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Hidden Animated Gems You Can Stream This Month

For this month’s streaming recommendations, we’ve gathered a selection of animated films, many of which are out of print and only available online.

From The Girl Without Hands (courtesy GKIDS)

For this month’s roundup of streaming recommendations, we’ve decided to highlight some great but generally lesser-known animated films, many of which either aren’t available on physical media or are out of print. There are titles both classic and contemporary, coming from a wide range of countries and genres.

The Girl Without Hands

The story of the “Girl Without Hands” is one of the Brothers Grimm’s more obscure fairy tales, and this French film is a very un-Disney adaptation, preserving the original’s darker and more morbid bits. (Such as how the title character loses her hands.) The whole thing is told in a lovely sparse, painterly style.

On various services.

Alice

The first feature from Czech stop-motion master Jan Švankmajer adapts Alice in Wonderland with his trademark surreal attitude. Carroll characters like the Caterpillar, Bill the Lizard, and the White Rabbit get uncanny, unnerving iterations here. Less a daydream than a fun, off-kilter nightmare.

On Hoopla.

DumbLand

One of the forefathers of modern crude, nonsense-oriented adult cartoons, this series of shorts by David Lynch presents a characteristically horrifying vision of suburbia. Both drawn and animated with intentional ugliness, each episode follows grotesque versions of the nuclear family as the world around them gradually falls apart.

On the Criterion Channel.

From My Life as a Zucchini (courtesy GKIDS)

My Life as a Zucchini

The grim realities of the foster care system get a gentle, patient treatment in the Swiss-French claymation feature. An excellent family film, it tackles topics of parental neglect and abuse in a whimsical manner without making light of anything or talking down to kids.

On various services.

Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

A landmark in both Japanese animation and the cyberpunk genre, the original Ghost in the Shell remains a stunning, sterling philosophical action film. The sequel doesn’t have as great a reputation, but it builds on its predecessor’s themes of identity in the digital age with nuance and style from director Mamoru Oshii. It also pulls a clever move by going in a very different aesthetic and narrative direction, rather than try to merely replicate the beats of the original. A great sci-fi one-two.

On various services.

The Fabulous Baron Munchausen

This ’60s movie from Czechoslovakia brings to life the fantastical tales of the titular character through a hybrid of live action and animation. Sumptuous costuming and set work is combined with dazzling special effects which draw inspiration from everything from antique woodcuts to Georges Méliès.

On the Criterion Channel.

From Millennium Actress (courtesy Eleven Arts)

Millennium Actress

Long unavailable, this masterpiece from anime virtuoso Satoshi Kon will soon get a theatrical and home media re-release. Ahead of that, it’s been put on Kanopy. The story of an aged actress reliving her life through her various film roles, it’s a loving tribute to Japanese cinema in the 20th century and a showcase for Kon’s typically brilliant attention to character detail and editing.

On Kanopy.

Neighbours

This is a stop-motion short with a twist: Rather than animate clay figures or puppets, it features two real-life men whose battle over a flower is rendered via pixilation. Made in the ’50s with Cold War tensions simmering, this little Canadian movie turned out to be hugely controversial for its antiwar message.

On the Criterion Channel.

From Love, Death & Robots, “Good Hunting” (courtesy Netflix)

Love, Death & Robots

This sci-fi anthology presents the work of a variety of animation studios, with each episode coming in under 20 minutes and many adapted from short stories by veteran authors. The show overall is hit or miss, but the better installments showcase some incredible-looking, affecting stories. Highlights include “Good Hunting,” “Helping Hand,” “Fish Night,” “Zima Blue,” and “Ice Age.”

On Netflix.

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