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: Gore and tragedy in Titus, Allenian musical neuroses in Everyone Says I Love You, butt sex and melodrama in Making Love, and a horny performance in Amateur.
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UK | Italy | USA, 1999, 162 minutes, Dir. Julie Taymor
I'm not canceling Shakespeare. BUT. I do believe that devoting any part of your life to producing his play Titus Andronicus is psychotic. Primarily because the main plot centers around a character named Lavinia who is raped by two semi-queer incestuous brothers who cut off her hands and tongue. Shakespeare forces her to walk around the rest of the play moaning and signaling with her arms, which he refers to as stumps. It's vile. I studied classical acting for four years and can verify that the only guys who are really into Titus—and they're almost always guys—are the guys who should be thoroughly vetted by an HR department.
THAT SAID. There are two versions of Titus Andronicus that are outstanding. The fact that they exist means we can stop revisiting this play. The first version is the renowned Japanese Shakespearean director Yukio Ninagawa's 2006 production of Titus Andronicus, which is undeniably one of the best productions of Shakespeare in history. The staging, costuming, it's flawless. And the other one is director Julie Taymor's Titus, which stars Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Alan Cumming, and other basically famous people. Taymor understands how to direct an epic opera, and the large scale sensuality she embeds into the film tempers the play's worst impulses. I watched it a decade ago and found it horrifying. But now, in a post Game of Thrones "Red Wedding" world, I actually think it's a little tame. Hm. CHASE BURNS
USA, 1996, 101 minutes, Dir. Woody Allen
In any case, Allen unsurprisingly makes his first and only musical completely neurotic with some brief moments of charm (I did love the scene where Goldie Hawn dances on air). Allen only informed the cast—who weren't known for their singing ability—that the film would be a musical after they had fully signed onto the project. Thus, you have Julia Roberts's faltering singing voice and Alan Alda's speak-singing to look forward to. At the center of the film is a wealthy New York family where the divorced parents have a good enough relationship to spend Christmases together in Europe. The stuff of pure fantasy. The film, narrated from the perspective of the daughter Djuna (Natasha Lyonne), follows the family's exploits in love over the course of one year.
Though the premise is unoffensive enough, there's still a queasy Allenian sheen to the character he plays in the film, Joe. He tricks Von (Roberts) into a romantic relationship after he learns everything about her from Djuna, who is friends with the daughter of Von's therapist. She thinks she's in love, but really, she's just manipulated for laughs. And even though those kinds of love-by-trickery plot lines were popular in '90s comedies, with Allen it reads a lil slimy! JASMYNE KEIMIG
USA, 1982, 113 minutes, Dir. Arthur Hiller
Making Love's genre is the most pitied film genre that exists, the melodrama. Big-budget jerk-off action films like Netflix's Extraction seem to me to be the most pitiful type of movies to exist but I understand that not everyone's taste has imagination. Lately I've been repeat-listening to the song that was created for the closing ceremony at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics—Amigos para Siempre, a song that embodies melodrama—and if you let yourself go, this song can take you to unparalleled heights. The truth is that melodramas can really slap.
This is how I feel about Making Love, an exceptional melodrama directed by Arthur Hiller (NOT Miller) and starring Kate Jackson (Charlie's Angels) as a TV executive in love with highbrow tragedy, Michael Ontkean (Twin Peaks) as her doctor husband who is not-so-tragically gay, and Lisa Rinna's husband Harry Hamlin as that husband's hunky side piece. Making Love knows what it is—there are meta-references to it being lowbrow drama—but it's also something very rare: a self-possessed, generous film about a woman and man navigating their relationship as the man comes out of the closet. I'm not sure there's anything like it from the early '80s. CHASE BURNS
USA | UK | France, 1994, 105 minutes, Dir. Hal Hartley
As for Amateurs itself, the film revolves around Isabelle helping a man (Martin Donovan) recover his identity after he wakes in the middle of a New York street forgetting who he is. They both get sucked into a shadowy and actually-kinda-underdeveloped ring of violence and murder based on this man's mysterious past. The movie is an intoxicating blend of fuzzy '90s rock ("Girls Girls Girls" by Liz Phair pops up to my delight), melodramatic death sequences, pornos, TERF bangs, and trauma-induced amnesia. It is good—but Huppert's Isabelle pining to get her holes filled is the best part. JASMYNE KEIMIG