Now that all you freshmen have experienced your first legit Maine snowstorm, you may be feeling a little cabin fever. But catch youself before you exclaim: "I went to college in a frigid wilderness!" As (most) upperclassmen know, the stretch of Maine around Casco Bay, from Portland to Brunswick, has a surprisingly large number of artistic venues, including independent cinemas. Here's a sampling of the best places to check out.
Bart & Greg's DVD Explosion
A short walk from campus down Maine Street to the Tontine Mall offers Bowdoin students two cinematic gems. The first is Bart & Greg's, an independent DVD rental store founded by a Bowdoin alum and Brunswick resident, which has been a fixture in Brunswick for the last four years.
In the world of rental stores, Bart & Greg's is one of the greats. Its collection is sometimes awe-inspiring, from documentaries to a multiplicity of foreign sections and director collections. The number is growing every day and you can participate in that process. If there's a film they don't have that you'd like to see, ask them to buy it and, in a few weeks, they usually will (though I've never been unable to find a film I wanted).
Every day there are different deals on the rentals, such as two-for-one Mondays through Wednesdays. So, instead of using Netflix, consider supporting a Brunswick resident and Bowdoin grad who are actively working for the campus community.
For more information, check out www.bartandgregs.com.
Also located in the Tontine Mall, Eveningstar just celebrated its 10th anniversary last semester. The only independent theater between Portland and Waterville, Eveningstar brings a wide selection of films for the campus's enjoyment, skewing toward more involved, challenging fare (Loews in Cook's Corner shows mainstream films).
The theater offers student discounts and has fun events periodically, such as silent films with a live piano score and its annual Oscar party. Coupled with the couches in the front of the theater (always nabbed once the doors open), Eveningstar is a rite of passage for Bowdoin students.
Eveningstar is currently playing "Notes on a Scandal" starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, at 1:30, 3:25, 5:20, 7:15 and 9:10 p.m. Check out www.eveningstarcinema.com.
At the end of Maine Street in Fort Andross is the newly opened Frontier Café, Cinema and Gallery. An awesome new addition to the community, Frontier includes a movie theater with seats from a classic movie hall of the early 20th century.
Its film selections tend to be truly independent, as filmmakers often without distribution show their films on their own. This kind of interaction between audience and filmmaker is rare and adds to the understanding of the film.
Tonight, the Silk Way series continues, with three Kazakh films being shown beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free with a Bowdoin ID.
For more information, look up www.explorefrontier.com.
Though it may seem far, Portland is only 25 minutes away from campus and is accessible, for those without cars, with the BSG weekend shuttle. Downtown Portland is a gem, with numerous shops and restaurants as well as the Portland Museum of Art and independent movie theaters.
The Nickelodeon Cinema is an independent film multiplex, with multiple screens, all showing various current critical successes. Current releases include "Babel," Scorsese's "The Departed," and "The Last King of Scotland," starring best-actor nominee Forest Whitaker.
Nickelodeon is located in downtown Portland at 1 Temple Street, easily within walking distance of Commercial Street and parking garages. For more info, check out www.patriotcinemas.com/nickelodeon.html.
Movies on Exchange
Finally, we get to the most impressive independent theater in Maine. Impressive, because it consistently gets the most sought-after current limited releases. A single theater like Eveningstar, Movies on Exchange has been in Portland since the early 1970s, playing an integral role in the culture of Portland.
Currently playing at the theater is "Shut Up & Sing," a documentary about the aftermath of the Dixie Chicks' comment about President Bush in 2003. Looking at the social roles celebrities can play, it takes a fascinating look at a slice of modern American culture wars. "Shut Up & Sing" is playing at 3, 5, 7, and 9 p.m. with weekend matinees at 1 p.m.
Movies on Exchange is located at the intersection of Fore Street and Exchange Street in downtown Portland. For more information, look up www.moviesonexchange.com
So now there's no excuse, for under and upperclassmen alike, to say you're bored. Whatever you're cinematically craving, Maine's got it.
Last call for the Oscar contest! Write your predictions for Best Picture, Director, the four acting and two writing categories, with Best Foreign Film as tiebreaker, and drop it off at the Smith Union Information Desk. A gift certificate to Bart & Greg's awaits the winner. Due by Thursday, February 22.