Unstreamable is a column that recommends movies and TV shows you can’t watch on major streaming services in the United States. We publish every Wednesday. Matt is still on vacation so Scarecrow’s Emalie Soderback has stepped in to recommend a Dennis Hopper flick. Thanks Emalie!
Got a recommendation? Give us the scoop at email@example.com.
Less than a month ‘til Unstreamable swings through NWFF with a rare screening of All That Jazz: Save your seat!
USA, 1980, 94 min, Dir. Dennis Hopper
Like a fucking punch to the mouth, Out of the Blue leaves you staggering, wondering what the hell just happened, rethinking everything that led up to it, feeling the pain, and tasting the blood.
In 1980 a Canadian afterschool special was in its initial stages. Originally meant as a cautionary tale of addiction, teenage rebellion, and dysfunctional family structures, producers weren’t into what they were seeing. They stopped funding, most of the crew abandoned the project and it was almost shelved—until Dennis Hopper, having not directed anything since 1971’s ill-received The Last Movie, got his hands on it.
Familiar with Linda Manz from her work on Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, Hopper feverishly rewrote the story over one weekend, turning the made-for-TV special into a brutal story of punk rock alienation and the disintegration of the American family unit, and naming it after some lyrics by his good ol’ pal Neil Young.
Out of the Blue is a story about CeBe, played with an agonizing honesty by Linda Manz. She’s a teen living ferociously in the space between baby dolls and leather jackets. Sucking her thumb, smoking cigarettes. Missing her father, hating her father.
Her dad, an ex-convict fresh out of jail after he drunkenly smashed his semi into a school bus full of children, is played by Dennis Hopper himself. As he attempts to reintegrate himself into his family and reestablish his relationship with CeBe, the layers of their past are peeled back, revealing a rather rotten core, and culminating into a bitter punch of an ending.
An uncomfortable watch for sure, Out of the Blue kind of beats the shit out of you with its gritty beauty and unflinching depiction of the decay of ‘60s counterculture. The achingly vulnerable performances by Manz and Hopper, the wistful soundtrack by Neil Young, and the themes of the fuck-it-all, crash-and-burn nihilism of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s all play a huge part in why this film is truly unforgettable. EMALIE SODERBACK
Find it in the Drama section, under its Canadian title NO LOOKING BACK. Completely unstreamable, we’re lucky to see Severin’s new 4K Blu-Ray restoration championed by actresses Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny (as if they could get any cooler).
United States, 1995-2004, 435 min, Multiple directors
There’s a collection of gay DVDs at Scarecrow that’s infamous to me. They’re labeled as “boys life” and come with a number: “BOYS LIFE 3.” “boys life 7.” (BOYS LIFE 3 is the only one in all-caps.) They’re in the gay section, which is in the Drama room. Usually there’s a photo of a half-naked guy on the cover or like two muscle-y dudes in a pool who look like they’re about to suck body parts. I used to joke about renting them but didn’t because going to the counter and being like, “Yes, boys life number 6, please; no, I haven’t seen 1 through 5,” seemed too silly.
Well 🙂 I watched some of them and it turns out they’re fun and queer short film compilation DVDs from the artsy-fartsy friends of Dorothy over at Strand Releasing. I rented BOYS LIFE 3 (the all-caps drew me in) and was impressed by how enjoyable, breezy, erotic, and funny they are. BOYS LIFE 3 included the short film that inspired the queer movie Just One Time (1998) starring Guillermo Diaz, which I haven’t seen but now I want to because of that short. Thanks, boys! CHASE BURNS
No trailer. Cruise these like an old-fashioned anonymous hookup.
USA, 1975, 118 min, Dir. Peter Bogdanovich
Upon its release, critics absolutely annihilated director Peter Bogdanovich’s At Last Long Love. Time’s Jay Cocks wrote a killer opening line in his review: “This Cole Porter coloring book, mounted with great expense and no taste, is one of those grand catastrophes that make audiences either hoot in derisive surprise or look away in embarrassment.” Yikes! The musical was so poorly received, Bogdanovich wrote a bizarre and hilarious “apology” that ran in several newspapers across the country:
“In order to suppress my enemies, my work will continue to be from one end to the other a succession of violent, audacious, unfathomable, and subversive wonders that will embrace more mystery, more poetry, more madness, more eroticism, torment, pathos, grandeur, and the cosmology of synthesis because there is no point in bothering to see films that are not sensational!
Thus in accordance with this manifesto of my imaginative autonomy, one could subsequently try to bankrupt systematically the logical meaning of all mechanisms of the rational, practical, and effete form emerging from the ‘new’ and ‘new new’ Hollywood who are nothing more than snotty apologists of youth, of revolution, undulation, fossilized excrements of preservation and those who support the collective and therefore opposed to the individual!
I await you Hollywood feverishly,
Now that’s discourse! Unfortunately, for me, At Last Long Love doesn’t live up to the “sensational” heights Bogdanovich aspired to. And you know how much we love a misunderstood film here at Unstreamable!
The 1975 jukebox musical stars Cybill Shepherd, Burt Reynolds, Madeline Kahn, and Duilio Del Prete as two couples who switch partners and play romantic, jealous games with one another. It features 18 songs from Cole Porter’s extensive discography and all the cast live performed on set in the spirit of big-budget films of the 1930s. My problem was not with the actors (who did a fine job) but the takes. Boy they are loooooooong. I felt mired in each scene, with the story and characters unfurling at a glacial, boring pace.
Besides a 1981 videocassette, At Last Long Love never got an official home video release. But around 2011 it received renewed interest due to the fact that it, erm, was streaming on Netflix. This version of the film differed from the one that screened in cinemas –studio film editor Jim Blakeley secretly recut the movie closer to the way Bogdanovich had imagined it. This version aired as early as 1979 on TV and ended up on Netflix in the 21st century. Blakely died before the director could thank him, but Bogdanovich subsequently released a “Definitive Director’s Version” on Blu-ray two years later. You should check it out. Maybe you’ll like it more than I do! JAS KEIMIG
Find it in the Directors section, under Bogdanovich, Peter.
Every week, we feature one formerly unstreamable title that’s now available to watch online. This week it’s….
Scotland, 1980, 91 min, Dir. Bill Forsyth
Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair) is a normal lad, living in a small town in Scotland. He isn’t particularly interested in school and constantly shows up late, mostly just to play on the school football team with his friends. The coach doesn’t like him. Things take an unexpected turn when mega-babe Dorothy (Dee Hepburn) tries out for the boys football team and is better than everyone else. All the gangly and awkward teens, including Gregory, start chasing after her.
The shots are beautiful: a conversation on a merry-go-round, a coach and athlete practicing moves in the locker room, Gregory and one of his girls dancing on the ground. It’s a solid Scottish entry into the coming-of-age rom-com category, an exalted genre perfected by John Hughes, though I think Gregory’s Girl is a bit cheekier than any of the American confections produced by Hughes. It doesn’t think of itself as too precious but also realizes the preciousness of teenagehood—the longing, the awkwardness, the bits of genuine connection.
A tip: make sure you’re watching the original Scottish dub. I unwittingly watched the version where the actors are dubbed with “easier-to-understand” Scottish accents. (The English amirite???) I’m torn up about that—I knew something was off! Just watch with subtitles like an adult! JAS KEIMIG
Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video. Now streaming on FreeVee (sorry).
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.