My husband and I are once again on the hunt for free streaming movies, this time on Hulu since our Netflix trial lapsed. Hulu has an even worse collection of movies than Netflix Instant, which is to say, it has the worst movies ever made, plus the Criterion Collection, which seems to be 99 percent pretentious nonsense about adultery, and 1 percent tolerable things. We did find two good films so far:
- Being Two Isn't Easy - a charming Japanese movie from 1962 which features an extremely cute baby and is a strikingly contemporary depiction of the anxieties of child-rearing. A Tokyo couple has their first baby, and the movie follows what seems to be most of his second year, until he turns two. It's narrated sometimes from the perspective of the baby, who is kind of cutesy and predictable but a nice intervention, and mostly by the parents, who spend a lot of time freaking out over the baby's health and safety, and fighting about how to raise him. Both the parents come from big families but set themselves against all that - they live in an apartment without their parents, and they view children as basically aliens from outer space who require such intensive attention and care that they can have no more than one, and they resent the imposition of even this one on their lives.
As the year goes on and various things about their living situation change, their familial relations become more relaxed and they come to understand the naturalness of children. I don't know anything about Japan in the 1960s (or ever), but the movie comes across here and now as mildly critical of individualism and childlessness, but not in favor of some ideal of traditional familial rusticity either. Even though it centrally features a cute baby, it's not particularly sappy, but depicts the bumpy adjustment to parenthood pretty straightforwardly and then slowly suggests that family life broadly understood (including extended family) is fulfilling even to the modern sensibility.
- Three Colors: White - Hulu has the whole Three Colors trilogy, but we have only liked White so far, though we haven't watched Red yet. A few years ago, a friend introduced me to some of the episodes of Kieslowski's other film cycle, The Decalogue, which is good, but dark and full of symbolic Christian brooding of a dour Eastern European variety. When Kieslowski's aim is comic though, as in Decalogue X or Three Colors: White, he's really good, because dark and resigned humor, though equally dour and Eastern European, makes more sense to me than darkness and resignation taken straight. The movie is about an earnest Polish hairdresser who is divorced by his French wife, goes back to Poland in a suitcase, and builds an entirely new and wholly improbable life with the sole goal of getting revenge. This ends successfully, but, because evidently nothing can ever simply go well for Eastern Europeans, it's a kind of horrifying success that is actually a cosmic moral failure.