The face of a movie star.
The face of a movie star. Courtesy of New Line Cinema
Unstreamable is a weekly column that recommends films and TV shows you can't find on major streaming services in the United States. This week: power ruins robots in Metropolis, heroin ruins lives in The Basketball Diaries, Mr. Charlie rides a lot of chicks in The Body Is Willing, and a little girl rides a lot of buses in Ayneh (The Mirror). Find over 100 more unstreamable films and recommendations here.

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METROPOLIS
Japan, 2001, 108 min, Dir. Rintaro
Ma'am, if you could only see 2020.
Ma'am, if you could only see 2020. Chase Burns

Near the start of Metropolis (the pretty anime version of Metropolis, not the old German version of Metropolis), a junk robot is assigned to work on a case with a private detective and his nephew. The robot, who can speak and emote, tells them that his name is just random numbers and letters: 803-D-RP-DM-497-3-C. Impossible to remember. The humans don't like this—how will they develop a relationship with him if they don't give him a proper name? They decide on "Pero," which the robot resists, because robots aren't allowed to have human names. It infringes on human rights. I laughed when I heard this and thought of Alexa and Siri. Clearly, we've catapulted over these concerns.

The anime, written by Katsuhiro Ôtomo (Akira) and based on the manga from Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), is a gorgeous film about class struggles and the misuse of artificial intelligence. The detective and his nephew dig deeper into the subterranean zones of their metropolis, unearthing robotic secrets and befriending a godlike robot named Tima. The storyline is semi-snoozy but the visuals are tremendous. The final scene is one of the most epic in anime history. Still, throughout the whole thing, I kept thinking about how robots weren't supposed to be given human names. If only our robots were programmed to worry about these things. CHASE BURNS

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.

***

THE BASKETBALL DIARIES
USA, 1995, 102 min, Dir. Scott Kalvert
The body? It's willing.
All of those featured bands are probably why this puppy isn't streaming. Jasmyne Keimig
Fuck what you’ve heard, Leonardo DiCaprio was absolutely a star before he froze to death in the debris of the sunken Titanic. And his role as Jim in The Basketball Diaries (right before "Leo-mania" kicked off after his starring role as Jack in that James Cameron film) proves it. Based off the book by writer, poet, and punk Jim Carroll, the role supposedly fell through a long list of '90s-era alt boys like Matt Dillon, River Phoenix, and Eric Stoltz before landing in DiCaprio's lap. Centered around Carroll's life as a 15-year-old heroin-addicted basketball player, his performance has all the early markers of a Classic Leo performance—spit, real-life source material, a sensitive golden boy gone bad, body transformation, lots of emotional scenes where Leo ends up scream-crying. It even stars future Departed co-star Mark Wahlberg and, like, half the cast of The Sopranos. It's great. Well, DiCaprio is great. The screenplay could definitely have been better—but it's worth the watch for Leo's performance alone.

It should also be noted that Basketball Diaries was involved in some controversy after the 1997 Heath High School shooting and 1999 Columbine High School massacre because of a dream sequence where Jim is dressed in a black trench coat, shooting up his classroom. It is rather eerie. The film was one of several entertainment products that were the target of a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought about by the families of school-shooting victims in 1999, alleging that they were to blame for the school shooting. The case was dropped a few years later. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.

***

THE BODY IS WILLING
Hong Kong, 1983, 89 min, Dir. David Lai
The body? It's willing.
The body? It's willing. CB

I thought I was renting a body horror movie. But nope, what I grabbed turned out to be an erotic crime drama—it's a unique genre—with a plot that's loosely based around a Japanese actress and singer (played by Emi Shindô) who arrives in Hong Kong for a singing contest. She's immediately entwined in a convoluted and horny plot involving many suiters, most notably her ex-lover Mr. Charlie (played by Michael Wai-Man Chan, who was quite hot and also a crime boss in real life). The plot doesn't really matter, because the movie is mostly devoted to tits-forward sex scenes. No more than ten minutes ever go by without someone getting laid.

At one point, the characters all go to a disco, roofie each other for fun, rollerskate, and then have a small orgy inside a gym. It's very glam. Softer than softcore, the sex is best described as clowning. The script for these sex scenes goes something like this: two naked people push up against each other, they pant feverishly, then they just rock back and forth like kids on a rocking horse. High camp. When they're fucking in the gym, one man literally bench presses while a girl hops up and down on him. That's the sex—a type of flashy sex where people basically do jazz hands while moaning. It's incredible. I don't think I'll ever get this type of clowning out of my head. CHASE BURNS

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Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.

***

AYNEH (THE MIRROR)
Iran, 1997, 95 min, Dir. Jafar Panahi
This is my child, Mina—she's stubborn and street smart and I'm late picking her up from school.
This is my child, Mina—she's stubborn and street smart and I'm late picking her up from school. JK
At first glance, The Mirror seems like a girl version of Abbas Kiarostami’s Where’s the Friend’s House? Both take place in Iran (one in an urban city center, the other in a rural countryside), both feature determined little children running around their communities, both seem to take a neorealist, slice-of-life approach to telling the story. But about halfway through The Mirror, things start to diverge. I won't spoil it fully, but fourth walls are broken and things start to get a little experimental. Director Jafar Panahi takes the simple story of a first-grade girl named Mina (Mina Mohammad Khani) wandering around the city after her mother is late picking her up from school and turns it into a meditation on how reality and imagination are bound up in each other. Panahi watches Mina from a distance, often filming her with a zoomed-in lens from yards away, traffic interrupting our view. My favorite parts are when she's running down the busy sidewalks in the city in her scarf and sweater, just barely holding onto her backpack, her shoes pounding the pavement beneath her. There's something stubborn and free about her that frees me. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.