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516 E John Street, Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 384-0977

Urbana-Champaign's Best Independent DVD Rental store
(locally owned and operated since 1985)

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Rentertainment news... a blog of sorts.
2006 Edition (Click for 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

December 31, 2006
Expanded Section Alert: Lots of Operas now at That's Rentertainment!

In order to meet demand (or create it, as the case may be) we've beefed up our Opera offerings and now have almost 35 with more on the way. To help you pick which ones to start with, I've created a special page to fill you in on what we've got. Check it out here.

Dig our new motto: "That's Rentertainment: Urbana-Champaign's largest collection of films no one wants to see including Cycling, Mexican Horror Films and now Opera."

December 15, 2006
AFI Announces its Top 10 Movies and TV Shows for 2006
The American Film Institute (famous for making"Best of" lists for just about everything -- there may even be a "Best of the Best of lists" list) has announced its picks for best films and TV shows of 2006. Have a look and see how many you answered correctly:

AFI Movies of the Year
Babel, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, The Devil Wears Prada, Dreamgirls, Half Nelson, Happy Feet, Inside Man, Letters From Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, United 93.

AFI TV Programs of the Year

Battlestar Galactica, Dexter, Elizabeth I, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, The Office, South Park, 24, The West Wing, The Wire.
November 14, 2006
Serene Bean Cafe
I always wish small business owners the best of luck -- what with so many forces working against them. However, every now and then a place opens that I really, really, really hope will do well (and deserves to). Such is case with the Serene Bean Cafe (located in the McKinley Foundation at the corner of 5th and Daniel). Many folks have made attempts at running a cafe in that spot (myself included... almost 20 years ago) but so far none have lasted more than a few years -- until now, I hope. The new cafe features freshly baked breads and pastries, has sandwiches and soups, and serves only organic fair trade coffee. They are open every day except Saturday (weird?) and have tons of seating. Plus, the McKinley Foundation is a cool place that has done so many great things for our community. I did, however, notice the Serene Bean Cafe didn't have a web site so I put their information here. Stop by next time you are on campus.
November 11, 2006
Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films
How amazing is this? A fifty DVD box set of great films (not a dud among them) put out by the folks at Janus/Criterion. Just put this baby on the shelf and whenever you are in need of a great film just grab one -- why not start at the beginning and work your way through. Of course, at a list price of $850 (but you can get it for as cheap as $650) you may be better off renting them... (link)

November 5, 2006
Adrienne Shelly, 40, found dead...
I have loved Adrienne Shelly since I first saw her in Hal Hartley's "Unbelievable Truth" and "Trust" (both all-time Rentertainment favorites). She has since starred in over 25 films and written/directed half a dozen (including "Waitress" starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion which was just completed). She had such natural beauty and charm and was wonderful in everything I've ever seen her in. It's sad to know she won't be gracing the big screen again...
(Read more about Adrienne Shelly on IMDB or Wikipedia)

October 30, 2006
British Filmmaker Tony Palmer comes to town...
On Monday, November 6, 2006, the University of Illinois' School of Music welcomes British filmmaker Tony Palmer to campus. Palmer's more than 100 films range from early works with The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, to famous portraits with and about Georg Solti, Britten, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Maria Callas, Renee Fleming, Mitsuko Uchida, Henryk Garecki, Andre Previn, Vaughan Williams, and John Adams. Over 40 international prizes for his work include numerous EMMY Awards. He is the only person to have won the Prix Italia twice.

Public lectures (Monday, November 6, 2006):
"'I am the enemy you loved' - Stalin & Shostakovich" Noon, Smith Music Building, Memorial Room, 805 S Mathews, Urbana
"Kubrick's Music" 4:30pm, Spurlock Museum Auditorium, 600 S Gregory, Urbana

Two of Tony Palmer's films will be shown in the School of Music Auditorium, 1114 W Nevada, Urbana (Monday, November 6, 2006):
7:30pm - "Testimony", his 1987 film about Shostakovich, featuring Ben Kingsley
11:00pm - "All my Loving", Palmer's 1968 film (rated R) about Frank Zappa, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, etc.

