Five Must-Stream Movies to Watch on Tubi in Fall 2021

Despite inheriting the low reputation of an ad-supported streaming service, I was shocked to find when I actually dove into Tubi’s catalogue of titles that I realized what a hidden gem the entire service was.  In addition to a lot of must-watch TV that is bizarrely overlooked by the larger streaming services (Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Anybody?), they have a deeper and more eclectic catalog of classics, foreign films and off-the-radar oddities than nearly any other streaming service.  It’s better organized than its competitors (including a clearly-labeled “Leaving Soon” section and features fewer, shorter and more purposively placed commercial breaks than other ad-supported services.  In short, it is the streaming age’s secret weapon: perfect for tight budgets and broad interests.

Thomasine & Bushrod (1974)

While I can hardly be said to be a fan of Westerns on the whole (the fact that they made nearly 2,700 of these in a mad-rush between 1930 and 1954 certainly doesn’t help the cream rise to the top), there are a choice few that I have found myself drawn to over the years.  In addition to the Revisionist Westerns from late in the era, the Spaghetti Westerns coming out of Italy and the deep-cut Western Noir, the precious smattering of Black Westerns from the 1960s and 70s have been genuine relights to uncover as I continue to wade through all the unmemorable west.  Although it never quite lives up to the like of Sidney Poitier’s record-straightening Buck and the Preacher (1972) nor John Ford’s apologetic Sergeant Rutledge (1960), Gordon Parks Jr.’s Thomasine & Bushrod – released the same year as his blaxploitation masterpiece Super Fly – depicts a feverish crime spree across the Old West and serves as a stark counterpoint to the more-widely canonized Bonnie and Clyde (1967).

WarGames (1983)

For as constant a presence as this film was in my 90’s upbringing, I’m always surprised to realize just how little cultural penetration the film had more broadly (certainly among other middle-aged Millennials).  After all, a generation raised under the specter of the 9/11 terrorist attacks could certainly relate to the apocalyptic threat of Global Thermonuclear War that informs the film.  Featuring the direction of Short Circuit’s John Badham and headlined by Ferris Bueller himself (Matthew Broderick), this tech-fueled thriller about a high school hacker who accidentally triggers the start of World War III when hacks into computer that controls the United States’ nuclear arsenal.  At first thinking he’s just playing a computer game, it soon becomes a race against time as he must unravel the truth behind the computer’s reclusive programmer.

Cube (1997)

Despite having the inglorious distinction of not one, but two made-for-TV sequels courtesy of the Sci-Fi Channel, and a devoted cult horror following, I never felt that Cube has ever gotten the recognition it deserves.  Boasting a high concept premise and a bargain bin budget, director Vincenzo Natali’s state-funded first feature is ingeniously set in a series of identical rooms.  As their occupants gradually wake and navigate through the trap-laden maze, they struggle to understand what, if anything, is its sinister purpose.  Prefiguring the nastier-but-far-less-thoughtful Saw (2004) by nearly a decade, the film presents a Kafkan mystery that invites repeated viewings just as much as the Wanian deathtraps and Romero-reminiscent social breakdown.

3-Iron (2004)

Since the moment I first saw Kim Ki-duk’s curious masterpiece, I have been obsessed with it.  As strange as anything from Mike and as tenderly rendered as anything from Baumbach, 3-Iron follows a transient motorcyclist who breaks into vacationers’ vacant houses, clandestinely housesits for a couple of days and moves on to his next homestead.  But it turns out that one of these homes isn’t really empty after all, he hits the road with a battered housewife who is desperate to escape from her abusive husband.  Authentic and engrossing in ways that are unlike anything you liable to see from English-language cinema, 3-Iron is the kind of movie that you watch all weekend on repeat when you first see it… then proceed to ingratiate every one of your friends into it like a person possessed.  It really is like something else altogether, and exists as a powerful, non-violent entryway to the expansive world of Korean language film.

13 Assassins (2010)

However, if what you’re really looking for is something that is viscerally and unrepentantly violent, well, Tubi has you covered too.  Takashi Miike, the (in)famous “man of 100 movies,” is noted the world over for his stylish, ultra-violent films that span nearly every genre and medium in Japan’s entertainment industry.  While I tend to prefer my Miikes to be more pronouncedly weird, his blood-drenched riff on Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) stands as one of his most accessible films for Western audiences.  As unremittingly action-packed as Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) or the latest John Wick, 13 Assassins stands testament to the vibrant canvas that the action genre offers today’s filmmakers, particularly when working in the monochromatic mode of familiar narratives whose every twist and turn would otherwise be known by rote by the audiences that they serve.

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