A Movie and a Journey

I’m not quite sure why I still get Parents magazine: it was reassuring when the babies were young toddlers, but I’ve pretty much outgrown it now that they’re 3 & 7. All that advice about pregnancy fitness and how to tell your boss that you’re not coming back to work after all (ha!) or how worried you really should be about the hidden perils of [insert your kid’s favorite food or activity] feels very distant, thank goodness, from my life now.

Still, I was really excited to see a short feature in the March 2010 issue on great foreign films for kids and families. I depend on DVDs for some family quiet time and I’m always looking for cool stuff to show the girls. They got The Red Balloon, White Mane (on one DVD) and Paddle to the Sea (about our beloved St. Lawrence River!) for Christmas. It’s true that they prefer iCarly and Yo Gabba Gabba! (who wouldn’t?), but still, I feel better about screen time if some of it is imaginative and beautiful. (Yo Gabba Gabba is pretty awesome, I must say…)

Less excited to read this, about My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro; Japan 1988): “You can explain to your child that the Japanese culture is rich in superstition.”

Really? Is superstition the big lesson about Japan that we’re taking away? I understand that it’s hard to write a “Cultural Highlight” for each of six films in 20 words or less, but I think we can do better than that.

And don’t bother trying to find the list on the Parents magazine website which is so cluttered with ads and surveys that it’s like descending into the Sunday supplement of your local newspaper only to find the comics are missing.

Still, the movies recommend sound great and my girls will be getting a couple for Easter, I think. I wish they had included a Spanish film. I combed the web for suggestions, but all the most popular Spanish films are dubbed Disney movies. I found a big list of Spanish-language films here, and, combing through it, some

Here are the recommendations:
  • My Neighbor Totoro (Japan 1988) best for ages 4+
  • Rabbit-Proof Fence (Australia 2002) 10+
  • Children of Heaven (Iran 1997) 6+
  • The Red Balloon (France 1956) 4+
  • The Cave of the Yellow Dog (Mongolia 2005) 4+
  • Azur and Asmar (The Arabic Middle East [? I have no idea what that means?!] 2006) 6+ (imdb tells me it’s a Belgian film) 

I’d love to hear any others you’d add to the list—Spanish or no!