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 unless we’re tired or busy 😊
Got a recommendation for Unstreamable? Give us the scoop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hong Kong, 1993, 99 min, Dir. Tsui Hark
There’s a delicious sensuality to Tsui Hark’s wuxia fantasy drama, Green Snake. Adapted from an ancient Chinese folktale, the naive Green Snake (Maggie Cheung) and her wisened older sister White Snake (Joey Wang) transform themselves from snake demons into humans to feel human emotions. Green Snake sees this transformation more as a curiosity, and is less careful to conceal her true form (Cheung is, as ever, delightfully flirty in this role). But White Snake is committed, falling in love with a dopey scholar, Hsui Xien (Wu Hsing-kuo), hoping her warm bloodedness will stick. Oh, yeah, and they are being hunted by a monk who wants to vanquish them.
Part of the film’s sensuality comes from Bill Lui’s set design—the sisters’ house is surrounded by a pond filled with lotus flowers, tall silk curtains billow in the wind, and giant baths for the girls to soak themselves in. But for me, Green Snake’s deliciousness came from the colors that suffuse the film. Cool greens and blues, balmy pinks, warm gradients of red, yellow, and orange. Watching the film felt akin to looking at a watercolor in motion. It’s divine! Green and White Snakes’ world feels so lush and wonderful—until the harsh reality of what it means to be a human cuts their world in half. JAS KEIMIG
Find it in the Directors section under Tsui Hark or rent it by mail.
United States, 2000, 96 min, Dirs. Jane Anderson, Martha Coolidge, Anne Heche
What do I even say about the ending of If These Walls Could Talk, the first one? It's maybe the most shocking ending I've ever seen. Cher directs it, Cher stars in it, and it's Cher's only directing credit. I screamed out loud, then had to watch it twice—I won't spoil it. If these walls can't talk, neither should I.
If These Walls Could Talk is an HBO anthology series broken into three ~30-minute segments. The series initially aired in 1996, and it starred Cher, Demi Moore, and Sissy Spacek in separate stories about abortion in America. They all happen in the same house but in different decades. It's a clever set-up, and the acting is strong, though the melodrama is thick and body horror heavy. (Moore has a brutal abortion scene set in 1952, directed by Nancy Savoca.) But nothing prepared me for the final scene with Cher. It’s Camp lore. It's streaming on Max. It’s regrettably more relevant now than when it premiered.
The first If These Walls Could Talk was successful and nominated for Emmys, so it sparked a sequel in 2000. Instead of focusing on abortion, this one's all about lesbians—and the cast is stacked. It starts with Vanessa Redgrave, who plays an aging woman in 1961 who feuds with her dead partner's greedy nephew, played by Paul Giamatti. Next, there's Michelle Williams and Chloe Sevigny as lesbian lovers confronting second-wave feminism in 1972. Sevigny plays a smoldering butch character and drives a motorcycle. And then there's Ellen DeGeneres and Sharon Stone, who play a couple in 2000 trying to have a baby.
Like its predecessor, If These Walls Could Talk 2 is melodramatic and overwhelmingly white, but if you're a fan of any of these actors, and particularly if you're queer, add it to the list. CHASE BURNS
Find it in the LGBT section or rent it by mail.
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. We don’t consider films on sites that interrupt with commercial breaks, like Tubi, to be streamable. Tubi is like Neu Cable. And 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.