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Best Place to Rent Movies

Video Americain

400 W. Cold Spring Lane, (410) 243-2231; 3100 St. Paul St., (410) 889-5266;

Back in the day, our old pal Jay used to make fun of people who forsook vinyl for the then-burgeoning CD. “It’s so conveeeeenient,” he used to mockingly whine. We think of him often these days, but not because vinyl appears to be dancing on the CD’s grave. Now that Netflix and downloading/streaming are devastating the brick-and-mortar video rental biz, we hear Jay’s knowing cackle in our ears as we ponder the fate of mom-and-pop Video Americain, bobbing in a sea of foundering Blockbusters. The regional chain’s two Baltimore locations still boast a pair of the best film libraries on the East Coast (even more so now), including plenty of out-of-print, region-free, and otherwise unavailable-in-red-envelope-form titles. And while Netflix went so far as to offer a million-smacker prize to anyone who could improve its film-recommendation algorithm, we find the old browsing-the-honest-to-god-shelves-and-talking-to-the-actual-flesh-and-blood-clerk method surprisingly rewarding. (What did we win?) We know, we know—online rental is so conveeeeenient.

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