I laugh every time I see this.
I laugh every time I see this. Courtesy of Absurda
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: No one knows what Laura Dern is doing in Inland Empire, a very stoned actress gets stressed out in Smiley Face, Montgomery Clift gets plastic surgery in Raintree County, and two cute college freshmen go on a roadtrip in The Sure Thing.

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INLAND EMPIRE
France | Poland | USA, 2006, 179 minutes, Dir. David Lynch
I think I know the type of guy who loves this spooky shit.
I think I know the type of guy who loves this spooky shit. CB

I haven't done enough transcendental meditation for this. Inland Empire, David Lynch's three-hour low-res jerk-fest from the mid-2000s, is one of the driest Lynchian artifacts in existence. Some sicko who has astral-planed more than I have definitely enjoys this thing, but I cannot. I was drawn to it because it's filmed on a handheld Sony, which I thought was kind of funny. But it's not funny. It's like a one-man show, and one-man shows are never good.

The vacant plot centers around a rich lady (Laura Dern) who lives in a mansion with an abusive husband, and she lands a role as an actress, and then it sorta, well, I'm not sure. Dern didn't seem to know either. "The truth is I didn’t know who I was playing—and I still don’t know," she said at the Venice Film Festival when it premiered. "I’m looking forward to seeing the film…to learn more.” I love her spirit.

Lynch has responded to confused critics by saying: "Every film is like going into a new world, going into the unknown. But you should be not afraid of using your intuition, and feel and think your way through." He added: "It's supposed to make perfect sense." Lol.

To really round out the weirdness, Lynch brought the film to Seattle during self-promotion, screening it at Cinerama and peddling DVDs at Scarecrow Video. I think it's so funny that Lynch brought this nightmare shit to Scarecrow. You're welcome! Rent a copy! CHASE BURNS

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD and there's an unauthorized YouTube link*.

***

SMILEY FACE
USA | Germany, 2007, 85 minutes, Dir. Gregg Araki
I love this movie! So much!
I love this movie! So much! JK
In the pantheon of Media Representation Of Girl Stoners, Abbi and Ilana from Broad City cast a tall shadow—for me anyway. Their antics of shoving weed up their puss, getting baked on rooftops, and doing dumb shit resonated with me in my late teens, early twenties as a nascent Girl Stoner myself. But, especially in the later seasons, their Girl Boss™-twinged construction as characters (That Hillary episode! What the fuck!) made me feel like I misunderstood the whole show.

I had Abbi and Ilana on my mind as I watched Smiley Face. And I'm not saying Anna Faris as Jane, an actress and pothead who gets epically stoned one day after eating a whole batch of weed cupcakes, is the pinnacle of Girl Stoners, but watching her zany, surreal Arakian adventure unfold makes a lot of stoner sense. When I first watched the film as teen, I thought it was candy cotton fluff that just melted in your mouth—and it is—but watching it again as a jaded Late Twenties Stoner I didn't realize how STRESSFULLY accurate it was. The panic of getting waaay too high and having tasks? Using public transportation? Paying back your drug dealer? Going to an audition? Dealing with your "skull-fucker" of a roommate? The Worst. This film—jam-packed with guest appearances—is a sweet, surreal nugget of hash sprinkled on top of your bowl. And there's not a Girl Boss™ in sight. JASMYNE KEIMIG

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

***

RAINTREE COUNTY
USA, 1957, 172 minutes, Dir. Edward Dmytryk
Love a thick set.
I love a thick set. CB

After complaining that I don't have enough patience for Lynch's three-hour Inland Empire, here I am recommending Edward Dmytryk's three-hour Raintree County. Patience is a fickle thing and I have a double-VHS fetish.

Raintree County is a James Cameron-sized epic from the '50s notable for starring Elizabeth Taylor alongside Montgomery Clift and having spectacular Walter Plunkett-designed costumes. Plunkett, like many costume designers of the '50s and '60s, was known for putting the color palette of his era onto the shapes and gowns of older eras. Raintree County is set in the mid-19th century, right before and during the Civil War, yet Liz Taylor's gowns occasionally have the color and flair of the 1950s.

The film is often problematic and criminally boring. Clift plays an abolitionist and Taylor plays a racist Southern belle. It's nearly saved by Clift and Taylor's acting, but it's mostly an artifact that reflects Clift's almost deadly automobile accident—which Taylor rescued him from.

In May of 1956 while filming Raintree County, Clift drives into a telephone pole after a party. Taylor rushes to help him, and pulls a tooth out of his tongue before he chokes on it. He severely fucks up his face and has bad plastic surgery. The buzz around Clift's accident—and how his face looks puffy and stiff in some scenes and regular in others—led to increased attendance.

So, if you're bored, stay for Clift's face. That's what the original moviegoers did. CHASE BURNS

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

***

THE SURE THING
USA, 1985, 100 minutes, Dir. Rob Reiner
Look at this DVD next to my roommates dying cactus.
Look at this DVD next to my roommate's dying cactus. JK
I really wasn't expecting to like The Sure Thing, but the film has too much going for it. In particular, John Cusack. Here, the actor is barely legal, playing Gib, a loser-adjacent type who is going through a sexual dry spell during his first year in college. He wants to fuck. Blah blah blah. But what's interesting about Gib is that he's not a virgin, like you might expect, he's just not really connecting with any of the girls at school. I thought that choice gave this teen trope a fresh texture. Young adulthood is often cast in binaries and absolutes in films: virgin/slut, jock/nerd, smart/dumb. But The Sure Thing scuzzes that up ever so slightly to a meaningful end.

The rest of the film is a charming, mild affair. When Gib is set up with a girl in LA whose desire to bone is Sure (Nicollette Sheridan in her first role), he ends ups on a fraught cross-country road trip with his uptight English tutor Alison (Daphne Zuniga) who is headed the same way to spend time with her similarly uptight boyfriend. You can guess what all that confinement does to these horny college undergrads. Honestly, Alison sort of reminds me of me. So does Gib, for that matter. Watch The Sure Thing. JASMYNE KEIMIG

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


*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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