It's the pipe dream of many a video store clerk to one day open up their own cinema, a perfectly-curated utopia where their woefully ignored "staff picks" shelf will finally blossom into complete control over the movies watched by those lowbrow masses who shuffle through every night to rent their pitiful copies of Matrix Reloaded and Ocean's 12. Of course, we all know video stores are a dying breed in the age of Netflix Instant, and according to the MPAA, across America two video store clerks die of a broken heart every hour. But NOT in Williamsburg... not yet, anyway.
Faced with diminishing profits and permanently steep rent, the owners of the nine-year-old Williamsburg DVD rental outlet Videology have come up with a bold plan to stay afloat and keep their employees on the payroll (with health insurance!). Founders Wendy Chamberlain, a film major, and database programmer by trade, and James Leet, an architect, have transformed their humble rental outlet into what they hope will become a neighborhood gathering place for indie film, as well as drinks and bar snacks. Tickets to most screenings cost $8; here's the schedule.
Oh, and locals can still rent DVDs, though the old analog experience of browsing through DVDs on shelves is mostly a thing of the past. (A "New Releases" section is all that remains of the manual browsing; the rest is done via in-store computer.) After a lengthy gut renovation, the new Videology reopened Friday night with a screening of the marvelously bizarre new French Film Holy Motors, which we are not even going to try to describe here. (Check out the preview, and perhaps you'll understand why.)
Like the trailblazing Nitehawk Cinema a few blocks away, you can eat and drink to your heart's content in Videology's relaxed rear screening room, though they've decided it will be too distracting to do table service during many of the paid screenings (the owners encourage you to buy a big carafe of beer instead). The front bar area is small but welcoming, with subdued dim lighting and a rustic, DIY feel, as if the Little Rascals built a little cafe to enjoy their favorite movies. On Thursday night they're doing a benefit double feature of Mark Rappaport's collage film Rock Hudson's Home Movies—"a candid portrait of coded moments from the closeted star’s Hollywood oeuvre" and the Hudson/Doris Day classic Pillow Talk.
The bar has six beers on tap and cafe tables clustered throughout the small room, and currently serves a variety of popcorn; a full food menu is on the horizon. The screening room will host nightly events screened in high-definition and 5.1 surround sound throughout the week, including week-long runs of new independent films; retrospectives and spotlights; theme nights; game and trivia nights; and midnight movies and kids’ matinees on the weekends. Coming up on Tuesday night: Twin Peaks Bingo, which is currently not available on Netflix.
South 1st Street and Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn // (718) 782-3468