Wednesday Movie Conversations

Too many weeks back (I’m embarrassed to admit), I was asked to talk about how our family talks about movies when we watch them.

There’s always the usual:

“Scoot over, I want the corner with the pillow”

and the ever present

“Hey I was holding the ‘click’ first!” (click=remote control)

But once we’ve settled seating disputes and have conferred the privilege of the click on the most deserving, we hit the play button and watch the movie du jour. Movies are great for unpacking plot, theme, characterization, and setting all within two hours. You just want to ask a few well-chosen questions.

First of all, don’t turn movie viewing into a school moment. That doesn’t work. Instead, watch the movie to enjoy it. That has to be primary. Feel free to critique stuff but don’t let your critique get in the way of enjoying it.

These are some of the questions that sort of erupt from me when we watch a movie:

What do you think is going to happen next?

Wasn’t she in…..? I like her better in this. What about you? I like her here because…. I didn’t like her in that because….

Stop the movie. Let’s guess how the story is going to end. (*everyone suggests possible endings including our favorite funny one: the helicopter comes and rescues, assaults, crashes or defends… whomever we want to save or villify*)

Why does it make sense that the story could end that way? (At this, many will cite other movies of similar story lines, will ID the movie as comedy or tragedy, will guess based on “foreshadowed” lines in the story.)

At this point, you can even point out those foreshadowing moments (if you recognize them). Usually foreshadowing in a movie is conveyed by lines of dialog or the mood created by the style of filming. Musical score can also foreshadow.

ID the climax. See if you can recognize the moment on which the resolution of the story hinges. That’s the climax. In most movies, it comes towards the end and it’s the point of no return. After the climax, either the boy gets the girl or he doesn’t, Dorothy is either going home or will be stuck in Oz forever.

How does the setting help you know what kind of movie this is? The setting will establish things like fantasy or realism, comedy or tragedy, romance or epic battle. Talk about how the film maker uses the setting to heighten suspense or to create a feeling a safety. You’ll look at lighting, the close ups of the face or the big panoramic vision of the landscape and then ask yourself how these contribute to the overall mood of the story.

These questions ought to be enough to get you started. This summer, for June and July Slingshot Companion subscribers, we’re going to offer movie discussions. Six movies in eight weeks. Jon (hubster) will lead these discussions and we’ll post the movie list sometime in the next week.

So if your kids need something fun to do that still gives them credits for English, enjoying films with my husband Jon is the ticket. You don’t have to have been enrolled in the Slingshot Companion to join up just for those two months either.

And the best thing, of course, is that Jon won’t be holding the “click” at your house. That means your kids can watch the films unabated without having him stop them every ten minutes for a mini-discussion of foreshadowing and fulfillment. All discussion will take place on the private forum.

I’m opening comments so that you can recommend movies you’d like to see discussed! Or recommend movies you have enjoyed with your family. Or add questions that help us enjoy movies with our kids.

4 Responses to “Wednesday Movie Conversations”

  1. Renee says:

    Julie, thanks so much for posting these ideas. We will definitely use them. At our house, it’s only ds and dh who argue over the click, both staunchly maintaining that the other doesn’t know how to work it properly.

    Will the summer movie discussion be aimed at highschoolers? If so, is there any chance you folks might do one for the younger set? I have a ds9, who I would really enjoy this.

    Thanks for all the great ideas.

  2. Julie Bogart says:

    Hi Renee.

    The summer SC will be aimed at high schoolers but I like hearing that younger ones might be interested in a similar format. Might do that with the Arrow and open the Arrow up for discussion for those two months.

    I’ll percolate on your idea and get back to you! 🙂


  3. Jo says:

    Hi Julie,
    We have been getting into the movies on a weekly basis this term, and we all enjoy it. These questions that you have posted will certainly help, but I think we have been along the right track.

    A great movie that is rather surreal that we watched lately was ‘Nothing’, sorry can’t remember who was in it, or who directed, but certainly would be a great one for discussion.


  4. Kika says:

    My son loves analyzing (dissecting) movies. It is somewhat challenging to find movies for us all to watch together with girls aged (almost)five and ten and then my son who is almost 14. Our homeschool skating will come to an end in March and then I think we might fill that space with “Movie Mondays” for a time. My kids will think I’ve lost my mind. Tee!Hee!Hee! Can’t wait:)