I have now watched two other films by Mikhail Kalatozov and Sergei Urusevsky (Cranes are Flying and Letter Never Sent) and its been quite the eyeopener. Not only has this alerted me to an astonishing display of technique and beauty in late 50s and early 60s Soviet film but has allowed me to see what must be among the most beautiful black and white films ever made (especially Cranes).
In narrative terms this does not come across as noir but aesthetically it does.
And I could very possibly never have discovered these if it were not for my friend at the video store. If I would have simply seen the title I am Cuba on a list on netflix I probably never would have chosen it. It was because a person who knew something about film and knew me (after numerous conversations about film and seeing what I rented) knew I was the right person to suggest it to. Just like a good indie bookstore.
And it looks as though this very useful and personal real world resource is imperiled.