Jamie Lee Curtis deserves an award for doing so many stunts in a short, revealing dress.
Jamie Lee Curtis deserves an award for doing so many stunts in a short, revealing dress. Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
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: Cameronian excess in True Lies, mortal mistakes in Hugo Pool, Rekha is a poetess and dancer in Umrao Jaan, and three men just can't stop runnin' in DANGAN Runner.

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TRUE LIES
USA, 1994, 141 minutes, Dir. James Cameron
The former governor of California!
The former governor of California! JK
True Lies has some things going for it. OK, really one thing and that thing is the scene of Jamie Lee Curtis as a once meek housewife stripping for someone she thinks is an arms dealer—but turns out to be her secret super spy husband played by Arnold Schwarzenegger testing his wife’s fidelity—in a way that is sexy but also really goofy. OK, OK—there are actually two things and that second thing is Tia Carrere playing a hot and evil antiques dealer that (spoiler) dies in a fiery explosion. The rest? A Cameronian slog of epic proportions featuring a lot of complicated action scenes, bombs, and racist portrayals of people from the Middle East, all led by Schwarzenegger whose charm dulled with the new millennium.

The film was (and is) still immensely popular, despite it being one of the highest grossing movies not currently available to stream. Director James Cameron had even planned a sequel, but when 9/11 happened the project was shelved indefinitely (though he is, apparently, coming out with a McG-directed TV series based on the film in the future). JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD.

***

HUGO POOL
USA, 1997, 92 minutes, Dir. Robert Downey, Sr.
Every time I see
Every time I see "Sundance Festival Favorites" on this shit I laugh. CB

You probably have never heard of Hugo Pool and you are very blessed if that's the case. It's a "quirky" movie about an L.A. pool girl named Hugo, played by Alyssa Milano. She has help from her mother Minerva, played by one of my favorite voices to ever speak on-screen, Cathy Moriarty. Hugo and Minerva (the names are the most multi-faceted part of this film, like most scripts featuring eccentric names) end up cleaning the pool of a man named Floyd. He is exceptionally attractive and played by Patrick "McDreamy" Dempsey. He also has advanced Lou Gehrig's Disease, although you can't tell from Dempsey's acting. His ALS is often the butt of jokes, which would be offensive if the movie wasn't so suffocatingly drab and written by someone who died of ALS three years earlier.

Screenwriter Laura Downey died of ALS in 1994. This script should have died with her, but her husband, Robert Downey Sr., would go on to direct, co-write, and revive this film. He has his son, Robert Downey Jr., play a drug-addled European gay-adjacent filmmaker named Franz, while Jr. was in the middle of being drug-addled himself. There are other stars. Richard Lewis. Malcolm McDowell. Sean Penn plays "man with blue shoes." But I had to turn it off by the time it devolved into McDowell playing with a little puppet and making silly voices. If I ever have to die, please leave my bad drafts in the grave. CHASE BURNS

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.

***

UMRAO JAAN
India, 1981, 145 minutes, Dir. Muzaffar Ali
Theres a menu on the disc that is purely for songs in the movie and I love that.
There's a menu on the disc that is purely for songs in the movie and I love that. JK

I must be transparent in admitting that I stumbled onto this movie because of a tweet I read a couple months ago that said it was rumored that Bollywood actress Rekha had a lesbian affair with her bodyguard. I have no real way of confirming whether or not that's true, but Umrao Jaan did not disappoint. Of course, it's not explicitly or implicitly queer, really, but Rekha is such a star that it's fun to just to imagine. The title comes from the name given to Amiran (Rekha) after she is abducted by a vengeful criminal retaliating against her father who sells her off to a brothel far away from home.

Over the years she becomes a gifted dancer, singer, and poet, making wealthy and powerful men fall in love with her despite (or perhaps, because of) the sadness behind her eyes. Rekha illuminates every scene she's in; there's her face, of course, but also her costumes, which are apparently the actress's own as the film had such a low budget and could not afford the caliber of clothes needed. Umrao Jaan helped solidify Rekha as a go-to female lead in the early '80s and was remade in 2006 with another Bollywood titan, Aishwarya Rai, in Rekha's role. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.

There's no English trailer for this version, but here's a song from the film.

***

DANGAN RUNNER
Japan, 1996, 82 minutes, Dir. SABU
Fucking love this cover.
Fucking love this cover. CB

The first thing I thought when I saw DANGAN Runner's trailer was that it looked like the Japanese version of the German arthouse hit Run Lola Run. (Watch the trailer now. It's a sexy trailer.) Then, once I started watching it, I felt a little naive. Just because it features hot scenes with runners doesn't mean it's Run Lola Run. But then I saw that Japan Society did a retrospective of SABU's films (he's the director, this is his first feature, he's known for his "punk n' roll" style) titled "RUN, SALARYMAN, RUN!" so I'm not hallucinating here. There are similarities.

DANGAN Runner is one of SABU's signature alt-comedies that plays out like a yakuza thriller and a "satirical jamboree," as Japan Society puts it. We follow a dummy bank robber as he's chased by a drugged-out rock n' roller (played by IRL rock n' roller Diamond Yukai) after he tries to steal something from the roller's convenience store. Their chase through Tokyo ends up involving a third man, the rock 'n roller's drug dealer. The film then follows these three losers as they chase each other in a line through Tokyo. The speed is exhausting but funny and quickly existential. A highly recommended forerunner to Run Lola Run.

Also! The film's distributor, Third Window Films, is having a summer sale this month, featuring DANGAN Runner on Blu-Ray and DVD for just 10 pounds (which is, like, ~$12.50). CHASE BURNS

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video. There's also a pretty good unauthorized YouTube link with English subtitles, but I can still include it here based on our rules*.

*Each Unstreamable film is Unstreamable when we find it. That means we couldn't find it on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or any of the other 300+ streaming services available in the United States. We also couldn't find it available for rent or purchase through platforms like Prime Video or iTunes. We don't consider user-generated videos, like unauthorized YouTube uploads, to be streamable.

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