Sometime last fall, one of my Mom’s friends told us about something relatively new at our local library, where you can sign up for the streaming services Kanopy and Hoopla, with your library card, and watch five movies free each month, on each service. One has more television shows (especially from Acorn TV), and the other has more art films, foreign movies, and documentaries. I don’t have Hulu or Netflix or Amazon, because they cost money, and my cable bill is already prohibitive. So I signed up for Kanopy and Hoopla right away, even though I wasn’t sure if these services would have anything of real interest to me. And then I spent hours scrolling through the options, and dropping dozens of movies and TV shows onto my watchlists. There are tons of television shows from outside of the United States on Hoopla that I’d never seen, and videos on psychological topics, and all kinds of music and history shows. Then, on Kanopy, I found a trove of movies from Israel, and the rest of the Middle East, some in Hebrew, some in English, and all new to me.
Of course, I started out with the TV shows, lots of mysteries set in Dublin and Australia and New Zealand and England. I watched on my phone while I was on the semi-recumbent bike, because each episode was the perfect length for an exercise session. There’s a show called No Offence that is absolutely addictive; a British police drama with a sense of humor and a uniquely female sensibility, including three female leads. American TV shows tend to run in seasons of twenty-two episodes, so the realization that each season of this show only had seven or eight episode was heartbreaking. But I made up for it by watching a lot of different shows.
And then I pushed myself to watch the documentaries; some of it was hard to watch, and some of it challenged my prejudices, but all of it seemed to be expanding the world I could feel comfortable in, bit by bit.
There was a documentary about Autistic kids in New Jersey, on a Special Olympics swim team, and one about a high school for the Arts in Los Angeles, and then seniors in a Jewish nursing home, and training a guide dog in Japan. It took a while for me to be willing to watch the Israel-related movies, because I was worried about what I’d find. The most difficult for me to watch, months along in the journey, was called The Settlers, about the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish settlers in the West Bank. I knew about the settlements. I knew that Orthodox Jews had started to move into the occupied territories after the 1967 war, when Israel captured land from the surrounding countries, including the West Bank territories from Jordan, but I didn’t know how much violence was involved. I didn’t know how terrible the rhetoric was. It was extremely painful to see and hear terrorist ramblings from my own people; from people I could have gone to school with, or prayed with.
This documentary was aimed at Jews, like me, who don’t know enough about the settlements and the settlers. It is not a balanced view of the overall situation in Israel, because it assumes you already have that information from other sources. It helped that before I watched The Settlers, I watched a documentary about the kibbutz movement in Israel – a utopian social experiment that helped to create the country, but has largely fizzled out, though some kibbutzim are still trying to adapt to the modern state of Israel. And then another documentary about Modern Orthodox teenagers form America spending a post high school year in Israel.
I feel like my headspace is widening with all of these shows from other countries, making me feel less isolated in my own world. TV has always been my way of researching the human condition, because I found it so hard to understand the people I saw in person as a kid. I couldn’t figure out what was going on in their heads, or in their lives, but people on TV told me so much more about themselves and their lives. Watching on a tiny screen doesn’t really change that feeling of openness, except that now I have access to even more people and even more worlds I’d never otherwise see.
I can’t promise that I will watch every difficult movie on my Watchlist, because there are too many to choose from, but I feel stronger for making the effort. Now if only they had a category for movies about dogs, or better yet, starring dogs. Cricket and Ellie would love to meet some Irish Wolfhounds, or French poodles, or Australian shepherds with authentic accents. Cricket used to have an English Bulldog friend named Rupert, but he had a distinctly American bark, and that was disappointing.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl. And if you feel called to write a review of the book on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.
Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish girl on Long Island named Izzy (short for Isabel). Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes that it’s true. Izzy’s father decides to send her to an Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain, smart, funny, and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment.
We actually have a channel on our cable called Dog TV. Our dog has no interest in it. My daughter’s rescue dog Maltese-crazy mix loves to have the tv on when she is alone. When I go to check on her she seems particularly into soap operas! My town doesn’t have that service but I have heard of it. I like any free films.
I think Ellie would like telenovelas; she loves drama!
I can’t believe how much Snowflake calms down with the tv while my daughter works.
When Cricket is overwhelmed and she can’t have her Grandma, she likes country music.
How funny. A Jewish Long Island dog who likes country music. Sounds like a sit com.
Cricket is ready for her close up!
