Newly Added Kanopy Films- Top Five Picks

I’m still slowly working my way through re-watching all seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, having severely underestimated how many episodes there were in such a long running show! Luckily for me, I am in no rush. In addition to my comfort blanket of late 90s/early 2000s television, I’ve been watching plenty of movies as well (favorites of 2020 list to come soon!).

Kanopy, one of my favorite library resources, is always adding new films to their extensive catalog of streaming options so there is almost always something that catches my eye. Below you will find a round-up of my top five picks of newly added Kanopy films to watch this month.

Asako I & II

A mysterious and intoxicating pop romance, this film begins with Asako, a young woman who meets and falls madly in love with a drifter, Baku, who one day drifts right out of her life. Two years later, working in Tokyo, Asako sees Baku again or, rather, a young, solid businessman named Ryohei who bears a striking resemblance to her old flame. They begin building a happy life together until traces of Asako’s past start to resurface.

Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival.

Welcome to Me

I adore Kristen Wiig and this film casts her in the role of Alice Klieg, a young woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who wins the lottery. She quits her psychiatric meds and buys her own talk show and inspired by Oprah, she broadcasts her dirty laundry as both a form of exhibitionism and a platform to share her peculiar views on everything from nutrition to relationships to neutering pets. Also starring other fabulous actors such as Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, and Linda Cardellini.

Hari-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Revenge, honor and disgrace collide when a samurai’s request to commit ritual suicide leads to a tense showdown with his feudal lord. From cult auteur Takashi Miike, beautiful cinematography, awesome fight choreography, and a heart-wrenching plot all come together in this unpredictable film.

Nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Wild Nights with Emily

In the mid-19th century, Emily Dickinson is writing prolifically, baking gingerbread, and enjoying a passionate, lifelong romantic relationship with another woman, her friend and sister-in-law Susan…yes this is the iconic American poet, popularly thought to have been a recluse. Beloved comic Molly Shannon leads in this humorous yet bold reappraisal of Dickinson, informed by her private letters. A timely critique of how women’s history is rewritten and perhaps a closer depiction of Emily Dickinson’s real life than anything seen before.

Official Selection at the SXSW Film Festival.

The Lighthouse

Two lighthouse keepers, played by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, fight each other for survival and sanity on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s. From Robert Eggers, the visionary filmmaker behind the horror masterpiece (and one of my favorite films) The Witch.

Nominated for an Academy Award. Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.

What films have been your favorites so far this year? Do you have any stellar picks on Kanopy to share? Post in the comments! Happy viewing and stay safe out there readers.

Your Library Staff at Home- Must Watch Documentaries

Have you watched all the guilty pleasure reality television you can handle? Re-watched all of your favorite classic films? Caught up on all those Oscar-nominated movies that you missed? If you find yourself struggling to find great viewing at home, I’ve put together a list of five stellar documentaries that you can watch at home right now for free!

Faces Places

This utterly charming documentary was recommended to me a while back by Dori, our Adult Services Manager who always has a great film tip up her sleeve, and I finally got around to watching it last week. This delightful film follows 89-year old Agnes Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, and acclaimed 33 year-old French photographer and muralist JR in what is essentially a roadtrip movie through France. Winner of the Golden Eye at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Available through Kanopy.

13th

Netflix recently made a variety of educational documentaries available for free viewing on YouTube- you can view all of the free documentary offerings here. The amazing documentary 13th is one of these offerings and a definite must watch. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. This critically acclaimed film will leave you with much to think about.

Bombshell

Bombshell shares the inspiring story of Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr as she fled an oppressive marriage to create a name for herself as one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies in the 1940s. Viewers learn that behind the glamour and sex appeal was a very talented and inquisitive inventor who created a radio system that is now considered the basis of Bluetooth technology. Lamarr didn’t receive credit for this achievement but this film looks to give her recognition long past due. Available through Kanopy.

I Am Not Your Negro

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this Oscar-nominated documentary explores the continued peril America faces from institutionalized racism. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends–Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Sadly, the book wasn’t completed and consisted of only thirty pages at the time of Baldwin’s death. Filmmaker Raoul Peck utilizes archival footage and Baldwin’s own words to envision the book he never finished, providing an excellent introduction to Baldwin’s work and an intriguing look at racism in America. Available through Kanopy.

