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(locally owned and operated since 1985)

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Rentertainment news... a blog of sorts.
2007 Edition (Click for 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
December 4, 2007
Smile Politely
Check it out: There's a new local on-line publication -- "Smile Politely: A Champaign-Urbana Culture Blog" ( You'll recognize some of the writers as folks from the Buzz (Seth Fein), the now defunct Hub (Doug Hoepker), and, if you've got your way-back-hat on, the Octopus (Paul Young). It launched today and promises to be everything great about all the local print publications but without any of the filler, no waiting a whole week for the next edition and no killed trees. Looks good to me -- bookmark it!
Smile Politely
November 19, 2007
Welcome to Tolono
Starting out as a play written by Mark Roberts and performed at the Station Theater in Urbana, IL., "Welcome to Tolono" made its film debut June 30, 2007 at the Foellinger Auditorium on the University of Illinois Campus and is currently making the film festival circuit. Some day it will be on DVD and we'll have it so you can watch it, too.
Welcome to Tolono
November 12, 2007
Look Ma -- I'm on the TV!
Not really film related and only slightly video related, but, here goes anyway... Now you can watch what is going on on the University of Illinois quad with the all new Quad Cam! If you have the patience, you can even move the camera around and zoom in on stuff. Better than Xbox and cheaper than a movie...
University of Illinois Quad
November 4, 2007
100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers
From the creator: "This is a parody of all the '100' list specials that the American Film Institute keeps putting out." Peter Bradswaw of The Guardian calls it the greatest YouTube clip of all time and Roger Ebert seems to agree. What do you think? Have a look
October 31, 2007
Shades of Grey: Hollywood -- Only Blurrier. And Less Bright.
Today, Rentertainment pal and all around great guy, Shadie, takes the internet by force by launching his blog: Shades of Grey. You've probably seen him hanging around Renter, you may remember reading his movie insights in the Buzz a few years back, and you may even remember seeing him in Polyphonic Spree's "Light + Day" video -- now you can check in on him every single day. What fun!
(you can also see some of his "best" and "worst" lists on our own Shadie's World)
Shades of Grey
October 31, 2007
This year, why not Bring on the Lesbian Vampires?
Professional sex blogger, femmebot and San Francisco Chronicle writer, Violet Blue, has posted her "Top 10 retro, bare-breasted, vampire flicks". If you're looking for something a bit different from the usual Shining, Halloween and Exorcist fare any of these would be a great place to start. I would add Jean Rollin's "Lips of Blood" simply because the super cute Béatrice Harnois has an extended cameo in it. For more title suggestions check out the "Lesbian Vampire" wikipedia page.
(Read: Bring on the Lesbian Vampires)
September 22, 2007
O'zapft is!
With those words (translated to "The barrel has been tapped!") Oktoberfest 2007 (or Weisn as the locals call it -- that's the locals from Munich, not the locals from here) has begun! From now through October 10th 6.5 million people will drink 6.8 million liters of beer (order a "mas" and they will know what you are talking about), and eat 94,135 pieces of chicken and 144,635 pairs of pork sausages. What are we still doing in Urbana? Grab you dirndls and/or lederhosen and get over there...
September 21, 2007
Third Annual Tournees French Film Festival
Welcome to The Third Annual Tournés French Film Festival presented by the University of Illinois and Parkland College. We are very pleased to return to Boardman’s Art Theatre in Champaign, Illinois, where nearly 2,500 viewers have had the opportunity to discover new French and Francophone films each fall during this week-long event. Organized jointly by faculty and students from Champaign-Urbana’s two post-secondary institutions, the festival is open to the general public. In 2007, we are pleased to showcase the internationally-acclaimed anthology film Paris je t’aime as our festival opener (Friday, September 28 at 7:00pm). Another highlight is certain to be the Oscar-nominated Days of Glory. This year’s selection of seven films is our largest to date and represents a broad cross-section of the best of current French filmmaking, featuring a variety of genres and styles including the most recent work by legendary New Wave filmmakers Alain Resnais (Private Fears in Public Places) and Chris Marker (The Case of the Grinning Cat), as well as moving and incandescent looks at human nature in Time to Leave and Avenue Montaigne. Faculty specialists from UIUC and Parkland College will introduce films at select screenings throughout the week, while the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities will host a panel discussion on “Paris through the Global Lens.” We look forward to seeing you again this year… enjoy the show! (more)
Paris Je T'aime
September 11, 2007
Former "Empire" employee makes good...
Erin Stutland (University of Illinois graduate and former Cafe Paradiso employee) has made her big screen debut in "Ten 'til Noon". She's been in Chappelle's Show, Soprano's, and Sex and the City previously but this marks her first appearance in a major indie release. Look for her in 2008s re-make of "My Sassy Girl" as well. Please join us all in chanting "Good Luck Erin!!!"
Erin Stutland
August 22, 2007
The wait is over... Berlin Alexanderplatz finally hits DVD!
Criterion has finally revealed that Rainer Fassbinder's 15 1/2 hour long epic, Berlin Alexanderplatz, will be part of their November slate of releases (#411). Look for a 7-disc set that will include at least three documentaries and Phil Jutzi's 1931, ninety-minute film of Alfred Döblin’s novel, from a screenplay co-written by Döblin himself. List price is a very worthwhile $124.95 (you can find it cheaper just about anywhere). If German epics are your thing you may want to watch Heimat and all of its sequels as well...
Berlin Alexanderplatz

