Snobs, cinephiles and aficionados rejoice! Internet video on demand, previously the domain of Stranger Things and South Park, has new and rarefied company in the streaming service FilmStruck.
Launched in November 2016, FilmStruck is a movie nerd’s dream house, furnished with shorts and films from Turner Classic Movies’ extensive backlog and a rotating selection of the Criterion Collection (a distribution company focused on artistic and contemporary films and commentaries).
Content ranges from storied classics to the downright esoteric. Gorgeous reproductions of Golden Age Hollywood are available alongside Iranian dramas and impressionist animated shorts. Old or new, domestic or abroad, the selection is varied and deep.
While critically acclaimed films are certainly not absent from other streaming services (and selections from the Criterion Collection previously made a brief appearance on Hulu), the artistic and the unconventional form the bulk of FilmStruck’s catalog.
Amazon may have Burn After Reading, but FilmStruck has the Coen brothers’ directorial debut Blood Simple. While you can stream 12 Monkeys on Netflix, FilmStruck has La Jetee, the 1962 French short that inspired it.
Plans are priced comparably to other streaming services, starting at $7/month for FilmStruck content only, and moving up to $11/month or $99/year to include the Criterion Collection films.
The service is not without its faults, however.
The website appears to be poorly optimized, and the player applet can load slowly or be occasionally unresponsive, even on powerful computers. Dedicated FilmStruck apps are available for most mobile devices, but aren’t fully mature either.
And due to the — let’s say choosy — nature of the Criterion Collection, there are counterintuitive omissions. Many auteurs are represented — Akira Kurosawa, the Coen brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson and John Cassavetes — but few full filmographies are represented.
Unfortunately, the filmmakers and viewpoints skew heavily male. There was a time when this was a reflection of the industry, but in the age of Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola and Lone Scherfig (among many others), it’s disappointing.
Here’s hoping the curators address that issue soon. In the meantime, FilmStruck is a treasure trove for anyone in search of the serious, the confusing, the audacious or — let’s face it — the pretentious gems of cinema.