Film

So Long, Suspect Video

I won't miss the savings but I'm sad to see the entrance to my neighbourhood go dim.

2016 has been a year of goodbyes; to common sense, and Leonard Cohen. In Toronto we will have to say goodbye to Suspect Video, Honest Eds, and Mirvish Village.  I never shopped at Honest Ed’s much, even with their excellent deals on ashtrays and bubble bath. I won’t miss the savings but I’m sad to see the entrance to my neighbourhood go dim.

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Check out the link – they have a whole simulacra about what our city is supposed to look like in their hyper futuristic world of steel & glass.

Westbank Corp takes possession at the beginning of next year as our city slowly turns into a condo forest. I live in a third floor walk up with a panoramic view of the skyline. That view has been partially blocked by The College condos and the new Brookfield development east of Spadina Avenue. At College & Huron Streets, a turn of the century building that features walk out fire escapes, has been vacated and is slated for demolition sometime soon.

In the midst of Toronto’s reconstruction & booming real estate market – the loss of Suspect Video is keenly felt. I love that place. It was nice to just wander in alone and rent way too many movies. I also paid way too many late fees due to my life-long inability to return things on time (don’t look at me, Toronto Public Library!). When I thought about it, I really didn’t mind giving them my money, because they gave me films.  I talked to the owner Louis last year about the new development and the future of Suspect Video . At the time of our interview I was still holding out hope that Louis & Co  would change locations. I thought maybe they could keep going in the face of a changing skyline. I’ve been in and out since then but, not for maybe a month or two. I wandered in one day after an event nearby and was surprised at the state of things.

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Everything was gone. The shelves were nearly striped and a printed sign spoke of a sale: all DVDs $5.00. I ran around looking for Criterions but most of them were gone. Even filmmakers like Hal Hartley, who I was pretty sure no one had heard of, had their collections striped. Everywhere I looked I saw some filmmaker’s worst film: Shutter Island, No Such Thing, Family Frenzy….  I made out with Angels in America, North by Northwest, Play it Again, Sam (best Woody Allen-not-Woody-Allen film) & The Life Aquatic on Criterion.

I only bought The Life Aquatic because it was in the Criterion Collection. At least I like the film. I came pretty close to purchasing an Eclipse Series Japanese horror collection I was not interested in.

It was exciting. Suspect had an amazing collection. Later, when I realized I probably would not be coming back, my DVD blitz felt sad. Like I’d ransacked a corpse. That’s a little dramatic but, video stores were the only place where I ever worshipped. To be clear – I paid A LOT in late fees – but didn’t the video store give me everything?

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The video store experience will be sorely missed. Bay Street Video is still around but that’s no where close to my home and I really can’t afford the lazyness-cum-late-fees.
Suspect is not going away as an organization – they have high hopes for their future post store-front.  Is that not a little consolation? Much like growing up, the disappearance of Suspect Video is disappointing, and annoyingly emblematic of our changing city. I always felt so comfortable there – my drunken chat about films with the counter (probably entirely one-sided), somehow always really having to pee when I went in to rent DVDs, and just getting excited about that obscure WWII documentary.

Nothing can replace a good video store. Here’s to Suspect.

 

 

 

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