I’ve always loved the idea of a video store, but not the actual application.
Whenever someone decides we’ll rent a movie, we bound out the door, our eyes and minds alight with explosions, small town stories, and sweeping foreign epics. Then upon arrival at a quite well lit and sterile (Blockbuster/Hollywood Video/Hellertown Dollar DVD), we designate different aisles in priority order, racing first to the new releases, then once finding nothing, to drama, then again skipping over “Sophie’s Choice” even though we never saw the end, to the “great director” section, and on to the horror section as a last, cheap thrill resort. When faced only with piles upon piles of choices like “American Psycho 2” (starring Mila Kunis), we curb our previous enthusiasm. Then we slowly but surely stumble upon a frightening conclusion.
With so many movies shot and shelved around the world, we can’t find a single one. Maybe it’s the store. Or maybe, it’s that we—gasp—don’t like movies as much as we thought we did??? (It’s here that, if they were physical entities, my Film minor and junior year internship would roll over in their respective graves).
We often leave the video store deflated, depleted, hang-dog low with a glossy airbrushed selection that we droopily slid over the counter. Usually something that one of us has seen, as a sacrifice, so that we can be sure that it’s semi-decent.
This is how I always thought of video stores. In Pennsylvania, in Connecticut, and even the first year of my stint in New York.
Enter a known hipster haven a few avenues away. Crumbly posters with graphic novel qualities affixed to the glass. Strange instrumentals pealing over the sound systems. Movies from camp to downright obscure, with classics sprinkled in for clout. Most of which are flicks even the most discriminating East Villager wouldn’t mind getting caught with, spotted with one tucked under an arm. And then there’s the food.
Two Boots Pizzeria & Video smells of sopressata and mushrooms, the hot air at an angular lift when you walk in. We love “The Dude” both in and outside of the movie realm. At Two Boots, he’s a Cajun bacon cheeseburger pie with tasso, ground beef, cheddar and mozzarella. There’s no way that these toppings maintain the integrity of pizza as it was intended, but we don’t care. They have Boylan’s Root Beer, and that’s all that really matters.
The video portion of the store displays bored clerks (boys with bangs, girls with cat-eye glasses) and a few couches scattered around one of those old two-player video games, the ones where you bend over to play and you can spill a whole Coke on the top and not short out.
The stacks of DVDs (nearly all DVDs here) are aligned neatly, their multi-colored spines form a bright mosaic on three of four walls. Even so, it’s still hard to navigate quickly, to find what we want. There are ironic choices we’d lean to if it was a few years ago, subtitled crawlers we want to want to see, but just don’t feel like fronting at the moment on either.
But because we are full of “The Dude” and Boylan’s, and because the new releases here are a jaw-dropping five dollars for a day’s rental, and because the selection is small but luminous, we take our time.
We pick a gem that we wanted to see in the theaters, but never did. And away from Two Boots, we walk with a lilt, regaling in our pick and our meal.
Blockbuster's no more fees policy somehow doesn't hold water in comparison.