The closing of FilmStruck and the false promise of Streaming Classics

adminOctober 27, 2018


TO. & T., the new corporate head of Warner Bros. Digital Networks and Turner, will close FilmStruck, the broadcast service that was launched in November 2016. The site, established by TCM, the indispensable cable channel of classic films, draws El. The core of its offers comes from the Criterion cornucopia of DVD and Blu-ray releases of World Cinema, as well as related films that have not yet been released on the disc. 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 movies either. In the year and a half I've been offering movie recommendations to broadcast, the FilmStruck titles have stood out. One could keep busy, happy and sustained cinematographically for a long time on the sole basis of the FilmStruck films, and much more with the inclusion of TCM movies. (The movie's diet would not be completely balanced: the site performs poorly with domains such as the American independent cinema, African cinema and the last forty years of film history.The general flaw is its confidence in the recognized classics: the programming of the site is more receptive than proactive, and could have been improved by more personalized and idiosyncratic selections that would have made it more like a permanent online film festival.)

The site, however, offered several promotional promotion modes. Some, such as essays and some videos produced at home, were significant works in themselves, but the site diluted its offerings with a home page of distractions and distractions that felt like a tasteless display of multiple ballyhoo, raising a racket Inopportune in the middle of The tranquility of the art house.

This striking commercial waiting room in the classic cinema library suggests the cultural clash at the heart of the company, which arises from its strange original merger of Criterion with TCM, which was then part of Time Warner, and announced its destiny. . That air of doom arises from something more than the conflicts inherent in the outpost of high culture and the colossus of the mass market. It is born of another conflict, between the ownership of physical means and the mere purchase of access to data, between the permanent and the revocable, between the single purchase and the monthly subscription forever. It's worth being the owner of anything worthwhile to revisit over time, either in physical media or at least in a digital archive.

The physical-medium subscription-forever is called going to the movies: a viewer buys access to each screening and never possesses anything except the memories. That is why the best analogy and the best use of video streaming is as a complement to new releases, particularly of films that probably do not have a broad theatrical distribution. Streaming puts the low-budget, independent or foreign film on the same broad-based basis as a studio tentpole movie. But when it comes to classics, the era of streaming is like the era of repertoire theaters, with the difference that, then, the limits were both technical and financial. Prints and film projectors are expensive and complicated. Now the limits are those of scarcity manufactured in the form of abundance, manufactured dependence marketed as freedom. Consumers have been removed from discs with the promise of convenience, weightlessness, lack of space, infinite portability and a large (but unstable) library of offers. In return, they are tied to the mother ship forever.


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