Skip to main content

Deep Impact


The concept of home video entertainment is forever woven into a physical reference point for me. True, I've 'moved with the times' and listen to most music digitally these days, but somehow cannot find the ability to enter the 21st century and watch movies via streaming. I'll stick with DVDs and Blu-rays, thank you very much. This is why I always took such comfort in the existence -- despite the odds -- of That's Rentertainment DVD/Blu-ray rental store, nestled in a small(ish) space in the campus town of our fair twin cities. Alas, that is soon to be no more. After 30 years, the store will be closing later this summer.

It was three decades ago that my parents brought home our first taste of home video entertainment. They situated the VCR (VHS, not Betamax) next to the television set, and had rented a few videos to watch. For them, Alfred Hitchcock movies. For me, some episodes of the Transformers cartoon series. It boggled my mind that it was possible to watch Transformers on any occasion other than the set time it was aired on television. This, and the first occasion I had to use a smartphone, was when technology really wowed me.

Over the years, the home video format changed. We went from VHS to DVD, then to Blu-ray, and now we're in the age of streaming. Sure, some folks -- including yours truly -- still muddle about with physical copies of movies and TV shows, but a lot of people (a majority?) now have no need of venturing somewhere to procure a bit of audio/visual entertainment. Netflix can do that for them just fine. I've lamented this of late, not only for feeling behind the times, but not going unnoticed that it's another bit of childhood chipped away.

That's Rentertainment was a place of comfort. Here was, to be frank, a relic of years gone by, a place that used to exist in various permutations all over town. Blockbuster, Stars and Stripes Video, Family Video, countless others: They were dotted across the landscape. The Internet, for all it's worth, is unable to recreate the experience of browsing physical things (books, movies, etc.), of running into friends and neighbors while searching for the next film to rent. That's something we're losing as places like video stores become relegated to the past.

In truth, I should have shopped more at That's Rentertainment. Habitual late fees rather put a stop to that, but that's my issue, not theirs. Cool people worked there. You know -- people that you could interact with, as opposed to staring at a computer screen while an algorithm creeps on your history and suggests items of interest. There would be conversations with fellow patrons, as we'd discuss some of the common titles that we had rented and watched. It was neat to see a special section devoted to films that had played at Ebertfest. That's a nice, local touch that you're unlikely to find online.

I dunno. Everything has its time. Everything comes and goes. To seek permanence in a world that has let us know over and over how transient it is would be folly. And yet... I miss That's Rentertainment, and it's not even gone. In truth, I miss what it represents, an era that has gone the way of the dodo bird. Is digital streaming more efficient than the physical encumbrances of consuming the same entertainment? Perhaps. But since when has efficiency always meant that something's better?

Kudos to owner Geoff Merritt for steering such a valuable, beloved ship for so many years. Thank you to the incredible, knowledgeable, fun-to-talk-with employees for making it a neat place to visit. Thank you to the other patrons who engaged in amiable conversation about our shared love of cinema and good television over the years. A unique piece of Champaign-Urbana will be going away soon, and I, for one, am sad.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

3/4

Ok, we're now three-fourths of the way through this year's calendar, so I thought I'd rank the thirty-eight 2017 movies I've seen so far.

Here they are....


1. A Quiet Passion
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Get Out
5. Kedi
6. A Ghost Story
7. Wonder Woman
8. Columbus
9. Brad's Status
10. Marjorie Prime
11. Maudie
12. Logan
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
15. Brigsby Bear
16. Atomic Blonde
17. The Big Sick
18. Split
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. It
21. Wind River
22. A Cure for Wellness
23. The Hitman's Bodyguard
24. Norman
25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
26. Logan Lucky
27. Alien Covenant
28. Ghost In the Shell
29. War for the Planet of the Apes
30. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
31. Life
32. Annabelle: Creation
33. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
34. My Cousin Rachel
35. Baywatch
36. The Bye Bye Man
37. mother!
38. It Comes at Night


It will be interesting to see what the last three months of the year brin…

Walk and Chew Gum

Yesterday marked a touchstone moment in the U.S., as students across the country participated in "walkouts." This was an occasion for students to express an array of thoughts and emotions, ranging from a desire for stricter gun control, to simply sorrow over the loss of so many of their peers to school shootings. They were peaceful protests, but protests nonetheless. Where you're at on the spectrum of agreeing or disagreeing with what they did may vary, though not wanting to get shot in your school seems pretty reasonable to me.
Some folks have taken to sharing a meme on social media platforms this week -- in direct anticipation and response to the walkouts -- that encourages students to "walk up, not out." Following are suggestions provided for the walk ups:

Walk UP to the kid who sits ALONE and ask him to join your groupWalk UP to the kid who never has a voluntary partner and offer to be hersWalk UP to your teachers and thank them!Walk UP to someone and JUST …

The Best Superhero Movies of All-Time, Revisited

We are just a few days away from the North American release of Avengers:Infinity War. While I am dutifully going to see it opening night, it's not a film I'm looking forward to. It is (spoiler) part one of two, which means we can expect plenty of plot threads left dangling when the credits roll. In other words, part two will probably be better, and provide some actual resolution. Also, Thanos looks like a CGI yawn-fest. Hopefully, I'll be proved wrong.
Nevertheless, this is a good opportunity to rank (again) the major superhero movies (Marvel and otherwise) that we've had so far. As you know, I love making a list, and this one is going to be a definitive one! If you don't see a film on here, it's because I haven't seen it (the first two Thors, Iron Man 2, some of the X-Men features, etc.).   Alright, here we go.