If your love of literature goes beyond the page and onto the screen, Kanopy’s got you covered. Right now, they’re offering dozens of extraordinary films based on classic books and/or the lives of great authors, all of which you can stream for free with your Livingston Library card. You can check out our list of recommended titles below, or browse complete Kanopy collections such as “From Book to Screen” and “Art and Artists – Literature.” (Descriptions provided by Kanopy.)
Emily – 2022, directed by Frances O’Connor
Emily imagines Emily Brontë’s own Gothic story that inspired her seminal novel, Wuthering Heights. Haunted by the death of her mother, Emily struggles within the confines of her family life and yearns for artistic and personal freedom, and so begins a journey to channel her creative potential into one of the greatest novels of all time.
Capote – 2005, directed by Bennett Miller
Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers an Oscar-winning performance (2006, Best Actor) as Truman Capote, who embarks upon a journey to write the book of a lifetime, In Cold Blood, based upon the murder of a family in Kansas. Developing a unique relationship with one of the imprisoned murderers (Clifton Collins Jr.), even he wonders if he can write the great book he believes destiny has handed him.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being – 1988, directed by Philip Kaufman
In 1960s Czechoslovakia, Tomas, an oversexed Prague surgeon, marries Tereza, a beautiful, waiflike country girl. Even though he has taken a vow of fidelity, Tomas continues his wanton womanizing, notably with his mistress Sabina. Escaping the 1968 Russian invasion of Prague by heading for Geneva, Switzerland, Sabina takes up with another man and unexpectedly develops an unlikely yet stimulating friendship with fellow refugee Tereza. Meanwhile, Tomas, who previously had been interested only in sex, becomes politicized by the fall of Dubcek and the collapse of the Czech leader’s unique brand of limited democracy within the communist system. Based on the novel by Milan Kundera.
A Room with a View – 2007, directed by Nicholas Renton
A fresh and poignant adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel, A Room With a View tells the story of the coming of age of Lucy Honeychurch in 1912 Florence, Italy. Longing to burst free from the repression of British upper class manners and mores, she must wrestle with her inner romantic longings to choose between the passionate George and the priggish but socially suitable Cecil.
My Salinger Year – 2020, directed by Philippe Falardeau
New York in the 90s: Joanna (Margaret Qualley) gets hired as an assistant to Margaret (Sigourney Weaver), the stoic and old-fashioned literary agent of J. D. Salinger. Joanna’s main task is processing Salinger’s voluminous fan mail, but as she reads the heart-wrenching letters, she impulsively begins personalizing the responses. The results are both humorous and moving, as Joanna, while using the great writer’s voice, begins to discover her own. Based on the memoir by Joanna Rakoff.
Inherent Vice – 2014, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson reteams with Joaquin Phoenix for this darkly comic adaptation of the 2009 Thomas Pynchon novel, set in late-sixties Los Angeles. When private eye Doc Sportello’s ex-old lady suddenly out of nowhere shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a loony bin…well, easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic ’60s and paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” that’s being way too overused—except this one usually leads to trouble.
Last Exit to Brooklyn – 1989, directed by Uli Edel
Set in Brooklyn during the 1950s against a backdrop of union corruption and violence. A prostitute falls in love with one of her customers. Also, a disturbed man discovers that he is homosexual.
Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” Dr. Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928-May 28, 2014) led a prolific life. As a singer, dancer, activist, poet and writer, she inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries. Best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Random House), she gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before. With unprecedented access, filmmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack trace Dr. Angelou’s incredible journey, shedding light on the untold aspects of her life through never-before-seen footage, rare archival photographs and videos and her own words.
Loving Highsmith – 2022, directed by Eva Vitjia
Loving Highsmith is a unique look at the life of celebrated American author Patricia Highsmith based on her diaries and notebooks and the intimate reflections of her lovers, friends and family. Focusing on Highsmith’s quest for love and her troubled identity, the film sheds new light on her life and writing. Most of Highsmith’s novels were adapted for the big screen; the best known of these are Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Carol, a partly autobiographic novel, was the first lesbian story with a happy ending to be published in 1950s America. But Highsmith herself was forced to lead a double life and had to hide her vibrant love affairs from her family and the public. Only in her unpublished writings did she reflect on her private life. Excerpts from these notes voiced by Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones, Top of the Lake), beautifully interwoven with archive material of her and her most famous novel adaptions, create a vivid, touching portrait of one of the most fascinating female writers.
Vita and Virginia – 2019, directed by Chanya Button
The seductive true story of Virginia Woolf’s love affair with socialite Vita Sackville-West, who inspired one of Woolf’s greatest works of literature.