Last video store is a short film abour Miguel Gomez who grew up going to his local video store. He’d spend hours perusing the selections, admiring the VHS cover designs, asking the clerks for recommendations, and whittling down the choices to one rental, which he’d bring home and watch with his family.
In the late 1990s, Gomez looked on as Netflix all but killed the video store. By 2014, Blockbuster had shut nearly all of its franchise locations. (Today, one remains in Bend, Oregon.) For Gomez—and movie lovers everywhere—the death of the video store heralded the end of an era. Algorithms were replacing the human interactions that made picking a movie an enjoyable experience.
You used to be able to walk into a video store without knowing what to rent; a video-store clerk might recommend something unique to your preferences, and you’d be on your way to a new cinematic discovery. These days, it’s an effort to make an informed decision about what to watch. The endless barrage of content that modern streaming services offer induces a kind of browsing fatigue in which choice can feel paralyzing.
When Gomez moved to a small town outside Philadelphia, he lamented its lack of a video store. So he opened one himself. Roy Power’s short documentary Memory Video is a portrait of Gomez and his homespun operation—one of the last rental stores of its kind.
Related video: Animated ode to blank VHS covers