I too, like country music. Who does she like?
Martina McBride is a favorite!
Great write. Congrats.
Things I Learned Today: as of 2018, there are just under 500,000 dogs in Israel. Males exceed females by a slight plurality. The average Israeli dog is 6.5 years old. The top breeds by popularity are, in order, Shih-Tzu, Pekineses, and German Shepherd. Last year, the most popular dog names were: Toy, Louis, Luna, and Belle. Things have changed greatly in recent years. In 2011 there were under 400,000 doggos, Labradors and Pinschers were the top breeds and Lucky. Lady, Kinor and Abu Ali were the favorite names. None of this adds to your very good post but where else can I share Israeli dog information? Huh?
Oh, source: Jerusalem Post
Thanks for message on DOGS.
I share many of your feelings about TV and what’s available to expand our universes without the actual space travel, which I feel is a bit beyond my likely vacations for Pretty and me anymore.
Sometimes I go back to the comedies when real life demands a fresh view – like Barefoot in the Park, one of my all time favorites – written by Neil Simon – with Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Charles Boyer and the truly irrepressible Mildred Natwick. (sp)…think I found it on Amazon one afternoon.
Loved this post.
Thank you! Though space travel could be pretty awesome!
I just got back from a pilgrimage to Israel, visiting Christian sites and learning a bit about things I didn’t know—like the difference between a kibbutz and a settlement, and a closeup view of the political stuff over there. One land, 3 religions, and no one able to compromise. It was an interesting experience.
I bet! One of the teenagers at my synagogue went on a trip to Israel for catholic and Jewish boys and he said it gave him a completely different view of the country. And he’d been to Israel a number of times before then. The emotions around the politics can be so overwhelming that we forget how much we all share and how much beauty there is to see through someone else’s eyes.
Our dog has started just eyeballing our son’s Pokémon poster. He will look,at at for ages. Bizarre. Live your cute photos. It is often so difficult watching things like this. I find if you watch them too frequently the impact starts to get lost.
I remember when Cricket was little and we went from a regular TV to a flat screen: she was convinced that the people were coming into the house behind the screen! She barked so hard and tried to move the entertainment center to get back there and root them out!
Enjoyed reading a couple of your posts Rachel. You write well. (I dont believe you have horns sticking out of your head.)
Hi. What are the New Zealand programmes you are watching? Always, enjoy reading your posts. Regards Liz
I think one was called the broken wood mysteries, set in wine country. Then there’s 800 Words which is about an Australian family that moves to a small beach town in New Zealand. My Mom has a cousin who lives there so I’m always interested to see what the country is like.
Where a bouts in NZ? The notion of six degrees of separation does not exist here. More like two degrees!! It is after all a very small country.
They live forty-five minutes south of Auckland, not that I know what that means. My Mom visited years ago and took thousands of pictures, and brought home honey. It looks beautiful!
Congrats! Great post!
You might enjoy the ‘Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries’, which was made in Australia a few years ago.
I loved Miss Fisher!!! It was on public television here for two or three seasons and I was bereft when it stopped coming.
What a great idea!
Your library has a fantastic idea! I love to watch documentaries. The hardest one I ever saw was called “Darwin’s Nightmare”, it made me look at Africa and how the whole continent is being exploited. It made me changed several things – one minnow moving against a tidal wave – but I won’t buy Nile perch anymore, and I understand how arms are transported and traded to Africa (in exchange for fish and fruit!) the people starve, but they are armed to the teeth. I have your book, Yeshiva Girl, and I’m looking forward to reading it!
Thank you so much! My Mom used to be a documentary film editor so she’s always encouraging me to watch documentaries and pay attention to how they are filmed and cut together. I think she’d be thrilled with a TV diet made up exclusively of documentaries but I need my fiction. There’s just so much of the real world I can take at any given time.
I’ve been using Hoopla for years. I think I get 10 borrows per month. I like to download movies from this site for when I’m traveling, especially for flights. I believe you get 3 days to borrow movies, but books have a longer borrow time. I have not tried kanopy yet. Will have to check it out. One thing I noticed lately with our cable is that Verizon seems to be intentionally slowing down our internet when we are streaming from Netflix or Amazon. I’m quite ticked by this because we spend way too much money through Verizon and it makes me want to cancel everything and change carriers, but that is probably a subject for another post. LOL
The cost of cable is unreal, but I’m not ready to switch over to streaming full time.
