I left the house only once Saturday, to go get groceries and to pick up Rebecca, which isn’t available on Amazon or Hulu, at Video Journeys. I walked into the shop and discovered half the display shelves were missing.
Hayley was at the counter: “We’re going out of business. Everything is for sale.” I walked around. Everything had already been picked clean. I walked out devastated.
The first movies I rented from Video Journeys—on March 15, 1995—were Jan Swankmajer’s Alice and Chaplin’s Limelight. Neither of which I liked. But I kept coming back.
Their collection was catholic enough to encompass everything from Louis Feuillade's Les Vampires serial to the most recent gay porn. It was comprehensive enough so that methodical types could work their way systematically through directors and genres.
The steps leading up to it, the glass door, the return cart, the carpeting, the staff … are part of my first experiences of Pasolini, Bresson, Egoyan, Rohmer, Bertolucchi, Derek Jarman, Ken Russell, and others. Movies that had been just names became real experiences.
It was wonderful to have the chance to discover I hated some celebrated masterpiece. I remember borrowing Birth of a Nation, and the clerk looked me in the eye and asked, “Really?”
“I’ve never seen it!”
“OK, I guess ….”
I watched it, and was appalled. So when I returned it, I made a point of telling her, “You were right.”
It was my film history program. It was part of my weekly routine. It was part of why Silver Lake matters to me.