For a young girl who loved Hollywood glamour and nursing unattainable crushes, there was no better place to find a like-minded, captive man than Blockbuster Video. From the ages of 13 to 17, I formed one-sided romantic attachments to a string of Blockbuster clerks, and the news of their unemployment has left me reeling (you get it).
The video store was the perfect place to flirt: peering at a cute guy from around the foreign films, loudly identifying whatever was playing on the in-store TV while in his earhshot, forcing him to weigh all the pros and cons of Armageddon vs. Deep Impact (knowing all the while I would only pick a Bruce Willis movie). But most importantly, flirting was all about choosing the perfect film, the film that let him know we were soulmates. I never spent less than 45 minutes in a video store, and here is some of the crap I came away with:
1. From Dusk Till Dawn
I’ve never liked horror movies, but it’s not physically possible to develop a crush on a video store worker if you’re not a big Tarantino fan. After watching and loving Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs and receiving a pretty enthusiastic response from the checkout guy (an approving nod), I rented From Dusk Till Dawn. And then I watched it. For a brief, shining moment I questioned the taste of dudebros everywhere, but then decided it was probably my fault and watched it again. When I returned it, I told him I thought it was genius. He nodded.
Kevin Smith’s debut film was the linchpin of my plan to seduce my local Blockbuster’s most winsome thirtysomething man. I badly wanted him to know that although I personally did not work retail, I totally got it. Customers, amiright? Plus, this was a black and white movie with vocabulary words and swears. I did not consider the fact that I needed my mother’s approval to rent it to be any kind of hindrance to our blossoming love.
Look, I’m just a really cool girl. A cool, laidback girl, not afraid to see some tit. That’s all obvious because I’m renting this movie about a fart college for boobs, or whatever the plot of PCU is. To my 14 year-old mind, the unedited version was way racier than the version that played on Comedy Central, and I was scandalized. When I returned it, I could not look my dream man in the eye. I also had a crush on still-bald Jeremy Piven.
4. The Hours
Guys are super into The Hours, everyone knows that. I rented a metric ton of Oscar bait to prove how smart and into film I was, even though the in-store selections always tended towards Wayne’s World. The idea that I dedicated two of the hours of my youth to The Hours bums me out. Even my Mom didn’t want to watch The Hours with me.
5. The Player
I picked up Robert Altman’s insider look at the dark side of Hollywood to show my fella that I understood that it wasn’t all glitz and glamour, that this business we call show has a seedy underbelly. The Player is actually a great movie, but I was 13. All the jokes about options and points on the back end were lost on me, but I talked about that opening tracking shot like Citizen Kane opened with a butt. Only Lost in Translation opens with a butt, we all know that now.
In this case, I really needed Fellini’s opus to balance out the fact that I was renting Only You, starring Robert Downey Jr., again. “Sure,” this pairing said, “I love a rom-com beyond all reason, but I also watch black and white foreign films for fun.” I never watched 8 ½, and made sure to return it when the store was closed, lest someone ask me how I liked it.
Header image via Flickr