Brunswick hosts acclaimed foreign films at Frontier with pre- and post-film discussions.
When we last checked in with Bart D’Alauro, owner of Brunswick’s outstanding video store Bart & Greg’s DVD Explosion!, he made the case for the enduring value of video rental stores. (Summing up: Rent at video stores. They’re valuable, and if you don’t want them to close like Portland’s late Videoport, then you have to support them.) Now he’s, perhaps paradoxically, urging people to go to the theater.
Teaming up with Brunswick’s single-screen art theater Frontier, D’Alauro is presenting a monthly movie series, complete with pre- and post-film discussion of selections of acclaimed foreign films that have otherwise not played in Maine. The next showing, on Jan. 19, is “Heartbeats,” the tale of three friends in a love triangle from acclaimed French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan.
We recently spoke with D’Alauro about the series and the state of movies.
Is the film series intended to bring people into the video store?
Only in a theoretical way, I guess. If I can get some people to become more interested in the latest foreign film, I have a huge collection at my store that they can explore. The name of my store is attached to the film series, (“Bart & Greg’s DVD Explosion! Picks at Frontier”). I know one of the reasons Frontier wanted to work with us is that the store is known in town as a place where you can get anything. There are so many little alleyways to poke down – it’s like a little labyrinth of movie experience. I thought attaching the store’s name to the kind of movies we’ll be showing, people will say, “Whoa, I can go to Bart & Greg’s and get more movies like this.”
So what was the impetus behind the series?
That people are scared of challenging films now. I presented it to Frontier (who are great – they said yes even before I finished asking) with the idea that I’d pick some of my favorite movies, introduce them, and engage in discussion after. I had an idea that I could change the way people watch movies. I’m mythologizing the situation, but there was a time in the 1960s when people used to watch foreign films with friends and discuss the Bergman, Antonioni, or Godard film they’d seen – it wasn’t uncommon to come out of the theater a little mystified. That’s just not in film culture any more, and I want to fix it any way I can. As much as I’m a champion of home video, with the advent of VCRs and people watching on their own at home, there was less discussion, not a community of people actively engaged with movies.
What do you see is behind that change from a communal to an isolated movie experience?
Streaming, and the fact that TV is getting so much better. As good as it’s getting, there are so many things television can’t do that cinema can. A movie has two hours to tell a story. A director has to cut out everything that’s not essential – the various ways a filmmaker comes up with to do that is what I’m interested in. TV is novelistic. It takes a long time to tell a story. Film, as opposed to a novel, doesn’t present characters’ thoughts. A filmmaker has to figure out ways to externalize these thoughts—every interesting innovation in cinema has been to figure out a way to show the internal workings of people. Exploring various ways to accomplish that is worth doing.
The Bart & Greg’s DVD Explosion! Picks at Frontier film series takes place on the third Tuesday of every month at Frontier (explorefrontier.com). And Bart & Greg’s DVD Explosion is the best place in Maine to rent the best movies ever made – it’s well worth a drive up to Brunswick.
Tuesday: “Truth.” The media are having a big year at the movies (check out “Spotlight” before it leaves theaters), with this film about the time Dan Rather (played by Robert Redford) had a seemingly huge story about George W. Bush’s military service blow up very publically in his face. Cate Blanchette costars as CBS News producer Mary Mapes, watching the whole thing unravel.
Wednesday: “Theory Of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents.” Any documentary of mysterious art rocker/performance artists, masked weirdoes The Residents is going to be fascinating. For 40 years, no one has seen their faces, and their often-bewildering music and always-disguised stage acts don’t provide many clues (they’ve even been accused of being The Beatles).
WHEN: 7 p.m. Jan. 19; continues every third Tuesday of the month
HOW MUCH: $5