July 25, 2007
The 50 Best Movie Robots!
The folks over at Times Online (UK) have made a list of the 50 coolest movie robots.

(From the web site)

We selected the fifty most memorable robots in film and rated them in four different categories:

1) Plausibility (meaning how likely it would be that, with advances on currently existing technology, such a device could be built)
2) Coolness (just how well designed, shiny or generally well-appointed the robot appeared to be)
3) Dangerousness (scoring not only on built-in weaponry, but the robot's eagerness to use it) Related Links
4) Comedy Value (how effective the robot is at providing light relief in the film in which it appears)

Check out the list here and then start watching!.

July 24, 2007
The Daily Fausto launches
Today, after noting that there just isn't enough information on the information super-highway, we decided to put up a blog about our favorite puppy -- Fausto Coppi (that's "Il Campionissimo" to you). Have a look...
Fausto Coppi
July 17, 2007
The scream heard around the world -- The Wilhelm Scream

In 1951 a scream was used in the soundtrack for the movie "Distant Drums". Film sound editors loved it so much they have since used the scream in over 175 films (see IMDB list of over 100 here). You can read an excellent article at Hollywood Lost and Found about the origins and usage of the scream. There is also an amazing compilation video on YouTube of scenes that include the scream. Next time you are watching a movie a hear an excellent scream in the background maybe it's... The Wilhelm Scream!!!
The Screm
July 9,2007
High Definition comes to Rentertainment!

We are usually early adopters but this latest round of HiDef wars just pissed me off so I chose not to participate. However, enough of you have bought HiDef players of one kind or another so I figure we'd better get into it. So, here's the plan: I'm going to buy about 50 HD-DVDS and 50 BluRay discs, put 'em out for rent, buy more as they come out and watch to see what happens. Our own little HiDef war! The HD-DVDs will be out by this Friday and the BluRays by next Friday -- look for 'em on the end cap where the Employee Picks usually reside (except for those weeks when Mr Ebert has elbowed his way in there). Let the battle begin! (link to HD-DVD films and BluRay films)
June 14, 2007
Ousmane Sembene (Jan 1, 1923 - June 9, 2007)
Ousmane Sembene, the Senegalese filmmaker and writer who was a crucial figure in Africa's postcolonial cultural awakening, has died at his home in Dakar, Senegal. His family, which announced his death Sunday June 10th, said Sembene had been ill since December. He was 84. (more)
Ousmane Sembene
June 3, 2007
Bicycling in Champaign County
I encourage everyone to use a bicycle for getting to work, excercise, and recreation -- it's not just good for you and the environment, it's fun! To that end, I have posted all sorts of cycling type links on the Rentertainment page: Cycling in Film and Cycling in Champaign County (including a .pdf of Champaign Cycle's Escape Map).
Waterford 1900
May 22, 2007
The Illini 4000 hit the road...
This week, the 20 riders from the Illini 4000 ( will get on their bikes in New York City and start riding 4000 miles west and not stop until they hit the ocean in San Diego. Their goal is to raise $100,000 for pediatric cancer research and Camp Kesem (a summer camp for children whose parents have been affected by cancer). Please visit their web site, read their blog, and donate a few dollars if you can. If you are a biker, consider joining the ride on June 9th and/or 10th as they ride from Chicago to Kankakee and then to Urbana-Champaign (more info on riding with the team is available on their web site). If you're not a rider, help celebrate their Homecoming on the evening of June 10th at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center. Fun for all and all for a good cause! I've also added some stuff to Renter's Illini 4000 page.
Illini 4000

May 2, 2007
VHS is dead... long live VHS!

Free for the taking: Over 1,000 VHS tapes! Here at That's Rentertainment we've been selling off our inventory of VHS tapes but now we need the space and just want to get rid of them. There are about 1,000 tapes left and we want them out of here. Stop by and take what you want. Free tapes are at the back of the store (the few up front we are keeping). Please do not call for information on specific titles -- we don't know what we've got and we're not going to look. If you think you'll want a lot of tapes bring boxes -- we don't have any. Build up your library or build a dog house out of them -- just get them out of my store. See you soon...