Mr. Palmer is pleased to meet with interested students and faculty Monday November 6, from 1pm - 3pm, and on Tuesday November 7, from 2 - 4pm. Contact Katherine Syer for more information. You can listen to Tony Palmer's interview on WILL (Focus 580) here.

October 26, 2006
Harold's Chicken Shack open's on campus...
After Sarki's sudden disappearance (were they even open for 6 months?) Rentertainment's old space in Johnstowne Centre has been filled with Harold's Chicken Shack. We haven't eaten there yet but it sure smells good wafting down the street... and they have peach cobbler. My only complaint so far is bread instead of biscuits. Oh well.

Harold's Chicken Shack
October 5, 2006
French Film Festival - October 13-19, 2006
The University of Illinois and Parkland College (along with Boardman's Art Theatre) have put together the 2nd Annual French Film Festival -- make a point of getting to at least one of the films this year!
September 21, 2006
Kevin Kelly's True Films
Kevin Kelly (of co-founding editor of Wired Magazine, Whole Earth Review, Cool Tools, etc) presents True Films -- "the best general interest true films I've found." Kevin defines True Films as "documentaries, educational films, instructional how-to's, and what the British call factuals - a non-fiction visual account." You can buy a pdf copy (that's a digital download, mom) of the 56 page book listing his top 100 True Films for only $3 from the folks at BoingBoing here.
August 31, 2006
Syd Barrett's Bikes
Two bikes owned and hand-painted by Syd Barrett, co-founder of Pink Floyd, are among items being auctioned by his estate on Nov. 29-30 in Britain. Barrett died last month at age 60. In 1972, he had a nervous breakdown blamed on drug use and withdrew from public life. He lived as a semi-recluse in Cambridge and got around town on his bikes, according to the BikeBiz industry website. For Pink Floyd's 1967 debut album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Barrett wrote a song called "Bike" with these lyrics:
  I've got a bike,
  You can ride it if you like
  It's got a basket, a bell that rings
  And things to make it look good
  I'd give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it
[link to more information]
August 6, 2006
Display Case 'o Fun
That's right -- we've added a "Display Case o' Fun" in the store. Every month or so we'll put another pile of "really cool" stuff (by my definition, not necessarily yours) in it. This month I brought in bunch of Pogo paraphanalia -- some rare, some not, but all "really cool" (once again, by my definition, not necessarily yours). Watch for upcoming cases full of Edward Gorey, Cycling Gear (of course) and Cool Advertising Figures. Maybe some day we'll do a case of old home video formats (8mm, Beta, VHS, Laserdisc, RCA SelectaVision VideoDisc, CED, VCD, Video 8, UMD and soon BlueRay and HD-DVD)...
August 2, 2006
Bayfield, a mighty wind
Last week Jill and I went on our annual trek up north to Bayfield, WI -- a beautiful town of 611 people on Lake Superior. Jill is an artist ( so we go up every year for the Bayfield Festival of Arts. This year was a bit crazier than usual. Have a look.
Bayfield, WI
July 20, 2006
If haven't checked out the anonymously written blog OpeningBlands yet, do! Dead on hysterical mockery of all local music (my label, Parasol, included). The writer has a great knowledge and history of the local music scene -- going back to the way old school (like Head East), working through the latest wave old school (Hum, Menthol, Lanterna, Adam Schmitt, etc) and hitting the current crop of bands (Elanors, American Minor, Mike Ingram, etc). Funny stuff. See if you can figure out who the writer is...
July 1, 2006
New cafe in Urbana!!!

