Overheard in my local video store …
“You’re not going to rent that, are you? Because I’ve seen it. It’s shit.”
“I heard it was OK.”
“Nah, it’s shit.”
“Margaret and David gave it four stars.”
“Four stars for being shit.”
“Why is it shit? Does it contain traces of Adam Sandler?”
“No, mate. It’s just … well, it’s just shit.”
(Fortysomething man scuttles to front counter with video still in tow) “Err, I might just get it anyway.”
Me: “Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Because it’s shit.”
Such amusing conversations are to become a thing of the past now that my local video store is closing this week. It is a sad day for all concerned, particularly as I have spent many years perusing those shelves and getting to know the people behind the counter. Indeed, when I have not been warning customers of watching “shit movies” – some of which I actually saw before giving out such startling, strident, unsolicited advice – I have rented hundreds of surprisingly watchable movies and series therein.
Let us spare a thought for your local video store impressario, for they are both curator and counsellor. They alone can deal with such requests as “do you have that movie where Ewan McGregor shows his willie? I just mention his willie as a point of reference” and “I want to hire that movie where Eva Green is completely nude – not just partially nude or topless, but completely starkers – yes, I just mention the nudity again as a point of reference”.
They alone can tell by the look on your face that you’re in the mood for some baffling Middle Eastern film starring a depressed camel. Or perhaps pluck that “feelgood” Ken Loach film out of your hand as a poor choice for “date night” (“But any film with ‘Joe’ in the title MUST be funny!”).
They can find the movie you remember watching at 1am with the tagline “Chuck Norris IS action!” They know why you can’t get Gremlins wet, the origins of “the Truffle shuffle”, what “sweep the leg” means and the movie where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall first met and fell in love.
They can steer you in the direction of that cult TV series that everyone will soon be talking about, giving you bragging points for being the first to spot its greatness.
Now that the store is closing, I feel deprived of both human companionship and interaction … as well as vital pop-culture information.
Now how can I check up what Steven Seagal is doing? How will I follow hot trends in Young Adult vampire literature? Who will tell me which of the Olsen twins can actually act? Will I never see Dolph Lundgren’s increasingly tired and embarrassed face on the front cover of another straight-to-video movie? Or stroll down an aisle of DVDs simply entitled “Cate Blanchett”?
I will miss the friendly phone call from the store, wondering why I haven’t returned “the film with Ewan McGregor’s willie in it” yet, despite having it for four weeks. Or the reminder that “the movie where Eva Green is completely nude” is now available for rent.
It’s a sad day to realise that you will never see Eric Bana in your local video store again … although I did interview him years later after my sighting, incorrectly describing his movie Romulus, My Father to him as a “feelgood movie” based on briefly seeing the cover of it alone.
Now I will have nowhere to rent Romulus, My Father – with its misleading cover image of a young child gambolling in the foreground as Eric Bana rides a motorcycle – to correct such mistakes. More mistakes are sure to follow. I may even describe The Omen as a “teenage coming-of-age comedy” or Meet The Spartans as “surprisingly watchable” without such a resource.
Yes, I will join the rest of the bargain hunters on Saturday to snaffle up some classics cheap, Ryan’s Daughter and the original Day Of The Jackal already purchased and added to my collection.
And yet, as I come across that movie featuring Ewan McGregor’s willie in the “for sale” bin, part of me will weep.
My ebook military thriller, The Spartan, is now available on Amazon.