Unstreamable is a column where Jas Keimig and Chase Burns recommend movies and TV shows you can’t watch on major streaming services in the United States. We publish every Wednesday.
JAS: I’m so genuinely thrilled that Alma’s Rainbow is getting a proper restoration and re-release. I wrote about it over at The Stranger years ago, but I’m happy to revisit it now that it’s playing at Northwest Film Forum this week.
CHASE: Meanwhile, my brain’s stuck on indie sleaze again. Meet Me in the Bathroom is playing at SIFF on Sunday. That doc is a lookbook of early 2000s indie rock style in NYC, and it’s got me thinking about another good lookbook of that era, just on the West Coast: the 2006 documentary Coachella.
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USA, 1994, 85 min, Dir. Ayoka Chenzira
This criminally underseen coming-of-age dramedy is finally getting the wide release it deserves. Directed by Ayoka Chenzira, the movie follows Rainbow (Victoria Gabrielle Platt) as she rebels against her old-fashioned mother Alma (Kim Weston-Moran), which starts after her sexy Aunt Ruby (Mizan Kirby), a performer, unexpectedly camps out with the family for a while. Chenzira gives as much attention to the relationship between Alma and Ruby as it does to Rainbow. The result is a film that unspools the complex relationships between two generations of Black women. Plus, the costumes are absolutely stunning.
When I first saw and wrote about Alma’s Rainbow back in 2020, the film didn’t even have a trailer to link to as it only had a very limited release on VHS. But it’s part of the canon of incredible independent movies directed by Black women in the 1990s, some of which–like Leslie Harris’ Just Another Girl on the IRT–are still getting their due. In fact, Chenzira was a protege of Kathleen Collins, the brilliant mind behind the groundbreaking and also previously unstreamable, Losing Ground. (That film’s cinematographer, Ronald Gray, also shot Alma’s Rainbow, which is probably why it’s so painterly!) Earlier this year, Milestone Films and Kino Lorber announced that they would be giving Alma’s Rainbow a 4K restoration and that version is currently on a re-release tour around the U.S., stopping at Northwest Film Forum this week and next. Go see it and bring the young women in your life with you! JAS KEIMIG
Find it in the Drama section (Scarecrow only has the VHS for now, but a brand new Blu-ray and DVD will be out on November 29 ).
USA, 2006, 120 min, Dir. Drew Thomas
I rented this documentary for the crowds. I wanted to see and laugh at what people wore to Coachella in the mid-2000s. Released in 2006 but filmed throughout the early 2000s, Coachella came out to generally favorable reviews. Probably because people still viewed the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival as “the nation’s most respected rock festival” (L.A. Times). Music fest mania was rising in the mid-2000s, and this special little doc has interviews with Coachella’s headliners waxing poetic about how fests were the future. There’s Björk, Arcade Fire, Wayne Coyne, The Chemical Brothers… all wearing clothes that signal the coming rise of deep v-necks and American Apparel.
I expected the crowds to feature what we see at the fest today—body glitter, flower crowns, silver statement necklaces, fake tribal tattoos, warbonnets on white people. But actually no! Instead, it’s full of the twee earnestness that bubbled out of the Bush era and buoyed Obama, full of skinny-jeaned rockers preaching about the power of parties. With all its style and dumb optimism, Coachella makes for a good counterpart to the new Meet Me in the Bathroom. That buzzy new doc catalogs the early 2000s indie scene in NYC, and if I ever need to reference mid-aughts indie rock style, these are getting cited. CHASE BURNS
Find it in the Music section under Rock and Roll.
Looking for more? Browse our big list of 350+ hard-to-find movies over on The Stranger.
The fine print: Unstreamable means we couldn’t find it on Netflix, Hulu, Shudder, Disney+, or any of the other hundreds of 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.