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Lockdown watch: Asif Kapadia on setting his kids Hitchcock essays | Film


In our house we’ve devised a democratic rota for movie viewing. Every night one of us – me, my wife and our children, who are 13 and nine – chooses a film for us all to watch. And every Thursday, we do the National Theatre Live (they’re still quoting One Man, Two Guvnors, but Treasure Island was a fail).

And it’s been really fun. For anyone lucky enough, like us, to not have to go out to work, who has a home and a garden and food, this can be weirdly nice family time. We were fortunate in already having lots of DVDs as well as Netflix and Amazon Prime I succumbed to Disney+ because of all the Pixar and Marvel movies.

Ant-Man was quite good; The Incredibles, Toy Story and Wall-E were brilliant. The youngest picked 101 Dalmatians and we’ve seen all of The Mandalorian. We went through a Spielberg phase – Jaws, the Indiana Jones films (in the wrong order). The film that went down really well was Inception; the next day we just listened to the soundtrack.

We watched Mad Max: Fury Road the other night, which was fantastic and is still crazy. I think everyone had strange dreams that night, our youngest has been trying to make some of the vehicles out of Lego.

The kids weren’t so keen on Harold Lloyd but they actually enjoyed the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera. We did fast-forward the songs, but one scene where they move all the furniture out of a room while being chased had us all crying with laughter.

It’s quite exciting showing them grown-up films we like. We’ve also done lots of Hitchcock: Rear Window, North by Northwest, The Birds, Vertigo. My wife will occasionally cover our youngest’s eyes if it’s too scary – The Birds was sometimes – and we turned off Rope after 10 minutes because my wife felt it was too disturbing.

It’s good to sit and discuss films properly, then set them homework for the next day – like an essay on how they felt watching this or that Hitchcock. It’s also a great age to introduce them to the concept of ratings, and discuss why one film might have got a 12A and the other a 15.

I’d never seen The Ladykillers, so it was terrific to catch up on that, and Once Upon a Time in the West was a big success. Now I’m thinking of showing them a Kurosawa film, then perhaps a short spaghetti western my wife and I made as students, if I can find a copy. Maybe one day they’ll watch The Warrior. We’ve discussed watching one of the movies I directed, but it seems like a waste of a choice.

One other thing we haven’t watched is disaster movies; I’d like to rewatch Contagion, but don’t think the children should. The other night I tried Wings of Desire. That really didn’t go well. You could see the kids’ minds were blown by the concept of angels hearing people’s thoughts, but it was a tad too mature. Still, at least it got everybody to bed early that evening.

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