There's sad news today for film and TV fans as XtraVision is closing down 28 stores across the country.
Countless film buffs have either worked in XtraVision, hung out in XtraVision or tried to rent over 18s films whilst standing on their tippy-toes. It's a real shame, but sadly, the nature of the market is such that people are migrating from hard copies to streamable content.
It's a crying shame because we're missing out on the wisdom of the XtraVision assistant who'd hook you up with a decent recommendation or point you towards a good film you hadn't heard of before.
So, to honour the unknown XtraVision assistant, here's ten films that were actually recommended to us down through the years.
10. DARK CITY (1998)
This recommendation came about because we were hooked on The Matrix. We'd rented that film a few times, but sure enough, it was getting kinda stale. Dark City was, of course, the next logical choice. Directed by Alex Proyas and starring Rufus Sewell, it's got shades of Inception, Memento and late '90s technophobia and follows an amnesiac who finds himself at the scene of a brutal murder.
9. THE DUELLISTS (1977)
We'd watched Gladiator and were hankering for more Ridley Scott, specifically historically-themed Ridley Scott. That's where his first feature, The Duellists, came in. It was sold to us on the idea that it was Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon with a pulse. But it was so much more. Brutal fight scenes between Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel, as well as some of the most sumptuous cinematography you're likely to see. An underrated classic.
8. THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1990)
"Yeah, my Dad wants a war movie... that isn't that Private Ryan thing." Give him this.
7. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption was the go-to "I just want a good film" choice for the XtraVision assistant. It's easy to see why. It had everything. Humour, heart, a great story, actors at their peak, everything. What's more, Shawshank Redemption basically became the film that woke the industry up to the rental market, with the film becoming the most rented film of 1995.
6. FARGO (1996)
The DVD / video cover of Fargo didn't exactly leap out at you, but when you turned and asked the XtraVision assistant if they were any good, they just couldn't shut up about it. It was funny, it was bleak, it had murder, it had Steve Buscemi in it (our assistant was a big Buscemi fan) and it won a ton of Oscars. It actually won two, but who cares.
5. RAGING BULL (1980)
If you'd worked your way through all the Rocky films and still wanted to keep on the boxing buzz, Raging Bull was the obvious recommendation. Of course, it was nothing even close to being like Rocky. At all. But hey, it's one of those films that people need to see and the XtraVision assistant was doing his / her duty.
4. MAGNOLIA (1999)
Magnolia might seem like an odd choice, but it was the one that was recommended when someone had worked their way through everything. They'd seen all the obvious ones, Shawshank, Saving Private Ryan, etc., but wanted something else. And that was Magnolia. Granted, it was usually handed back ashen-faced and without comment.
3. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (1995)
If you wanted a horror, but a horror that wasn't too gory, Interview With The Vampire was the choice. It had big names, an interesting story and a hint of sex about it. Granted, there was a period when Interview With The Vampire was on telly every other Wednesday at 10PM, but we didn't care.
2. DESPERADO (1995)
"I want an action film." Die Hard? "Seen it." Predator? "Seen it." Robocop? "That's shit." Reservoir Dogs? "That's not an action." Alright, try this. "Who's your man?" A Spanish actor, don't worry about it. You'll be grand.
1. ROAD TO PERDITION (2002)
We'd watched The Godfather trilogy and, when handing it back in, the assistant put this on the counter and said, "You should really give this a go." In our mind, there was nothing comparable to The Godfather. So, naturally, we assumed he was just pushing this on us for the sake of it. But, we took it home, watched it and returned it the day after and thanked the assistant. Because they were right.