This movie makes me so uncomfortable.
This movie makes me so uncomfortable. Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

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

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Housekeeping: Maybe you noticed, but this column has run less frequently this month. It's because we've been on vacation! Our next column will drop in a few weeks, and then we'll be back to regular programming. Enjoy the last whiffs of summer while you can!

***

STRAW DOGS
US | UK , 1971, 113 min, Dir. Sam Peckinpah
I will not allow violence against this house.
"I will not allow violence against this house." Courtesy of Criterion Collection
Straw Dogs deeply shocked and unnerved me when I first watched it for a class during my freshman year of college. And rewatching the Sam Peckinpah film for this column about a decade later, I'm surprised at how that same unease popped up in me once again, even though I knew exactly what I was in for.

Starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, the film is rightfully controversial for its two brutal rape scenes and prolonged violent third act. Hoffman plays David, an American astrophysicist/beta-cuck on sabbatical with his bombshell wife, Amy (George), on the English moors near her hometown. The gruff men in the village are enraged at the thought that a weak pencilneck like David could bag a chick like Amy. They slowly intimidate and place pressure on the couple to push them toward their breaking point.

In an interview about Straw Dogs excerpted here, film scholar Linda Williams acknowledged the film's importance in understanding how the portrayal of sex on screen has changed dramatically since it first came out. But while Peckinpah may be a great artist, Williams said, "there are great artists who in their artistry conveyed bad, evil, misogynist, fascist messages—and this is an exemplary version of all of that." Watch at your own peril! JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rent at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD.

***

FUNKY FOREST: THE FIRST CONTACT
Japan, 2005, 150 min, Dirs. Katsuhito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine, Shunichiro Miki

This blog stans Ryô Kase.
This blog stans Ryô Kase. Funky Forest

It's hard to describe this funky film, which comes to us from three different directors, two of whom I'm a ginormous fan of (Katsuhito Ishii, The Taste of Tea; and Hajime Ishimine, Frog River). That's because Funky Forest is less of a film and more a collection of unique and surreal shorts, broken up in a format that resembles this "DVD magazine" anthology project Ishii spearheaded in the early 2000s. Explaining the plot of any of these shorts is an exercise that forces writers to use a lot of adjectives and contradictions. The shorts are chill and absurd, horny but sweet, riotously mundane, psychedelically straightforward, rarely pretentious, often relaxing. I love them so much.

Funky Forest is back on people's minds lately, having just screened again at Fantasia Festival and getting a new release from Third Window Films in early 2022. While we wait for a new release, I recommend trying to get your hands on Scarecrow Video's copy. The well-organized disc from Viz Media has a menu that allows you to view the film's shorts based on their director, which means you can tumble down the rabbit hole of your liking. I suggest watching Ishimine's shorts, which focus on a young couple named Notti (played by Erika Nishikado) and Takefumi (played by Bellevue-raised Ryô Kase), and the psychedelic dreams they have about each other. These dreams crack my heart open every time I watch them. CHASE BURNS

Available for rent at Scarecrow Video.

***

MAELSTROM
Canada, 2000, 87 min, Dir. Denis Villeneuve
Shes done wrong.
She's done wrong. Courtesy of Arrow Entertainment
Denis Villeneuve's Maelstrom begins at an end. Young businesswoman Bibi (Marie-Josée Croze) gets an abortion in a sterile hospital room in a matter-of-fact manner. And as we get to know her, we find she's not in good shape. Bibi parties too hard, and her mismanagement of her family's chain of retail stores lands her in hot water with her brother/business partner. She's the definition of a mess.

After a night of heavy drinking, she hits and kills a man with her car, speeding off before anyone stops her. Bibi chooses to tell no one about it, letting her friends assume her strange behavior is due to guilt over her abortion rather than, uh, MURDERING SOMEONE. She clumsily starts to cover up the murder and survives a suicide attempt, only for fate to put her on a path toward her victim's hunky and soft-eyed son, throwing a wrench into both of their lives.

Perhaps the film's best part is its unconventional narrator—a fish on a fishmonger's chopping block extolling the story as a type of parable about guilt. The fish's narration is constantly interrupted by its own death via the fishmonger's cleaver. It then reincarnates into the body of another fish, also on the fishmonger's chopping block, and continues where it left off, only for the cycle to begin and end again. It's a fantastical and welcome intervention to an otherwise soapy movie. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rent at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD.

***

THE WIZARD OF SPEED AND TIME
United States, 1998, 95 min, Dir. Mike Jittlov

This guys popular at sci-fi cons.
This guy's popular at sci-fi cons. Wizard of Speed and Time

This recommendation comes from Unstreamable reader Milo Miller, who self-described as "probably the only queer in Milwaukee, WI who reads your column Unstreamable on a weekly basis" and previously recommended the fun and colorful crime comedy The Linguini Incident, starring David Bowie and Rosanna Arquette. Miller pitched The Wizard of Speed and Time as "a very cool low-budget film, pretty family-friendly, with a sort of weird anti-Hollywood-union message," and it's indeed all of those things.

Created by cult animator and weirdo Mike Jittlov, this 1988 hella-low-budget film follows a talented but jobless special effects wizard as he navigates Hollywood. Using an exceptional amount of pixilation and basic stop-motion animation, Jittlov (who stars, directs, writes, etc.) manages to create a film full of special effects, despite a system designed to work against him. I think Jittlov comes across as self-righteous, and I can't imagine a child born after the year 2000 would understand the movie's appeal, having grown up with apps and filters that can immediately morph faces into freaky Baby Yodas. But Jittlov's enthusiastic DIY production earned a generation of cult fans, who allege he slipped over 1000 subliminal messages into the film. Spooky.

Also, weird fact: This is Loki's favorite movie, according to this 2019 Marvel comic. CHASE BURNS

Available for rent 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.