Amid the distractions of Netflix, and the ongoing search for new and unusual streaming services, I admit I’ve rather neglected a faithful standby. In addition to its obvious uses as a TV catch-up service, the BBC iPlayer rarely gets much credit or promotion for the breadth and intelligence of its film selection: too often I forget to check what’s on its menu for a couple of weeks, and am surprised by the accumulated treasures when I return.
At the moment, for example, you can catch gems as assorted as Ben Wheatley’s excellent family-feud tragicomedy Happy New Year, Colin Burstead, Nicholas Ray’s stony-hard 1952 noir On Dangerous Ground or Miloš Forman’s whirling Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon – all streaming, of course, for free. Like an eccentric but generous auntie, the iPlayer always has some manner of treat in its bag if you just rummage around for it. Covering its highlights for this column, however, can be tricky when many films have such short, limited streaming windows: like a more haphazardly structured version of Mubi, it’s not a model that permits a lot of procrastination.
Channel - BBC - Three - Leeway - Years
When it comes to content from the online-only channel BBC Three, however, there’s rather more leeway. Still going digitally three years after being dropped from the airways, the channel is hanging on to its youth-targeted remit, with laxer scheduling to match: its films hit the iPlayer for five months at a time, giving them more word-of-mouth time to find younger, less vigilantly Beeb-attuned viewers.
That’s to the benefit of us all, since the channel’s film picks are among the iPlayer’s most adventurous and essential. Right now, they have two of the sharpest, slyest teen movies of recent years: if the testing indulgences of Mubi’s recent Under the Silver Lake soured you on the gifts of David Robert...
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