The Last Blockbuster
A documentary on the last remaining Blockbuster Video in Bend, Oregon.
Director: Taylor Morden
Writer: Zeke Kamm
Actors: Sandi Harding, Kevin Smith, Ione Skye, Brian Posehn
Release Year: 2020
Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
This documentary uses the whittling down of the Blockbuster Video chain to a single location in Oregon as a jumping-off point for an exploration of the lost cultural activity of visiting video stores, holding physical representations of movies, talking to other people about movies, browsing staff picks, being a kid or teenager exposed to movies the first time through video stores, and so on, all done with funny celebrity interviewees. I liked the idea enough to contribute to the movie's crowdfunding a few years ago, which is how I got to see it before it releases next month.
The movie gets into the history of the Blockbuster brand and why the rise of Netflix isn't the primary cause of its decline, and it shows why a drop-off in video rental customers probably won't be what eventually closes that last Blockbuster in Oregon, both of which I found surprising. But more than inside-baseball details about the industry, I went into this movie for some warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feelings about video stores in general (I was more partial to Family Video, Hollywood Video, and mom-and-pop video stores than the underhanded industry Death Star that was Blockbuster, but in this film it's basically a stand-in for all of them), and the film delivered what I wanted. I couldn't have anticipated when I crowdfunded this years ago that it would come out deep into a global pandemic in which I had extra need of warm fuzzy nostalgia, but now turned out to be an excellent time to take this trip down memory lane. If you have any fond memories of video stores at all, this is worth seeing.