So, the other day, I decided to review those old links and see how things had progressed. I was not thrilled by what I found. So not thrilled that I won't provide direct links to every film I've pointed out below.
Bluntly, a lot of the movies that had been available are now gone. I am not sure whether it was from a change in rights, or if Youtube always intended to rotate its offerings, but I was saddened to see that you can't follow the link I posted for Hayao Miyazaki's infectiously-energetic The Castle of Cagliostro. It and Buena Vista Social Club are listed as "Private." And Ghostbusters isn't available in my country, apparently - I sure hope The Maldives enjoy it, though!
In those old posts, I linked to 14 or so individual pages that sorted the free films by genre. Now, this is what the Animation page looks like. You have to scroll down, past the "featured" and "top selling" sections to see the "free" section. Click on the word "Free" and you can go to the full page of free animated work.
While that setup remains the same, it has far fewer titles than before. Other genre sections are still large, tho - and when you click the "load more" button at the bottom of the page, you get a lot of entries that do not belong in the genre you are browsing... It's frustrating. The "animated" selection includes a 1939 Laurel and Hardy film that is not animated (I checked).
Worse than that, the "load more" results are different for each page (again, tho the genres don't match the pages you are on). Since you can bring up additional titles like 6 or more times, you'd think Youtube is just giving you a list or all their unpaid films, but they're not. That, at least, would allow you to waste some time but at least examine the whole library in one go.
Those of you who read my original Youtube Free Movies posts will know that I took a little time to mock the fact that the posters didn't always match the film. Not only is that still the case, but it's a little worse now. See, the selection of films is presented by box covers for each flick - and one of them clearly displayed a woman's bare breasts (with a guy cupping his hands, offering the woman water to drink?). While I don't mind the nudity myself - hey, why not? - I think that it wasn't intentional...
There is a little light in the darkness, however. Youtube kept its relationship with Crackle going, so you can still see a lot of quality movies that way. The best part about this is that the movies stream over Youtube's system, not Crackle's. It's a real blessing because Crackle has been insanely-buggy every time I've tried to use it.
A quick review shows that the standouts of the reduced collection include Synecdoche, New York, and Robert Rodriguez' exceptional indie, El Mariachi - as well as its Hollywood sequels, Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. You can also watch the excellent Run Lola Run, the wonderfully funny The Gods Must Be Crazy, the sci-fi buddy cop blockbuster Men in Black, and that 80's classic, The Karate Kid. Groundhog Day is just the icing on the cake.
Films with a cult appeal are still available, too: the thriller Arligton Road (which I didn't like), the energetic dramedy called Go (which I need to rewatch), Guy Ritchie's Revolver (surprisingly well-recommended by friends), Can't Hardly Wait (haha), Arnie's absurdist turn in The Last Action Hero, SLC Punk, and the mid-90's teenage boxing film, Gladiator (which I did enjoy, ages ago). They even still have a genuine anime classic in Battle Spaceship Yamato.
So there is still a bit of good-to-tolerable material left, spread out among a variety of genres. It's balanced by several bad Wesley Snipes Action-Thrillers, like Game of Death or Adam Sandler's You Don't Mess with the Zohan. And Horror looks especially weak - I don't think anyone's clamoring for The Grudge 3. And there are still unexpected entries, like The Runaways - that film got very mixed reviews, but it's so recent that I checked to make sure it was the same pic (it was).
And, sadly, as before, much of the catalogue is capital-O Old. I guess you can't ignore The Birth of a Nation. Sure, it's a racist tract, but it's an important (sadly) piece of movie history. What was sort-of-surprising? There are a lot of films that were covered by MST3k - this makes sense in that the rights were available for cheap over 20 years ago, but I've never seen most of these pictures outside of the context of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I don't know that I want to see them without Joel & the 'bots.
For my part, it was only fair that I test the experience out before giving you all the details. Thus, I decided to watch this 1992 foreign film with Stellan Skarsgard. It was a fine little movie, and I liked that it had subtitles for German and Swedish, in addition to some English dialogue. It played well, and the commercials weren't too numerous or annoying. Huzzah! It's a holiday miracle!
I think I will give a shot to a few of the movies mentioned above, in addition to The Nines, starring Ryan Reynolds, and 1987's Escape from Sobibor, a public domain picture starring Rutger Hauer. That last one might be a big ask - I find Holocaust films very tough to watch, although it's a great story and Rutger was the s--t back then.
The trailer's narration/editing give another impression. Also, $89.98, hahha - in 1980's dollars!
Well, I can't really go back and update my every entry - it's simpler to just write new ones. In this case, those earlier Youtube posts of mine still get a lot of hits, and I hope this update appears in web searches first. So please just take advantage of my hard work and enjoy some movies! Anyone who's still a fan of Screamers should rejoice.
And when you speak of me, speak well.