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 post on Wednesdays 😊
CHASE: Hideaki Anno’s Shin Ultraman comes out in US theaters today (subbed today, dubbed tomorrow, then that’s it), and while fans definitely know about Anno’s Shin Godzilla, they’re probably less aware of his 2004 franchise reinterpretation, Cutie Honey. We jump into that one first this week.
JAS: And we’re serving up pure melancholy for our second pick, Joan Micklin Silver’s Chilly Scenes of Winter. Nothing like the cold to reflect on your absolute broken heart over the One That Got Away…
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Japan, 2004, 94 min, Dir. Hideaki Anno
If you’re into magical girls like Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena, you should pay your respects to Honey, the star of manga artist Go Nagai’s foundational 1970s manga, Cutie Honey. An android schoolgirl who conjures a sword out of the air to fight off baddies, Honey (and her iconic transformation from schoolgirl to crime fighter, which requires her to lose her clothes temporarily) inspired generations of magical girl stories.
Cutie Honey is a big business in Japan, even though younger generations might not be super familiar with the franchise. Cutie Honey’s 2004 live action film has the power to draw some fresh eyeballs—it’s directed by Evangelion and Shin Godzilla director Hideaki Anno, and it stars Eriko Sato, a famous Japanese model, as the titular Honey. It’s definitely a product of its time; Anno plays with Y2K style and campy tokusatsu tropes to create something that lands somewhere between Power Rangers and Charlie’s Angels (2000).
That combo didn’t exactly play well at the Japanese box office. Cutie Honey bombed in its home country, though it did well in Thailand and with DVD sales abroad. Critics called the movie porny and crude (Sato is often in her underwear), but porny and crude is Unstreamable’s bread and butter, so we can get down with it. If you want to go deeper: Anno dropped a three-episode animated OVA called Re: Cutie Honey shortly after the film’s release. And that one has straight-up nudity. CHASE BURNS
Find it in the Animation room under Anno, Hideaki.
United States, 1979, 92 min, Dir. Joan Micklin Silver
Joan Micklin Silver takes the guts of a romantic comedy and turns it inside out. When we meet bored civil servant Charles (John Heard) in the depths of Utah winter, he’s already met and lost the woman of his dreams. Earlier in the year, he had a whirlwind affair with coworker Laura (Mary Beth Hurt) who was separated but still married to her husband, an A-frame salesman and total schmuck. After she decides to get back together with him, the rather self-centered Charles is left with only the happy memories of their relationship to get him through the cold winter months as he tries to win her back.
Adapted from the Ann Beattie book of the same name, Micklin Silver manages to distill the deep irony of being so hopelessly in love with the idea of someone that it makes you the most miserable person on the planet. Under pressure from studio executives, the movie was originally released in 1979 as Head Over Heels and given a happy ending—and it totally flopped. But in 1981, Micklin Silver was given permission to reedit the movie to end on a more melancholy note and renamed it Chilly Scenes of Winter. It was released to much more favorable reviews and gained a cult following. And, thankfully, Criterion is releasing the film in 4K in March of this year. JAS KEIMIG
Find it in the Comedy section.
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.