The first thing you’ll see when you walk into Five Star Video is a rack boldly displaying a huge assemblage of Criterion Collection DVDs — yes, even some of the ones that could make you a millionaire on eBay. This immediately makes you realize two things: 1. The locally owned Five Star is not to be confused with Blockbuster. 2. You will never, ever watch every single Criterion DVD in your entire life, no matter how much of a cineaste you profess to be. Fortunately, there also is a rack of cult films nearby containing the entire Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS trilogy — which neatly encapsulates the Five Star Video mise-en-scène. While other East Bay video stores may carry just as many film-buff-centric titles, proprietor Andy Katz also offers the fun stuff you didn’t know you wanted to watch until you actually saw the box on the rack. Browsing Five Star’s sunny and sizable aisles raises all sorts of cinematic curios and questions: Sun Ra’s galactic blaxploitation epic Space Is the Place sits right next to Robert Hays’ yelp of blue-collar fury, Take This Job and Shove It. Tom of Finland on DVD: How did they do it? Forget Heath Ledger — Mick Jagger will always be the one true Ned Kelly. And who knew Ingmar Bergman had the temerity to cast David Carradine as a leading man opposite Liv Ullmann? But there’s the future Bill in The Serpent’s Egg — just two shelves above the actor’s ultimate legacy, the complete first season of Kung Fu. That’s right, some of the best viewing on DVD these days is old television shows, and Five Star has a fine selection: Robbie Coltrane’s Cracker, Freaks and Geeks, the complete first season of The Office. Why, it’s enough to make you worship your television set even more than you already do, though with less guilt.
2655 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-1118