More than Blockbusters, No More
Now I know that this has been slowly happening for years and so I shouldn’t have been, but I was nevertheless a little shocked when I was walking to work today and say in the corner of my eye that the sign of the local Blockbuster read “Out of Buisness. Closing Down Sale.” Admittedly I hadn’t been in there for what is now years, a living example of the problem the business faced, but I went back through the doors on my way home, both to say goodbye and to pick clean its bones before they started to rot , a veritable vulture with a consumerist corpse.
I strolled the shelves, tickled through the titles and picked out an armful of films to take home; my spoils from a foreign fought war. And foreign a lot of them were; that old or simply unheard of to most folk. Among the titles were Todd Haynes’s Poison, Innaritu’s Amores Perros, last year’s great Danish war documentary Armadillo and many others besides; a pretty assorted array of what are usually pretty expensive and hard to find films. I mention this not to brag over having gotten a bargain – this isn’t the Shopping Network – but to point out just what the loss of this place means.
Once it closes, which will be very soon, my town will be without a video store. In its place there will be only the pretty lime box in the big shopping center, Moobie, and the slap-dash second rate attempts at Australian streaming services (you may say Quickflix are a viable alternative, but they too are switching from DVD to digital content, that is provided that they can stay afloat long enough to do so). Given that each Moobie box can only contain a certain number of disks and that there is a constant stream of new releases coming almost straight from the cinema it is clear that films like Poison are never going to find a home inside one.
Does this really matter? Aren’t I overreacting? I’ll admit that this move doesn’t doom Poison or its ilk to the fate suffered by some stories in the past, to death – there will always be film fans and historians that will want to keep a copy of everything existing around in one form or another, a complete collection and they are probably able to – but it doesn’t bode well for their popularity, dooming them perhaps to even further obscurity.
I don’t visit video stores now because I can afford to simply buy any film that I want to watch, but that wasn’t always the case. When I was a child it was all I could do to scrounge up the five to seven bucks needed for a haul of weeklies and a New Release and so the idea of ordering something like this online, or from JB was out of the question. At that time I was also much less informed about what each movie was and what was worth watching – as we all were back then I guess – and so I got my information from the constant stream of covers and synopsis that lay upon those shelves; discovering by chance many movies that I still hold dear to this day.
I simply wonder whether that experience will be available to the next generation of film-buffs that are just now being born and if there will really be one without it. Then again they said the same thing about home movies when it first came along, wouldn’t they kill cinema? Didn’t TV already do that? Didn’t cinema kill books? And books music? And all of them brain cells? Nature abhors a vacuum, the economy abhors an un-supplied demand doubly so and there is still a deep desire for films in me, my peers, my elders and the kids of today too so I’m sure that something will step up to definitively take their place; I just figured it was maybe worth marking the grave and saying a few words before we all march further onwards and now it’s done.