Famous, cheap and renowned for offering a huge range of titles, Netflix accounts for 35% of South African subscriptions to VOD (video on demand) streaming platforms. Showmax and Prime Video are neck and neck for second place, each accounting for just under a quarter of subscriptions, with the former offering the most local content and the latter offering by far the most titles if you don’t mind. to shell out more money for the omni-affluent cyber tokoloshe (aka Jeff Bezos).
With these statistics in mind, Maverick life reviews a lot of content from these three platforms, and yet in 2021, our Criterion channel reviewan alternative streaming platform prioritizing pop culture classics, got a great response (mostly from avid readers confused as to what a VPN is – here’s a informative video if you were one of them).
Last week we reviewed the 2022 Oscars Best International Feature Film winner, drive my carwhich is currently only available on a streaming platform called MUBI, and many of our readers who reached out, eager to watch it, had never even heard of the platform. So this week we’re looking at MUBI, an alternative streaming platform for moviegoers who, unlike Collection of criteriais available in South Africa without the use of a VPN.
MUBI is quite specialized for a streaming platform. Although it offers everything from shorts to double features and filmmaker retrospectives, like Criterion Channel, it does not offer series. Plus, while Criterion collects old and emerging pop culture classics, many of which you’ll be familiar with, you’re unlikely to recognize more than a few of the films in MUBI’s catalog.
MUBI’s approach is antithetical to that of Netflix or Prime Video which cram in as much content as possible to create a sometimes overwhelming sense of abundance and choice. The MUBI team scours film festivals and international film communities to lovingly curate its catalog, which primarily includes documentaries and independent and arthouse films from around the world.
Particular emphasis is placed on emerging filmmakers, unusual film festival entries and experimental films. When it comes to documentaries, curators eschew biopics and flashy or sensational subjects, instead focusing on exploring the arts, cultural and historical stories, and social justice. MUBI also publishes exclusive content.
While the major VOD platforms use algorithms to direct you to the most popular content, MUBI’s interface is designed to do just the opposite. The main feed is divided into changing widget lists such as: ’80s Masterpieces’, ‘Lighting Fixtures’ and ‘Movies About Movies’. You can alphabetically browse their catalog of nearly 1,000 films one by one if you prefer; these themed collections are only there to encourage you to notice and engage with movies outside of your usual niches and the general public.
The interface is well suited to a curious movie buff. You’re not bombarded with trailers exploding from every thumbnail as you browse (as Netflix likes). If a movie catches your eye, clicking on its thumbnail takes you to a preview page that acts like a fancy version of IMDB. You can find the synopsis, articles, reviews, trailer, a list of its awards, cast and crew, and related articles from “The Notebook.”
Notebook is a publication within Mubi that encourages deeper engagement with film through news, interviews, articles and discussions. One of the features that sets MUBI apart from other streaming sites is its community engagement. Users can rate, review, and discuss movies, or just follow others who are doing it.
MUBI’s profile pages allow you to see the ratings, comments and watchlists of any other user who has made their profile public. Following a user whose tastes you like is a great way to find movies you’ll like. Martin Scorsese himself is an active member of MUBI, so you can literally browse through his personal favorites lists. Here is His profile.
One feature of the community that can get annoying for more casual users is that The Notebook often features discussions about movies that aren’t on the platform, so you can finish watching a movie you’re looking forward to. look to find it’s not available. Pay attention to this.
Broadcast rights vary for each title in the “Now Showing” list, so not all will be moved to the permanent library. If a movie pops up that interests you but you don’t have time right now, you should make sure it will still be available by the time you get there. You can download movies to watch offline but only on the mobile app.
The other potential irritation is image resolution. Mubi offers up to 1080p, which is fine for most users, but the resolution automatically adjusts to internet speed, so the resolution is likely to drop suddenly if the connection drops. Many users might find a moment of buffering preferable to finding themselves momentarily watching an art movie in 240p, but right now we have no choice in the matter.
The platform offers customizable subtitles for its multilingual content, but it does not yet offer audio descriptions for the visually impaired. This is one of the few features to consider when improving an otherwise excellent product.
It seems unfair to bundle a platform like MUBI, which thrives on passion, intellectualism and creativity, with platforms like Netflix; but maybe it’s necessary to compare apples and oranges when so many people take it for granted that metaphorical apples are the only choice and don’t even know oranges exist. DM/ML
You can contact This Weekend We’re Watching via [email protected]