By now, you've probably been stuck at home for about two months, and while you haven't exhausted your options on popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, maybe you've browsed through them enough that nothing's catching your eye.
If you haven't heard of it, Kanopy is a streaming service offered free to users holding certain library cards. (In metro Phoenix, this includes Chandler, Phoenix, Tempe, and Tolleson public libraries, along with Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, and the Maricopa County Community Colleges.)
Each library has a slightly different Kanopy selection and a different number of titles users can watch each month. (For Phoenix Public Library cardholders, it's 15.) Once you enter your account details for a participating library, you're free to start browsing. The good news for parents is that all of the programming listed under the Kanopy Kids banner has no monthly limit.
Kanopy is the best free repository of films from The Criterion Collection (it's got dozens), and there's plenty to choose from if you're into foreign films, indie films, and documentaries. It's also a great source of educational programs; there are a number of options from the Great Courses series as well as instructional videos on teaching, home improvement, music, and languages.
There are a number of titles on Kanopy that are also available on the more popular paid streaming services, but here are nine films to check out on Phoenix Public Library's Kanopy that you can't stream for free on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
Art House (2015)
Art House is perhaps the most calming film we've ever watched. The movie takes the viewer on a tour of the homes of 11 American artists, and although there are a few on-camera interviews in each segment, Freeman really lets the visuals do the talking. With slow tracking shots backed by a gentle classical score, Freeman examines the connection between artists' work and their living spaces. It's an interesting and soothing cinematic experience, but Art House makes our list because two of the homes are located in Arizona: Paolo Soleri's Cosanti in Paradise Valley and Michael Kahn and Leda Livant-Kahn's Eliphante art compound in Cornville.
Elstree 1976 (2015)
This documentary about Star Wars doesn't feature George Lucas; you won't find Carrie Fisher or Mark Hamill talking about their experience making the movie. Elstree 1976 showcases some of the actors who played crucial roles in the film but didn't parlay it into international stardom: Paul Blake, who played Greedo (who didn't shoot first); Jeremy Bulloch, who portrayed the bounty hunter Boba Fett; and David Prowse, the man inside the Darth Vader costume. It's certainly a film for serious Star Wars fans rather than casual ones, but it's a fascinating look at the peculiar brand of fame that comes with being a very small part of a worldwide phenomenon.
In these stressful and uncertain times, we've seen our consumption of cat videos on YouTube skyrocket. The endorphin rush that comes with watching cute animal content can be yours for a full 78 minutes in the form of Kedi, a documentary about the street cats of Istanbul. Besides gorgeous footage of the ancient Turkish city, you get cats. Cats fed by store owners. Cats doted on by passersby. Teeny-tiny kittens being syringe-fed by sailors down by the docks. The cuteness may make your heart explode, but the film is more than eye candy; it shows the cats as an integral part of the fabric of Istanbul society, a small but vital element of what makes the city what it is.
Lady Macbeth (2016)
2019 was a banner year for English actress Florence Pugh; she got on moviegoers' radar in a big way with roles in Midsommar and Little Women. But her breakout role came in 2016 with the dark costume drama Lady Macbeth. Pugh plays Katherine, a young woman sold into marriage to a cold, angry man many years her senior. When her husband leaves on an extended business trip, Katherine determines to live life the way she wants, regardless of the collateral damage. Pugh delivers a powerful, nuanced performance despite being only 20 at the time.
We shouted with joy when Parasite became the first non-English-language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture in February, but in truth, Korean filmmakers have been doing amazing work for a very long time. Case in point: Oldboy, a modern cult classic directed by Chan-wook Park. An engrossing and hyper-violent tale of revenge, it tells the story of a man imprisoned for 15 years by an anonymous captor. After he escapes, he's got a lot of scores to settle. (P.S. There's a 2013 American remake; do yourself a favor and skip it.)
Purple Noon (1960)
Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley has been adapted for theater, film, radio, and an upcoming limited series for Showtime, but our favorite version remains the French iteration, Purple Noon. Instead of Matt Damon's pasty awkwardness, we get a Tom Ripley portrayed by the handsome, chic French cinema icon Alain Delon in his first major role. The plot will be familiar to many — everyone's favorite social climber/expatriate/murderer kills his friend Dickie Greenleaf and tries to take over his life (including Dickie's fiancee, Marge) — but the authentic midcentury style, gorgeous cinematography, and strong performances make an old story (and an old movie) seem like something new and exciting.
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2017)
Raise your hand if you binge-watched Ryan Murphy's limited series Hollywood when it debuted on Netflix earlier this month. (Yeah, us too.) Ernie West, actor Dylan McDermott's handsome and enterprising "gas station" owner, was based on a real-life figure, Scotty Bowers, a Marine who came home from World War II, moved to California, and set up an escort service that yes, operated out of a Hollywood gas station. Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood is a juicy tell-all documentary that shows Bowers (who died last year at the age of 96) spilling the tea on some of the biggest names in movie history, as well as coming to terms with losses he's experienced and his declining health. (Note: If you thought Hollywood was explicit, it's got nothing on Scotty; be advised that it's got some really graphic content.)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Three reasons to watch The Seventh Seal: 1. The tale of Swedish peasants contending with the Black Death feels especially relatable these days. 2. It's a compelling and eerie masterpiece of world cinema by director Ingmar Bergman, and its influence is felt in the most unlikely places (looking at you, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey). 3. Its star, the legendary Max von Sydow, died this year at the age of 90. We can think of no better tribute than watching him in his greatest and most iconic movie role.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Back in 2014, What We Do in the Shadows wasn't yet a hit show on Hulu and Taika Waititi wasn't yet an Oscar winner and the director of Marvel blockbusters. The mockumentary that inspired the TV show was only Waititi's third feature film. He stars (along with Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement) as one of four vampire housemates who inexplicably have invited a camera crew to follow them and record their undead lives — lives that include bickering over household chores, trying to meet girls at clubs, and getting into street fights with werewolves. The understated silliness that shows up in Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit is on full display here.
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