Tuesday, 12 March 2013

PART II of GREG KLYMKIW'S GUIDE: How to raise your child with the highest degree of cinema literacy!


In this edition of "How To Make Your Child Cinema Literate" you'll see why and how classic product (like that of Walt Disney), will instil a high degree of cinema literacy within your child, thus arming the happy toddler with the supreme taste it'll require to take out every inferior child within the sphere of its peers. For example, Disney's immortal SONG OF THE SOUTH, is difficult to acquire nowadays because it's been unfairly treated with pariah-like status by narrow-minded politically correct fascists. They myopically refuse to acknowledge that children learn so much more about the history of our world (AND art) when they're presented with unexpurgated and CONSTANT exposure to materials that display the highest degrees of aesthetic excellence, yet often represent perspectives which. in contemporary society are indeed no longer acceptable. The bottom line, dearest reader, is that your child will not become a lemming if YOU aren't a lemming yourself. So read on, learn and apply with fortitude and no shame.

How To Make Your Child Cinema Literate

Commentary and Guide by Greg Klymkiw

If you don't want your child to become a Philistine, herewith as promised is PART TWO of the handy-dandy Klymkiw Film Corner treatise on coaching select parents and their even more select children to ensure the utmost level of cinema literacy in one's progeny. I realize that most of you can't cut the mustard, and though I bear you no ill will or malice, it's important to avoid eventual heartache and just give up now if you're one of those miserable cretins who are beneath those who have the ability to positively take from this advice and make the most of their children's futures. For you who are, indeed of a superior persuasion, you're in the right place. Here you'll find tips, tricks and some viewing suggestions that allowed MY own child to choose the ideal fork in the road.

And maybe, just maybe, yours too.

In the parlance of Michael Haneke: ROTFLMFAO!

SILENT, 2-strip & 3-strip TECHNICOLOR and B&W - ONLY

1. Pre-birth and Toddler Years

Before your child is even born, there are two important things you must do. First of all, place the mother of the child in front of your home entertainment system and screen all the acceptable motion pictures - repeatedly if need be, since this will also be beneficial to the carrier of your seed. If possible, the Mother's belly should be as close to the monitor as possible. This might not work for those who use wall-mounted monitors and/or massive pull-down screens, but do your best. (A well-placed ladder could work wonders here.)

Secondly, prepare viewing lists for the first 2-to-3 years of the child's life. For home viewing, nothing on my list went beyond the release date of the mid-1960s and most were well before that date. Keep in mind that the list must be used as strictly as possible, but I do allow some leeway if the list is used as a springboard to show the child contemporary work inspired by the directors in question.

If, for example, you're going through a period where you're screening an abundance of Warner Brothers gangster films, I'd be delighted to hear that you also screened some select Martin Scorsese pictures for your toddler - notably Mean Streets and Goodfellas. My own child was especially enamoured with the latter title, so I screened it for her repeatedly, BUT made sure to ALWAYS sprinkle said screenings with palate-cleansers like White Heat, The Roaring Twenties, City For Conquest, Scarface (the Howard Hawks version, obviously) and The Public Enemy.

After screening THE PUBLIC ENEMY, it was especially delightful seeing the child at age 2, slicing a variety of citrus fruits and attempting, like Mr. Cagney, pictured above, to grind them into the face of her mother. You, like I, MUST gently chastise the child by saying, "Now, now, your Mommy isn't Mae Clarke."

At the end of the day, though, I always made sure that a good many of the films were silent and if they were "talkies", I favoured  those that were shot in monochrome (black and white for those of the uninitiated persuasion).

John Ford's HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY is a GREAT movie to show your children as early in their lives as you possibly can (and then repeat viewings every 6 months or so until they begin choosing it themselves as a movie to watch repeatedly). It's also a wonderful film to discuss composition, lighting and overall mise-en-scene with your kids since it might well be one of the most gorgeously photographed B&W movies ever made. Its cinematographer was the immortal 7-time Oscar nominee and 3-time Oscar winner Arthur Charles Miller.

The only colour films on this list (save for contemporary exceptions noted above) are choice classics photographed in original two-or-three-strip Technicolor.

David O. Selznick's GONE WITH THE WIND is a perfect movie to begin showing your child as early as possible. It's replete with one shot after another that will allow you to examine and explain to your child why real Technicolor was and still is better than any other colour film stock, but that sadly, this process was abandoned many years ago.

NEVER discriminate with respect to genre - musicals, drama, comedy, horror, western, romance, documentary, neorealism - all are fine so long as they stay within the aforementioned parameters. Remain true to your lists with only minor variants that are mere springboards from whatever is on them.


2. Broadcast Television in Moderation

If you must have broadcast television available, do NOT under any circumstance allow cable television in the home. Use rabbit ears ONLY and make sure you set the channel changer to only carry programming like Teletubbies. When the child is asleep, I highly recommend you fire up a dubie and view Teletubbies all by your lonesome - alone, mind you - no need to corrupt your child. Other people's miserable children will do a good job in the corruption department. (A constant challenge to the bearer of superior parenting skills.)


There really are only two acceptable broadcast choices:

(A.) TVO (educational TV in Ontario - if your province does not have educational TV, you lose and if you're American, PBS is not much of a substitute for the excellence and superiority of Canadian public EDUCATIONAL television, but it will have to do I'm afraid and if you're one of my ridiculously huge number of readers in Europe, I know most of you DO have excellent public broadcasting of all kinds).


(B.) CBC (in Canada, this is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, our national public television network - however, since my dear cousin Slawko Klymkiw stopped being the Head of Programming after he got an un-requested ass-fucking for the top-job, the programming became shittier and shittier due to - ahem - "visionaries" - so it's much harder these days, save for some exceptions, to recommend this option, and for my American readers, you're pretty much fucked and my European readers, you already know the score, so go for it).


