Thursday, October 22, 2015

Q&A with Suzette Valle (author of 101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up)


Today we have a Q&A session with Suzette Valle. She's the author of 101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up

1. Which movie on the list is your favorite and why? I simply don’t have just one favorite movie. This is like asking me if I have a favorite child -- it's impossible to choose! However, I have several films I have watched several times for different reasons: "The Lion King," "Star Wars," "Aladdin," "Pride and Prejudice," "Harry Potter," and "Iron Man" have top-shelf billing in my home.


2. With this kind of list, it's impossible to please everybody. Is there a movie that isn't on the list that several readers have asked about? I wondered about Cars. 
You're right! It is impossible to please everyone, especially with films since there's a broad selection to choose from, and one for every taste and personal preference. Narrowing the number of Pixar films in the book was a very difficult and time consuming task. Out of the 14 Pixar films released at the time the book went to print ("Inside Out" had not been released yet), only nine are in the book for various reasons. Though “Cars” is a fantastic film, it wasn’t considered Pixar’s best work at the time. This is the opinion of adults, of course, but I am sure kids (and some adults) think differently!

3. What resources did you use for research? How much fun was it going back and watching some of these movies? 
I researched lists of children's films that already exist: the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute, the British Film Institute, and the National Film Registry. Cross-referencing the movies on these lists helped me reduce it from thousands to hundreds of movies. I also consulted websites and books by film critics I respect like the late Roger Ebert, Leonard Maltin and Nell Minow (Movie Mom).

One film I re-watched as part of my research was "Shrek." That movie is a riot and a half, and was a lot of fun to catch things I had missed before like the jabs at Disney. But I also had to add movies to my collection of watched films. One of the best Sunday afternoons I spent watching movies as 'research' for this book was with my grown son Alex, 23, watching “The Hobbit” franchise. I had avoided getting caught up in the Peter Jackson-created worlds for a long time, but I had to see why these films had such a following. My son explained many of the details, and together with the research I had done already,  I was compelled to keep watching. We then dove into “The Lord of the Rings,” another franchise I had resisted watching. Realizing that these films were based on books by J. R. R. Tolkien published in 1937, I immediately regretted not having joined the buzz when these films were at the height of their popularity. I hope to inspire families to spend time with their own kids watching these fantastic fantasy films -- they are an incredible journey (pun!) to take from the comfort of your own home.

4. Are there any movies that you felt more positively or negatively towards as an adult than when you were a child?

Yes, and it was a tough call on some of these films. "Grease" is a great example of these mixed emotions about a movie. I watched this movie as an 18 year-old and loved it. In time, this movie has become a pop-culture classic watched by many pre-teens because it seems like just plain fun.  However, when I watched it again with my own kids when they were younger, I was surprised to realize there was quite a bit of racy stuff in this film that had gone over my head when I first watched it.

5. Kudos for including Bend It Like Beckham! More people should see this movie. Were there other "smaller' films on the list that you wanted to champion?

The foreign film section has some smaller films I really wanted to highlight because they open our eyes to other cultures' way of life. My daughter, a film student at NYU's Tisch School of The Arts, introduced me to "Children of Heaven." This film from Iran, in Farsi with subtitles, was an unexpected surprise for me when I saw it -- I immediately knew this one was worth watching. It is not the regular, sunny faire of American films. The story is at times bleak and may not appeal to the sense of escapism we expect from a film. But the story of two siblings sharing a single pair of shoes is touching and heartwarming.  

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