The Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter arrived in the mail yesterday. This will allow me to connect my iPhone directly to the TV with an HDMI cable in order to stream movies to the TV.
There are other methods to do this including Google’s Chromecast. The advantage of this latter option is that you can control the streaming content from your iPhone (or whatever brand of tablet or phone) and use it as a remote without the wires. I have not used a Chromecast so I have no idea how it actually works in practice. It’s a $35.00 device so it’s not a big investment to experiment with.
As it is, I have my iPhone connected to a 6 foot HDMI cable which is not within reach of my armchair, so it’s a little inconvenient when you want to pause and unpause a movie. But hopefully not being a Snowflake, the idea of getting out of my chair and off my ass is not necessarily a deal-breaker.
So with all the hardware I needed in hand, I signed up for a free 14-day trial of FilmStruck. This was accomplished by first downloading the free app onto my iPhone 6 Plus, launching the app, and then creating an account with nothing more than your email address and whatever password you want to establish. On my iPhone I’m already hooked into my credit card for payment so all it took was Apple’s “Touch ID” to make the first payment, although I assume nothing will actually be charged until after my 14-day trial expires. A quick look at my online banking account confirms this.
I went with the $6.99 basic option that includes the “FilmStruck” library of content. For $10.99/month you can get FilmStruck plus The Criterion Channel. Pre-pay for a year and you can bring the price of this premium combo to $8.25/month.
At first glance the FilmStruck library includes a fair, but not voluminous, amount of content. They way this works is that they are constantly shuffling in new stuff while older stuff expires. Many of the films are major classics, there are scattered minor classics, and then a whole lot of stuff I’ve never heard of.
But the point is that this is more “film buff” type of stock. For movie snobs. Or at least for those whose idea of entertainment is not the brainless junk being produced by Hollywood presently.
But you still get your share of junk, depending upon one’s taste, I guess. I watched the generally highly-rated “Black Narcissus” last night with Deborah Kerr. The location is exotic but the acting, direction, story, and even the cinematography are mediocre. I’ve never seen Deborah Kerr worse.
But this first movie was a test of the system, not of the content, per se. I watched a couple movies last night and each time the movie would pause two or three times in the first ten minutes. And I don’t mean that it would be a “rebuffering” pause. No, the movie simply paused and I had to get up, open the phone, and hit the play button and the movie would immediately start again. And after that first two or three times of doing this, the movies would play flawlessly from thereon out.
Perhaps once or twice (counting the two movies together) there was re-buffering, but nothing particularly unusual regarding any kind of streaming service. The picture quality was good. “Black Narcissus” even came with closed captions, but not all movies do. The second movie I watched last night, “Night and the City,” did not have closed captioning. I’ve never been much of a Richard Widmark fan but I came to appreciate him more as I started watching some of the older black-and-whites on AMC and TNT on cable.
“Night and the City” is one of those early crime/film-noirs that he is good at. Widmark plays an overzealous promoter and schemer who is too smooth for his own good. This is a well-paced film that is never boring. I highly recommend it to movie buffs.
And this is precisely why I’m demoing this streaming service. You can find the good stuff sometimes only by hunting and pecking.
Assuming that I have no hardware streaming issues (my iPhone’s wireless hardware is a vast improvement over my old Android tablet), I’ll likely hang on for at least a month or two and see what there is to see. Next up is likely 1955’s “Rififi,” a heist film that I don’t think I’ve seen. I’m a fan of heist films.
From what I’ve gathered from reading reviews of the FilmStruck services, even though this is a joint venture between Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection, you won’t find any of the Turner Classic Movies content on FilmStruck. That’s too bad.
As far as working with the FilmStruck app on my iPhone (or on my iMac in a web browser), the software is surely improved from what it was a year ago. Several reviewers noted how rough it was when the service started in 2016. I think it all looks good and browsing categories is easy enough. And you can save favorites to your “Watchlist” as you’re browsing through the library, which is nice.
The bottom line is that it’s only $6.99 for a lot of good (if not always great) content that you can’t find anywhere else (except perhaps on a physical DVD or Blu Ray). And the service does seem to work reliably enough. But I’m early in the testing process. And FilmStruck’s generous 14-day free trial period is more than enough time to do so.