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Netflix not getting it done for you? Serious film buffs should flock to Fandor

Jeffrey M. Anderson | March 25, 2015
Fandor is a streaming service like Netflix, but it's definitely not for the average, everyday movie fan. If you see one movie a year, and it involves superheroes or has "Hunger" or "Games" in the title, then you shouldn't bother. But if you have ever witnessed the unspooling of a scratchy print at a repertory theater; driven across town to find an obscure VHS tape at a local video store; or hunted online for rare, bootleg DVDs of some 1960s exploitation movie or an unreleased Taiwanese movie from the 1990s; then you should know about Fandor.

More recent, highly recommended arthouse movies include Boy, The Color Wheel, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,Meek's Cutoff, The White Meadows, A Time for Drunken Horses, Eccentricities of a Blond-Haired Girl, Alamar, Silent Light, Lake Tahoe, Road to Nowhere, Starlet, and the Oscar-winning Ida. The site stretches back to the silent days, with selections from D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Fritz Lang; this includes features and two-reel shorts as well. Even The Great Train Robbery (1903) is here, as well as films by Melies and the Lumiere brothers going back to 1895.

The site includes many great experimental films, such as Orson Welles' Hearts of Age (1934), Jean Genet's Un Chant d'Amour (1950), Peter Greenaway's The Falls (1980), Charles Lane's Sidewalk Stories (1989), Craig Baldwin's Tribulation 99 (1992), Lynn Hershman Leeson's Teknolust (2002), Jenni Olson's beautiful The Joy of Life (2005), and Abbas Kiarostami's Shirin (2008).

If you're in a not-so-serious mood, Fandor offers a surprising number of fun exploitation, drive-in, and "B" movie classics, starting with a large batch of films by the great Italian horror master Mario Bava. Other examples that pop up: Ishiro Honda's Destroy All Monsters (1968), Ted Kotcheff's Wake in Fright (1971), Radley Metzger's Score (1974), Lewis Jackson's Christmas Evil (1980), Dario Argento's Inferno (1980), David Markey's Desperate Teenage Lovedolls (1984), Frank Henelotter's Brain Damage (1988) and Frankenhooker (1990), Monte Hellman's Iguana (1988), Stuart Gordon's Castle Freak (1995), and even "B" Westerns like Allan Dwan's Silver Lode (1954) and Sergio Corbucci's Django (1966).

The site offers plenty of documentaries, but these run a bit more toward the obscure. Probably the most famous example is Nick Broomfield's Biggie & Tupac, and the late, great Albert Maysles is represented with several of his lesser-known titles. Likewise, the site rather falls down in its family film offerings, so parents won't find much here for kids, other than films like Kirikou and the Sorceress and a collection of old public domain Fleischer Brothers cartoons. Speaking of public domain, like most other streaming services, fans will find several of those familiar, free titles, such as a group of hilarious W.C. Fields comedy shorts, Charade (1963) with Audrey Hepburn, and Nina Paley's great Sita Sings the Blues (2009).

The actual streaming of the movies is pretty seamless, with the interface resembling YouTube or Vimeo, and no ads. Users can even scrub back and forth through the video, if desired; nothing is locked down. The main menus offer searches through many genres, subgenres and countries. Sliders are available to narrow the range of years or running times. Just about every cast and crew member is hotlinked, for maximum searchability. Some names are well represented, like Herzog and Bava; others, like Spike Lee or Steven Soderbergh, a little less so.


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