Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States.*
United States, 2008, 68 min, Dir. Phil Griffin
Britney: For the Record debuted during the same year her conservatorship came into place, following two months' worth of Britney’s “comeback” after a perilous two years. We get a behind-the-scenes look at her shooting music videos for Circus, appearing at the 2008 VMAs, sneaking into In the Heights on Broadway, trying to shop and evade the paparazzi at the same time. Even Madonna wildly pops in for some commentary.
But, most importantly, For the Record presents a chance for Britney to talk about her life in her own words. She candidly discusses her breakup with Justin Timberlake, her marriage to Kevin Federline, the excruciating toll of fame, as well as her opinions about the conservatorship she’s placed under. Despite the unimaginable pressure of being a pop star, Britney seems achingly normal. She seems to just want some relief from the press and to spend time with her children.
This documentary has come back into prominence after being heavily featured in the recent New York Times' documentary, Framing Britney Spears, about her conservatorship and her fans' push to get her released from it. It's an emotional watch that will fully have you on Team #FreeBritney by its end. JASMYNE KEIMIG
United States, 1995-2004, 435 min, Multiple directors
There’s a collection of DVDs at Scarecrow Video that’s infamous to me. If you, like me, are a gay-minded Scarecrow visitor, you might’ve stumbled on these DVDs, too. Maybe while browsing Scarecrow’s used DVD section, or maybe while pulling from their gay section, which is housed in their Drama room (because gays can never be too far from drama?). These DVDs are labeled as “boys life,” and come with a number: “BOYS LIFE 3.” “boys life 7.” (BOYS LIFE 3 is the only one billed in ALL CAPS.) Usually there’s a half-naked guy on the cover or, like, two muscle-y dudes about to suck body parts in a pool. I used to joke about renting them but didn't, because going to the counter and being like, “Yes, boys life 6, please; no, I haven’t seen 1 through 5” seemed too obnoxious or garish or maybe it’s just regular old internalized homophobia.
WELL! I rescind my previous snickering and recommend any and all of the releases from the Boys Life series, which are actually queer short film compilation DVDs that come to us from the artsy-fartsy fag supporters over at Strand Releasing. I rented BOYS LIFE 3 this past weekend and was seriously impressed with the quality of the short films. Enjoyable, breezy, erotic, funny. BOYS LIFE 3 included the short film that inspired the queer movie Just One Time (1998) starring Guillermo Diaz, which I have not seen but now I want to because of that short. Thanks, boys! CHASE BURNS
Australia, 1987, 101 min, Dir. Gillian Armstrong
But when Lili’s car (also blue-ish) breaks down and leaves her stranded in a seaside town near the Australian coast, she unwittingly chances upon her teen daughter Ally (Claudia Karvan), whom she abandoned as a baby. Lili secretly spies on her estranged daughter from a distance, taking up residence in the same trailer park, watching Ally clumsily shave her ankles in a shower stall, observing her with some knuckle-headed boy. Ally's nan tries to bat Lili off, but the pull of a mother toward her daughter proves too great to overcome. Though the tale skews melodramatic in parts, it's a tender study of grief and motherhood, all told in hues of blue. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Australia, 1994, 19 min, Dir. Kelli Simpson
I’m gonna continue my gay short film kick with this last blurb, but let me first start with the film Muriel’s Wedding (1994), which is Toni Collette’s breakout role where she plays a terrible Australian outcast who steals her family’s money to go live her ABBA-fueled feminist dreams. It’s one of my favorite movies, it’s fundamental, and I think its movie poster—which shows Collette wearing a wedding dress, grinning, while confetti rains down on her—inspired a few lookalike movie posters. The first is from the film Cosi (1996), another Australian comedy that doesn’t have the charm of Muriel’s Wedding (granted, a tough bar to clear); the second is promoting the short film This Marching Girl Thing (1994), which came out just as Muriel’s Wedding did and is equally effervescent.
I found the short film on a rare VHS from Scarecrow called Around the World: The Lesbian Way, which includes a handful of lesbian short films from, as it says, around the world. The compliation VHS's cover (above) attracted me because I think it's in the same family as those sister Cosi and Muriel’s Wedding covers (Toni Collette grinning, wearing white, little ornate stuff all around her), and I’m happy I rented it—it’s so charming. (Surprisingly, it also features Muriel's Wedding actor Matt Day.) The basic gist: Toni Collette’s a badass undercover lesbian baton twirler who keeps getting mistaken for a marching girl. There’s a fantastically campy baton twirling finale and an exceptionally acted closing scene from Collette. God, few people can deliver line readings like she can. I never know where she’s headed and I can’t look away. 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.