Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States.
USA, 1972, 93 min, Dir. John Waters
I should apologize for waiting so long to bring up that Pink Flamingos is Unstreamable. In my defense, I didn't know. I honestly thought it was in the Criterion Collection.*
The first time I saw Pink Flamingos was also the first time I met John Waters. (I wrote about it here.) I guess it's funny I even thought this would be available to stream, which is a testament to Waters' current place in pop culture but an erasure of the film's smut. In one scene, Divine gets poppers and a pig's head for her birthday. They all do drugs, and then a performer flexes his prolapsed anus in rhythm to "Surfin' Bird." The police come, but Divine kills them with a meat cleaver and eats them. Everyone, even the murdered people, seems to be having fun.
Things are burned, blowjobs are given, penises are cut off, people are convicted of "assholism," and, finally, after more murder, Divine concludes the rampage by finding a little dog, watching it shit, and then eating it. For a gay kid who grew up mouthy, femme, and poor, that shit-eating grin gave me permission to relish in the freedom of being a reject. CHASE BURNS
*UPDATE: Flamingos is available via Criterion, just on... laserdisc.
USA, 1994, 102 min, Dir. William Dear
Rewatching it for the column, I fawned over baby-faced Joseph Gordon-Levitt but felt taken aback at how low-key Christian the whole thing is. The remake of the 1951 original stars Gordon-Levitt as Roger, an orphan who believes his hot dad (played by Dermot Mulroney!) will come back if the shitty California Angels win the pennant. God hears the boy's prayers and sends angels—led by Christopher Lloyd as Al—down to help the clumsy and star-riddled team win the championship. All the players have to do is quit swearing and believe in themselves. How fucking pious.
This wholesome Disney venture is one of the few major films not on Disney+'s platform. Watching it now, it's hard to understand why, but perhaps the god-overtones aren't in the corporation's best interests at the moment. JASMYNE KEIMIG
France | Liechtenstein | UK, 1993, 123 min, Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci
Bertolucci chose to shoot the city with a blue filter to differentiate it from the other storyline. The Italian director was, no doubt, inspired by the slime greens, bright grays, and cold blues that make up our little corner of the planet. But the straight-up blue filter made me feel as if I were watching the film through one lens of a pair of 3D glasses. Also the kid seemed like a dunce.
The second thread is a retelling of the life of Siddhartha (a smokey-eyed Keanu Reeves), the man who would become the Buddha. Reeves definitely browned up ever so slightly for the part—which is weird—and plays the Buddha not with an all-knowingness, but rather, a vacancy that felt himbo-esque. But the Dalai Lama himself proclaimed the film "wonderful, wonderful, wonderful" at its Paris premiere, so who am I to disagree? JASMYNE KEIMIG
Japan, 2009, 113 min, Dir. Yoshihiro Nakamura
I love this movie. It's such an easy watch, even though it's a nonlinear story that spans multiple generations but revolves around a 1975 single called "Fish Story" created by a defunct punk band that somehow saves the planet from an Armageddon comet?????? I'm trying to tease out that point—I think the takeaway is that our bad and crappy drafts still have the power to save even the universe; cute!—but again, I want to reiterate that this is an easy watch.
I'll highlight two things here, and then you should go out and get a copy: First, Kengo Kora. The actor, known for Shin Godzilla and A Story of Yonosuke, plays the singer in the punk band, and he's supremely hot and also has no eyebrows, a thing I used to think was freaky but I've spent enough time around drag queens to wisen up to the fact that eyebrows only get in the way. Second, the incredible boat hijacking scene. It's so preposterous. The film suddenly turns into an action thriller. The twists are delightful. CHASE BURNS
Unstreamable 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. Yes, we know you can find many things online illegally, but we don't consider user-generated videos, like unauthorized YouTube uploads, to be streamable.