Club and others may lean toward Pretty in Pink, but I think that Sixteen Candles has it all: angst, an accurate coming of age tale and Jake Ryan. It still stands the test of time (and I know, since I cannot make myself change the channel whenever it is on). It was made for teens, so this one I'lll be able to share with her earlier than most, but I think 7 is just too young for a teen saga like this. I just wonder if she'll be as wooed by Jake Ryan as the women of the previous generation were.
Age I'd share: 12 or 13
"I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue."
This is one of America's best comedies. It may be broad and a bit dated (when was the last time you saw Hare Krishnas at the airport?), but the comedy is still funny today. However, there are a couple of scenes that aren't age appropriate that would bring up more questions than I'm ready to answer, like the man asking the boy if he'd ever seen Spartacus and "I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue."
Age I'd Share: 12 or 13
There are many Martin Scorsese films I am itching to share with my offspring, but I opted to pick just one. Taxi Driver with the Jodie Foster plotline is just too hard to share with a young girl. Raging Bull is beautiful but honestly not my favorite. Goodfellas IS my favorite, since it wraps so many aspects of Scorsese's filmmaking talent into a beautifully produced package, but it is a very harsh and violent film. After Hours may not make it to the top of many Scorsese fans' lists, but it is hilarious, fun, exhilarating and such a fun romp with an energy that is so alive and modern (even though it was shot over 25 years ago). Still, there are some scenarios within this film I'd like to keep at bay for a while.
Age I'd Share: 15
Full Metal Jacket
Let me just go ahead and quote myself from my intro; "Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece on the cruelty of war is on my top 10 list of a favorite movies ever." Yup, still true even after rattling off the other films above. It is such a powerful, tough, poignant film that really brings the watcher into the heart of the action. It really is, in my opinion, one of the best films about war ever made. But there is so much rough language, violence, harsh realities and pain in the film, that I'd like to shelter her from such things as long as I can.
Age I'd Share: 17
Like the aforementioned Sixteen Candles;Clueless is another stellar example of the teen film genre. There is no hardness in this film; it's all in good fun. It may be dated by the time my daughter sees it, but I think that hilarity will still ensue.
I adore Hannah and Her Sisters, Manhattan, and Crimes and Misdemeanors, but Annie Hall is my absolute favorite Woody Allen film. It's smart, funny, clever and a masterpiece of American cinema. But it is an adult film with mature themes and issues that I believe a child just would not "get."
Age I'd share: 17
Rear Window or Vertigo
I could not decide between which Alfred Hitchcock film I would share with her first, both are amazing examples of the edge of your seat suspense and tension that Hitchcock was a master of. But Hitchcock's films are pretty intense and although there isn't gore, nudity, or swearing, he still brings the scary. But when she's ready, I'm thinking it would have to be a double feature, with Vertigo being first since it was filmed in our hometown.