Movies Free With an Oakland Library Card

by Sheila McCormick – For more than thirty years I have been keeping a running list of quirky, or funny, or in-some-way amazing movies to recommend to friends. Some are available on the standard streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix, so do check there first if you already subscribe. If you don’t have a streaming service, or if you can’t find a particular title (which is quite likely since many aren’t mainstream), all the movies listed below can be checked out from the Oakland Public Library for FREE as DVDs, via Link+, or streaming via Kanopy. My taste might not match yours, so you might want to first read the synopses on IMDB, or Google some reviews. 

In the two sections that follow, those films with subtitles are listed first.

Available as DVDs:

Babies (French); Departures (Japanese); Fast Runner (Inuktitut)–the story is so engrossing you don’t even notice that you are reading subtitles; Goodbye, Lenin! (German); In the Mood for Love (Chinese); King of Masks (Chinese); Not One Less (Chinese); Rana’s Wedding (Arabic); The Secret of the Grain (French); Shower (Chinese); The Lives of Others (German); To Be and To Have (French).

All that Jazz; Angels and Insects; Breaking Away; Chinatown; City Island; Clueless; Daytrippers; Diner (and Avalon, and Tin Men–all Baltimore-themed movies, directed by Barry Levinson). Why so many of these? I was a postdoctoral fellow in Baltimore from 1979–1981, probably why I especially liked Diner – it came out in 1982; Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (Errol Morris’s documentary about four intriguing people –  my favorite being the naked mole rat expert); Father Goose (Cary Grant, Leslie Caron); Galaxy Quest (a Star Trek-like TV series is beamed into space, then aliens show up, hoping the actors can help them with a crisis on their planet); Hope and Glory; In the Loop; Living in Oblivion; Never Cry Wolf; Rivers and Tides (Andy Goldsworthy documentary); Safety Not Guaranteed; State of Play (not the one with Russell Crowe, the BBC TV series); Station Agent; Strictly Ballroom; The Year of Living Dangerously; Topsy Turvy; Unstrung Heroes; Waking Life; When We Were Kings; You Can Count on Me. 

Available via Link+:

Chunhyang (Korean); Humanité (French); Ridicule (French) – 18th-century period drama with a woman scientist who is researching diving bells, what’s not to like?; La Promesse (French); A Taxing Woman (Japanese). 

A Life Less Ordinary – matchmaking angels played by Holly Hunter and Delray Lindo; Blast from the Past; Cold Comfort Farm; Diva; Flirting with Disaster; Gods and Monsters; Joshua Then and Now; Local Hero; Love and Death on Long Island; Naked Civil Servant; Maya Lin- A Strong Clear Vision (documentary).

Available via Kanopy: 

My Sassy Girl (Korean) and in English, Bartleby and I Capture the Castle

Note that C. J. Hirschfield recommends the documentary Kedi (available both on DVD and Kanopy) about stray cats in Istanbul. I am not a cat person (allergic) and have not seen it, but she says it is perfect for these pandemic days.  

Please feel free to recommend other movies in the comments. 

Sheila McCormick is an Adjunct Professor Emerita in Cal’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. Prior to her retirement in January 2016, she had a research lab at the USDA/ARS-UC-Berkeley Plant Gene Expression Center in Albany, studying the molecular biology of plant reproduction.

She is also helps with editing and is a frequent contributor to the Splash Pad News, beginning with a series of seven neighborhood walks – the first of which was posted in April 2017.



6 responses to “Movies Free With an Oakland Library Card”

  1. Sheila McCormick Avatar
    Sheila McCormick

    Streets of Fire is available on Netflix and via LInk+. I will check it out – Ry Cooder does the music and he is great.

  2. I tend to like silly buddy comedies. Top of list is “Dumb and Dumber”
    I also recommend “Streets of Fire”. Not so much of silly movie but it has its moments.

  3. pamela magnuson-peddle Avatar
    pamela magnuson-peddle

    I love the documentary that I took out from the library about Shirley Chisholm and her presidential campaign. It was inspiring

    1. Sheila McCormick Avatar
      Sheila McCormick

      Thanks for the suggestion. The title is Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed.

  4. C.J. Hirschfield Avatar
    C.J. Hirschfield

    This is a great list, Sheila; thanks!

    Another great documentary film on Kanopy: Faces Places, a road trip with legendary filmmaker Agnes Varda, and photographer J.R.

    1. Sheila McCormick Avatar
      Sheila McCormick

      Yes, I agree – Faces Places is very good.