Lucky Star definitely belongs to the decadent video shop category: the not too crowded shelves of DVDs, the wallpaper tends to yellowish, a few posters stuck to the wall, like that of Babel, one of my favorite movies.
Owner Rob is the kind of subject you would expect to find in places like this: a small, hunchbacked gentleman with oval glasses and curly hair. A character out of Twin Peaks, with an ambiguous smile and the air of someone who just had a drink.
As I enter, I find him behind the counter, intent on placing the film cards inside a red box. He smiles at me and says, “Make yourself at home. I take some pictures and we start talking. I ask him what his favorite shelf is, he guides me through the only room pointing to a line of Danish films: Festen is the first on the list.
“I’ve seen it! I liked it a lot. His eyes light up, he’s genuinely happy that I know him. He leads me to the collection of Italian films: Fellini, Moretti, Sorrentino – a careful and passionate selection.
“All these DVDs are only for rent?” I ask him. “Some, [the worst], are for sale. The others are just for rent. Imagine if I had to sell this – says holding Fellini’s La Strada – it would break my heart, how could I?”
I ask how business is going in the era of streaming since almost all the video shops in Amsterdam have been forced to close in recent years:
“I often imagine the day when I will have to close this shop, which has existed for 35 years now – he replies – I feel sick every time: I wonder what will happen to the little, big films that nobody knows? I don’t care about Harry Potter or films like that, but what will happen to La Strada?”
He’s visibly excited. His passion speaks to me, along with the fear that the rare pearls of the shop will disappear forgotten. The few remaining customers, he says, are now old friends, always the same, those who keep intact the curiosity to know a new story, get lost in the characters, decide whether to love or hate them:
“People are lazy, they don’t want to risk anymore. Now they can start a film and turn it off when they want. I always choose films together with my clients, I recommend what I think is best suited to their needs. If they come back the next day unhappy, I’ll have them rent a different one for free. If they tell me they liked the film, it’s enough for me to be happy.