Category Archives: we are family

Five Nightmares at Freddy’s

My son is obsessed with Five Nights at Freddy’s. He’s never played it. His older sister has never seen it. Boys in her class natter about it incessantly so through social osmosis he’s latched onto it, terrified. Someday* he’ll play it and wonder how it ate up so much sleep at the end of kindergarten.

We can’t talk it out. In his mind plain facts hunker down and shake. There is no solid ground when The Fear comes out, it touches everything. Freddy, like Chucky before him, is just a vessel**.

Freddy from Five Nights at Freddy'sIf the vessel can hold some of the general dark, I’m for it. Let Freddy hold as much as his sunken eyes can handle, as long as the air in my kids’ brain is clearer. Give the fear a place to rally so he can get more solid ground.

Maybe that’s horror at a tribal level, demons and witches sucking energy from pools of pain we dig around unpredictable things like jobs, sickness, rejection. The monster’s killed and we hope shotguns or sunlight works on personal demons too. Potential catharsis.

Some argue simulated catharsis unhelpfully medicate us — we’re too doped up on fantasy to face our own problems***. Maybe. Spending too long in worlds of carefully constructed narratives might lead us to oversimplify messy old Life, but spending zero time outside of messy old Life dulls down messy old Life.

At the bottom of all this is that I can’t control everything my kids see and what they’re scared of and I’m trying to make sense of it. I remember what it was like. I remember trading monster defense strategies with my friend (not play monsters – the ones really coming for you at night). And it burned off. I’m no longer afraid of the dark^, except its tendency to hide things like walls when I walk into them.

But for El Kindergartnero the Fear has kicked in. It needs something. If it wasn’t Freddy, maybe Slenderman. Scary robbers. Grease pens. The fear needs a vessel. All told, an aversion to life-size animatronic animals is specific and manageable. One building in town he doesn’t go to and he’s good, and that doesn’t break my heart any.

* Age 27, 28, somewhere in there.
** The 1988 horror movie doll has ground floor with k-6 kids in Boise.
*** Or bigger problems corporations or the government want us to look away from, like war, corruption, endless movie remakes.
^ Unless I just watched Jaws. None of this applies to Jaws.

The Oscars (Guest Post – Mary Aagard)

My amazingly bright wife, Mary Aagard, wrote a piece on the Oscars.

After all this broo-ha-ha about the 2015 Oscar nominations — I’ve been thinking about my own favorite movies. Those nominations has even spurred quite a fiery conversation with the purveyor of this here website/blog.

You see, I’m a film school graduate — or rather, a film school lite graduate — not that the school was bad, just the my own choices inside the major were scattered, they didn’t form a coherent base of knowledge and skills. At the end of my college career, I had started working in the university library as a student employee and I saw a future for me there, where I didn’t in filmmaking — hmmm, a library full of women, or Hollywood, full of men. It’s kind of funny to look back now, I could not have chosen two more opposite professions in terms of ratios of men and women in the field.

family watching movie on lawn
Sadly, not us.

I was going to write screenplays, with my incredible wit and conscience and biting dialogue — now that biting dialogue is used in working with student employees and telling patrons that yes, libraries are no longer silent spaces, but playing your guitar in the middle of the book stacks isn’t okay.

Also, I am a full-time employed mother of three small children. Movie going is kind of a pipe dream at this point. Is it sad or hopeful that I keep track of time by what movies are coming out, and then I never see them in the theater?

So back to favorite movies, yeah— I give myself cred for My Brilliant Career being my favorite movie — and it is truly my favorite — watch it, you’ll cry, you’ll feel for Sybylla and her struggle, the choice she chooses to make — it’s marvelous and horrible at the same time. I love Gillian Armstrong and love her movies but if I think of my favorite films, she is the only woman director in that list. I want to see more women represented in the Academy nominations — but I guess I need to do my part and watch movies by female directors (and screenwriters, producers, cinematographers…).

So what do award nominations and winners mean for any of us — for most of us, media is a hobby, a diversion, a moment of pleasure, a way to track time. Most of us aren’t industry insiders that will get better jobs, more prestigious scripts, better parts if films we work on are nominated for awards. This is just a spectator sport for the majority of us.

Besides the issues for diversity in filmmaking, let me see if I’ve seen any movies that have come out this past year are worth mentioning —

And of the nominees, as of this writing I’ve only seen:

  • Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Wild
  • Into the Woods
  • How to Train your Dragon 2
  • Maleficent
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Lego Movie
  • Begin Again
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Nightcrawler
  • Imitation Game

Other movies this year that I loved:

  • Belle
  • Chef
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • What If
  • Frank

I have only seen 2 of the best picture nominees — as much as I’d like to have a definitive opinion about movies that came out this year — I don’t. Every year I think I will have more time for going to the cinema and every year I don’t get to see everything I’d like to see. Soon enough my daughter will be old enough to accompany me on my cinema adventures and movie time can turn into bonding time. Will we still be complaining about the lack of diversity in award nominations?

Family Media Roundup March 24 2014

Journey of Natty Gann – Apparently this was required viewing in Idaho and Utah in the 80’s but I haven’t talk to too many other people who have seen it (and the IMDB poster/dvd cover looks out of focus, etc). Gal goes across the nation trying to find her dad who left for a job during the Great Depression. It’s not very sentimental for a Disney movie, it’s a bit slow for little ‘uns, has some swears, and a creeper scene that is played out well enough that if you didn’t know what it meant you wouldn’t know what it meant. I don’t know if that’s good or not. But it’s a solid movie, and my kids will probably never watch it again.

Sky High – not a drug movie despite the name. Throwback to 80’s teen movies, but made for families, with superhero theme thrown in. Funny and kept the kids’ attention. Cover songs of 80’s tunes were a nice tribute but made me wish it was the real songs. Nothing really scary or threatening. Kids have rewatched it once already.

What? My kids choose the light comedy high school superhero movie over the dramatic depression-era story of survival? Wait until they’re 20. They’ll BEG for artful movies showing the human spirit in adverse conditions. BEG.

Manly Movie Marathon: Will Be Continued…

That’s not a movie, Will Be Continued. I knew watching my three kids over the weekend would make it tough to get through very many movies. I got through one. By the time they were actually asleep I was either asleep or exhausted. And I couldn’t sleep in – my kids don’t sleep in. Except weekdays. Weekends they’re up early. Why. I don’t know.

I guess you could say my kids cut in to my marathon media watching. That sounds odd, but since I’ve had kids and have focused on them I haven’t wanted to watch media less, I’ve just had less time and I’ve wanted to make sure my kids eat and get to bed on time more. Decisions, decisions. In an ideal world I’d have time to spend with my kids and time to watch media every day. I’d slip out a side door where time freezes, watch a few movies, and come back in time to put them to bed. Alas. Even the movie I did see, In Bruges, I had to watch in a couple of halves.

Anyway I’ve got the list of movies. I’ll through them slowly.