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Alan Yang: The 5 Greatest Movies About Family
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Alan Yang

Alan Yang was a writer and producer on Parks and Recreation, screenwriter behind Date and Switch, and co-creator of Master of None and Forever. His new film, Tigertail, comes to Netflix April 10 and is inspired by Alan's own family and heritage. Of approaching this list, he said, "I like a balance between classic films, Asian films, more modern ones and ones I've watched more recently. I've made so many people watch Yi Yi, it's crazy." Take a look at Alan's favorite movies about family.

Read our interview with Alan here.

Yi Yi

It was a huge inspiration and really impacted me when I watched it. What really struck me about it is the level of restraint. I think there's often a tendency in the western canon where, when you make a quote-unquote dramatic movie, it's incredibly dramatic. You know? There are fights, there are people crying, there's screaming. That's the western mode of storytelling. And if you watch "Yi Yi," it's incredibly powerful, it's incredibly moving, it changes dynamics. But it's told within a very restrained mode of expression. You're seeing moments in between moments, if that makes sense. At one point, there's a character who says, "We all need time to think." And the movie takes its time, and the movie is very patient in the way it lays out its characters and conflicts.

A City of Sadness

What's inspirational about this movie is that it's sprawling. It's a family movie, but it includes so many aspects of history and culture in it. It's showing not only the story of this family, but the story of Taiwan and the story of Taiwanese. The way it weaves those two narratives together is incredibly skillful. It's often considered the greatest Taiwanese film of all time. It's an epic film.

Late Spring
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Yasujirō Ozu is widely considered, if not the greatest filmmaker of all time, one of the greatest. And certainly, his mode of filmmaking is almost always inspired by family. "Tokyo Story" is one of the movies that people always mention, but "Late Spring" is an interesting one because it's specifically a father and daughter story. And, in many ways, "Tigertail" is also a father-daughter story. One of the things that's very interesting about Ozu is he often doesn't show you the scene that seems like the linchpin of the whole story. He shows you the before and after, and he allows the audience to put it together. That's an incredible lesson in putting together a movie, and figuring out what to show and what not to show.

The Squid and the Whale
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I saw this when it came out, and it was inspiring to me because it was so personal. It's an example of the truth in that what's most personal is most universal. If you look at Noah Baumbach's movies, it truly feels like the ones that he really dug the deepest on are the ones that became his masterpieces, and "The Squid and the Whale" is one of them. He digs into his own pain, and he’s not afraid to expose his vulnerabilities and tell the story of how he became who he is. There are some amazing moments in this movie, and amazing performances as well. All of the relationships in just feel really well-deserved and sort of accurate to Noah's personal life.

The Place Beyond the Pines
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It’s kind of a left-field pitch, but I think it's a little bit overlooked. "Blue Valentine" is another Derek Cianfrance movie that's amazing, but "Place Beyond the Pines" is an unusual family movie. What was really fascinating to me about it was the passage of time and the way — I don't want to spoil the movie, but — at a certain point, it just jumps generations. You think the movie's over and then another movie begins, essentially. I've always been fascinated by the passage of time and how it affects us. It's the one thing that we all have in common. No matter who you are, what race you are, what gender you are, what class you are, we all deal with past memories, past regrets, past loves. And it also shows how previous generations affect the current generation, and that was also something that we were grappling with in "Tigertail," so this movie is really, really a sleeper, man.

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