Back in December, I posted one of my first ever reviews on this site of George Lucas’ classic of nostalgia American Graffiti. This is how I closed my review.
“I can’t think of many teen party movies that were made by such a celebrated and talented filmmaker. Rent it.”
In response, fellow Asshole Jay couldn’t resist leaving one of my favourite comments ever on one of my posts.
“I think “renting it” is your own little piece of nostalgia, Matt. Apart from you, I’m not sure I know anyone who rents movies anymore.”
Apparently she’s right. Truth is, I still do rent movies. Or did. Until Elgin Video announced on Thrusday that it was closing its doors after 25 years in business. I can’t say it came as a surprise. What small business that charges five dollars for a three-day rental could ever hope to compete with a more convenient and less expensive Netflix subscription. Even if every fourteenth rental is free. (Trust me, 14 comes quick when you’re an Asshole). Stores like this have been fighting a losing battle with the internet for years.
The first thing I do when I rent a DVD is assess the damage. Without even thinking, I immediately turn it over to see just how cracked it is and before inserting it into my player, I usually can’t help thinking about where else it’s been. Worse even, who among us hasn’t felt the disappointment that follows the elation of finally having tracked down You Only Live Twice only to have it start skipping just when it’s getting to the good part.
Maybe what comes too easily isn’t fully appreciated. When I was sixteen, I waited months for Supercop to come to video and- when it finally did- my video store (now long gone, barely even making it through the nineties) only had one copy. After weeks of feeling behind empty cases to find nothing there, you’d better believe I relish every kick, stunt, and badly dubbed line of dialogue when I finally went to the store at exactly the right time. I’ll even miss crawling around on my hands and knees because I know From Here To Eternity’s got to be down there somewhere.
When Elgin Video closes at the end of May, there won’t be many- if any- places like it left in Ottawa. It really is a shame. Last month when I discovered that they had Heathers in stock, it was nice to have a friendly staff of fellow cinephiles to share my excitement with. Like the girl behind the counter who, going above and beyond the call of duty, presented me with a list of 25 Movies Based on Young Adult Novels to help me with a particularly challenging Thursday Movie Picks. Or the guy behind the counter who knew more and had seen more than I did (something I rarely encounter and will even less rarely admit). I vowed that one day I would stump him. Now I never will.
I can’t help feeling an end of an era- one that I seem to have clung to longer than most. I’m a resourceful guy and- if I’m in the mood to watch Blood Simple- I’m sure I’ll find a way and may not even have to crawl around on all fours to do it. I’ll love watching the movie’s I love and hate watching the movies I hate as much as ever. It’s just finding them won’t be as fun as it used to be.