On Fridays it is crucial to get to the video store early. After 5, when people get off work, the lines snake through the store and all the new releases are gone – except for those that no one wants to see. Anything that looked marginally interesting in an ad, one of those “yeah, I’d rent that” films…they’re gone by 2. After that, you’re only in luck if you like Adam Sandler flicks or movies with 5, 6, or 7 in the title. It’s amazing the dreck that gets left behind in the wake of hoards of weekend movie-renters. All those early Jackie Chan films that they re-released, those can usually be found. Films featuring huge mutant mollusks are also usually available. Anything that stars a rodent. But the good stuff? Forget it.
I believe you can gauge a star’s status by whether or not you can find their films after 5 pm on a Friday night. There will be no Brat Pitt, Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Johnny Depp, Halle Berry, or Tom Cruise. There will, however, be an abundance of Angelina Jolie, Kevin Costner, Meg Ryan, Jodie Foster, or anyone who ever starred on Friends or Saturday Night Live.
Then there are the surprises. Why would both copies of Mrs. Miniver be rented at the same time? How is it that the complete Godfather trilogy is still sitting on the shelf? Why does my local video bother to stock no less that 4 copies of Brigadoon? These are epic questions. Philosophy-level. Surely they reflect somehow on the condition of modern man. Don’t they?
Why is Finding Nemo always on the monitor, and how sick of it is the staff of the store? Will it have a deleterious affect upon them? Ten years from now, will they sue for mental anguish because they can still quote entire passages of dialogue? Will it cause them to never want to reproduce?
And what is with the mystical filing system. I have a dim suspicion that the categorization of films was adapted from the system used in the Great Alexandrian Library (one of the ten wonders of the ancient world, you know.) For only the oracle at Delphi could understand how things are shelved. The Great Escape, for instance, is not in Drama. It’s not in Action/Adventure. It’s not in Classics. It’s in “Award Winners” because, as we all know, it won an Academy Award for Cinematography. Yes, of course, how silly of me. Singing in the Rain. Musical? Nope. Classics? Nope. Family Favorites of course, you dope. Ah, well then how about a few Hitchcock movies. Well, Rear Window is in Classics. Vertigo is in Mystery/Suspense. And The Man Who Knew Too Much is….yes….you guessed it, in Drama. I half suspect I’ll find The Birds filed under Documentary.