You probably already have accounts for Netflix or Hulu Plus—maybe even both. But if you really love Hollywood movies, foreign art films, or exploitative trash—and all three have their pleasures—you might want to explore some lesser-known motion picture streaming services.
The four services featured here don't offer the huge libraries you get from the big players. But they do provide something else: they're curated. Someone, usually a small group of people, selects films that they believe their target audience might like, even if that audience has never heard of these titles.
In other words, we're not necessarily talking about a vast selection of films. We're talking about films that someone believes are really worth seeing. And when your tastes line up with the people doing the curating, that service should be a good match for you.
Warner Archive Instant
If you cut your cable and found yourself missing Turner Classic Movies, Warner Archive Instant will help ease your withdrawal. Warner Brothers owns the largest library of commercial American films in the world—the products of three major studios. The acknowledged classics, such as Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Singin' in the Rain are readily available everywhere. The $10-a-month Instant service, like the Archive Collection that sells manufactured-on-demand discs, gives us access to lesser-known movies and TV shows.
The offerings change regularly, and you can easily check New Additions and (not so easily) Leaving Soon pages. Some titles are in high definition, and their numbers are growing: As I write this, all 17 New Additions are in HD.
You can browse by genre and decades, or visit the Showcases, which spotlight filmmakers, stars, and types of films, such as Literary Adaptations and Revisionist Westerns. Or you can go to Most Watched section to see what everyone else is looking at.
Among films currently playing, and worth watching, are the anti-Nazi drama Watch on the Rhine, the Lon Chaney silent horror film The Unknown, and The Killing Fields, a truly horrifying drama about Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge.
In terms of the breadth and depth of the cinematic experience, it would be hard to beat Fandor. For $10 a month, you get access to hundreds of motion pictures, from rare, serious European features to educational shorts and the silliest exploitation flicks. You'll find almost all of Buster Keaton's major work (presented in HD), classic British science fiction, a large selection from special effects pioneer Georges Méliès, a travelogue that literally changed the shape of cinema, and an environmental documentary with a title I can't spell out on TechHive.com.
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