Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States.
Chase is on a much-deserved vacation this week, so Scarecrow employee Ben Redder agreed to step in and recommend some unstreamable titles for the column. Thanks, Ben!
USA, 1979, 114 min, Dir. Martin Ritt
I can't get over how loud Norma Rae is. The sound of the machines in the textile mill is overwhelming to listening to; at times, I strained to hear the characters' dialogue in the scenes. But that loudness is the point, as it underscores the working conditions of the overworked and underpaid laborers in the film.
Day-in and day-out at a textile mill in the rural South, non-unionized workers tend to deafeningly loud machines and sweat in the unventilated space as managers sit in their offices, pushing their charges to work themselves to death. While many of the laborers are discontent, the loudest among them is the mouthy and rambunctious Norma Rae (Sally Fields, duh). She speaks up about the shit pay, the shit conditions, and the lack of Kotex dispensers in the bathrooms—all to the annoyance of her bosses.
So when Reuben Warshowsky (Ron Leibman), a Jewish labor organizer from a textile union, shows up in town to unionize the mill's workforce, Norma Rae is almost immediately drawn to him and his message. "He lives in my head," she eventually tells her exasperated husband, Sonny (Beau Bridges). Together, Norma Rae and Reuben begin the arduous process of connecting with and persuading the workers in the town to join up. She puts everything on the line for her beliefs, becoming the biggest advocate not only for the union, but for her colleagues, her family, and herself. Fields went on to win her first Oscar for this iconic and incredible role. JASMYNE KEIMIG
USA, 1986, 88 min, Dir. Richard Lowry
Hawk Jones’s tagline reads, “The movie with the kids in it,” and it wasn't lying. It’s like a tame Andy Sidaris movie in which all the adult roles are played by kids. The premise here is serviceable and exists solely for the novelty of its execution. The mob is running rampant, and only Hawk Jones and his rookie female partner can stop them. What ensues is beat-‘em-up action with cartoon physics, toy weapons, and onomatopoeia gunfire.
In the middle of all of this, they’re still kids. They need naps. They think $100 is a lot to ask for in a hostage situation. They wear cute little shirts with soccer balls on them underneath their dress clothes. And really, it’s the kids who make it work. I especially enjoyed the character players, who deliver some of the best moments: the slimeball cops interrogating a perp, the toady who whispers a joke while the boss is talking, the cast of the (fake) soap opera, The Young and the Playful.
I don’t have kids and I wouldn’t show them Hawk Jones if I did. There is enough copaganda in the world already, and this really isn’t children’s fare. However, it’s exactly the kind of movie that one hopes to find when they dig through used VHS tapes. I’m sure it’d be a treasure to somebody. BEN REDDER
Italy | France | Belgium, 1994, 75 min, Dir. Michael Radford
Mario is initially interested in Neruda for his celebrity and his poetry's effect on women, believing that any kind of association with the famed poet would guarantee him The Ladies. He's not wrong, but over the course of the movie, their friendship blossoms into its own thing of beauty.
I was captivated by the Massimo Troisi's performance as Mario. Troisi played the character with such thoughtfulness that Mario’s simple observations and desires were poetry. It made sense why a man like Neruda would become captivated by a man like him.
But in real life, Troisi suffered from a failing heart. He postponed life-saving surgery to act in this passion project. Director Michael Radford made him pre-record all his dialogue in the event of his sudden death. Tragically, Troisi died a day after principal photography finished. Il Postino is a beautiful tribute both to Neruda and the actor who brought the film to life. JASMYNE KEIMIG
UK, 2009, 82 min, Dir. Jonathan Caouette
I attended several All Tomorrow’s Parties festivals back in the day, but I’d never actually seen this movie. I watched it because I miss live music and I was starved for nostalgia. What I had hoped might be a fun concert film, isn’t. On the other hand, this isn’t a documentary either, but an experimental film trying to convey what it was like to attend one of these things: away from the pressures and responsibilities of real life, alone at some weirdo holiday camp off the coast of England, drinking and going to show, after show, after show with a bunch of nerdy music people.
The attempt to explain that experience is commendable, but I have far better stories than those contained in this film. And the fuzzy memories to go with them. BEN REDDER
*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.