May 3, 2007
VHS for Free Update:
yesterday you folks boxed up, bagged up and simply loaded up over 900 VHS tapes and got 'em out of here -- only 140 more to go. Well done. Thanks!

VHS logo

April 23, 2007
A message from Roger Ebert...
Yesterday, Roger Ebert sent a press release out to everyone discussing the 2007 Ebertfest, his health issues, and his appearance. He concludes with a paraphrased quote from Raging Bull: "I ain't a pretty boy no more." Give it a read.

Roger Ebert

April 18, 2007
Lists are good...
Two new lists have been posted on the Renter site: "Popular Customer Requests" and "Films that are either no longer available or have never been released on DVD" -- have a look. You may wonder why we have two lists for what appears to be the same thing. Well, one is stuff I'm looking for, the other is stuff you are looking for -- they are not necessarily the same thing.


April 4, 2007
Campustown -- then and now...
I found something cool last week -- a map of the University of Illinois Campustown I made in 1986 (or maybe 1987) listing all the businesses (about 150) and their locations. What's cool about that? Look at the diversity: 3 non-textbook bookstores (0 today), 4 record stores (0 today), a movie theater, a grocery store, three music venues (right here on campus!), a huge variety of locally owned restaurants and a slew of small specialty shops. I posted it on our web site if you want to look into the past. For what it's worth, around that time (actually a few years later) there were 14 locally owned video stores in CU, today there is one. I find it all very interesting, telling and sad.


March 31, 2007
Moisés Kaufman's "33 Variations"
A few weeks back, I had the great pleasure of meeting Moisés Kaufman (among many other things the writer and director of The Laramie Project). He's been in town for three weeks with his Tectonic Theater Project working on their new play, "33 Variations," about a musicologist looking into why Beethoven spent as much time as he did writing 33 variations on Diabelli's less than stellar waltz. They premiered the play this weekend at the Armory Free Theater -- it was amazing! I have been working with Bill Kinderman and Katherine Syer on releasing Bill's recording of "The Diabelli Variations" on our new Arietta label ( Bill and Katherine are good friends of Moisés' and were instrumental in the writing of "33 Variations." Another great thing in Urbana-Champaign...

Moises Kaufman

March 15, 2007
Now you see it, now you don't...
It seems lately that a number of the films that we've been waiting to arrive on DVD finally are. Just in the last few months they have anounced Becket, Twin Peaks Season Two, El Topo, and possibly Berlin Alexanderplatz. Last week a rumor spread that Disney was finally thinking about maybe releasing Song of the South. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for a proper release of the Beatles "Let it Be." Check out Rentertainment's list of Out of Print or Never Released on DVD.

Song of the South

March 4, 2007
When Brendel finally arrived... it was not a letdown.
Thursday, the great pianist Alfred Brendel came to town both to play the piano and to read his poetry. I was lucky enough to attend both events and, believe me, they made my week. Find his books of poetry, buy his CDs, watch the documentary "Alfred Brendel: In Portrait" -- I imagine you'll love him as much as I do.

When Godot finally arrived
It was a letdown
That he was limping
became evident from a distance
a small man with an outsize beard
over which
at times
he stumbled
cursing softly

(except from a poem by Alfred Brendel published in "One Figer Too Many")

P.S. Special thanks need to go out to Katherine Syer and Bill Kinderman for bringing Alfred Brendel to Urbana-Champaign -- thank you.

Alfred Brendel

February 9, 2007
Top 10 Reasons Why Movie Downloads Suck.
Gizmodo just posted their list of why the current state of downloading movies sucks. I would have to agree with the whole list! Some day the studios will get it right, but for now it's a terrible idea for the end user (that's you)...
"Movie downloads suck. There are lots of reasons why they haven't caught on yet, and we have the Top 10 of them here. Sure, everyone's talking about movie downloads, but in reality hardly anyone is doing anything about them." (link)

January 27, 2007
Halliwell's Four Star Films
Getting a four star review from Leslie Halliwell was very rare indeed. His star system was unique in that all films start out with 0 stars (and most stay right there), very interesting and/or important films may get 1 or 2 stars, a handful will get 3 and very few (a bit over 1% of the 23,000 films reviewed) got 4 stars. How's that for harsh!?! Only 236 films were deemed worthy enough to recieve a 4 star review. Sounds like a project for next year -- watch 'em all! Check out the list here or read about Leslie Halliwell on wikipedia.
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