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Sound It Out Records calls itself “Teesside’s finest independent record shop,” but in fact it’s the only such store remaining in this region of England. And although Jeanie Finlay’s smart and sweet documentary eventually makes an argument for terrestrial record stores in the age of the Internet, her film is mostly about the particular record nerds and eccentrics who congregate at Tom Butchart’s Stockton shop. There’s the megafan of Status Quo, one of Britain’s worst and longest-running bands, who wants to be buried in a coffin made of his melted down vinyl collection. There are the devotees of hip-hop genres that only exist in northeastern England. There’s the old man who’s not much of a music fan at all, but who shops at Sound It Out any time the pub across the street plays a song he likes. (In an early scene, he’s looking for Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing.”) Tom knows where everything is in his shop; more importantly, he knows his customers’ tastes, which makes him a sort of therapist in economically depressed Stockton. Subtly and slowly, Finlay pathologizes record-collector culture, which depending on who you are is either addiction-like or downright Sisyphean: Everyone in this film agrees a man’s record collection can never be completed.
Thursday, June 23 at 10:30 a.m at AFI Silver 3; also on Sunday, June 26 at 8:45 p.m. at AFI Silver 1.