Clash of the video titans

2102 St. Catherine W.

Many cinephiles see Blockbuster as evil incarnate. It is well known that film studios are forced into making Blockbuster versions of their video releases, with graphic content deleted. The Blockbuster version of Requiem for a Dream, for example, has some of its most brutal and powerful scenes censored.

However, being a mammoth chain has some advantages. A card at one of the city’s Blockbuster’s works at all of them, they get more copies of new releases than anywhere else, and they have a well-organized, better than average DVD collection (although they could use a foreign film section). Concordia theatre student and playwright Andrea Cochrane noted: “I checked out Movieland, but I got a membership at Blockbuster for the DVDs.”

But remember folks, this is still Blockbuster (in fact, you can’t forget it since the same Blockbuster promotional tapes are played relentlessly on their TVs). Their video selection is below par and they deceptively label all their regular videos classics and shamelessly trademark the term. Also, most of their regular videos are irritatingly shelved like library books, so one doesn’t see the front cover.

Ironically, one who has the family values Blockbuster claims to advocate may have difficulty avoiding the copies of the sexually explicit Maxim and Stuff magazines, prominently on display near the cash registers.

The staff I talked to was friendly but somehow didn’t seem genuine. I’d rather be given a little attitude from surly movie snobs any day.

Super Club Videotron
1824 St. Catherine W.

First off, it should be noted that Super Club Videotron, like Movieland and Blockbuster, is a chain, so my opinions of the store does not necessarily apply to other Videotrons.

But this one has some serious problems, especially in terms of organization, which for the most part is totally haphazard. Their videos are organized by genre but that’s it, there’s not even any alphabetization. A tiny number of actors and directors get their own shelves (kudos to whoever put up the Bergman and Kurosawa sections), but even here there are problems. Stanley Kubrick is not a Quebecois film director, yet that’s where you’ll find his films. The DVDs are organized by. . .wait a second. . .they’re not organized at all!

However, this store does have potential. The staff I encountered was friendly and knowledgeable (although I felt that they wanted to tell me to go to Movieland), their selection isn’t that bad, their prices are competitive, and with a little bit (well, a lot) of organization, they would be much improved. Plus you can’t go wrong with free popcorn.

1972 St-Catherine West

Concordia liberal arts student and Movieland patron, Paul Beer, summed up the store well by saying: “It’s a really great video store, it’s open late and you can walk around and find really cool stuff. “All the clerks are surly film snobs which is a good thing.”

Movieland has a very personal atmosphere, which distinguishes it from generic mainstream chains. Their DVD sections have titles such as Post-Modern History (i.e. Gladiator, Attilla) and Pseudo-Kung-Fu. Signs in the store say things like ‘tapping will not get you faster service.’ And the staff gets an entire wall for their eclectic recommendations. Moreover, when I walked in, manager John Faranaccio was doing foul-mouthed Sopranos imitations with his employees.

As far as videos are concerned, Movieland has by far the widest selection on the block, which explains its higher prices. The store’s organizational system also has many advantages. A terminal near the cash register allows one to search their collection by title, director or actor and find where to locate the films. Their sections are organized (mostly) by actor, director or genre rather than by an arbitrary alphabetical system. So, for example, all of Robert De Niro’s films are in one section, conveniently above all of the films by his friend Martin Scorsese.

Incidentally, the store has more Scorsese films than I had seen anywhere else.

Concordia history student and Movieland clerk, Mike Walderman, told me: “People who have a passion for the [movie] sections put them up,” adding that Movieland is a very open place where the employees feel like they have a stake in the store.

Walderman promised that Movieland’s DVD section will continue to expand, as it is now dwarfed by their video selection. Despite this disadvantage, Movieland’s extensive inventory cater towards people with an interest in seeing great films and just plain oddities (as opposed to the latest Hollywood blockbuster), making it by far the best video store in walking distance from Concordia.


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