It’s Unstreamable! 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 😊
JAS: Feeling kinda fucked up this week so decided to (re)watch a fucked up movie.
CHASE: And I snagged a copy of a sappy but important ‘80s gay melodrama at Scarecrow last weekend—for a buck!—so that’s what I’m on this week.
Got a recommendation? Give us the scoop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Korea, 2003, 120 min, Dir. Park Chan-wook
I knew I was locked in to Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy as soon as Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik in what is possibly the most unhinged performance I’ve ever seen) stuffed a live octopus into his mouth with its tentacles wrapping around his nostrils. “Ah!” I thought. “THIS is çíñęmä.”
Our disgruntled protagonist is experiencing his first day of freedom, having spent 15 torturous years in a windowless cell for no apparent reason, tossed inside after one drunken night in Seoul. The reason for his imprisonment is as mysterious as the reason why his captors let him go, but either way, Dae-su is dead set on revenge. And his first meal of a live cephalopod puts on display Park Chan-wook’s commitment to the unexpected, the darkly humorous, and the cosmically fucked in this early 2000s thriller, the second installment in Park’s Vengeance trilogy. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.
While much of the graphic violence takes place offscreen, the film still upkeeps a gruesome atmosphere that will have you shredding your fingernails for a source of relief. There’s teeth-pulling, sawed-off hands, valium gas, beautiful violet boxes, tiddy-sucking, hammers, and a brilliant one-take fight scene. “The starting point in my films is ordinary people who fall into extreme situations, and what happens to Oh Dae-Su signifies the unpredictability and injustice of life,” Park told BFI. I will refrain from any spoilers but INSIST you watch this film. It’s one of the best! JAS KEIMIG
Find it in the Directors section under Park, Chan-wook.
USA, 1982, 113 min, Dir. Arthur Hiller
Director Bruce La Bruce championed this sappy, groundbreaking, pre-AIDS melodrama for his former column “Academy of the Underrated,” which first tipped us off to watching it. Notably, it stars Lisa Rinna’s husband as another husband’s hunky side piece (see above). Directed by Arthur Hiller (not Miller), Making Love casts Kate Jackson (Charlie’s Angels) as a TV executive in love with greek tragedies and Michael Ontkean (Twin Peaks) as her doctor-husband who is not-so-tragically gay, plus Hamlin. The whole thing is glossy with made-for-TV vibes—but it knows what it is. While there are meta-references to it being a cheap drama, it’s also something very rare: a self-possessed, generous film about a couple navigating their relationship as one of them comes out of the closet. It’s hard to find anything like it from this period.
The opening of Bruce La Bruce’s column for Talkhouse:
“One of my film mentors, the late, great pioneering gay critic Robin Wood, used to tell his students that he didn’t understand the concept of ‘guilty pleasures’ in cinema: you either like the film or you don’t, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about the pleasure it gives you. Revisiting Making Love, the 1982 Hollywood film directed by Arthur Hiller, I can gladly confess that it pleasures me in a multitude of ways – as a melodrama, a tear-jerker, a social issue film, an event film, and even, in my own mind, proxy porn. The movie also reads now, unavoidably, as camp (which I take great pleasure in), but it also remains an accurate and significant document of pre-AIDS gay life in the liberation era, and a reminder of how difficult it was, before the plague years, for people to come to terms with their homosexuality.” CHASE BURNS
Find it in the Drama section under LGBT.
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.