Caffe Paradiso just opened a 2nd location inside the Urbana Free Library (just inside the old front doors on Race Street). Right now they are just serving drinks but that may change some day. Stop by for one of the best cups of coffee in town (made from Intelligentsia beans). You can even sit on that fabulous veranda out front. Check out their soon to be revamped web site here. (Dec 15, 2006 Update: This location is now closed)
June 26, 2006
Super no Onna (aka: Supermarket Woman)
What a cute film! I've been hesitant to buy any of the imports of Juzo Itami's films because they cost so much (close to $60 each!) but I loved "Tampopo" and "Taxing Woman" so much that I thought I'd better get at least one -- now I'm looking for the box set. "Supermarket Woman" is Itami's second to last film (before his mysterious suicide). It's a comedy about the serious subject of big business trodding upon the little guy (like the local Walmart situation) -- in this case a small grocery store in Japan. Supermarket Woman stars two of Itami's regulars -- Nobuko Miyamoto (Itami's real life wife) as Hanako the concerned shopper and Tsuga Masahiko as Goro the small store's owner. Other than one somewhat drawn out (and overly silly) scene this movie as as wonderful as they come. Watch it!
June 1, 2006
Wednesday Renters take note: Like the Dinosaurs and cheap gas (those two are connected somehow, aren't they?) "Two for One Wednesdays" are soon to be a thing of the past. Starting in August, Wednesday's special will be dollar rentals from the American Independent and GLBT sections. So, if you get the right two films you could actually save $0.50 over the old two for one deal... plan accordingly.
May 11, 2006
New Pizza place on campus!!!
Artie's just opened up at 809 S 5th (inside the McKinley Foundation). It's a delivery only place run by a guy named Artie (imagine that). He's got thin, deep dish and stuffed pizza's as well as calzones, bread sticks, and chicken wings. Right now he's doing a "Dinner & Movie Deal" where if you buy any large pizza you get a free 2 liter soda and a rental from That's Rentertainment! Check out the menu here.
May 3, 2006
It's not about the bike, it's about Lance fighting cancer.
Check the newsstand now for the May 8 edition of Sports Illustrated and the terrific cover story by Austin Murphy. Says the headline: "Lance Now: Attacking his new career like he did the Tour de France and closing ground on cancer, he's becoming a political force unlike any other athlete in history." Makes us proud to be roadies and contributors to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
April 27, 2006
OK -- I'm finally fed up with Roger Ebert. Today at Ebertfest he gave special recognition to the folks at Netflix saying that they are great because they have so many films and that the only other alternative is the "nameless store with Adam Sandler specials every month." And this just a few weeks after the CEO of Netflix announced their goal was to closed every brick and mortar store in the country. Way to support the indies, Roger.
April 7, 2006
If you’ve ever dreamed of making a movie, now you have no excuse... AND you can help a worthy cause in the process! The 25by25by5 Short Film Contest to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has been announced! Click here for more information.

April 4, 2006
Today, my friend Sara called to asked me if I remembered what today is -- it's the 17th anniversary of our good friend Josh Gottheil's death. Many students know Fred Gottheil, Josh's father, who tirelessly raises funds for the Josh Gottheil Memorial Fund for Lymphoma Research on the University of Illinois campus. Josh's name still pops up in conversation on the local music scene -- most recently on Opening Bands when someone asked "Who is this Josh Gottheil I keep hearing about?" -- the overwhelming response to that question was amazing! Those of us who where lucky enough to know Josh will always treasure his friendship and enthusiastic outlook on life.

For more about Josh's life -- click here.

March 28, 2006
Former Renter employee makes good
You should all remember Jeanine -- she's the beautiful super friendly gal who worked at the Lincoln Avenue Rentertainment a few years ago. Well, after graduation she moved away, joined a band (The 1900s) and put out an amazing record ("Plume Delivery"). Read all about it here, check out their MySpace page, and have a look at their web site. You can buy it locally at Parasol Records and Borders. Also, they play around these parts every now and then -- keep an eye out -- the shows are always great.
The 1900s
March 23, 2006
No Shirt, No Service
We finally got our second batch of shirts in -- this time in a plethora of sizes but only one color, white. Stop by the store to get yours or get one on-line. Either way, they are only $5!

March 15, 2006
Iron Weed Film Club
We recently signed up with another cool monthly film club -- Ironweed:

"Ironweed is more than a monthly film club... it's a growing movement of people like you championing independent filmmakers who tell engaging, important, human stories."

Their focus seems to be more on documentaries, social issues and environmental activism. They encourage films clubs to show their movies and have an online "community" that includes member spotlights, oppurtunities to sign petitions, and chat groups (and blogs) for members. Very well done.

(click here for a list of the Iron Weed films we have in stock)

Iron Weed Films

March 10, 2006
I finally figured out how to list sub-categories of fims using a code hidden away in our video store software. As a demonstration, here are all of the films we have from the good folks at Film Movement. And, while we are on the subject, everyone should check out the Film Movement web page. They are doing a really cool thing.