I agree and if you can do without, all the better!
Good for you, pushing out of your comfort zone! I do that sometimes, although more with books than movies. Just a heads up – Tubi TV is free and has some pretty good movies. Also, please keep reminding us about Yeshiva Girl. I want to buy it but need to figure out how to set up my new Kindle, and before I can do that I need to find my new Kindle – I put it away somewhere during a recent major spring cleaning that involved dumping all sorts of stuff into random boxes for later sorting. Because that’s how I get organized … By first dumping everything in the least organized way possible …
Ha! I still don’t have a kindle myself, so good on you for making the effort.
Seemed like a fun book signing. Bring on the chocolate!
Yes! Always more chocolate!
We cut the cable about four years ago, and Hoopla gets a workout to give us more choices. Our library lets us download ten movies/tv shows a month so switching between my hubby’s and my card means we rarely max out.
Harrumph. Why is my library being so stingy?
my library only gives us 3 – it’s a cost to them and I guess that’s all they can afford.
Thanks. Please find time to read my post “GREAT CREATION MY BELOVED CROW” in my Blog Envius Thoughts today. I shall thank you for your response.
Are you familiar with “Kodi”? It is completely free and you can view pretty much anything on it.
I’ll look for it. Thank you!
There wouldn’t be any Australian Shepherds in a show from Australia because that is an American breed started by Australian immigrants. My Aussie son-in-law tried to tell me there was no such thing as Australian Shepherds when I used to have a dog that was partly one, but he accepted them as an American breed. Australian Cattle dogs (also called blue heelers, red heelers, or Queensland heelers) are a genuinely Australian breed, even having some dingo in their ancestry.
Who knew that dog families were this complicated!
I thought Australian Shepherds were Australian too until my Aussie son-in-law told me there was no such breed. Then of course I had to look them up and found out they were really American.
Great post! I just read an article about Kanopy in Entertainment Weekly and was thinking about signing up…your article might have just convinced me to do it!
So dog gone cute!
I love documentaries – especially when it’s something I would never have known about. Then I tell my friends and probably bore them to tears. 🙂
‘No Offence’ is one of my favourite shows here. Joanna Scanlan is a marvellous actress and comedian. If you can access these other UK TV shows with a very female perspective, I recommend them highly.
‘Happy Valley’. (BBC) ‘Fleabag’ (BBC) and ‘Silk’ (BBC/ABC)
Best wishes, Pete.
I’ll look for those too. Thank you!
It’s fab to have a streaming service & some free movies each month via your library card, and it’s great to get to broaden your horizons a bit with TV and documentaries from outside the US. Even though I’m in the UK, I’ve never seen No Offence; I must admit, I prefer American shows to British ones, likewise with books (my mother always says I was supposed to be American really). Enjoy, I hope you find more hidden gems to keep you busy 🙂
Which American shows do you watch?
I know I just left a message. I hope it went through. However, after reading about the plot of your book about, Izzy, I can relate. Maybe one day I can share some of it with you? Because first I need to figure out how to send a message to you that’s not for all eyes to see. I’ve thought of writing a fictional book dealing with such horrific things. Making it into a story, not so much a memior. Thanks again, Wade.
My email is listed my about page. Good luck with your writing!
I have not heard about Kanopy before – am rushing to the San Leandro Public Library website to see if they offer a similar access! Wow! Thanks so much!
There are so many interesting things on Kanopy, it’s ridiculous! I just watched Praying with Lior about the Bar Mitzvah of a boy with Down syndrome and it was amazing.
Praying with Lior is such a sweet film!
It’s everything I love about the Reconstructionist movement!
Getting a library card is the best.
So glad you like ‘No Offence’. The lead actress is very popular over here and always worth watching! Pip and the boys
I love her! And I love her relationships with the other two female costars. It doesn’t feel like anything else I’ve seen.
It’s lovely to think of you over there enjoying our drama. So glad! Pip and the boys
Now if only I could find season three!
What a great idea, movies at the library. When my son was young, that’s where he watched his first movie (he was afraid of the dark and I’d have to take him out of a movie theater before). I think it sparked his love for SciFi when we watched Star Wars there.
Thanks for the like on, Elm Drive Images, Rachel.
Delighted you loved No Offence – it’s one of my favourite shows, and I love Viv.
hmmmm space travel . . a peep in the dark!!!
Also welcome to visit and enjoy my earth travel blog 🙂 Thanks