Did You Know That VHS Is Making A Comeback?
Physical media is a precious commodity. If you’ve ever visited my home you’ve most likely taken note of my record collection, DVD-Bluray library, and my mountain of VHS tapes. I don’t watch a lot of documentaries but I decided to get my feet wet as I started catching the buzz surrounding the Kevin Smith directed a documentary about the remaining Blockbuster Video in existence.
The Last Blockbuster shines a light on Sandi Harding, who has managed Blockbuster Video in Bend, Oregon for years with a passion. The Bend Blockbuster was converted from an independent operation called Pacific Video in 2000. The corporate identity hasn’t hurt the charm of this glorious location as it has preserved the spirit of customer-centric ethics. Sandi even goes the extra mile by ordering movies for rental if the customer asks for a title that the store doesn’t have.
This documentary takes an interesting turn for me when they conduct an interview with Lloyd Kaufman. Kaufman is the founder of the independent film distributor and production company, TROMA. Kaufman and TROMA are responsible for films like Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D, Class of Duke Nuke ’em and the beloved Toxic Avenger. TROMA also distributed one of the best B-Movies of my youth, Redneck Zombies. The interview with Kaufman did not go well. He did not have anything good to say about Blockbuster. In fact, this film legend comes across as a jerk, combative with the interviewer. This was problematic for me and I question the intentionality of including this segment in the film. Although it was kind of funny, I feel that this scene either should have been re-edited or left out altogether.
The Kaufman interview was definitely forgivable but it does lead me to the segway of my biggest problem with this film. The Last Blockbuster paints a picture of a world where physical media is dying by emphasizing the fall of a corporation but fails to mention even a whisper about independent video stores that are still in existence today. Don’t get it twisted, the Blockbuster in Bend deserves all of the love that it’s getting and I hope that its business continues to grow into something beautiful. Likewise, I believe that it’s important to mention that the tradition of film rental is still alive in other places. Two video stores in the US that deserve my shoutout are Movie Madness in Portland, Oregon, and Orbit Video in Asheville, NC.
All gripes aside, this was an overall decent watch. I did find the film informative and entertaining with its talk about the origin of video stores and the history of this video rental business. The film also clears the air concerning the myth that Netflix put Blockbuster out of business. The story of Sandi and her work ethic was touching as I love to see credit where it is due. My hope is that The Last Blockbuster inspires the folks that say that vinyl is making a comeback to say the same for VHS.
About Nathan Conrad:
He’s best known as the Nashville-based Hip Hop/Indie Pop emcee Spoken Nerd, but this isn’t your typical rap project. He rhymes playfully at times, while sometimes playfully singing and/or rapping, he juxtaposes his style with real-life situations and subject matter. With six full-length albums into his career, the rapper has built a healthy catalog of music, which doesn’t include the number of EPs and singles released.