Film Movement
March 2, 2006
I've been telling this story for years but never knew if it was true -- well, here it is from the world wide web so it must be:
Harpo was the second oldest [Marx Brother] and the one who never spoke. Not entirely true. He spoke quite regularly on stage until the production of "Home Again". Les Marsden had some more information about Harpo's 'speaking career': "He still had about six lines in "Home Again", but uncle Al Shean simply didn't think he delivered lines all that well. Harpo was so upset that after they had toured the show in vaudeville for awhile and were playing (according to Harpo) the [Virginia] theatre in Champaign, Illinois, Harpo decided to ad-lib all through the performance. A critic in the local newspaper described the show by saying, in part, "Adolph [as Harpo was known at the time and up until WWII] Marx performed beautiful pantomime which was ruined whenever he spoke." Harpo then decided he could do a better job of stealing focus by not speaking. And he really did continue to speak on stage regularly - just whenever he felt like it. For example, on opening night of 'Animal Crackers' he tackled Margaret Irving and proceeded to tell her a well... let's just say a questionable joke. Groucho, Chico and Zeppo came out onstage and did a running commentary. But he did speak extemporaneously onstage on occasion. Just not from a script and not often. Steve Allen has told me (and has also recounted the tale in various books, etc) all about the evening Harpo left show business during Allen Sherman's show in Pasadena, during which he spoke for several minutes to a stunned audience." (from
Harpo Marx
February 17, 2006
Spinervals are here!!!
Indoor cyclists take note: That's Rentertainment now sells (no rentals, sorry) the entire line of Spinervals products: "Designed for the competitive cyclist, Spinervals Competition workouts will increase your power output, pedaling technique, and speed. Best of all, these time-efficient workouts can be done in the comfort of your own home." (from the Spinervals web-site). Click here for more information.
February 7, 2006
Scott Coady's "The Tour Baby" update
This just in from Scott Coady (director and star of The Tour Baby):
Cobbles Baby! coming soon. My second film, Cobbles Baby! will be available on DVD in April 2006. The film captures my adventures following the 2004 edition of the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix and other cycling related side trips in and around Northern France and Belgium... I don't know if you’ve heard, but Davis Phinney was recently asked to speak at NASA about leadership and leading your own life. His speech touched the hearts and minds of the mostly non-cyclist crowd. He received a standing ovation and many were moved to tears. Davis's foundation will now become the target of my fundraising efforts. A portion of the proceeds from Cobbles Baby! will go directly to the Davis Phinney Foundation.
February 4, 2006
The Next Renter T-shirt
That's right, the next Rentertainment t-shirt is already in the works. Our crack design team (that would be Anni at LMNtal) is putting it all together. We can also thank Anni for the new "Daily Specials" signs you see hanging in the front window every time you come by. Isn't she great?
January 27,2006
Labor Films
Renter buddy Edward Burch recently forwarded his list of "Images of Labor in Film" -- see it here.
January 17, 2006
Why don't you guys have...?
Some films just are not available on DVD -- that's why we don't have them. I've started a list of the films that we have on our perpetual "need-to-get-it-if-it-ever-comes-out" radar. Have a look at the list here. If you know of other films that need to be added or if you know of a source for any of the films on the list let me know.
January 7, 2006
International section changes
I've finally added a search feature to the web site to search by country. See it here. Also, we've split the old "Spain/Central & South America" section (in the store) into "Argentina", "Brazil", "Mexico", "Spain", and "Misc Central & South America" sections. Enjoy!

January 4, 2006
Environmental Movies

E: The Environmental Magazine recently printed an article (L.A. Environmental, Sept/Oct 2006) about Hollywood movies that deal with environmental themes. Read it here. There is also a complete list of all the movies mentioned in the article at the bottom -- watch 'em all.

By the way, if you are green and are concerned about our environment E: The Envirnmental Magazine is an excellent magazine to subscribe to.

January 2, 2006
New Pocket Pal listing alert
I've added a nice list of movies that reference cycling in them (not cycling films like the tapes of the Spring Classics but rather films like "Triplets of Belleville", "Breaking Away" and "The Bicycle Thief" -- of course we have the Spring Classics as well). Check out the list here.
Click for 2005, 2006 and 2007 news.
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