Newcity just published their annual "Film 50: Chicago’s Screen Gems" and included at #19 the curator of our foreign film series: Brian Chankin, owner of Odd Obsession Video. If you haven’t been to Odd Obsession yet, GO THERE NOW.
The untrained eye could mistake the inside of the high-ceilinged storefront of Odd Obsession on North Milwaukee, between Bucktown and Logan Square, for the set of the TV series called “Hipster Hoarders.” Shelves cover the walls and floors, posters reach to the ceiling, 22,000 “precisely-organized DVDs” vie for space with 5,000 “poorly-organized VHS” tapes and a fifteen-year-old cat named Precious runs underfoot. It’s a boy’s space, writ large. While most every trace of brick-and-mortar video chains like West Coast Video and Blockbuster have vanished, a handful of furiously attentive independent video-rental stores persist in the U.S. In Chicago, the man found most often behind the counter is proprietor Brian Chankin, if not one of the twenty or so volunteers who have worked the store since its 2004 founding, as quick with a laugh as a suggestion of an obscure movie that can be found only with his arm’s reach. Curation, breadth and discernment count for much when Netflix streaming seems more an exercise in flipping through endless lists than actually consuming a film that precisely suits one’s taste. Odd Obsession also has the distinction of encouraging not only intelligent, informed viewership, but also a new generation of critics and filmmakers, as earlier shops on either coast succored imaginations of the likes of Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino. Two notables are Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, essayist, co-host of the short-lived “Ebert Presents at the Movies,” who is editing his first medium-length feature, and recent Reader hire Ben Sachs, both of whom have distinctive voices and bear the stamp of their immersion at Odd Obsession. As for customers? “Definitely always a strong undergrad college crew interested in foreign, experimental, docs and classic film,” Chankin says, along with locals renting television shows and new releases, as well as “internetless folk of all ages interested in everything.”