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Renter's Market

Where to find the hard-to- find in videos, DVDs and laserdiscs in O.C. and beyond.

April 16, 1998|JON MATSUMOTO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Want to rent "Air Force One"? The Blockbuster Video down the street probably carries 50 copies of the hit thriller. Even the mom-and-pop video shop around the corner undoubtedly has multiple copies.

Yet when the mood runs to something offbeat, the local video store may turn into a frustratingly homogeneous browsing experience.

Where does the exasperated Orange County video hunter go to find that elusive copy of, say, Buster Keaton's "Go West" (1925) or John Sayles' "City of Hope" (1991)?

For some video fanatics, the answer is Los Angeles County, where the presence of the film and television industries has helped spawn a number of maverick rental shops. Santa Monica's Vidiots, with its stock of art and independent films, and Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee in North Hollywood, which offers an impressive collection of vintage TV series and films, are two specialty video stores that have no direct counterparts here in Orange County.

But a long drive may not be required to track down some of those hard-to-find videos. The two Broadway Video stores in Long Beach offer a better-than-usual selection of foreign and classic films, as well as a section devoted to gay- and lesbian-related works. Of the larger video chains, Tower Records, which has four O.C. locations, gets high marks for its relatively adventurous inventory for rent and sale.

"Tower is the best of the big stores," says Larry Ward, a film professor at Cal State Fullerton.

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Renting esoteric videos can even be as easy as checking a mailbox. Mail rentals are available through the Internet or by phone. Public libraries also are an overlooked resource for interesting videos.

Orange County is quite diverse when it comes to ethnic video shops. Among others, there are stores that stock Indian, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese and Spanish-language videos. Alas, it's rare to find videos at these types of ethnic shops that are subtitled or dubbed in English.

Local laserdisc and DVD fanatics have the privilege of living in the same county as Ken Crane's Laserdisc in Westminster. Its owner boasts that the mega-store houses one of the largest laserdisc inventories in existence. A few other Orange County stores rent as well as sell laserdiscs and DVDs.

Here's a look at where to go to rent or buy hard-to-find videos as well as laserdiscs and DVDs. This is not meant to be a complete list.

LIBRARIES

* Anaheim Public Library, 500 W. Broadway, (714) 765-1880.

Because it is one of two Disney repository libraries (the other one is in Florida), there's a large stock of Disney films on tape here. But most of its videos are titles you won't find at most video stores.

The basic intent of the library's video collection is to mirror its print collection. For example, it carries all 37 of Shakespeare's plays on video. A variety of language, instructional and educational titles are also available in the library's 5,000-plus collection. The children's video section includes everything from history and science tapes to selections that teach youngsters etiquette.

Most titles cost $1 to rent for two nights. Others are $2 or $3. Direct self-help videos, such as those that help teach English, are lent free of charge. You need an Anaheim Public Library card to rent videos, but any California resident who's 18 or older and can show proof their of current address can get one free. The same applies at the other libraries cited below.

* Newport Beach Central Library, 1000 Avocado Ave., (714) 717-3800.

This library offers popular films on video, for $2 per night, that you might find at the local video store. What distinguishes it from most retail video outlets is its impressive selection of foreign movie titles: about 450 foreign films from more than 25 countries.

The collection includes lesser-known films in Vietnamese, Persian and Finnish as well as an abundant number of film school and art-house classics such as Bertolucci's "The Conformist," Fassbinder's "The Marriage of Maria Braun" and Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story." The library houses no fewer than 10 Ingmar Bergman films as well as numerous independent films--including Sayles' "City of Hope."

Foreign movies and nonfiction tapes, such as travel and instructional videos, are available for seven days at no charge.

* Yorba Linda Public Library, 18181 Imperial Highway, (714) 777-2873.

As in Newport Beach, the Yorba Linda library carries video hits such as "Devil's Advocate" and "In & Out." These can be rented for two days at $1.50. The library also has an extensive stock of travel videos and documentaries, including multivolume series on Native Americans and Abraham Lincoln. Instructional videos explaining such matters as mutual funds, computers, ballroom dancing and house painting round out the collection.

A separate children's video section contains such popular titles as "Babe" and "The Lion King" as well as selections based on award-winning children's literature. Documentaries and instructional videos are also available for kids.

LASERDISC AND DVD STORES

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