Great Family Films on Kanopy

Submitted by CCCL_KaraS


Looking to expand your options for Family Movie Night? Try Kanopy!

Before the shelter in place orders were implemented, so many months ago, movie night was singular. It was always on Fridays, we always had pizza and we always made popcorn. It was our reward for making it through the week.

Some nights the kids could pick the movie, but increasingly, I brought home DVDs from the library for us to watch. My secret goal was to wean the kids off of cartoons and get them hooked on classics. My daughter was a convert from the first musical we watched and Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood won over my son. Soon they both were heard to sing songs from the Music Man, unprompted—and we were on our way!

Then the schools closed their doors. A few days later, the libraries went all digital. On my last day in the branch, I checked out a handful of DVDs to get us through what I thought would be three weeks of self isolation. I’d make it fun: we’d bake lots of cookies and watch lots of movies and before we knew it, things would be back to the way we knew.

You know how that story ends.

Faced with unknown weeks left of SIP, and having set a new precedent for multiple movie nights in a week, I turned to Kanopy where I discovered a wealth of great—mostly classic—films for our family movie nights. Here are five films I recommend, from my family to yours:

Jacques Tati’s Playtime   A wordless comedy of misadventures, featuring a traditional straight man antagonist caught in the labyrinth of modernity. Absurdities abound to delight the kids, as do creative wonders. Tati built the entire skyscraper city set for the film in the outskirts of Paris.

Steamboat Bill Jr.  Buster Keaton is a silent film star on par with Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd. He plays the son of a steamboat captain who falls in love with the daughter of a rival steamboat owner. When a cyclone rages, he proves himself a hero! The simple story line and physical comedy mastery of Keaton will delight kids of all ages.

The Last Laugh – Der Latze Mann  Hitchcock praised Murnau's 1924 film as "near perfect." High praise indeed! The film stars Emil Jannings as an aging doorman whose happiness crumbles when he is demoted to bathroom attendant. Kids will enjoy the physical acting, and parents will enjoy that through Jannings's colossal performance, the story becomes more than the plight of a single doorman, but a mournful dramatization of the frustration and anguish of the universal working class.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg  This is the film that launched Catherine Denevue to stardom. Kids and parents alike will be mesmerized by the kaleidoscope of colors and the lilting singing that stands in for dialogue. Parents will further enjoy the compelling and tragic romance story line. (Winner of the Palm d'Or at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival).

On the Way to School  The story of four students from different parts of the world that travel long distances to attend school. This film will allow kids to see themselves in the diverse array of children going to school in different circumstances, and can serve as a starting place for important conversations with your kids about race, nationality, and privilege. (Winner of Best Documentary Film at the Cesar Awards. Nominated for the Variety Piazza Grande Award at the Locarno International Film Festival. Nominated for Best European Film at the Goya Awards).