It will be less than 48 hours before the calendar page turns to 2019, the year in which the fabulously wealthy among us live in Off-World Colonies and Tyrell Corporation is developing its next phase of human-like androids known as Replicants. Aren't we all excited? ^ ^
This is a brief public service announcement for the visual media instructors and students. I would like to direct your attention toward two websites/apps, Kanopy and Hoopla. Both services operate like other streaming services such as Netflix, except that your membership is registered through library cards. They both stock an impressive number of feature films, TV shows, short films, documentaries and a huge number of audio-visual educational sources. The most important thing about them, of course, is that they are free. Yup, that's right, you don't have to pay for watching a movie at all, not even monthly membership fees.
The only catch is that, like libraries with books, you can "rent" motion pictures only a certain number of times in a given period. I have registered through them using my local library card with Berkeley Public Library. This entitles me to watch seven films per month. Seven per month might be a bit sparse as the main supply source of movies if you are a film addict like me, but I think it is just fine as a supplementary setup. You can also try it with the affiliation via UC Berkeley, although UC Davis currently does not allow it (I promise to inquire about this in the near future! This would surely benefit UCD students a lot).
Kanopy has recently received a high-profile coverage here and you can read the article to see how it compares to the paid streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. Hoopla allows you to have access to a ton of children's materials and e-books in addition to the movies. Both services are available through Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Play TV, so if you know how to wrangle these gadgets, you can easily watch your choices on the big screen TV, not just through computers.
I of course wouldn't recommend them to anyone without having browsed through the collection, and I can attest to the fact that their titles are quite impressive. They might be in essence library collections, but they do include many excellent, contemporaneous stuff, mainly, but not limited to, just the right kind of independent, local and/or award-winning titles that you might have missed from the local theaters.
For instance, Kanopy, which currently boasts about 4,000 titles, has a collection of the hot indie cinema distributed by A24, including Room, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Women Walks Ahead, and Moonlight, the winner of the 2017 Oscar Best Picture. Not surprisingly, the pedagogically useful contents in Asian Studies are curated with care. Typing in "Hiroshima," for instance, yielded such titles as John Junkerman's Hellfire: A Journey from Hiroshima, Tsuchimoto Noriaki's Hiroshima no Pika (an animated short based on the mural paintings of Maruki Toshi and Iri) and Hara Kazuo's ultra-disturbing Emperor's Naked Army Marches On. I also checked Korean cinema at Kanopy not expecting much, and to my surprise found a decent chunk of New Korean Cinema's genre titles-- the ones used to be released via Tartan Extreme Asia imprint, now the rights are apparently held by Kino Lorber-- the first three Whispering Corridors films, Save the Green Planet, Old Boy and Lady Vengeance.
For the more recent Korean titles, Hoopla has a relative advantage, allowing you to have access to, for instance, Along with the Gods (both Two Worlds and its sequel), The Villainess and Train to Busan. However, Hoopla is apparently still new and is obviously in the process of expanding its titles, so the number of selections is not huge at this juncture (checking the titles under "Asian Movies" by the way would miss out some Korean films, such as Cinderella and I Saw the Devil, which show up under "horror" and other generic categories). Meanwhile, their selections are greatly eclectic: their genre collections range from SF classics like Silent Running to Sharknado 5 (...) and Birdemic.
I hope both services would pay more attention in the new year to collecting more Asian titles, especially Korean and Japanese ones that tend to get buried amongst the rows of new release movies on the Amazon Prime or Netflix homepage. I might get back here to update specifically on the audio-visual quality of streaming, especially whether the (relatively) old genre titles are direct copies of the SD presentations, or updated HD versions.