Logging into Kanopy is like going to the coolest video store on the planet. You remember those, right? You’d walk in and the place was curated with a cineaste’s top picks. You were absolutely guaranteed a serendipitous encounter with the sublime, strange, or some combination therein. Kanopy allows anyone to catch anything: from contemporary hits & classics to documentaries, including The Great Courses (there are 3,124 courses from Learning Spanish to Music as a Mirror of History), to world cinema including classics by the likes of Fellini & Bergman, to obscure & wonderful Films Noir like Lured and Sudden Fear, to utter schlock that may shock…
But just in time for the holidays, Kanopy has something for you. And it’s all free!
From contemporary classics like We Need to Talk about Kevin to Christopher Nolan’s Memento, Kanopy stocks a wonderful collection of new movies. But last year’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople is really very special. The film is as wild as the title may suggest. From New Zealand and the director of the also-recommended vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows, Wilderpeople is the story of perpetual foster child Ricky Baker. Ricky has finally found his dream family…or the family that has the patience and kindness to handle this violent, clumsy, arson-prone problem child with a heart of gold. Unfortunately, his foster-mother quickly dies. Her husband, played by the great Sam Neill, goes walkabout to grieve her. Ricky runs away, but bumps into him in the process. They become fugitives, which is even crazier…and funnier than it sounds. Critics called it: “Deeply delightful,” “Infectiously entertaining adventure,” and “a deliciously good time.” If this sounds like what you’re hunting for, hunt no further than New Zealand’s biggest hit film of all time, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Echoes of Moonrise Kingdom and great buddy pictures abound. Watch it.
And I also mentioned Film Noir, everyone’s favorite Classical Hollywood genre (really a style) of film, so named by the French when our films flooded their country post-World War II. Because, well, they were really dark or black (as you’d imagine, noir is the French word for that). The cycle of films (roughly 1941-1959) are paranoid and filled with beautiful shadows, tough, fast-talking characters, and some of the wildest angles and deepest meaning of any American films you’ll see. The director of Lured, Douglas Sirk, is renowned for incredibly rich and evocative 50’s melodramas like Imitation of Life, but in 1947 he directed a young Lucille Ball as a dance hall girl in danger of falling prey to a serial killer on the foggy London streets. If Ball wasn’t enough, we also are treated to the suave George Sanders and the inimitable Boris Karloff as a crazed fashion designer. This lovely film is restored so you can enjoy what Entertainment Weekly calls “an atmospheric sensual pleasure.” And you can’t find it in any local library’s DVD collection…only on Kanopy!
If you’re dreaming of a…weird Christmas, you will want to check out our Christmas in Connecticut or Remember the Night DVD’s. Both are bizarre: they’re timely treats that are salty, yet sweet. But, why wait? Sidle over to Kanopy where you can stream the darkest, and perhaps strangest, of Christmas films. Alongside Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas is notorious as the first modern slasher film. It stands alone as the first “seasonal slasher,” arriving in 1974, four years before John Carpenter’s Halloween. But what I really like about the film is its inventive cinematography that helps to convey its utter creepiness. This psychological horror, rather than visceral terror (meaning: not much of a body count), is conveyed by the use of a special harness Bob Clark (who would later direct Christmas Story) devised and attached to the killer. We experience much of the film from the killer’s point of view, implicating us in his spine-chilling misdeeds. And don’t miss out on the killer performances! A young Margot Kidder is the cynical sister in this sorority alongside former Juliet (of 1968’s Romeo and Juliet fame) Olivia Hussey’s sweetly sentimental side. SCTV personality Andrea Martin and John Saxon also make appearances.
So, get over to Kanopy to experience the finest in streaming video content. All free! All you need is your library card!! What? Don’t have one of those? Just sign up at epls.org and start streaming great content right away!