Why I’ll Have To Write The Book Of Forgotten Films
Okay, the ubiquitous ‘Dunkirk’ was the best film of the year for me, but I have a special love of flawed oddities likely to disappear, so ‘Valerian’, ‘A Cure For Wellness’, ‘Snowpiercer’, ‘Mr Nobody’, ‘Rams’, ‘Skeletons’, ‘Black Pond’ and ‘What We Become’ all worked well enough that I was able to overlook any missteps…then along came ‘Okja’, from Korean director Bong Joon Ho.
The story: For ten years, Mija has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja, a giant mutant pig, at her home in the mountains of South Korea. Then the multinational conglomerate that created it comes to take Okja backÂ as a PR stunt before swamping the globe with GM food. The rescue mission involves the Animal Liberation Front, Tilda Swinton, a wildly overreacting Jake Gyllenhaal and a CGI monster that puts most other creatures to shame.Â The oddest part is the tone, which is an equal (and very Korean) mix of slapstick, family charm, swearing and drama.
And here’s why it will vanish; Netflix bought it, and as they’re a US streaming service investing heavily in film, they’re not releasing it in cinemas. The Cannes Film Festival has banned them and director Christopher Nolan castigated them, but Netflix aren’t about to hand off their USP to someone else.
Another problem; streaming services often hide other subscription companies within their shells, so you may find that a film will now bypass cinemas to be shown on Amazon, but although you have an Amazon account you still can’t watch it because it’s on a sub-channel like Mubi or another encrypted part of the service – which is what has happened to the theatrically extravagant French comedy ‘Ma Loute’ (‘Slack Bay’), bought by Mubi on Amazon’s platform.
So as the entertainment system gets more crowded and ever harder for us to understand (and Hollywood gives up the ghost after posting its worst returns in two decades) there’s a good chance that many more good films, especially those from around the world, will be lost. Unfortunately US companies have an appalling track record of buying world cinema to dump originals for remake rights.
If the film you really wanted to see bypasses cinema entirely, there’s no guarantee now that you’ll ever figure out a way to find it. We’re lucky in the UK that we have the Fopp! chain, which supports collectors and geeks. But until streaming services, channels and distribution companies find a more inclusive delivery system for entertainment it’s back to books, I think!