The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation is a 2005 animated short film (28 minutes) written and directed by John Canemaker.
John Canemaker's real name is John Cannizzaro Jr., and the film is the history of his troubled relationship with his perpetually angry, cruel father, John Cannizzaro Sr. The film is framed as a conversation from beyond the grave, the elder Cannizzaro having died in 1995. The son (voiced by John Turturro) tells his father (voiced by Eli Wallach) about a dream that the son had the night his father died, in which he dreamed his father turned into the man in the moon. From there the movie recounts the life of John Sr., a laborer and World War II veteran who was busy emotionally (but apparently not physically) abusing his wife and two sons, when he wasn't selling bootleg liquor for the Mafia or conspiring to burn down hotels for the insurance.
- An Immigrant's Tale: The story of the elder Cannizzaro, subverted in part at least because he was actually born in the United States before his family went back to Italy when he was a child.
- Gray Rain of Depression: When the elder Cannizzaro goes to jail for setting fire to the hotel. (It turns out that the mob set fire to the hotel, although Cannizzaro knew about it.)
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Cannizzaro Sr.'s greatest fault, apparently, as he was just a big ball of rage all the time. In the film this is visually represented by the father turning into a rocket that launches.
- The Ken Burns Effect: Used repeatedly for the still pictures of the Cannizzaro family; sometimes also used with animated backgrounds.
- Lady Drunk: Apparently the melancholy fate of Mrs. Cannizzaro. It isn't dwelt on at length but the son mentions how his mother retreated into a solitary world of cigarettes and alcohol before she died in 1988.
- Line Boil: Seen with much of Canemaker's hand-drawn animation, especially in the early going.
- The Mafia: It turns out that the father was a low-level mob hoodlum. He trafficked in stolen goods in Italy, and in America he got sent to prison for a while for selling bootleg Prohibition gin for the mob. Then he went to Mafia racketeers to get the loan for his hotel bar, only to conspire with the mobsters to burn the hotel down when the bar didn't pan out.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: Turns out that neither the husband's Italian family nor the wife's Irish family are happy about their children marrying outside their ethnic group.
- The Man in the Moon: The film starts with the son telling his father about his dream the night the father died, about how his father turned into the man in the moon.
- Medium Blending: Mostly animated, but there are quite a few still pictures and home movies of the Cannizzaros as well.
- Pet the Dog: The elder Cannizzaro remembers how he made a drawing table for his son and helped the younger Cannizzaro get started in his career in animation. His son says yes, that's a good memory—but the bad memories are stronger.
- Stock Footage: Some brief stock clips of New York harbor and Little Italy to illustrate the father's return to the United States.