Lesbionic. Rebecca

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, 1940, 130 min, Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Don't be scared of a little gay subtext, darling.
"Don't be scared of a little gay subtext, darling." Rebecca

Based on bi goth Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel of the same name, Hitchcock's Rebecca is a biggie on people's unstreamable lists. The Academy Award-winning rom-psych—what do we call romantic psychological thrillers??—stars Laurence Olivier as a grim flamboyant widower named Maxim de Winter and Joan Fontaine as his new, nameless wife. Fontaine's character is listed simply as "Mrs.," but de Winter's first, dead wife's name is front and center: Rebecca. The specter of Rebecca's questionable death haunts the film and drives its passions, as does a futch, strict housekeeper named Mrs. Danvers, played by Aussie Judith Anderson.

Hitchcock's film is long, dark, and important, and Netflix cursedly remade it in 2020, starring rich vampire Armie Hammer in Olivier's role and Downton Abbey's Lily James in Fontaine's. I haven't seen the remake—I trust everyone who says it's terrible—but, sadly for us all, the 2020 Rebecca is the only Rebecca currently streaming.

I finally watched the old-ass Rebecca during Seattle's recent record-breaking heatwave, which, cruelly, happened during Pride weekend. At first I thought I picked Rebecca just because my brain was goopy, but the deeper I got into this twisty, wisty thing, I understood it as a completely acceptable Pride pick and even a decent example of Camp. (I don't think Susan Sontag agrees [blurb 20], but I don't care.) The more I watched the gay way the film's water splashes against rocks, or the gay way the missus runs down hallways, or the gay way Mrs. Danvers gets ladywood for nun-made panties, the more I came to understand Rebecca as gay gay gay. Was it the Pride heat? I don't think so!! CHASE BURNS

Available for rental at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD.


United States, 1990, 102 min, Dir. Allan Moyle
Look at Christian Slater's hair.
Look at Christian Slater's hair. Courtesy of New Line Cinema

In Allan Moyle's angsty coming-of-age romp, Pump Up the Volume, Mark (Christian Slater) runs a pirate radio show out of his parent's basement. But he hides behind the moniker "Happy Harry Hard-On" and a voice disguiser to obscure his identity. Mark's classmates have no idea the shy weirdo in homeroom is the same brash on-air personality who's pretending to jerk off on-air while raging about shitty teachers and American society. He thinks he has them all fooled.

After Mark/Happy Harry Hard-On fails to talk down one of his peers from committing suicide, the student's death leads to an epic on-air rant. Mark/Happy Harry Hard-On implores his fellow teens to take their emotional pain seriously because (*Christian Slater voice*) "THEY'RE ALL DISTURBED and why not GET CRAZY?!" The rant sets off a shit storm with the Federal Communications Commission, police, teachers, and parents. With the help of Nora (Samantha Mathis), who figures out his identity, he tries to send out one final broadcast before the feds nab him.

In an interview last summer, Slater called Pump Up the Volume his "favorite movie" that he's ever done and "to a large degree, favorite job," expressing interest in seeing how exactly Mark turned out. Maybe we'll get a sequel 30 years later? JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD.

HOLD UP: Before we go any further, we want to remind you that Scarecrow Video, the non-profit physical media library that makes this column possible, is fundraising for "Scarecrow 2.1," a campaign to raise $250,000 by the end of this summer. The funds will expand their national reach by improving their well-worn database, in addition to financing operational costs, community programming, and the recovery of economic losses induced by the pandemic. They've raised a good amount of $$$ already ($150K!) but they still have a ways to go.

THE NEW GOOD NEWS: Scarecrow informed us that they just received a pledge of $50K from an anonymous donor as a matching challenge—but that means they have to reach $200K!

Let's do this, Seattle!!!

United States, 1944, 110 min, Dir. Mitchell Leisen

Great gowns. Beautiful gowns.
Great gowns. Beautiful gowns. CB

Since I invoked Daphne du Maurier in my first pick, I might as well let her ghost stick around for my second. Joan Fontaine starred in another popular film based on a du Maurier book, Frenchman's Creek. This technicolor adventure film set in the 17th century pairs her against Mexican actor Arturo de Córdova; she as a British rich Lady and he as a French pirate. Fontaine's character falls in love with Córdova's, and he swashbuckles her off for some lukewarm adventure; her husband gets mad; some people die; then it's over. The production design and costumes are really the reasons to watch—especially if you love 17th-century floopy outfits; there are many flouncy sleeves. To borrow "The Iconic Shade of Aretha Franklin," when the Wall Street Journal asked her to give her opinion on Taylor Swift: "Great gowns. Beautiful gowns." That's about all there is. CHASE BURNS

Available for rental at Scarecrow Video. I can't find the trailer, so we'll just embed that Aretha video.


United States, 2004, 104 min, Various directors
Tamra Davis directed the video for Sonic Youths Kool Thing.
Tamra Davis directed the video for Sonic Youth's "Kool Thing." Screenshot from YouTube

The music video is one of my favorite art forms. Self-contained and highly condensed, the band and director only have a few minutes to get their message and aesthetic across to the viewer. At its best, the music video is a potent visual concentrate of a song. And Sonic Youth's Corporate Ghost: The Videos: 1990-2002 is full of examples of the form at its very best.

The collection gathers 24 of the band's music videos from 1990-2002. Starting with Goo (an album for which they made a music video for every track), no titles or chyrons introduce the videos. Instead, they bleed into each other like a giant visual album of some of Sonic Youth's greatest hits. The first half of the DVD is composed of Goo music videos, while the latter half clips along with different eras of the band smashed up against each other. It's soothing.

Scarecrow Video categorizes the disc under the director Todd Haynes, in recognition of his work on "Disappearer," but other famous directors like Harmony Korine, Mark Romanek, Tamra Davis, and Spike Jonze are also responsible for videos in the collection. Turn it on, kick back, and let the music and images wash over you. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD.

*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.