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The Shutdown of FilmStruck and the Wrong Promise of Streaming Classics



A.T.. & T., the new owner of Warner Bros. Digital Networks and Turner, will close FilmStruck, the streaming service that started in November 2016. The site, founded by TCM, the indispensable classic movie cable channel, draws the core of its offerings from the Criterion Cornucopia DVD and Blu-ray releases of world cinema, as well as related films that are not yet released on the HD. Recently, Hollywood classics from the TCM list have been added to the FilmStruck offerings.

The site does not accept new subscribers and it is a good bet that it will not add any movies. In the year and a half that I have given recommendations for streaming movies here, FilmStruck titles came first. On the sole basis of FilmStruck films one could occupy oneself for a long time, keep happy and cinematic lasting, and all the more, if one included films from the TCM. (The film diet would not be completely balanced: the site cuts poorly with areas such as independent American filmmaking, African cinema, and the last forty years of film history, the only downside is that it relies on recognized classics: the programming of the site is more responsive than proactive, and it could have been enhanced by more personalized, idiosyncratic selections that made it more of a permanent online film festival.]

The site instead offered various types of advertising work, some such as essays, and some self-produced Videos were in themselves significant works, but the site over-watered their offerings with a homepage of distractions and distractions that felt like a shabby sample of multiplex Ballyhoo, giving an unwelcome noise amidst the Kunsthaus calm

The striking Commercial Cinema Library Classic Waiting room suggests the cultural warfare at the heart of the company, which came from his peculiar original merger of Criterion with TCM, which at the time was part of Time Warner ̵

1; and which anticipated its demise. This fateful air springs more from the inherent conflicts of the high-culture outpost and the massive colossus. It arose from another conflict, between owning physical media and simply buying access to data – between the permanent and the revocable, between the one-time purchase and the monthly subscription forever. Whatever it is worth visiting again over the years is worth it – in physical media or at least in a digital file.

Subscription-Forever's physical media equivalent is "going to the movies": a viewer buys access to every screening and never owns anything but the memories. For this reason, the best analogy and best use of streaming video complements new releases, especially movies that are unlikely to be widely distributed in the cinema. Streaming puts the low-budget, independent or foreign film at the same broad availability as a studio-tppole movie. But when it comes to classics, the age of streaming is considered the days of repertory theater – with the difference that the boundaries were both technical and financial. Film prints and projectors are expensive and cumbersome. Now the limits of manufactured scarcity are in the guise of abundance, the manufactured dependence marketed as freedom. Consumers were weaned from floppy disks with the promise of convenience, weightlessness, space-lessness, unlimited portability and a large (but unstable) library of offerings. They are forever connected to the mothership.


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