My son Robert LaRoe Silvey is one of the managers of Cinefile, a video store located at the corner of Santa Monica and Sawtelle, next door to the Nuart Theater in West L.A..
Robertâ€™s first job was at Video Archives, the rental store in Manhattan Beach where Quentin Tarantino got his start. Robert was featured in an article in Interview magazine about video store clerks.
A film student at Santa Monica College, he worked as production assistant to Production Designer Nelson Coates on Albino Alligator. The independent production was directed by the actor Kevin Spacey and distributed by Miramax Films. It was a short shoot, mostly on one set with a small crew. Robert enjoyed watching stars Matt Dillon, Faye Dunaway, Gary Sinise, Viggo Mortensen, and John Spencer ply their craft up close.
At Cinefile, he orders all the videos for the store and has developed an encyclopedic knowledge of film. Cinefile specializes in obscure, foreign, and independent films. It caters to movie buffs, film students and major studios. Robert is particularly skillful at calculating the films particular people will enjoy. He enjoys his job because it involves a minimum of friction and drama as well as the chance to work with â€œa good group of independent people.â€� I asked him the following questions about movies: Q: What do you personally like about movies? A: I like the escape, the window into another culture or human beingâ€™s psychology or into the imagination of the writer. Q: What do you look for in a movie? A: An excellent story stylishly told. Movies have supplanted oral history in todayâ€™s world. I like an original vision, a director who can tell something of substance with style. Q: What do you look for in scriptwriting? A: The dialogue should have crackle. It shouldnâ€™t be just like real life. Q: What about acting? A: While itâ€™s fun to enjoy broad extemes, the best part of acting is subtleties, complexities that reveal undercurrents of character, even at odds with dialogue. Russell Crowe did it in L. A. Confidential. Q: What makes a great director? A: Choosing cuts and shots. The Japanese director Takashi Miike can work in any genre. Q: What makes good production design? A: The set should look natural, as if it were the real world. It shouldnâ€™t create a disconnect. If the movie is a fantasy, make art out of it. The lighting and sound mixing should all be done with a steady hand, creatively, not the lowest common denominator. Q: What are some recent trends? A: Television has borrowed so heavily from movies that, in a lot of ways, itâ€™s surpassing them. Battlestar Galactica and Deadwood are good examples.
The best shows come out on DVD to the extent that thatâ€™s the fastest-growing section of the store. Weâ €™ve gone from three shelves of TV shows to 18 in a year. Just about every show ends up on DVD.