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"Art movies" for kids 12 - 16 years old?

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Just got this email:
 

QUOTE
I'm a long-time reader of your site and your blog. [a few remarks about Looking Closer have been deleted here...] I also happen to be a first year JH teacher for the Anchorage School District. Which brings me to my point. I was wrangled into teaching a short six day class on movies. I'll have enough time to show a movie a day, but I was wondering if you had any suggestions of ARTFUL movies for viewer, between 12 and 16. Thanks for your time.


Anybody want to join in recommending?

 

[Added by SDG] Links:

Edited by SDG

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BethR   

Of course, it depends on what Long-time Reader means by "ARTFUL," but I'll give it a go...

My Brilliant Career

Into the West

Local Hero

Gregory's Girl

The Fellowship of the Ring (moreso than the next two instalments of the trilogy)

classic musicals, such as Singin' in the Rain, Top Hat

Marx Brothers--Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera

Cocteau's "La belle et la bete" (Beauty and the Beast)--ooh! subtitles!

Wallace and Gromit features

The Princess Bride

Edward Scissorhands

...

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I would add:

Batman Begins (maybe too violent, but I know a lot of 12 yr. olds who watched it)

The Spitfire Grill

The Straight Story

The Elephant Man (a bit intense)

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Argh. I just posted a reply and my internet died and I lost the post. Soooo...

Depending on what is meant by "artful" and what is meant "for viewers 12-16" (it's hard because there is a VAST diff between a 12 y.o. and a 16 y.o.) I'll add some contemporary movies that I think are of good quality, but also feature young characters:

Man in the Moon (Reese Witherspoon comes of age in the 1950s rural south)

Manny & Lo (pregnant teen and her younger sister kidnap Mary Kay Place at gunpoint so that there will be someone to help them birth the baby. love this movie.)

The Cure (young boy with AIDS and his older friend/neighbor go on quest to find cure they see advertized on tabloid cover)

The Mighty (silent, big kid and chatty small kid team up to be heroes and knights and deal with bullies. gets intense at the end when bit kid faces ultimate bully - his father. this is a really good little movie for young people, based on Rodman Philbrick's middle grade novel FREAK THE MIGHTY)

And maybe some anime? LIke Howl's Moving Castle?

One movie I absolutely love that is hard to find on video and not yet out on DVD is Whistle Down the Wind from 1961. These kids in the English countryside harbor a vagrant in their barn, believing he is Jesus. It's so, so good. You never know - some obscure library in Anchorage might have it on the video shelf.

Oh, edited to add that you should throw a documentary or two in the mix -

The Atomic Cafe is a great one for this age, I think.

And I second Night of the Hunter and To Kill A Mockingbird!

Edited again to add The Bad Seed. In some ways it's so campy that it's just fun and for hooting and hollering, but it can also be used to talk about the old Hollywood morality code. In the play The Bad Seed, little Rhoda gets away with her crime, but that was not acceptable for Code standards. In the end of the movie version, Rhoda

is literally struck by lightning.

Edited by Sara Zarr

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Thom   

My only addition and staple for this age group is The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse. Although some might view this as viewing for a younger age group I think it possesses many themes that a 12 - 16 year-old age can identify with.

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MattPage   

I think films that might work well would be those whose protagonist(s) are in that age range, not in all cases obviously, but say a film like Whale Rider or Kes, or La Promese, (or any Dardenne film), or Thirteen would all fit in this category for me. Some are maybe a bit edgy, but I think the power of these films whne shown to people who can really identify with the leads could be enough to make them see film in a whole new way, which, presumably, is part of the aim.

Matt

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The ages are tough. Teens all want to pretend they're in their 20s. Twelve-year-olds might still be clinging to the vestiges of movie memories from their childhoods, not quite ready to move forward.

Something that gets the kids to shake off their know-it-all presumption might work best. Maybe something from another culture. Maybe something by Majidi?

"In America" might work, although its PG-13 rating and the "baby-making" scene might disqualify it.

As for movies I gravitated to as a laddie, Michael Powell's "The Thief of Baghdad" comes to mind, although I was much younger when I watched it, enthralled, on my TV.

What about "Baraka"? Would they sit still through it?

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There are lots of good suggestions here. Much would depend on what the focus of the class is to be - art? story telling? learning to see beyond the surface? having somethin about film in the ciriculum?

I think the absolute best one mentioned is The Red Balloon. There is just so much that can be done with that, especially as in intro to watching films as something more than being entertained.

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Doug C   
I think the absolute best one mentioned is The Red Balloon. There is just so much that can be done with that, especially as in intro to watching films as something more than being entertained.

Agreed.

There are also tons of animation: Fr

Edited by Doug C

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I would think that (1) b/w films would be a tough sell and (2) foreign films would be a tough sell.

I would think that your biggest challenge is to introduce kids to the classics, those films that most possibly influenced some of the directors of today, in making the films they admire. This includes John Ford's "The Searchers" or some cool action fare (that plays well today) like "Wages of Fear." (Maybe The Seven Samorai?) Or, it includes Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd--the bare essentials of comedy. Or it means Stanley Donen's "Singin' in the Rain" or an Astaire/Rogers pairing.

