Sometimes, Netflix, as great as it is, is just not the same as heading to the video store, where you can browse through various titles and be inspired to watch something you weren't thinking about. It doesn't deliver on the instant gratification that sometimes a movie needs to bring you. Gothamist's favorite video stores are Movie Place on West 105th Street (237 West 105th Street/ 212-864-4620), Kim's Video (various locations), and the Cinematheque on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope (100B 7th Ave/ 718 399 0860) - places where you're told "We don't carry Day for Night because the only version on VHS is dubbed in English and [insert pained expression] we won't carry it." (This was 1997, mind you; Day for Night is on DVD now.) However, the downfall of having a well-stocked video store can sometimes be the staff. Think about it - Quentin Tarantino used to work at a video store. While our experiences at Movie Place and other stores have been good, some video store staffs bring the trial of deciding on a movie to watch on Friday night to a new level. Our best friend/twin sister Molly tells us about her experience at another Park Slope video store, Reel Life:
I am complaining to Gothamist about my discomfort surrounding the year old "hip"video/dvd rental in Park Slope. Its cleverly called Reel Life, but I refer to it as the Championship Vinyl of video stores. This is a reference to the record store owned by the protagonist of Nick Hornbys book High Fidelity, where the staff acts as a judges panel of music experts, mocking customers that they feel have bad taste.
I always derided the video store in my own neighborhood, Kensington (Brooklyn). 80% of its videos and dvds are bootlegs, and the other 20% are the kind of nameless romantic comedies that might pair Harland Williams with Courtney Thorne-Smith. After years of having to choose between this backwoods video store and the distant but well-stocked Cinematheque, I was glad to find Reel Life, which is very close to the F-train. My anger at Reel Life began one evening as I circled its shelves, struck with doubts that the clerks would disapprove of my rental choice. I remembered that they while they heartily endorsed my selection of The Knack.... And How to Get It (1965, Richard Lester), they coldly ignored me as I asked for the first disk of the Complete Second Season of Sex and the City. The chances were slim that they would think What a Girl Wants was a post-modern send-up of British social mores. Why does the Reel Life check out kiosk so resemble a judge's bench? Why is the counter above my eye level?
This was the scene that night: The two male clerks, with their requisite hipster eye glasses and ironic t-shirts, are huddled with a male customer, first discussing an un-aired TV pilot created by Conan OBrien and Rob Smigel, and then the lunatic brilliance of the 1970's staple Battle of the Network Stars. Although half of their conversation is baldly lifted from VH1's "I Love the 70's," I feel that they are too intimidating to approach. So what if I know as much about pop culture as someone can, impeded by working at a job-site that does not have TV monitors mounted on the walls? These guys appreciate a womans opinion, well, not at all. They look at me as if I am a distasteful new release. To them, you are what you rent, and taking out Mystic Pizza on two separate occasions just doesnt make the grade.
Interesting, Molly isn't the only one who has problems with Reel Life - check out this hilarious LiveJournal entry on Reel Life.