In my sophomore year of High School I worked at a Video Store called The Video Store, and they’re still in business. One of my favorite things to do at work was to put the “staff picks” sticker on the films I had seen and liked. Unfortunately, Netflix does not have a “staff picks”.
What a strange beast film culture has become without video stores. Netflix does all right, but it doesn’t have the human element of the video stores “staff picks” or the lanky film nerd working the counter that can find you the film you want as well as the film you really want but you just didn’t know it yet. Video Stores gave us a little sense of community. You’d go to your local video store and there’d be a dozen other people tracking down titles and what not around you. With Netflix, you never even have to leave your home.
The titles on Netflix aren’t even that obscure. There are so many essential titles missing, though I’ll admit they do have a wide variety of titles from Criterion and Kino-Lorber. But I miss video stores and the experience that went with them. I can remember in High School driving with my father and brother to “The Great Northeast” to go to Movies Unlimited. They had the biggest collection of rare and out of print titles there. It was from there I rented my first Werner Herzog and Paul Morrissey titles, tracked down import only Hammer Studios titles and even purchased my first DVD The Man Who Fell To Earth. Then one day, the store had closed, and our trip was for nothing.
I’m writing out of nostalgia more than anything. Certainly Video Stores could never exist in this country again, and I know that. But growing up we all had one video store that was a home away from home.