Programming choices in Canada for the aforementioned can ONLY be early morning Children's programming, documentaries (preferably "nature" docs - others are fine, but kids fucking LOVE animals, go figure) and extremely select dramatic shows. Programming choices for Americans are nil, though PBS will do if you narrow the choices to nature and select British mystery series. And, uh, you Europeans can pretty much let anything play in your home that's on your publicly owned networks.

3. What movies can your nippers see

In movie theatres, take them to everything and anything (except contemporary Disney, though selective Pixar titles are fine). Screw babysitters. Children's admission prices are free up until two years old (but if you shove a baby bottle in the child's mouth and caution them to NEVER talk, you can stretch the freebies out until they're four years of age). Also, never buy anything at the cinema, just sneak in your own beverages and munchies and if you're really smart, it's not impossible to scope out free or reasonable parking. The myth of how much it could cost you to go to the movies is just that - a myth. 

Censorship is, of course, verboten.

That said, toddlers and pre-teens might be better off if you chose not to screen the following titles: 

Probably NOT a Good Idea 2 Show 2 Kids #1
Probably NOT a Good Idea 2 Show 2 Kids #2
Probably NOT a Good Idea 2 Show 2 Kids #3
Probably NOT a Good Idea 2 Show 2 Kids #4

4. Animation: To show or not to show?

Animation poses a special challenge since the bad stuff is REALLY awful, yet all little nippers love cartoons - they really, really do and most importantly you cannot leave animation out if your goal is to boost their cinema literacy. Well, don't fret. That's why I'm here, folks.

The following animation is acceptable for your child:

Anything by the Fleischer Brothers - includes Popeye, Betty Boop and their many one-offs, the Somewhere in Dreamland-styled Talkartoons

Anything by Jan Švankmajer
Anything by the Brothers Quay

Anything by Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli

Any Anime & Manga, but skip pictures involving demons with 20-foot-long penises chasing after pre-teen girls. Anime has tons of violent sexual imagery, so you might wish to pass on anything featuring rape. (For live-action drama - Deliverance and A Clockwork Orange are obvious exceptions to this rule. They're movies all kids must see!)

Anything from Warner Brothers - notably Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Yosemite Same, Tweety Bird, Pepe Le Pew, etc.

Anything by Brad Bird including The Incredibles and The Iron Giant

Anything by Art Clokey - GUMBY & POKEY, DAVEY & GOLIATH

Anything by Jay Ward - Rocky and Bullwinkle, Fractured FairyTales & Tennessee Tuxedo
Anything by Don Bluth, especially The Secret of NIMH, An American Tale & All Dogs Go To Heaven
Anything by Hanna-Barbera which is a really huge list, but it's often extremely entartaining and includes the likes of Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, Yakky Doodle, Huckleberry Hound, The Flinstones, The Jetsons, Birdman, Mighty Mightor, Jonny Quest and Scooby Doo, etc.
Anything by Rankin/Bass Productions
ALL Soviet animation
ALL National Film Board of Canada (NFB) 

5. The Disney Dilemma


Nothing from Walt Disney Studios (animated, live-action and made-for-television) made after Uncle Walt's tragic death in 1966 (unless he developed it in some fashion prior to said death) will enter your home.

Alas, by the time your child turns 5 or 6 and has been tainted by cinema illiterate children belonging to miscreants not of your station, you'll start getting requests for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, The Lion King, etc.

Do not fret.

If you're strict about the above, your progeny will have already had several years of seeing the VERY BEST Disney and what will happen once you taint them with Disney outside of the aforementioned parameters - is, very happily, something that happened with my daughter.

Every pre-Disney-death cartoon or live-action production that my daughter had seen (shorts, features, made-for-TV), she already watched over and over and over and over and yet, over again. Though she was excited to watch the post-Disney-death product, I noticed that she watched the offending titles once each and then - NEVER AGAIN. At one point, I asked my daughter is she minded if Dad took those films to a Used Record/Book store to sell them, she said: "Sure. I don't like them anyway." The only titles she wanted to keep were Lilo and Stitch and two Pixar items, The Incredibles ('natch) and Finding Nemo.

You see, she developed her own taste.

And Good God Damn!!! It was - and still is - fine taste too.

Over the years, I'd let her watch more and more contemporary stuff, but the only movies - animated or live action - that she re-screens and/or just plain loves are the best of the best.

More and more now, when we're watching movies at home, I'll ask her what kind of movie she feels like watching. Her usual response is, "Let's watch an old, movie, Dad." Just recently, I showed her The Postman Always Rings Twice starring John Garfield and Lana Turner.

She went nuts!

She not only loved the movie to bits, but she went on and on about how great John Garfield was.

"Do we have more movies with him?" she asked.

"You bet!" was my response.
You too can have a film literate child with exquisite taste. As you can see, it doesn't take much. A few days after her introduction to John Garfield, I showed her the brilliant article by Kim Morgan at Sunset Gun which focused upon Kim's own healthy, life-long devotion to Mr. Garfield. It was if the child had been Born Again. Someone else in the world - a very cool woman at that - described John Garfield in ways she clearly understood. If you're interested, feel free to read my daughters movie reviews at this site. Her review of Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" is HERE, her review of "Jaws" is HERE and her review of "Mirror Mirror" is HERE. 
During April of 2013, my 11-going-on-12-year-old has been invited to participate as an official member of the Toronto International Film Festival TIFF KIDS 2013 Awards Jury to select the Best Feature Film in the 11-13-year-old category.  She was one of a handful of children selected in a highly competitive contest for kids - based on her self-penned movie review.