FilmStruck, TCM and Criterion’s New Streaming Service, Is Live
After a brief delay, FilmStruck, the new streaming service from Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection, is live at FilmStruck.com. You can sign up for a free 14-day trial right now; after that it’ll cost you either $6.99 per month for the basic plan, $10.99 per month for the plan that includes Criterion Collection films, or $99 for a full year of both, which according to my Google calculator assisted arithmetic skills, is about a $30 discount from the month-to-month pricing.
And what do you get for your money? The folks at FilmStruck were nice enough to give me access to a beta version of their iPhone app last month, and I’ve been playing with it since then. I haven’t watched a lot of movies (because I’m not crazy about watching movies on my phone) but the app itself is beautifully designed and, more importantly, has the strong selection of classic and foreign movies that have been sorely missing from other streaming services, particularly as the bigger sites have focused more and more intensely on generating their own original content.
It’s easy to search by filmmaker, actor, or genre. On the genre pages, you can sort A-Z or Z-A, or from oldest to newest or vice versa. It’s actually fun to browse the full library, which is more than I can say for a lot of streaming services. As for the movies themselves, a quick look around revealed classics like Seven Samurai, Chungking Express, A Hard Day’s Night, The Red Shoes, Wild Strawberries, Playtime, and 8 1/2, along with more obscure titles. I was nerdily excited to see they had all three parts of A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Films, a sort of proto-video essay Scorsese made in the mid-’90s taking viewers on a tour of his favorite American movies and genres.
The selection could be bigger, and it’s not as if you’re getting every Criterion Collection movie ever made (about half of the Blu-rays I personally own, in fact, aren’t available at launch), but it’s a good foundation. I’d also love if they added the option to get more results per page, possibly in a list format, so if I want to scroll a genre A-Z I could see a list of, say, 50 or 100 items at once instead of eight or so I can see at a time in the current grid format.
Still, even in its neonate form, FilmStruck is already lightyears beyond most of the competition in the field of classic and foreign films. Once Hulu loses its Criterion section, this is going to be the only place to stream these movies. And if you want to give it a whirl and see what you think, they have that 14-day free trial.