Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Mubi movie streaming service
Mubi review: An independent movie streaming service for the PlayStation 3
- Brilliant selection of obscure, weird and old films (and they all run well), not very expensive
- The front-end isn't exactly user-friendly
If you like your films a little bit different to the usual Hollywood stuff, you'll love MUBI on the PlayStation 3. If not, here's your chance to broaden your horizons.
Keen on catching up on the latest films out of Africa? What about some classic Japanese cinema, or the 1903 version of Alice in Wonderland? It's a bit difficult to do by just wandering into a DVD store, but thanks to Mubi on the PlayStation 3, watching somewhat obscure films just got a whole lot easier.
Mubi — the newest non-game feature to be rolled onto the PlayStation 3 — is a video-streaming service that has found a niche, and works it to perfection. The service concentrates on arthouse and world cinema, with some Academy Award winners thrown in for good measure.
If you're the kind of person that likes to namedrop obscure films for artistic cred, you'll be right at home here. If you're the kind of person that knows a guy who acts like a pretentious twit, then you now have the ammunition to one-up him.
With a database of just over 500 films, the closest the Mubi playlist comes to pop culture is the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but there are some truly brilliant and very important films to watch nonetheless. Alexander Dovzhenko's soviet masterpiece, 1930's Earth, for instance, is the kind of film that you will study at university if you take a film course.
There's the edgy, early works of Roman Polanski in there. There's the genius of Pedro Almodovar, and there's a touch of Lars Von Trier insanity thrown in for good measure. There are films from France, Iran, Hong Kong, Brazil and everywhere in between.
So in short, it's a film buff's wet dream, and it's none too expensive — the $20/month subscription is a bill you'll hardly notice (and your credit card will be automatically charged through Sony's PSN each month if you so wish, so it's a no-fuss transaction). The subscription fee gives you full access to everything.
For one offs, it's around $7 to rent a movie, and if you want to dip your toes into the water first, there's a few films offered for free. It all runs well on the PlayStation hardware, and the H.264 compression used means the streaming is very smooth on a decent broadband connection.
Although it is clearly a work-in-progress, Mubi also features social-networking elements — letting your Twitter or Facebook followers know what movies you're watching and what you thought about them. The Mubi community itself is quite robust, and you can access your account on PCs as well for some heated debate away from the TV.
If there is one criticism I can level at the service, it's that the aesthetics aren't very appealing. A mishmash of ugly links, substandard presentation and a clunky and unrewarding search function make navigating through Mubi a bit of a chore. But then, the fruits are worth the effort.
Given we don't have access to Netflix in Australia, Mubi stands as the only movie option for our PS3s at the moment, but even if we had Netflix, it would be a worthy investment for anyone who wants to watch something a little bit different from time to time.
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