Geek Girls

Geek Girls looks at the “hidden half” of fan culture- women! Nerdy ladies open up about their personal experiences in the world of conventions, video games, and other pop culture circles that are burdened by widespread misogyny. While geek communities have recently risen to prominence, very little attention is paid to nerdy women. Filmmaker Gina Hara, struggling with her own geek identity, explores the issue with a cast of geeky women including a feminist geek blogger, a professional gamer, and a NASA engineer. Official selection of the Cleveland International Film Festival. Available through Kanopy.

I hope something sparks your interest from my list! Each and every one of these documentaries is thought-provoking and well worth a watch. I guarantee you will learn something too, which is always what I expect from a good documentary. What are some of your favorite documentaries? I’d love to hear your picks in the comments!

Happy viewing and stay well!

Your Library Staff at Home- Classic Films on Kanopy

We all have films that we’ve always meant to watch, or meant to re-watch, but never seemed to have the time. For me, many of the films I’ve hoped to give another viewing were new and old classics that I wanted to share with my husband, who is very much not a film buff but enthusiastically watches my picks on movie nights.

One of my favorite digital library resources and an amazing place to find classic films is Kanopy. Using your RRPL library card you can get access to an amazing array of films- typically you are allowed 7 “play credits” per month (once you press play on a video, you will automatically use 1 play credit and have 3 days to watch it as many times as you’d like.) To help us all get through these long days of social distancing, Kanopy is currently offering a variety of viewing that is credit-free! You can take a look at all of the credit-free choices available to you here.

So what are some of my top picks for classics on Kanopy right now? Below you will find my top 5 recommendations!

Suspiria (1977)

Image from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076786/

This suspenseful Italian classic from Dario Argento is a must-watch for any horror fan. Highly stylized, with an amazing soundtrack and inspiring color palette in nearly every scene, this interesting film follows American ballet dancer Suzy after she arrives in Germany to attend a prestigious ballet academy. Murder, secrets, and the supernatural abound, and she soon discovers the school is much more than it seems. If you saw the 2018 remake of this film (which I also recommend!) make sure to watch the original.

Modern Times (1936)

Image from https://www.criterion.com/films/27526-modern-times

I love Charlie Chaplin movies, and my all-time favorite of his is the romantic comedy City Lights, but Modern Times is a joy to watch and currently available on Kanopy! (Unfortunately, City Lights is not at the moment.) This comedic film was Chaplin’s last time playing the iconic Little Tramp and depicts him working as a factory employee who falls for a woman, while also sliding in some Great Depression commentary amidst the humor.

Beauty and the Beast (1946)

Image from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038348/

This beautiful French film from Jean Cocteau adapts the classic fairy tale story into a piece of cinematic wonder. We all know the story of a beautiful girl whose love saves the heart and soul of a wild but gentle beast, but the gorgeous cinematography and wonderful performances in this black-and-white version is one of the best adaptations and is a stand-out piece of fantasy film history.

Ikiru (1952)

Image from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044741/

I watched this film for the first time two years ago and was astonished by this touching work from the always impressive Akira Kurosawa. Viewers will follow Kanji, an aging bureaucrat who reassesses his life and priorities after he discovers he has stomach cancer and not much time left. Told in two parts, this movie examines the human condition and will surely leave you with much to contemplate.

Metropolis (1927)

Image from https://rrpl.kanopy.com/video/metropolis-0

Metropolis is a very famous and influential film and warrants at least one viewing no matter where your film interests lie because of it’s historical importance. The movie takes place in 2026 (just 6 years from now!) and is an amazing science fiction film that looks at a divided future in which workers and the wealthy enjoy wildly different lives. Still entertaining, thought provoking, and visually striking, this silent film will not disappoint.

I hope you enjoyed my top 5 classics on Kanopy and that something strikes your fancy! What are some of your favorite classic films? Have you been watching treasured movies you’ve seen many times over or are you using this time at home to watch all the newer movies you’ve missed in recent years? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments!

Thanks for stopping and stay well dear readers.