Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States.
UK, 2015-2017, 23 min episodes, Created by Michaela Coel
There's little I long for more than getting immersed in the horny world of Chewing Gum. The British comedy television series follows 24-year-old Tracey (Michaela Coel), a very religious girl living on a council estate who goes through an all-consuming—and often extremely embarrassing—sexual awakening. Her antics, like selling used dildos and fucking the white boy himbo poet next door, often put her at odds with her family and friends. It's equal parts hilarious, cringe, and touching.
The show introduced the world to the talents of show writer and star Michaela Coel, whose body humor, tight writing, and big brain distinguished her as one of the most unique performers of the decade. Her popularity only grew last year with HBO Max's I May Destroy You, which turned her keen eye for life's tragicomic absurdities into a show that emotionally wrecked everyone.
Despite Coel's celebrity, Chewing Gum was unceremoniously removed from Netflix in April, its American home for the past four years. While it's most likely a rights issue, Coel has a documented rocky relationship with the platform and the production company behind the series. It's a shame because Chewing Gum is, to me, mandatory viewing. Let's hope it gets a new home (and a Region 1 DVD release!) soon. JASMYNE KEIMIG
USA, 1969, 129 min, Dir. Sydney Pollack
Starting this Sunday, Criterion Channel is presenting a new slate of Jane Fonda programming. As an amateur Jane Fonda historian, I'm geeked. The collection is mostly thorough and includes Barbarella, Klute, and The China Syndrome, but it notably doesn't include They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, the Academy Award-winning 1969 film from director Sydney Pollack.
The film is set during the Great Depression and focused on a manic dance marathon at the Santa Monica Pier where dancers compete for a whopping $1,500. While a dance marathon sounds like a lot of fun, it's actually brutal and deadly. I won't say who dies, but Jane Fonda plays Gloria Beatty, a grim and fierce competitor who wants that fucking win.
I love watching marathons in general. My favorite part of Olympic films are always the marathons; how the event is so extreme as a whole but tedious in its moments. If you look at a marathoner, let's say a great one like Abebe Bikila, they always look serious and stern, almost like they're solving a math problem, caught in a dance between exertion and caution. That's the type of low-boiling intensity that fills this entire movie. CHASE BURNS
USA, 1973, 102 min, Dir. Ivan Dixon
Based on Sam Greenlee's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name (he also co-wrote the film), the film revolves around Dan Freeman (Lawrence Cook), the CIA’s extraordinary first Black agent. They stick him in a windowless basement office for several years, trotting him out whenever they need to show their "progressiveness." He's a regular Uncle Tom. But the story turns once Freeman heads back to Chicago and immediately starts to organize the Black people in his neighborhood into a guerrilla group using his training from the CIA. He's going to overthrow whitey after all!
The film was independently produced and distributed by United Artists but quickly pulled from theaters. Someone reportedly destroyed its prints and stored its negatives under another title. Greenlee even accused the FBI of suppressing the film so that people wouldn't have a chance to see it. It’s easy to see why. Spook enunciates the problems facing Black people in America at the time, making it obvious to the viewer why organized revolt is more necessary than "Uncle Tom-ing" into power. Freedom is not given but taken, after all. JASMYNE KEIMIG
USA, 1995, 95 min, Dir. Bryan Spicer
My boyfriend has begged me to watch the original Power Rangers movie with him for years, and I gave in this week. He confessed he's seen the movie about 386 times (!!!), although nearly all of those watches happened when he was nine. I bring this up because Power Rangers obviously has an extreme effect on people, especially men of a certain age (35).
I'm also in the middle of digging through the Showa-era Godzilla movies—as for the other eras, I recently finished Shin Godzilla, which I really recommend—and it's obvious how much these two tokusatsu franchises have in common. It's easy to overlook how strange and fun the suit acting is here because tokusatsu tropes have worked their way into popular American films. (The Spy Kids franchise uses a lot of tokusatsu style suit acting, especially with its villains.)
Anyhow, the original Power Rangers holds up. I think the bad guys look like mascots on poppers at a Mardi Gras rave. I particularly love how much goop and ooze is in this movie. Of note: The soundtrack is stacked, with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Devo, and Van Halen. By the by, who's your favorite Power Ranger? 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.