The Mobile Public Library has a terrific free streaming resource available for anyone with a library card and if you don’t have a library card, you can call and get one over the phone so you can download Hoopla, a streaming app with music, audiobooks, e-books and movies. I started browsing the catalog to throw together a list of my recommendations, and there were so many good choices that I got completely carried away. Dozens jumped out at me just from browsing, so if you’ve watched everything else, or even if you haven’t, Hoopla is your next free stop.
“The Station Agent” (2003): One of the first movies I ever reviewed for Lagniappe, and still one of my all-time favorite small films, this is a sad but sweet movie starring Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale and Patricia Clarkson. Dinklage is a shy, isolated train enthusiast who comes to live in a small town after he inherits property there, and his extremely specific personality finds a rare match with the bitter, grieving Clarkson, while Cannavale is just the most winning character you’ve ever seen.
“Strictly Ballroom” (1993): If you like Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge,” you will appreciate this heartfelt comedy about a family of ballroom dancers in Australia. It is the first of Luhrmann’s “Red Curtain Trilogy.”
“The Night We Never Met” (1993): Continuing down the lane of extremely specific comedies made in 1993 that possibly only me and my best friend from 1993 even like, this is a comedy starring Matthew Broderick and Annabella Sciorra as two people renting a West Village apartment from a third person, sharing it on alternate nights. This makes me think of New York City, the aforementioned best friend, and the fact that we both eventually moved there and one of us (not me) starred in a Broadway play with Broderick. The broader appeal of this film remains to be seen I guess — shoot me an email and let me know why.
“Swingers” (1996): How many years has it been since you’ve seen “Swingers?” And who knew Jon Favreau would go on to create some of the most successful movies of our time? And how come Vince Vaughn has yet to show up in a single Marvel movie? Do you think he resents it? Undoubtedly, right?
“A Man Called Ove” (2015): This is a solid, feel-good choice for what my 8-year-old refers to as “these troubled times.” A cranky man keeps postponing his suicide because chores around his neighborhood keep preventing him from ending his life. It’s sweet, Swedish and you can read the book, too.
“Impromptu” (1991): This is probably my mom’s favorite movie. It is about the writer George Sand (Judy Davis), a lady writer who uses a man’s name to publish and generally lives a hedonistic, artistic and wild life. She falls in love with Frederic Chopin (Hugh Grant) and seduces him even though he is prim and sickly, and they have romantic picnics and other creative adventures accompanied by some other great actors such as Mandy Patinkin, Julian Sands, Bernadette Peters and Emma Thompson. This is a pretty deep cut, but man cannot live on that gross tiger thing alone.
“What We Do in the Shadows” (2014): This is a ludicrous vampire comedy directed by Taika Waititi. There’s also a TV series on FX now that is pretty great. The movie stars Jemaine Clement and is in an extremely silly vein that will definitely not appeal to everyone. This is one of those comedies that I don’t blame you for not liking — I just happen to. Now, the movies that I WILL blame you for not liking? Another topic for another day.
“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (2016): Now this is a Taika Waititi comedy that is for everyone. It’s a warm, delightful, even family-friendly comedy that you, your mom, her mom and your kids will like, and falls into the never-more-important category of movies you can watch with anyone you’re hunkering down with. It’s about an adorable little foster kid and how he comes to live with Sam Neill.
“Ghost World” (2001): A low-key masterpiece by Terry Zwigoff, based off of the Daniel Clowes comic. It stars Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson as disaffected, recent high school graduates and their various misadventures, particularly with a heartbreaking Steve Buscemi.
“Heart Beats Loud” (2018): Here’s one from this millennium. Nick Offerman is incredibly loveable as a record store-owning dad to a talented, equally loveable daughter (Kiersey Clemons). Heartwarming and easy to enjoy.
“Where the Buffalo Roam” (1980): Bill Murray plays Hunter S Thompson and Peter Boyle co-stars. You should see it at least once.
“Drinking Buddies” (2013): Olivia WIlde and Jake Johnson star as best friends who might like each other and who work together at a craft brewery. A romantic comedy that’s rather brittle and not sappy, it feels fairly realistic in that most of the lines were improvised.
“Welcome to Me” (2014): Kristen Wiig plays a mentally unstable woman who wins the lottery and uses the money to host her own bizarre talk show.
“The Little Hours” (2017): This is definitely not safe to watch across multiple generations; it is profane and seriously absurd. An ensemble cast of comedic actors like John C. Reilly, Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie give hilarious deadpan performances of the medieval misadventures and unique struggles of a bunch of discontented nuns. There is almost nonstop language and sex, so be warned/excited.
“The End of the Tour” (2015): Jason Segel plays the late author David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg plays the Rolling Stone journalist interviewing him. It’s a quiet, interesting film to check out if you haven’t yet.
This highly personal, completely random, heavy on the early 1990s list is just a fraction of what’s on Hoopla. Obviously, this is not where you go to see brand-new movies, but a great place to browse in your ample free time. They seemingly have every Miramax movie, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, some good old musicals — you just have to look around and you will probably find some movie you forgot you loved.
Visit mplonline.org to download Hoopla.
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