Unstreamable is a column where Jas Keimig and Chase Burns (not pictured above; that’s Kirstie Alley and Patrick Dempsey) recommend movies and TV shows you can’t watch on major streaming services in the United States. We publish every Wednesday. Got a recommendation? Give us the scoop at email@example.com.
JAS: At first, I planned to watch Lars von Trier’s Dogville. But with all this rain, I wanted something a bit cozier than a three-hour, spare, arthouse drama starring Nicole Kidman. (Though, I’ve certainly bookmarked it for another week.) Loverboy’s dated jokes and gender politics did the job perfectly.
CHASE: And I’ve been studying a lot of directors of photography this week… (Jas and I are taking a filmmaking class at Northwest Film Forum to bone up on the basics. It’s fun!) …which led me to this dude’s YouTube channel. He’s got a good video on cinematographer Chung Chung-hung, who often works with director Park Chan-wook. It had me thinking about their mid-aughts film I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK, so we’re running with that this week. Let’s go!
USA, 1989, 98 min, Dir. Joan Micklin Silver
OK, I didn’t expect to be charmed by this young Patrick Dempsey-vehicle yet here I am: charmed as fuck. Joan Micklin Silver’s Loverboy is a young adult comedy in the way of Better Off Dead and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with some American Gigolo thrown in for good measure. Meaning that our main guy, Randy (Dempsey), is a slacker nearly failing out of college who finds himself back in his hometown slinging pizzas and—on the low—becoming an escort to the older, dissatisfied, wealthy women in the area. (Carrie Fisher! Kirstie Alley!) With the help of his conniving friends, they use their place of work as cover/money laundry; all the clients have to do is ask for pizza with “extra anchovies” and Randy will be on his way to serve them a hot pie and some dick. Of course, there are tons of misunderstandings along the way: his parents thinks he’s gay, he has to elude the scary husbands of his clients, and deal with trying to get back together with his ex. Randy learns about what it really means to keep a woman happy, in a way that feels sweet. Loverboy also has several farcical and clever storylines that resolve themselves quite neatly. Where was this movie when I was teen? I imagine that because of its softcore plot and teen comedy-feel, the film had some issues finding the right audience at the box office. It only grossed around $3.9 million against its $8.5 million budget. Who cares? It’s a gem! JAS KEIMIG
Find it in the Comedy section.
South Korea, 2006, 107 min, Dir. Park Chan-wook
Cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon broke through with the little film Oldboy (2003), director Park Chan-wook’s famous movie about an old boy. Chung was an actor before he was a DP, and while he has a style that jumps around depending on his projects (The Handmaiden, It, Obi Wan-Kenobi, Last Night in Sodo), he says it’s centered around character study, probably because of his beginning as an actor. (This video gets into his style nicely.) He often shoots with a single camera, which feels more intimate, and he’s got a flair for long, continuous fight scenes, like the one you know from Oldboy. I like his dramatic high-angle and overhead shots, especially when they accent Park’s violent fights. There’s a killer example of this in their movie I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK.
That movie isn’t as popular as Chung and Park’s other projects, but it’s fun and stylish. Its plot gets written off as too quirky—it’s a romantic drama set in a mental institution (lol) filled with “eclectics” (lol)—but the people who love it really love it. It has Chung and Park’s trademarks all over it, including in its color palette. Chung seems to love greens and blues, and the movie’s hospital is painted in pale olives and cyans. The colors alternate between sickly and chic, depending on the shot’s saturation and mood. If the story veers off course, it’s really hard to complain because the visuals are so good. CHASE BURNS
Find it in the Directors section, under Park, Chan-wook.
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.