Well, having just insulted Mönchengladbach, I should try to repair the damage by mentioning something good — very good — that has come out of that city. I’m talking about the Filmgalerie Videothek. For anyone who’s ever gone into a mainstream German chain-store video rental place and been disappointed by the crappy selection, the Filmgalerie (G) is for you. They started in Mönchengladbach, and now have an outlet in Duesseldorf.
What makes the Filmgalerie so special? The fact that it’s run by and friendly film buffs with eclectic taste. There are sections for every major director, from Almodovar to Peckinpah to Pasolini to Fassbinder to Renoir to Malle to Scorsese to John Waters. If that’s too hoity-toity for you, there are also extensive collections of splatter, horror, ‘Kult’ (John Watersy stuff from Germany and Europe), a generous selection of the weird and wonderful movies coming out of South Korea and Hong Kong these days, and miscellaneous ‘erotic thrillers’ (but no outright porn). For the expats among you, there are films in English that were never released in Germany, and special sections with movies from Iran, China, India, Iceland, Mexico, and other exotic lands. For more mainstream fans there’s also plenty of comedies and drama. It’s all laid out logically, if a bit idiosyncratically, and you can search the whole collection at their website.
Much of this stuff is impossible to come by, especially in mainstream German video stores. In fact, I still haven’t even found an rent-by-mail service in Germany that matches the Film Galerie’s selection (although last time I looked was 2006). The Film Galerie is a tad more expensive than conventional video stores (but not if you get a 10-film card, which costs 26 euro), but if there is anything more worth subsidizing than a great neighborhood video store, I don’t know what is.
Movie-loving friends of mine in other, supposedly cosmopolitan, German cities, complain that they don’t have a single decent video store. That’s why I keep encouraging the Film Galerie crew to expand…