The boys have been asking me lately when they are going to be able to go to a film festival with me. They have this image in their heads of what a festival is like, and I asked them to describe to me what they thought I was doing when I was gone.
More than anything, what our conversations illustrated clearly is that the boys want to participate more in the things that they believe are important to me, and I want them to feel like they have some sense of what it is that I do. We’re reaching the end of their two weeks of spring break, and I realized that we could do something special for them here at the house, and that with just a little bit of effort, it could be the sort of thing that they never forget.
To that end, I’ve decided that this weekend is the First Annual Film Nerd 2.0 Spring Break Mini Film Festival. I’m making badges for them so they feel like they’re at a festival, and I’ll make them line up outside the office between movies while I change discs so they won’t know what’s coming next. I plan to keep the line-up a surprise from them until each film begins. In some cases, these are films they’ve been asking for, and in some cases, they’re films I was planning to share, and in every case, they are films that I think will spark some sort of big reaction.
The first batch of films we’re watching will be “The Invisible Man,” “Beetlejuice,” “North by Northwest,” and then we’ll wrap it up with “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” This will be their first Indiana Jones film, and the reason we’re watching it and not “Raiders” is because I think “Last Crusade” is the most benign of the films, nowhere near as violent or scary as the first two films in the series. Sure, people love to single out “Temple Of Doom” as the gory one, but there is plenty in “Raiders” that is dark and heavy and, at this particular point, still inappropriate for them. They know Indy as a visual icon, and they have played the Lego games, so they even know the basic story of the films. But I think “Last Crusade” gives us a chance to watch one of the films together and enjoy it without giving anyone lasting nightmares.
We’ve got plenty of other stuff in the line-up that should take care of that.
The second batch of titles begins with Jimmy Stewart in “Harvey,” and we’ll follow that up with “Beneath The Planet of the Apes.” They’ve seen the first one, and I figure this will be one of the two scariest points in the festival for them. If they make it through the end of this film, everything else should be gravy. We’ll round out day two with “Young Frankenstein” and “Empire Of The Sun.” Both of those are movies that play a little older than what the boys are used to, but I think the innuendo of “Young Frankenstein” will go right over their heads, and I think the rough edges of “Empire” are actually important for the boys as a way of grappling with some big ideas about separation.
The final day is a doozy. We’ll start with Tom Hanks in “Big,” then we’ll watch the original version of “Legend,” follow that up with “Ghostbusters,” and then cap the entire festival off with a film that Toshi has been campaigning to see for about a month now. I think it started with him seeing a spaceship on the front of the DVD and the rating “G” on the back of it. When he sees a “G,” he figures there’s no way I can argue against that film, and technically, he’s right. Does that mean he’s intellectually ready to grapple with “2001: A Space Odyssey”? I have no idea. We’ll find out.
I’m going to update with live-blogs of some of the titles, photos, and more, and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll be able to see when we’re starting each film. I welcome you guys playing along both here in our comments section and on Twitter. This is an impromptu thing, something I just decided to put together for them, but if this goes well, then who knows? Maybe next year, I’ll try to put together a real curated theatrical event during their spring break, and maybe we can all see the films together.
There’s a chance we’re going to be doing out first Film Nerd 2.0 screening in a theater later this year, and if that comes together, we’ll let you know how you can attend with your own movie-crazy kids. I am constantly amazed by how many great people I’ve run into over the past couple of years who are really into this series, and I’ll be honest… it’s my favorite thing to write. The only reason I ever started writing about movies in the first place was so I’d be able to pass along my affection for this art form, and this has turned out to be one of the purest expressions of that. Your responses have given me permission to push further, to experiment, and to set aside time to make each of these experiences something special for the boys. I need to start figuring out what sort of food to do for the different days that might be appropriate and fun. I want this to be a complete sensory experience for the boys, something that leaves a real imprint on them.
Let me know… do you think you’ll be up for playing along at home?
In the meantime, I’ll have a new Film Nerd 2.0 up tomorrow as a preamble, a look at two ’80s films that they just watched and how they reacted to the darkest parts of each.