If you’re between the ages of 7 and 90, you have no doubt spent a decent percentage of your life scrolling through movie and TV options on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Without even thinking about it, you grab the remote (or mouse, or Xbox controller) and start mindlessly skimming your way through an ocean of familiar titles and categories, before ultimately settling on The Departed for the fiftieth time.
Well, there's another option to spice up your entertainment selection-actually, two-and you've already paid for them with your tax dollars. Yes, it turns out there are amazing streaming services you can access using a library membership.
You remember the library, right? That place with the weird smell, where you go to roam around and just take stuff home with you? Let me introduce you to Kanopy and Hoopla Digital, two streaming services, totally ad-free, that don’t just make you feel like you’re borrowing from the library, they make you feel like you’re stealing.
Both can be accessed on Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Fire TV, your computer, and your smartphone, and unlike the actual library, everything is always available-anytime, anywhere. This is the America that the Founders intended!
Kanopy: Your Ticket to the Classics
Kanopy doesn’t force you to watch trailers while you scroll, and it doesn't automatically roll you into more content after you finish something. Truthfully, it doesn’t give a shit if you use the service or not. It's the digital equivalent of the college town video store, where the surly owner won’t notice you come in, but if you ask for help he will blow your mind.
First, it's loaded up with the Criterion Collection. Kurosawa, Bergman, Fellini, Chaplin-all the filmmakers you always claim you love at parties, but now you can actually watch their stuff. A24 also puts their films on there, which means you get recent releases too, like The Disaster Artist, Eighth Grade, and First Reformed.
Kanopy is great at categorizing, with fun movie groupings like “Directorial Debuts,” “Must-See Classic Films,” “NY Times Critics’ Picks,” and “Cast of Thrones,” which has movies featuring actors from Game of Thrones, in case you ever wanted to see Ramsay Bolton mess with the Nazis or Melisandre as a cat that transforms into a human in a small Dutch town (you do).
Hoopla Digital: Movies, TV, Books, and More
Like Kanopy, Hoopla Digital comes out of the gate with refreshing movie categories like “Cult Classics,” “Directed by Women,” “Based on a True Story,” and “Art House: French Cinema.”
And only a streaming service that isn't afraid of Hollywood would explicitly have a Miramax category. If you’re unfamiliar, Miramax was the company that produced or distributed Rounders, Trainspotting, Sling Blade, and No Country for Old Men. Nothing there for you? Fine, how about Shakespeare in Love, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Good Will Hunting, Amélie, or Chocolat? And that’s all one category where I still haven’t mentioned Scream, Scary Movie, Clerks, or any of the many Jackie Chan movies.
Did Miramax used to be owned by the Weinsteins? Yes. Will they get a dime if you watch these movies here? Nope!
And if you’re the “I pay for streaming services to babysit my child” type, no worries, because Hoopla is loaded with Disney movies. Which Disney movies? Close your eyes and imagine going into the video store as a kid, when you’d stroll over to that wall of puffy, squishy, slightly sticky VHS boxes. That’s them! Treasure Island, Babes in Toyland, Swiss Family Robinson, Flight of the Navigator. Basically anything you watched with your parents for “movie night,” and two-thirds of Don Knotts’ career.
To understand Hoopla’s TV offerings, all you need to know is that Agatha Christie and Jillian Michaels both have their own categories. You’ll definitely pick up the library vibe, but that will feel like a Dickensian Christmas miracle to anyone who has thought about British streaming offerings like Acorn or Britbox, but can’t stomach paying another monthly fee or having to fully accept that you’re turning into your parents.
So what's the catch?
Well, for one, you're only allowed six rentals a month on Kanopy, and eight a month on Hoopla Digital. So choose carefully. Or don’t! You've allegedly got over half-a-million viewing options between the two platforms, and you're not paying for any of them.
There is a chance that your local library system does not participate with one of these streamers, in which case politely tell them to put your tax dollars to work and get onboard. For everyone else, if you don’t already have a card, go to a library, take five minutes to sign up, and you’ll be the only person on your block who can stream Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure for free in no time.
Asking someone to “Hoopla Digital and chill” might not sound that smooth, but at least it’s guaranteed to work on a budget.
('You Might Also Like',)