Vidéothèque is back! After moving from South Pasadena to Highland Park, the 20-year-old video store is open again for rentals from its catalog of 45,000+ releases.
I stopped by on Saturday night to check out the new shop, which is located on Figueroa, near where Cypress Park and Highland Park meet, and was immediately impressed by how spacious it is. There’s a front room dedicated to movie posters and store merchandise. In the main room, you’ll find Xenon set up towards the front window and there’s now plenty of room for you and your crew to hang out and play a few rounds of pinball. Behind the maze of DVDs and Blu-Rays, you’ll find an alcove with a jukebox as well as the store’s record selection.
If you already rent from Vidéothèque, you’ll enjoy the new space. If your reaction to this post is, “wait, video stores are still a thing?”, then you should make plans to visit and see what you miss when you stick with streamers.
I started renting movies regularly again at some point during the pandemic, when I got frustrated with feeding more money to Big Tech in exchange for access to lackluster streaming catalogs. Weekly trips to the video store rekindled a love of film that I thought had died with the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Thanks to Vidéothèque’s extensive, cross-genre collection, I finally checked out movies that never turned up on the streamers I had, likeChristiane F. and Out of the Blue (now that’s a heavy double feature). I reconnected with old favorites too. Run Lola Run, which I would search for in vain on streamers every few months, was easy to find within Vidéothèque’s German film section. Eventually, I canceled all but one of my subscriptions because it just makes more sense to rent a physical copy of what I want to see when I want to see it then to pay a monthly fee for immediate access to everything I don’t want to watch.
I usually have a running list of movies to rent in my head. It’s a list that I probably should write down because, without fail, I will forget all but one by the time I walk into the store. That was the case on Saturday night. I knew I was looking forThe Night of the Iguana and something else, but what was that other movie?
The answer hit me while Carlos and I were going back and forth in a two-player pinball match. The Modern Lovers song “Roadrunner” played in the background, a detail that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie title I was about to shout out.
That’s it. I was looking forRebecca.
After what I thought was my last round of Xenon, Mark, Vidéothèque’s owner (and a killer DJ, who you can hear at Decadanse at the Grand Star on the second Saturday of the month), pointed me to the Hitchcock section. I scanned the spines while Kraftwerk played on the jukebox and grabbed my pick, checked out the movies and ended up playing more pinball.
Spaces like Vidéothèque are rare. Even before streaming, most of the independent video stores had long since given way to corporate chains that catered to basic tastes. (Good luck findingPink Flamingos at Blockbuster.) But, a legit video store is much like a record store where you can sift through shelves and pull out a case with a cover that piques your curiosity and a movie that will become a new favorite. That happened not long ago when I rented The Iron Rose, a cemetery romp from Jean Rollin that I now keep recommending to friends. Also like a record store, you can (and should) ask for recommendations because they will be much more interesting than anything an algorithm pushes on you. (Thanks for suggesting Eyes of Laura Mars, Mark!) It’s an altogether better experience for watching movies at home, particularly if your interests are broad and you don’t like watching the same things over and over again.
A few things you should know before heading to Vidéothèque. New movie rentals are for three days, but everything else is a seven-day rental. If you’re into vinyl, do check out the record section in the back of the store. It’s a good one. As for getting there, be sure to double-check the address if you’re using Apple’s Maps app, because both the old and new addresses have come up on mine. If you’re taking Metro, the closest A Line stop is Southwest Museum. It’s about a half-mile walk from there. The 81 bus will drop you off right around the store, at Figueroa and Avenue 41. If you’re driving, there’s a pretty good amount of street parking in the area.
Bonus tip: Stop by El Atacor #1 (3520 N. Figueroa St.), located less than a half mile away on Figueroa in Cypress Park, and get yourself an order of potato tacos for your movie night. Just trust me on this.
4102 N. Figueroa St. Highland Park 90031
Open daily from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.