Tired of the YouTube scene? I am. It's a pain when the copyright-infringing video everyone's talking about disappears before you can catch it. And the site's 10-minute limit on videos doesn't do much for those of us with longer attention spans--or who don't like features with six intermissions. Though Rihanna music videos and Trinidad and Tobago Police Band performances are fun, wouldn't you rather watch something a little more...movielike? Well, fire up the popcorn, because I have five flicks you can legally download that YouTube won't have up anytime soon.
1. Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning
Science-fiction fans have been making amateur spoofs of their favorite movies and TV shows for decades, but few projects have been as ambitious as the 103-minute Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning. Seven years in the making, this incredibly goofy Finnish film features the power-mad Captain--sorry, Emperor--James P. Pirk (played by creator and cowriter Samuli Torssonen) leading a fleet of Federation ships through a wormhole into the Babylon 5 universe. Star Wreck's space-battle scenes are amazingly professional, but even more remarkable are the sets: As in "300" and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, almost everything is virtual, created on desktop 3D-animation software and added to the scenes later. Read the Web site's notes on the movie's production for a taste of guerilla filmmaking at its best.
2. The Power of Nightmares
If documentaries are more your speed, the Internet Archive has you covered. The Power of Nightmares is a three-part BBC documentary film that traces the twin histories of modern Islamic fundamentalism and American neoconservatism. The Power of Nightmares puts forward the notions that the two movements shared the same origin, and that, as the title suggests, the "nightmare" of a terrorist network like Al Qaeda is extremely powerful in the hands of neoconservative politicians who want to manipulate the public.
As you'd expect, the film has caused considerable controversy since its 2004 release, but aside from airings in the United Kingdom and Canada, it's been shown in the United States only at a handful of film festivals. Here's your chance to see the series and decide whether you agree with it or not.
3. The Last Man on Earth
The recent I Am Legend starring Will Smith is based on the 1954 novella of the same name by Richard Matheson, but it's actually the fourth time the story has been adapted for the big screen. (Matheson purists should note that each adaptation has in some way deviated from the book.)
The first film was The Last Man on Earth (1964), with Vincent Price as the main character (here known as Robert Morgan instead of Robert Neville), and many fans consider it the most faithful of the four. It has no skyscrapers, and certainly no gym equipment--just a man in a house in an ordinary neighborhood, taking care to board up the windows by day to ward off the attacks of the undead at night.
4. Night of the Living Dead
Wait, does this sound familiar? Of course it does. George Romero's 1968 classic (and still terrifying) Night of the Living Dead, which kick-started the zombie-movie genre, shares The Last Man on Earth's DNA.
Both films are now in the public domain and served up by the Internet Archive, the 12-year-old nonprofit Internet library of freely distributable media. The films are available as iPod-viewable MPEG-4 files or DVD-burnable MPEG-2s.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the third movie adaptation of Matheson's work was 1971's The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston.
5. Directors Notes
Listing Directors Notes here is a bit of a cheat, as the content of this weekly podcast of independent short films could easily appear on YouTube (and sometimes does). The difference is that host MarBelle interviews the creators of every one of these films, providing a look at the creative process for an international roster of filmmakers, each working in different genres and styles. Spend some time poking around the site, and it's like having your own personal indie film festival.