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5 Retailers Keeping Video Rental Alive

CafeDVD

Imagine if the Netflix DVD-by-mail algorithm actually cared about the quality of the film you watched and took all the intangibles of the moviegoing experience into account when curating your selection. That's CafeDVD in summary.

The online equivalent of the quirky independent video store in a city you live way too far from or the personal collection of the film student and cinephile who live a block down, CafeDVD makes a point of weeding out the dregs of the "new release" shelves and taking a more scholarly approach to its offerings. Lists of subcategories including the American Film Institute's Top 100, Criterion Collection films, Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival, Films That Were Banned/Censored and On Totalitarianism call back to a time when a video store's staff would take the time to cull their own shelves full of picks and discerning customers could be drawn by collections that encouraged exploration rather than added expense.

The front page is spare, but it'll make the naturally curious wonder if they'd ever pick Mickey Rourke for the lead in the film version of a Bukowski story again or if John Woo's The Killer held up as well as you remembered it in your 20s. The DVD rental market has little choice but to devolve into niches, but CafeDVD has served its particular nice well for nearly 15 years.

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