There used to be two independent movie rental places in my neighborhood, with one just a few blocks further away offering a seemingly endless array of movies - blockbusters, esoteric indies, extreme horror, sexploitation and grindhouse, triple X features, and even dubiously dubbed impossible to get films like the infamous Skidoo, Preminger's LSD freakout featuring a stoned Groucho Marx as God.

Since rents have skyrocketed and Netflix has appeared on the scene, these brick and mortar stores have been wiped out like the T-Rex, and if I don't like my Netflix offerings at home or if I need to find a movie for research, well, my choices are Blockbuster (which does have some surprising DVDs to rent) or the rental place that's squeezed into the corner of a pizza joint.

For what it's worth, I love Netflix. Love it. I love rating films and seeing what it comes up with, and I love getting those little envelopes in the mail. I love seeing what my friends have rated. My queue is topped out, and I have started bookmarking movies I need to Netflix. Streaming to my Xbox is great, and new films are being added at an alarmingly awesome rate.

At the risk of sounding like a younger female Richard Corliss, I do miss browsing my local video store - a good one, mind you. I could examine each shelf for ages, looking for the perfect movie to suit my mood that night, or getting something on a whim because its cover catches my eye or because it's an employee pick I'd never heard of, in the same way I visit my favorite book store and peruse the books they have handpicked to display in the shelves at the front. It was nice to see other people noodling along in the aisles, too, or chat with the video store clerks. What would Walking and Talking be without Kevin Corrigan's character Bill, the video store clerk that Amelia unfairly nicknamed Ugly Guy (and dated on the sly)? If Walking and Talking would be made today, there wouldn't be a Bill in it!

Have you hit up any brick and mortar rental joints lately? What's your favorite part about it? Which parts do you miss least?
categories Features, Cinematical