Joe Morgenstern mourns the news about Vidiots


Wall Street Journal film critic Joe Morgenstern is quite disturbed by the coming closure of Vidiots, the popular Santa Monica video store. He writes at the WSJ (no subscription required) that it "feels like an impending death in the family—in the family of film lovers that extends, in fact, to readers of my reviews."

Vidiots is my local video shop in Santa Monica, but it’s the Alexandria library of video shops, a repository of 50,000 DVD’s and tapes, many of them rare and unavailable anywhere else, including the Internet. For the almost 20 years I’ve been reviewing movies for the Journal, I’ve cherished the shop, with its all-knowing staff, as an indispensable resource.

I can’t count the times I’ve called them for a quick memory jog, or jumped in the car close to midnight on deadline night to pick up a film I needed to see for a specific visual reference, or to make sure it was as good as I recalled before listing it as a video tip. Never once have they let me—or my readers—down. These days people believe that everything is available on the Web, though nothing could be farther from the truth. I came to believe that everything was available at Vidiots, and damned if it wasn’t true, every time.

What has also been available, at no extra cost and with no late-return fee, is wisdom. In the grand tradition of Quentin Tarantino, the quintessential video-shop clerk turned auteur, the people behind the counter at Vidiots love to talk about movies, and to give advice whenever it’s sought. And not just casual recommendations for a current action adventure to be consumed with beer and pizza, but advice that qualifies as scholarship—the shop’s racks include whole sections devoted to stars long dead as well as currently ablaze, and to directors like Andrei Tarkovsky whose work is seminal, though not what you’d call wildly commercial.

Morgenstern notes he has moderated public Q&As at the store with Anjelica Huston Nicole Holofcener in hopes of keeping Vidiots viable. "The feeling of a family gathering was strong on both evenings, but everyone knew the end was near," he concedes. Morgenstern was on KCRW's Which Way, L.A.? last night talking about Vidiots.

By the way, here is the statement released this week by the Vidiots-in-chief.

It is with profound regret and sorrow that after 30 years in business, Vidiots will be forced to close on April 15, 2015.

It is no secret to our customers and the community at large that we have been struggling to stay open for the last few years. Please be assured that we have done everything possible to continue our mission but it was not enough to make up for the precipitous drop in rental income—a 24% drop in the last five months alone. Our Board is currently reviewing possible 501c3 organizations that would allow public access to our collection of over 50,000 titles, many rare and unavailable online.

Unless a sustaining benefactor steps forward within the next month, we will close as planned and focus on the future of our collection.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all our generous donors, who through online auctions and direct donations, have enabled us to keep our 30-year collection together. It has been a wonderful journey and we thank all of our staff, past and present, as well as our loyal customers throughout the years for making Vidiots a prime resource for Los Angeles film lovers.

We will continue to rent through March 31, 2015. Any unused vouchers after that point can be used towards a purchase. We thank you all for your decades of support and ask for your understanding during the difficult months ahead. The best way to contact us is through email at

Cathy Tauber and Patty Polinger

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