MUBI is a worthwhile alternative streaming service

Despite their ubiquity and their ability to destroy the movie theatre industry, most would agree that streaming services are pretty amazing. You already know about the big names; Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime (to name a few).

However, for some who are more serious cinephiles, some of these services leave a lot to be desired in terms of content. While these services are rarely lacking in recognizable titles, finding suitable foreign or independent films is often challenging. I say this, hoping that the authorities don’t read the arts and life section. As I am unable to find many of these outsider films, I sporadically resort to piracy.

In this day and age, illegally streaming movies is far from an arrestable offence. Still, I doubt that I’m the only one who feels shame when pirating with the knowledge that the creators aren’t receiving any money for the entertainment they have provided me with. It’s for reasons like this that I decided to try out a streaming service called MUBI.

MUBI is a streaming service oriented to people who are interested in lesser-seen films. Every day films are being added and removed to continue to have a fresh catalogue of films that would otherwise be hard to track down.

Additionally, they bring your attention to films that would have otherwise gone under your radar. It has rating and review features so people can compare their thoughts on the films at hand. While I think the display and organization of the website could use some work, it was easy to navigate once I got the hang of it.

To give an impression of the quality of films featured on the service as well as their diversity, I randomly selected four of the films on the service and gave them a watch. The service is always full of recently released films in addition to older pictures. The four I selected were all released in either 2020 or 2021.

The first film I watched was a Japanese film called Wife of a Spy (2020). Taking place in WWII-era Japan, the film is a typical spy espionage story. Of the four films, this was the one I was least impressed with as I found the on-screen somewhat draband the story to be predictable. Still, there was good cinematography throughout and the acting was well done.

Next, I watched MAAT (2020). While technically an American film, it would be more accurate to call it an Indigenous-American film. The film is very experimental in its presentation, giving the impression that it was an intensely personal project for director Fox Maxy. I suppose it would be considered a short film documentary as we experience disconnected bits and pieces of reality for this director. The film is about the rights of Indigenous groups and this discussion is explored through the use of prominent Indigenous activists giving speeches/being interviewed and by watching the camera operator show how the treatment of Indigenous peoples affects their life. The method of messaging and visual style is all very innovative – it’s just  a shame that this is the only film of Maxy’s that I’ve been able to watch.

Afterward, I watched a French film called Honey Cigar (2020). This film is a bit of genre blend; part romance, part coming of age, part drama, tied together in a feminist bow. The characters in this film I found to be very interesting as well as the lighting As someone who typically isn’t a fan of romantic films, this one broke the mould in a really enjoyable way. The last film I watched was a Brazilian film called Madalena (2021), and it is the best film I’ve watched on MUBI so far. It’s an anthology all centred around the murder of a trans woman, showing the reaction of the different parties involved. More than that, the film is a guide to contemporary Brazilian life and society. The shot composition and camera work in this film was beautiful and the chemistry between characters felt real. Perhaps realism is the defining characteristic of this film as even when the film introduced unrealistic concepts, it did it in a subtle way that didn’t feel out of place. This is a film that made the subscription feel worth it to me.

If these types of films sound like the kind you’d be interested in, then maybe MUBI is the streaming service for you. In my personal opinion, the service is worth every dime.

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