Category Archives: DVDs

July 4, 2015

Being a Brit living in the US, I’ve never really felt excited about July 4th as a holiday. It’s a bit hard to celebrate American Independence from the controlling “bad guy” culture, the United Kingdom, when you’re from that culture. Luckily, our two nations are best of friends now, but still, it’s a wee bit awkward. Furthermore, July 4th is traditionally a day of intense patriotism, and I’ve never been an intensely patriotic person, having been born in India to a Persian mother and Scottish father, brought up in Scotland, Canada and England, then having studied Japanese and lived in Japan, and now here I am  in the US. During the World Cup or Olympics, there’s no one team I can whole-heartedly support. Fortunately, I guess, July 4th falls during summer vacation here and I have often been traveling during the holiday so have avoided having any awkwardness. In fact, a couple of years ago, my husband David, son Theo and I were visiting my father in Cambridge on July 4th and when we were shopping that day, Theo insisted on buying a Union Jack flag and waving it around as we walked through Cambridge. I had to giggle. He had no idea why.

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April 26, 2015

My husband David loves movies. Whenever he has a chance he catches a movie at the theater or watches one at home, the latter usually, but not always, with Theo and me. He shares this love of film with his father, Steve, and whenever we get together with Steve, a part of their conversation is always devoted to the latest films they have seen. I am rarely a part of that conversation, mostly because I see so few films, but more likely because they were both born and raised in Los Angeles, so a love of film is part of their cultural heritage. Watching films and talking about films is a something dear to both of them and is a strong bond between them, one that will likely continue to the next generation as Theo, also born and raised in Los Angeles, grows a love of movies too.

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Today we met up with Steve for lunch. We hadn’t seen him for a couple of months because he had also been under the weather. He’d been battling with pneumonia but has thankfully recovered. In his mid eighties now, Steve is one of the most active and engaged people I know, keeping himself busy with exercise, classes as his local community college, following politics, reading, the theater, and of course, movies. He’s also a very loving grandpa to Theo and a sweet, caring father-in-law to me, always sending me Happy Mother’s Day cards, birthday cards, and taking me out every year for my birthday for a special lunch that has become our own little annual tradition. Since we first met, Steve has been welcoming, thoughtful and generous to me, and over the years, we have truly come to consider each other family, a precious gift to me as I rarely see my own father, who I love dearly but who lives thousands of miles away in England. Today, David and I gave Steve three DVDs that we had recently enjoyed watching as a family – the classic The Great Escape, the heart-warming New Zealand film The Whale Rider, and the Jim Carrey film The Majestic. The last film in particular was one that I thought he’d enjoy, as it’s a tenderly made film about Hollywood, movies, memory, politics, love and loss. Most importantly, I realized today, it’s about finding oneself, one’s purpose and one’s family sometimes very far away from one’s starting point, something I can relate to and which he has helped me to do here.

March 12, 2015

Today I discovered a great way to give away. Like many people, we have shelves full of DVDs of movies we’ve enjoyed and are holding onto just in case we want to want to watch them again. It is certainly nice to have a library of one’s favorite films, and my husband, David, a real lover of films, has been working hard to build a collection of his most beloved movies. However, we also have a shelf full of kids’ films, mostly animation but some live action, that we have bought over the years (usually at yard sales) to watch with our son Theo. Although some of them are real treasures – especially anything from Aardman Animation, Studio Ghibli and Pixar – many are films we probably won’t watch again, and if we want to, we always have Netflix. So what to do with all the DVDs we don’t need?

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In 2002, four sisters in Los Angeles had a similar realization about their shelves full of DVDs. At the time, they had a young friend who was being treated in hospital for leukemia, and they learned that being able to watch movies helps many children in hospital cope with the fear, discomfort and tedium of long hours alone in hospital. They established a non-profit called Kid Flicks and collected mini libraries of 100 DVDs each to donate to children’s hospitals and the pediatric wings of larger hospitals. They started in Los Angeles with a few local hospitals and gradually expanded their reach across the country. Thirteen years later, as of February 17, 2015, Kid Flicks (www.kidflicks.org) has collected and donated 86,300 movies to over 830 hospitals throughout the United States and South Africa. As soon as I discovered this organization, I pulled a few DVDs off our shelf, stuffed them in an envelope and sent them off to the Los Angeles-based headquarters of this wonderful non-profit organization. Years ago both my mother and my younger brother spent many weeks and months in hospital being treated for leukemia. If the tiny act of mailing my underused DVDs to this non-profit can help ease the suffering and loneliness of children struggling with such illnesses, I have a feeling that this will be the first of many packages I’ll be sending their way.