You just got a new DVD player for the holidays--or maybe you're a dinosaur who still watches movies on VHS. Either way, you're looking to rent some movies. You could head over to the nearest corporate-owned mega video store, where copies of the latest big-budget crap are guaranteed to be in. But what if, God forbid, you'd rather watch a film by Yasujiro Ozu than Tomb Raider 2? Luckily, you live in Portland, where there is an excellent community of smaller, independently owned video stores that carry diverse and eclectic selections.
Clinton Street Video, 2501 SE Clinton St., 236-9030--Having trouble finding that special foreign, arthouse or documentary film--especially on VHS? This is one of the best places to start your search.
Excalibur Books & Comics, 2444 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 231-7351--All you'll find here are animation DVDs, but the selection is huge. Especially impressive is the overwhelming number of Japanese anime titles to choose from.
Just Be, 107 NW 5th Ave., 796-2733--If you're looking for imported films from Japan and Hong Kong, you've hit the motherlode. Not only will you find a massive selection of anime and martial-arts action epics, you'll find films like Hero (not the one with Geena Davis), which have already played in Asia but haven't been officially released in the United States.
Movie Madness Video & More, 4320 SE Belmont St., 234-4363--One of the best video stores in the country, this Portland favorite has a mind-blowing selection of foreign, independent and hard-to-find films on DVD and tape (the downside is they have a system for shelving films that will leave you frustrated and confused).
Trilogy, 2325 NW Thurman St., 229-1884-- A longtime favorite in Northwest Portland, this legendary store recently moved to a new location. Thankfully, the incredible selection of offbeat titles made the move as well.
Videorama, 2640 NE Alberta St., 288-4067; 2310 N Lombard St., 289-8408; 1136 NW Lovejoy St., 796-2825--If you're looking for titles that lean toward the mainstream, you may want to check out any of the three locations of this locally owned chain of video stores. But don't fret, you can also find a decent selection of films from the fringe.
Video Vérité, 3956 N Mississippi Ave., 445-9902--Quality over quantity seems to be the unspoken motto here. The eclectic DVD collection may not be the most expansive, but what you will find are great films. The fact that video guru/film critic Marc Mohan is part of the operation means that things will only get better, and as business grows, so will the diverse inventory.
Video Underground, Southeast Belmont Street between 27th and 28th avenues, on the north side of the street--This store isn't listed in the phone book, and it may seem like you need to know a secret handshake to rent videos here, but that's not the case. The emphasis is on foreign films and documentaries, and the selection is impressive.
Watch This!, 916 W Burnside St., 223-1791-- All you VHS dinosaurs take note--there ain't no tapes here. That's right: This recent addition to the downtown landscape only rents DVDs. Still, the inventory includes movies you didn't even know were available on disc.