Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States. This week: Jennifer Aniston goes indie in The Good Girl, kappas get fucked in Underwater Love; a director and his wife talk about cinema and love in Emergency Kisses; and Lisa Picard isn't famous in Lisa Picard Is Famous.
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United States, 2002, 93 min, Dir. Miguel Arteta
This 2002 independent black comedy loosely based on Madame Bovary was shot during the height of Jennifer Aniston's career. She had just earned an Emmy for her role as Rachel on Friends, earning millions per episode, and was married to the hottest guy on the planet at the time. Screenwriter Mike White (of School of Rock fame) and director Miguel Arteta did not have an A-list celebrity like her in mind to play Justine, a married Texan grocery store clerk who feels trapped inside of her boring life and strikes up an affair with a younger coworker, Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal), that almost immediately goes awry. And yet, writing that out, maybe I can see some parallels between Justine and Jennifer's lives.
Anyway, the film is unexpectedly chewy, following a rather tender and unpredictable route up to the very end. The settings are quiet and dull, blisteringly mundane. A perfect purgatory where nothing changes. For her part, Aniston is actually quite good. She manages to inhabit Justine in a way where her desperation to escape her constricting relationships is palpable, especially as the character begins to commit increasingly immoral acts. You almost forget that Aniston is one of the biggest celebrities in the world. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Japan | Germany, 2011, 87 min, Dir. Shinji Imaoka
Where to even begin with this one... I guess I have to explain what a kappa is.
The basic gist of kappas, which are still very popular today (there are kappas in Animal Crossing!), is that they're green human-turtle-webby things who live in rivers and love cucumbers and sumo wrestling. If you encounter one, they will likely remove a mythical organ from your anus.
The best way to dive into kappa lore, in my opinion, is to watch Underwater Love. It's a pornographic musical about a questionably irresistible kappa who has a lot of sex with land women. It's a pink film, a Japanese genre that requires a bit of explaining (too much explaining for this blurb), directed by Shinji Imaoka, one of the "Seven Lucky Gods of Pink," who are seven directors credited with reviving the genre in the 2000s.
If I haven't piqued your interest, also know that motherfucking Christopher Doyle, the tall Australian behind the great Wong Kar-wai films, does the cinematography on this thing. CHASE BURNS
France, 1989, 90 min, Dir. Philippe Garrel
The film is basically a series of intimate conversations between all the characters (who are played by the director's immediate family) about cinema and love. It's most interesting when you agree with what they are saying. But I also loved watching Sy. I feel drawn to her because I recognize her eyes. Her son Louis Garrel went on to become an actor himself, starring in a bevy of French indie films in the 2000s which I watched reverentially as a teen. He has this sort of intense, dark-eyed scowl that always made him seem restless. And watching his real-life mother perform for the first time, I recognized that trait comes straight from her. A blessing. JASMYNE KEIMIG
I can't find a trailer or anything with English subtitles, so watch the first scene just for the images.
USA, 2000, 90 min, Dir. Griffin Dunne
I rented this mockumentary partially because of Griffin Dunne, its director.
Dunne is best known as an actor, but he also directed that Joan Didion documentary on Netflix, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, that a lot of people liked, and Practical Magic (!!), which I will bravely admit I haven't seen (!!!).
The other part of the reason why I rented this mockumentary is that it's set in New York City in 2000, and I've always been interested in that capital's brief turn-of-the-millennium/pre-9/11 culture.
Lisa Picard Is Famous follows an actor, Lisa Picard, who might be on the cusp of fame. Her claim to near-fame is being in a too-sexy Chex Mix commercial. She has a little bit of Valerie Cherish in her, Lisa Kudrow's character in The Comeback. (I don't say that lightly! I have Valerie Cherish's name tattooed on my thigh!) Except where The Comeback is surprisingly Chekhovian, Lisa Picard is more Guestian. Ironically, the best parts of the film are when actual famous people appear—Sandra Bullock, Carrie Fisher, Spike Lee—but it's a buoyant, oddly dressed, manic, navel-gazing look at actors in New York in the year 2000, which I always sorta love. CHASE BURNS