Our Favorite Films: A Tribute to 16 Years of Watching Movies with My Kids

Charlie Chaplin, Tramp, Modern Times
Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times”

My oldest son is leaving for college tomorrow. He is so ready for this and so psyched. I am not ready at all. I’m happy for him, of course, excited, proud—all of that. But ready? Not so much.

This may seem to have nothing to do with favorite movies, but bear with me.

In three years, when our youngest leaves home, my husband and I will experience the more monumental transition to empty-nestdom. But the shift from a foursome to a trio feels pretty dramatic in its own right, and I wanted to honor it in some way.

Some people are surprised to learn that such a bookish family watches so much television. Continue reading

Occupy Downton Abbey

"Highclere Castle", "Downton Abbey"
Highclere Castle, the setting for "Downton Abbey." Photo by JB+UK_Planet.

Last week I had the worst cold I’ve had in years, and spent several days curled up in bed with my laptop, streaming BBC miniseries and period films from Netflix.

I started with “Mrs. Brown,” the 1997 BBC Scotland production starring Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Billy Connolly as her devoted Scottish servant; moved on to two adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskell novels—“North and South” (2004) and “Wives and Daughters” (1999); then spent one sleepless night indulging in all seven episodes of the first season of “Downton Abbey,” the Julian Fellowes creation that follows the ups and downs of masters and servants on an English estate in the early 20th century.

It was great fun, of course—the language, the settings, the costumes, oh my!

But it was also sort of gross. Continue reading