I would seriously consider finding those films with super-high entertainment value as opposed to serious dramas with powerful imagery/metaphors. High art and high entertainment need not be mutually exclusive

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Doug C   
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I would think that (1) b/w films would be a tough sell and (2) foreign films would be a tough sell.
But in a class, you're not selling anything; you're educating.

I think introducing kids to art/world cinema is a great idea. (And I like your classical Hollywood suggestions, too.)

High art and high entertainment need not be mutually exclusive.

Are they ever? ;)

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Darren H   

Assuming that this class will include discussions of basic film vocabulary and form, I think Hitchcock would be a great choice. I was about that age when I became obsessed with Rear Window, and it didn't take too much reading around the film before I understood, for the first time, what a director was and what a camera operator did and why scenes are storyboarded, etc.

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Andrew   

I would recommend going with films that the students are less likely to have seen, to make this more of a horizon-broadening experience.

Over the past several months, my 9 year old son and I have enjoyed films by Kurosawa, Truffaut, Tati, Chaplin, and Keaton, so I suspect that this age group could handle and benefit from an exposure to world cinema and B&W films.

Some suggestions:

- Truffaut's 'The 400 Blows' - to show that the struggles of adolescence are not unique to 21st Century USA

- Kurosawa's 'The Hidden Fortress' and 'Yojimbo' - the former as a key influence on George Lucas and the latter as an influence on Tarantino and his ilk (though with a much stronger moral center)

- 'Au Revoir Les Enfants' - teens facing massive historical and moral concerns

- 'Spirited Away' - beautiful anime, with themes of coming of age and social consciousness

- 'The General' - to show that amazing stuntwork didn't begin with Jackie Chan

- and how about a documentary, perhaps 'Supersize Me,' since it addresses hot topics relevant to young people, with a sense of fun and daring (though I don't know if the 'adult themes and language' would prevent a showing during school hours)

- Hitchcock is a cool idea, too

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MattPage   
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I would think that (1) b/w films would be a tough sell and (2) foreign films would be a tough sell.
But in a class, you're not selling anything; you're educating.

I think introducing kids to art/world cinema is a great idea. (And I like your classical Hollywood suggestions, too.)

This is why I think it's best to choose films where they can relate to one if the key characters

Matt

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Ron Reed   

And then there's what Coppola called his "art film for teenagers," RUMBLE FISH. The nudity would probably disqualify it for in-school showing, and it would definitely skew toward the 16 rather than 12 end of the designated spectrum, but I would think it ideal for the older set. Hinton's novels are aimed right at the "young adult" reader, often studied in school. And the film is loaded with stuff to talk about; thematically, visually, etc. Indeed, the right teacher could riff on everything from expressionism to neo-realism to the use of overt symbols to a comparison with other far more conventional film versions of Hinton's books.

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One movie I absolutely love that is hard to find on video and not yet out on DVD is Whistle Down the Wind from 1961. These kids in the English countryside harbor a vagrant in their barn, believing he is Jesus. It's so, so good. You never know - some obscure library in Anchorage might have it on the video shelf.

Edited again to add The Bad Seed. In some ways it's so campy that it's just fun and for hooting and hollering, but it can also be used to talk about the old Hollywood morality code. In the play The Bad Seed, little Rhoda gets away with her crime, but that was not acceptable for Code standards. In the end of the movie version, Rhoda

is literally struck by lightning.

Both these films I loved. And they are VERY hard to find.

I am told a deplorable remake of WDtW was done with an American setting--specifically the American South -- and the tone and execution of it made the children look dumb as dirt. How sad. If you can find this film, get the b&w British version.

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I just checked Netflix - since originally posting this, Whistle Down the Wind has been put out on DVD. You can't get it quite yet (unless you buy), but you can save it to your q. Yay!!

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I just checked Netflix - since originally posting this, Whistle Down the Wind has been put out on DVD. You can't get it quite yet (unless you buy), but you can save it to your q. Yay!!

This is great news.

I recall reading an in-depth essay about WDtW by a 1990's film scholar who praised the subtle restraint the director of that 1960's film used. The director deftly avoided sappy sentimentalism, a terrible pitfall an inferior director would have either accidentaly fallen into or else foolishly embraced. I'll see if I can find it.

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Tyler   
And then there's what Coppola called his "art film for teenagers," RUMBLE FISH. The nudity would probably disqualify it for in-school showing, and it would definitely skew toward the 16 rather than 12 end of the designated spectrum, but I would think it ideal for the older set. Hinton's novels are aimed right at the "young adult" reader, often studied in school. And the film is loaded with stuff to talk about; thematically, visually, etc. Indeed, the right teacher could riff on everything from expressionism to neo-realism to the use of overt symbols to a comparison with other far more conventional film versions of Hinton's books.

Coppola also directed an adaptation of another well-known Hinton YA novel, The Outsiders. I haven't read the novel, so I don't know how it compares, but the movie itself was pretty good.

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Tyler   

They would definitely be on the higher end of the 12-16 age range for this discussion, but I'm a big fan of Jacob Aaron Estes's Mean Creek and David Gordon Green's George Washington. Certainly these movies both have "adult" content and language, but they're about teenagers dealing with problems that teenagers actually have to face. By slapping them with an R-rating (in the case of Mean Creek, at least) the MPAA potentially cut off the very audience that was meant to see the films, and that could most benefit from watching them. (Okay, enough soapbox time for now.)

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