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USA, 1996, 108 minutes, Dir. Spike Lee
Though featuring classic Lee-missteps—a bloated third act, heavy moralizing around Black women's sexualities—the real lynchpin in Girl 6 is Randle. As Girl 6, she's alluring yet innocent; in control, but a little tumultuous; dreamy and clever. She can convincingly slip into any character at work: the girl next door, the dominatrix, the housewife. In daydream sequences, Randle also embodies other iconic Black roles, from Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones to Pam Grier in Foxy Brown. Girl 6 was Randle's major vehicle, and, in a just world, she'd be booked and busy after it. It's more than a little ironic that a movie about the misogyny Black women face in the film industry wasn't enough to launch Randle. It breaks my heart.
Also of note: major cameos by Naomi Campbell as phone sex operator Girl 75, Madonna as a strip club manager, and Lee's mortal enemy Quentin Tarantino as a pervy white director casting Black actresses for "the greatest romantic African American film ever made—directed by me of course!" (Lee and Tarantino would have a falling out a year later with the release of Jackie Brown). The movie's soundtrack is wall-to-wall Prince songs, which adds a huge dollop of sex to the scenes and bolsters the film's perspective. Prince is also the likely reason why Girl 6 is so damn hard to find online. JASMYNE KEIMIG
USA | Mexico, 1991, 96 minutes, Dir. Sidney J. Furie
This film is trash, but it's beefy trash. Quality marbled beef-trash, starring actor Ken Wahl as "football hero" Boomer Hayes. This by-the-book action flick casts lying cops and EPA agents as the bad guys, who plan a chemical spill that allows them to evacuate and quarantine Beverly Hills residents. Once the rich folks are out of the area, the bad guys rob the neighborhood. But Boomer Hayes, that "football hero," was too busy trying to get laid in his oversized bubble bath to hear the evacuation orders. The only man left inside the area, it's up to Hayes to free the non-lying cops (who are locked up inside a hazmat suit room) and defeat the baddies. Lots of booms. Lots of bangs.
I stumbled on it because it features Pamela Anderson in her first film (she plays an uncredited cheerleader in the background). I stayed for the drama: The explosion-heavy movie cost $19 million to make and didn't even earn a million at the box office. The failure was due in part to crappy advertising, but it made up for it with a popular VHS release (and computer game!!) that earned the film a small cult audience. CHASE BURNS
UK, 1990, 106 minutes, Dir. Anthony Minghella
Despite the corniness of its premise—an interpreter can't get over the death of her husband until his ghost appears, forcing her to confront the past and future—Minghella's Truly, Madly, Deeply is actually wonderful. It never veers off the cliff into full-blown cheese; rather, it's a slightly ridiculous but deeply generous look at a woman, Nina (Juliet Stevenson), coping with immense grief.
The movie gets away with so much because of the interiority Stevenson gives to her character. She's blubbering to her therapist in one scene, dancing around her house in the next. It's a nuanced performance that never feels studied, crafting Nina as a lovable total mess. Minghella said he wrote the film as a way for Stevenson to express her chaotic and quirky side, as she was mostly known at the time as a rather formidable classical actress (for the record, I know her best as the offensive mother in Bend It Like Beckham).
And, of course, she has chemistry with Alan Rickman, who plays the ghost of her dead cellist husband. Though to be fair, Rickman could probably have chemistry with a cement wall and I'd still watch. R.I.P. to a real one. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Japan, 2009, 112 minutes, Dir. Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki
EVANGELION: 3.3 YOU CAN (NOT) REDO
Japan, 2012, 96 minutes, Dir. Mahiro Maeda, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki
I've already written about the first part of the "Rebuild of Evangelion" tetralogy for Unstreamable. It's a (soon-to-be) four-part film set that "rebuilds" the popular Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series, about giant robotic mecha "Evangelions" that the Japanese military uses to combat alien "Angels" swooping in from Outerspace. The original series is available on Netflix, but the fancy Rebuild remains unstreamable. The Rebuild starts as a straightforward rebuilding of Neon Genesis, with enhanced graphics and fighting montages, but starts to diverge from the original narrative as it progresses.
The Evangelion franchise is almost incomprehensibly dense, encompassing, among many things: an animated series, multiple films, manga, video games, pachinko games, a fucking theme park, and this theatrically-released tetralogy of rebuilt films. It's grossed around $16.6 billion, just under the Power Rangers and Peanuts franchises. I didn't do myself any favors by kickstarting my journey through this franchise ass-backward by beginning with Rebuild instead of Neon Genesis. Still, the central enjoyment of Evangelion is consistent across its installments: its epic battles between Angels and Evangelions.
Few things ramp up from zero to hero like an Evangelion battle sequence, and that's especially true in Rebuild. I'm embedding the best clip I can find of the first 10 minutes of Rebuild's upcoming final installment, initially screened at the Anime Expo and Japan Expo, so that you can get an idea. It's operatic, almost too huge to catch with two eyes. CHASE BURNS