Streaming services are only as good as their catalogue. It is pleasing to report that FilmStruck Curzon, launched in February with the aid of recreations of classic scenes from Little Shop of Horrors, North By Northwest and American Psycho, has a great catalogue. The US site supported by Time Warner has launched a UK version in collaboration with the mighty Curzon cinema chain; if there is a foreign language film you want to see, chances are it is one of Curzon’s releases – A Fantastic Woman and The Square are in cinemas this month. It is the only place you can stream films by Theo Angelopoulos and Paul Thomas Anderson, Juzo Itami and Francois Truffaut, Mary Harron and Michael Haneke. It also boasts a library from Criterion.
A long time ago you would go to video stores, preferably whilst waiting for a pizza that you’ve ordered for collection. But then that DVD or VHS copy of the movie that you missed at the cinema was out. You would scream at the poor employee behind the counter ‘nooooo’ before being rebuked for exaggerating your vowel sounds in print. (How did they know?) Then you would come home with a copy of Knowing starring Nicolas Cage.
No one wants to bring home Knowing starring Nicolas Cage.
I miss video stores immensely – though fortunately my local library is well stocked. But even they have dodgy DVDs of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon with only one version of the incident. Look it up – it is seminal.
Streaming services are the answer. We have been blessed with Amazon Prime and Netflix, though in the case of the latter, I wish they would release more of their new content in cinemas first – I can’t imagine watching Martin Scorsese’s reunion with Robert de Niro, The Irishman, on a freaking laptop. But you also want to go somewhere for your film education, FilmStruck Curzon is that place.
If you want to compare streaming sites to magazines – who doesn’t love a metaphor – FilmStruck Curzon is ‘Sight and Sound’ to Netflix’s ‘Empire’ and Amazon Prime’s ‘Total Film’. I grew up loving the now-defunct US magazine, ‘Premiere’, but hey ho. It is a site that doesn’t apologise for being cine-literate, for going back in time and celebrating British, independent and world cinema. It offers the pleasures of Tampopo with its tantalising ‘wild boars in winter’, Tom Cruise as you have never seen him before in Magnolia, Spike Jonze in a rare acting role in Three Kings and the incomparable Jeanne Moreau in Jules et Jim – they want to share her, but just can’t.
If you think that FilmStruck Curzon sounds a bit out of touch with modern sensibilities, films such as Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, a gay buddy movie starring Keanu Reeves and the late River Phoenix, and Quentin Tarantino’s calling card debut, Reservoir Dogs helped shape the risk takers of contemporary cinema.
Still not convinced? Do check out the trailer below and avail yourself of a fourteen day free trial. You too could watch Brian G. Hutton’s Kelly’s Heroes on which the young John Landis worked as a stuntman, and the original Westworld starring Yul Brynner as well as a young Ethan Hawke falling for Julie Delpy in the film that launched a thousand backpack holidays, Before Sunrise.