Arts & CultureVisart Diaries

Visart Diaries: No Leg to Stand On

For the last few years I’ve been keeping track of every film I’ve watched. I thought it would be interesting to see how many I watched in a given year, but also helpful when friends routinely ask, “See any good films lately?” In the back of my mind, I always had the desire to try to watch 365 movies in a single year, and now with 348 movies under my belt in 2018, I just might meet my goal.

Josh Robbins in his happy place.

Of course Netflix, Hulu and Shudder have been extremely helpful in my quest, but I honestly wouldn’t have come this close without the help of the old Charlotte staple, Visart Video. In the age of streaming it can be hard to remember the benefits of leaving your house and engaging with the world around you. You can find just about any movie or TV show ever made with the click of a button these days, but you’re be missing out on the thrill of the hunt that a video store offers and the sense of community that comes with patronizing a locally owned business.

Time and time again, while scouring the racks at Visart, I’ll hear someone say, “Wow, I didn’t know this place was still open.” It is open and from the look of things, it’s doing better than ever. The team at Visart recently paired with the Charlotte Film Society to host screenings of unique independent films in their new intimate theater in the back of the store, and of course they still provide an extensive library of thousands of movies to rent or buy.

Charlotte Film Society still hosts its Back Alley Film Series at C3 Lab, but if you’re looking for more of a traditional theater experience, I’d highly recommend Manor Twin and Ballantyne Village Stadium 5. Also, Ayrsley Grand Cinema has a great Retro Horror series every year around Halloween. What I’m trying to get at here is this: every once in a while you need to stop streaming, leave your couch and go support a local business. Yeah it’s easy to order a movie at the click of a button, but where’s the fun in that? Get yourself a membership at Visart.

On a recent Friday night, I walked into Visart and told an employee named Micah that I’d now be documenting my film adventures for Queen City Nerve, and would love to include a local angle. He promptly led me to the documentary section and suggested the 2015 film Finders Keepers. As I’ve come to expect from Visart employees, Micah hit the nail on the head.

Finders Keepers follows a Maiden man named John Wood on a journey to recover his own mummified leg which he left in a BBQ smoker that was lost along with the rest of his belongings after he didn’t pay the bill for his rented storage. Another man, Shannon Whisnant, bought the contents of the locker, and claimed that since he bought the leg, it was his property. Shannon became obsessed with the leg and his newfound local celebrity. He even branded himself as “The Foot Man” and began appearing on local news stations in Charlotte and around the state, even showing up on the Judge Mathis show. Like the leg itself, Finders Keepers is a true hidden gem.

Sure, you might stumble upon something like this fun documentary on a streaming service, but there’s nothing better than a personalized recommendation from your local video clerk, algorithms be damned. Anytime I can’t seem to find anything in a store filled with thousands of DVDs, Blu-rays and VHS tapes, a Visart staff member is quick to recommend the most bonkers movies, because they know I’m up for a wild ride.

Similar to a good book, film isn’t only about the time you spend consuming it, it’s also about the communal aspect of discussing it with friends breaking it apart together and understanding new things about it by speaking about the different perspectives from which you approach it. In the same way literary criticism can be applied to T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, one might have a similar experience talking with a friend about Brian Yuzna’s 1989 horror classic Society.

I’ve got 17 more films to watch before the end of the year, so I’ll keep this first one brief. If you’re into the Alt History of Charlotte and the surrounding areas, definitely check out Finders Keepers, then join me on the rest of my journey as I discover movies that fall through the cracks of Redbox or streaming services. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to stop by VisArt and get a membership, because I’ll need someone to talk to about all these flicks.

Aside from being a proud cinephile, Joshua Robbins plays bass for local indie bands Late Bloomer and Alright and is co-owner of local record label Self Aware Records. 

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