The 2000s were quite a time!
The 2000s were quite a time! Courtesy of Power Up Films

Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States.*

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ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE
United States, 2007, 87 min, Dir. Jamie Babbit
Nice!
Nice! COURTESY OF POWER UP FILMS

Let me start this blurb by saying that I would've been locked into Itty Bitty Titty Committee from the jump if I had seen it as a 15-year-old. Girls kissing???? The mere existence of a terribly named radical feminist collective called "Clits In Action" (CIA)?? Staging political protests that are low-key just a bunch of adults pulling pranks on people in power???? A Jenny Shimizu appearance? Sorry, um, did I say GIRLS kissING????? Baby Jasmyne would have been all IN.

Unfortunately, back here in 2021...

...27-year-old me settled in to watch this film, the second film from the mind behind But I’m a Cheerleader, and was a little disappointed. Not because I didn’t love Anna (Melonie Diaz), a frustrated lesbian who gets dumped, works in a plastic surgeon's office, and falls into the chaotic world of the CIA. Not because she crushes hard on Sadie (Nicole Vicius), a very emotionally unavailable lesbian who's part of the group and has a bad dye job. And not because CIA stages protests against gays getting the right to marry because marriage is an inherently sexist institution (that's par for the course with this group). But because CIA's final act—which I won't spoil, but involves penises and the Washington Monument—is such an outlandish and childish political action that it makes the thinly developed film collapse on itself. My tastes have changed! JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental at Scarecrow Video.

***

MADE IN HONG KONG
Hong Kong, 1997, 109 min, Dir. Fruit Chan

I cant get this movie out of my head.
I can't get this movie out of my head. Made in Hong Kong

It isn't easy to find lots of info on Made in Hong Kong in English. Reviews compare the 1997 film from Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker Fruit Chan to Gregg Araki's The Doom Generation. Maybe that's because both films are part of trilogies that focus on disaffected Gen X 20-somethings, or maybe it's because they're both intensely dreamlike. I initially read the comparison to mean Made in Hong Kong is a queer film, which it's not—at least, not at its surface. Still, Made in Hong Kong's lyrical storytelling and queer-adjacent raver-clothing will win over lovers of Araki.

The film centers around a young mafioso named Moon, a character stuck in the center of a Venn diagram of manic pixie dream boy and scrub, as he navigates Hong Kong during the turbulent Handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China in '97. He's a sentimental killer who wears tartan creepers to do the deed—maybe the most inconvenient shoes to wear while murdering—and often wears low-waist jeans that tease his cum-gutters. Oh god, I've wasted my word count and I've only reached the protagonist's midriff. Whatever. This has become one of my favorite movies. My head is swimming thinking about it. Just look at that trailer. CHASE BURNS

Available for rental at Scarecrow Video.


***

LOOKING FOR LANGSTON
United Kingdom, 1989, 45 min, Dir. Isaac Julien
So dreamy!
So dreamy! Courtesy of Third World Newsreel Film Collective
Isaac Julien's Looking for Langston lasts under an hour but feels like it expertly encompasses an entire lifetime. I attribute that feeling to the film's dreamlike logic: its mish-mash of archival footage and staged scenes; narration composed of works by the titular Langston Hughes and other Black thinkers like Essex Hemphill and Stuart Hall; the fuzzy and elegant black and white film used to shoot the entire movie. It's Julien's impressionistic and surreal ode to the life and legacy of Hughes, centering and reclaiming the celebrated Black poet as a queer figure.

Using Hughes as a jumping-off point, Julien thoughtfully explores desire, the nature of being a Black artist, the cultural legacy of the Harlem Renaissance, and his own experiences as a gay man. He turns scenes that seemingly take place within a '20s speakeasy in Harlem into gay raves in London. Hemphill's explicit poetry—"I could throw my legs up/like satellites, but I knew/I was fucking fallen angels"—is layered over scenes of dapper Black men dressed in tails cruising each other. It's hot and melancholic and fantastical all at once. The openly gay nature of Looking for Langston caused an uproar during the film's release, with the Hughes estate demanding that some scenes be censored. Regardless, the film is a wonderous monument to the gay history of Harlem, as well as its most famous poet. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental at Scarecrow Video.

***

SPIDER LILIES
Taiwan, 2007, 94 min, Dir. Zero Chou

As if Kenneth Anger made a camgirl set...
As if Kenneth Anger made a cam-girl set... Spider Lilies

I've heard from people who webcam (like, for sex stuff) that camming companies usually tell their models to set up their rooms to be minimal. Maybe a neutral background and a clean mattress, but that's it. The focus should be on the model's body and what they'll do with/to it. So when I saw the camming set-up in director Zero Chou's 2007 Taiwanese lesbionic drama Spider Lilies, about a cam-girl who wants to get a tattoo from her high school crush, I was surprised by its lushness.

When a horny person logs onto this particular webcam, a floral frame surrounds their camera's livestream, making it seem like they're peering into a jungle. A few feet behind that frame is a raised bed, draped in leopard print, and a pink beaded curtain. This type of dense, visually ecstatic set-up is what viewers can find throughout Spider Lilies, a film with a fresh take on queer relationships, especially for 2007. The plot here is a little confusing—and the film time-jumps frequently, using tattooing as a metaphor to explore trauma and intimacy—so I say go into it for the visual density, the mid-2000s vibes, and Chou's bold point of view. CHASE BURNS

Available for rental at Scarecrow Video.

*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.