This week's family streaming picksApril 1, 2020 9:46am

March 31-- There's no time like now to start your child's education in classic film. That's where streaming service The Criterion Channel comes in. See how many titles they can watch during the 14-day free trial, or make classic film exploration a part of life for $10.99/month. If they write up their reactions to each film, soon you'll have a budding film critic on your hands (beware!).

Start with the early silent legends: Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd. Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" and "A Dog's Life," featuring his The Tramp character, demonstrate his uniquely expressive performance style and ability to both entertain and evoke poignancy in these comedies laced with social commentary. Lloyd's "Safety Last!" is one of the first examples of action filmmaking and incredible stunt work, pushing the budding capabilities of the new medium of cinema to the limit for a film that's tremendously entertaining and exciting.

A good entry point for international cinema could be the slapstick physical and visual humor of Jacques Tati's "Mr. Hulot's Holiday." Hulot also features in Tati's "Playtime," but "Holiday" is much more accessibly humorous for a younger audience.

"The Adventures of Prince Achmed" is considered to be the first animated film ever made, created by Lotte Reiniger in Germany in 1926 and inspired by "One Thousand and One Nights." Afterward, a fun project could be to have the kids make their own cutout animated films. Make it a double with the 1940 fantasy adventure film "The Thief of Bagdad," a groundbreaking work in visual effects also inspired by "One Thousand and One Nights," and a triple feature with the 1942 version of "The Jungle Book," in which "Bagdad" star Sabu plays Mowgli.

Don't forget the music lessons! The Beatles' film "A Hard Day's Night," a lightly fictionalized "day in the life" of the lads from Liverpool during the height of Beatlemania, is an all-ages pleaser. Continuing education in rock history can be found with D.A. Pennebaker's documentary "Monterey Pop," about the 1967 Monterey Pop festival.

For tweens and teens interested in mysteries and/or musicals, give them a taste of their first Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot with "Murder on the Orient Express," and Alfred Hitchcock's incredibly entertaining "The Lady Vanishes," one of his early British films (these two make a great "mystery on a train" twofer for the whole family). Jaques Demy's colorful and romantic French musical "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" could make any teen girl swoon, and his musical fairy tale, "Donkey Skin," also starring Catherine Deneuve, is available too.

And if anything, you can put the kids in front of a retro Godzilla marathon and call it an education in classic pop culture, with "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla," "Godzilla vs. Megalon," "Terror of Mechagodzilla," "Son of Godzilla," "Mothra Vs. Godzilla," "Godzilla Raids Again," "Godzilla, King of the Monsters," and more available to stream. Hey, it's on the Criterion Channel, it's gotta be worth watching.


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