Top Kanopy Films
by Dennis Campbell
With several thousand movies to choose from, Kanopy offers a selection of cinema that caters to everyone. Over the past few days I have scoured through the endless supply of films to try and narrow down what I feel are the best the service has to offer. While I feel these are the finest Kanopy has in stock, they are by no means the only classics they offer. So, without further delay, here are the top five films on Kanopy…in my opinion.
Lars von Trier returns for the second entry in his Depression Trilogy, which also features Antichrist and Nymphomaniac. This two-hour masterpiece follows two sisters, Justine (Kristen Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) as a rogue planet (Melancholia) makes its way for what will be a near pass of Earth. The film begins with Justine’s wedding reception, which she unfortunately arrives late to. Early on we are shown just how dysfunctional her family is, one of the main reasons shown is how they attack Justine for her depression and insist on her hiding it from others. The second half of the film is more geared towards Claire, and we meet her family learn more about the outer space threat. There really isn’t anything I do not like about this film. The acting is flawless, especially in the second half of the film. There is a scene between Justine and Claire where they are discussing the possibility of the end of the world, and you can just feel the emotion oozing off the screen. Of the three films in the Depression Trilogy, this easily has the best visuals. For about the first ten minutes of the film, there is no dialogue, just visuals and a haunting score. Since its release in 2011, Melancholia has been nominated for eighty-nine awards and has taken home thirty-five.
The Seventh Seal (1957)
This might be the most well-known movie on my list, or, at least it has the most famous scene. The Seventh Seal has always been one of my favorites, so much so that I return to it at least once a year. It tells the story of a disillusioned knight, Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), who along with his squire, have just returned to Denmark from fighting in the Crusades, only to find that it has been ravaged by the Bubonic Plague. Upon arriving home, Block is greeted by Death (Bengt Ekerot) and is informed that his time is up. However, being an avid Chess player, Block challenges Death to a game of Chess on the condition that if the game continues he cannot be harmed, and if he should win, Death will allow him to live. It is a slow, brooding and grim film that borders on nihilistic at times. The film opened to almost universal acclaim and was instrumental in turning Ingmar Bergman into a household name.
If you’re looking for anything Horror related on this list, this might be the closest thing to it. While it is far more of a Crime-Mystery film, it is still part Thriller. The film is about child serial killer who the police are having a hard time locating. After sending a taunting letter to the police, the investigation is thrown into overdrive and raids against the criminal underworld are done. This disrupts the crime flow so much that one of the heads of the underworld, the Safecracker, calls for a manhunt of their own. So, the race is then on to see who will catch the killer first, the police or the criminals. Or, will the killer get away entirely? Much like the second entry on this list, M, is directed by a world-renowned filmmaker and is considered a landmark film. This Fritz Lang production is his first sound film and is one of the few to hold a perfect 100% rating on Rottentomatoes.
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Just because this is the last film on my list does not mean it is any less great than those I’ve already listed. Bicycle Thieves takes place in post-World War II Rome, where the star of the film Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) is desperate to find work to support his wife and two children. Ricci is offered a job hanging up posters but is told he needs a bicycle. Unfortunately, the family does not have enough money for one, so they are forced to pawn their bed sheets to buy a model. As the title might suggest, the bike is stolen, and the remainder of the movie is Ricci’s quest to find the bike so will be able to care for his family. Ever since the film was released it has been held in high regard. Just four years after the film was released, the British Film Institute deemed it the greatest film of all-time in their 1952 filmmakers and critics poll.
Dennis Campbell is a Circulation Clerk at the Willowick Library.