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Unstreamable, The Scarecrow Wire


Posted March 20th 2024
Someone restore this ASAP!

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 😊

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US, 1989, 96 min, Dir. Norman René

Longtime Companion has been out of print for years.

Thirty years ago, Longtime Companion premiered in the United States. It was the first major film to deal with the AIDS epidemic and remains a forceful and passionate look at a group of friends supporting each other as they battle the virus. It grossed $4.6 million at the box office, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and won a Golden Globe for the same category. The film was simultaneously ahead of its time and a decade too late, as the virus started ravaging the gay community in the early '80s. Frustratingly, Longtime Companion is unstreamable and out of print.

There are earlier U.S. films that confronted AIDS but didn't get a wide release: Buddies (1985) is credited as being the first film to deal with AIDS, although Bill Sherwood's extraordinary Parting Glances (1986), starring a young Steve Buscemi, comes to my mind first. Parting Glances and Longtime Companion are similar in many respects: Both focus on well-off white gay men living in or around New York City in the '80s, both value a "queer chosen family" over gay couples, and both of the films' directors died of AIDS complications a few years after their respective premieres. But unlike Parting Glances, which you can watch on Kanopy for free via the Seattle Public Library, Longtime Companion is almost lost to time. Thankfully, Yahoo Movies conducted an invaluable oral history with the surviving cast and crew in 2015, but we need to get this film back in the popular consciousness. CHASE BURNS

Find it in the LGBT section or rent it by mail.


France, 1990, 90 minutes, Dir. Claire Denis

Alex Descas is entrancing in this film.

For her second feature film No Fear, No Die, French director Claire Denis said she was directly inspired by philosopher Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth. Specifically, she claimed interest in a type of neurosis Fanon described as affecting colonized people, a state of being "psychologically defeated even though they are physically free to determine their future."

It's that kind of anxiety that runs through No Fear, No Die. The film follows two Black immigrants Jocelyn and Dah, played by frequent Denis collaborators Alex Descas and Isaach De Bankolé, who work in an underground cockfighting ring beneath a nightclub on the outskirts of Paris. The two friends have spartan accommodations, sleeping practically on top of the roosters they coach. It's a windowless basement, owned by the nefarious white businessman Ardennes (Jean-Claude Brialy) who runs the whole operation. It becomes a sort of prison for both men as they struggle to make a brutal living.

Though I love watching De Bankolé (and his face) in any role, the real star is Descas as Jocelyn. He hardly speaks the entire film, but his eyes and body betray a discomfort and entrapment that made me claustrophobic. As he fastidiously trains his cocks with Ardennes, encouraging him to make the fights more deadly, you come to understand that he identifies with these creatures, themselves the subjects of immense cruelty. It leads to self-destruction and violence. JAS KEIMIG

Find it in the Directors section under Denis, Claire. In store only.

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.