HANK’S RECOMMENDATIONS, 09/11/12

Mike Wheatley, our longest-standing staff member, has been producing and moderating bi-weekly Sunday Kid’s Matinees in our Performance Space behind our coffee bar. The venues have been full and it’s been great to hear kids laughing their heads off at films they otherwise probably wouldn’t watch: animation by Chuck Jones and the Fleischer Brothers, Laurel and Hardy and other stars of slapstick, Albert Lamorisse’s THE RED BALLOON. The events are for “kids of all ages,” so there are plenty of adults in the audience who are no doubt recollecting their own first encounters with such great entertainments.

Here’s a movie I’m hoping Mike will one day feature: it’s one of my all time favorites. It’s memorably entertaining and has – as with most good science fiction – more than a touch of profundity.

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN — This is a film whose title seems jokey (indeed, it inspired a funny parody in THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN, with Lily Tomlin), but in fact offers one of science fiction’s most thought provoking stories and masterfully written scripts.

Robert Scott Carey, a nice average guy in a happy suburban marriage, is enjoying a day off on his pleasure boat when he is enveloped by a mysterious radioactive cloud (this film was made in the cautionary 50s) that soon after causes him to begin to shrink. Over a short period of time his clothes no longer fit, his marriage ring falls off. Eventually he becomes the sensation of newspaper headlines and winds up living in a dollhouse in constant fear of the prowling house cat.

The only thing that grows is his own alienation and sense of personal tragedy. As he continues to shrink and the film moves toward its non-Hollywood mystical ending, we are treated to both poignant dramatic scenes and clever and amusing special effects: his encounter with a beautiful circus midget, his battle with a “giant” spider for a crumb of bread, the ever larger household props (chairs, pencil, match box in which he sleeps) that ultimately envelop his ever diminutive form. This movie, ultimately about the value of things however small and “insignificant”—s perfect for kids of all ages from six or seven on up and will doubtless continue to haunt them as they grow up.