Classic Films of Francis Ford Coppola

Posted by Jim on Jun 22nd, 2017
Jun 22

For an overview of SAIL, see this post.

Francis Ford Coppola is one of America’s greatest filmmakers. Although he has had some well publicized flops, his epic films about the Corleone family and the Vietnam war are some of the most important films ever made. I feel that while most students will have heard of the Godfather, and some may have seen it, an entire program of Coppola’s films would be beneficial for these budding film scholars.

Day One (half day)
The Outsiders (1983, 114 minutes)
Rumble Fish (1983, 94 minutes)
Evening Screening
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, 128 minutes)

Day Two
The Conversation (1973, 113 minutes)
The Godfather (1972, 177 minutes)
Evening Screening
Apocalypse Now Redux (1979/2001, 202 minutes)

Day Three
The Godfather, Part II (1974, 200 minutes)
Tucker: A Man and His Dream (1988, 110 minutes)
Evening Screening
The Godfather, Part III (1990, 162 minutes)

The program begins with two coming-of-age literary adaptations. Both The Outsiders and Rumble Fish were originally novels written by S. E. Hinton, who collaborated with Coppola on these adaptations. Filmed in succession, they provide a good example of what Coppola was up to in the 1980’s. As both films deal with characters who are entering adulthood, I believe the will be of interest to high school students.

That evening we will screen a great horror film, Coppola’s version of Dracula. Gary Oldman gives an incredible performance as the titular vampire. This film does include a lot of the sensuality that is associated with the vampire mythos, and as such, I wanted to screen it outside of the school day.

The first full day of films begins with The Conversation, a highly acclaimed film that is often overlooked by the Godfather films that Coppola made on either side of it. The Conversation did win the top prize at Cannes. In the afternoon we will watch the first part of the Godfather saga. Much has been written about how important this film is, and I will not try to duplicate that here. I will say that I learned a lot about this film while taking a course on Gangster Films at Bowdoin, and I will share my knowledge with the students in association with this screening.

In the evening we will have a long screening of the expanded version of Apocalypse Now. Much has also been written about this film. I am confident I will be able to find academic articles to reference in our discussion of the film.

The final day of the program begins with the second part of the Godfather saga. Arguably a better film than the first, it is a movie that only really succeeds if you are familiar with Part I. Because we are watching it the next day, all the events of the first film will be fresh in the students’ minds.

Following lunch, we will screen a smaller Coppola film, but one I really enjoyed the first time I saw it (back in college). Tucker features a great performance by Jeff Bridges, and also features his father Lloyd. The story is also really interesting. A car manufacturer who is ahead of his time may remind students of the work Elon Musk is doing with Tesla. We will see what the discussion holds.

The final film of the series will be shown that night. It is the oft-maligned, but still worthy Godfather, Part III. I feel it is important to conclude the trilogy in this program. Having watched all three films in two days, I think we can have a meaningful discussion of Part III’s place in the trilogy and in the larger world of Coppola’s films.

If there is additional time in this iteration of SAIL, I think I would also show The Cotton Club (1984, 128 minutes). This is another Coppola film that I was first exposed to in college. It is also a gangster film, but noticeably different from the Godfather films. As it was made just after the two Hinton adaptations, I think it would fit in well on the morning of Day One.

Birthday Wishes

Posted by Jim on Nov 23rd, 2009
Nov 23

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Bull Moose.  I’m not sure of the actual date the first store in Brunswick opened, but since mentions of the anniversary have become more frequent, both at Bull Moose’s site and in the media, I figured the time was right for me to post some memories of my favorite music/movies/video games/etc. store.

I’m pretty sure that my first visit to a Bull Moose was in the spring of 1998.  Some friends and I left Waldoboro to drive into South Portland to do some shopping in the mall area.  On our way through Brunswick someone decided we should stop to visit a record store I had never heard of before; the only music store in town I was familiar with was the chain store at Cook’s Corner.  I remember walking in and being impressed with both the huge selection of music, but also with all of the other merchandise, as well as the cool music playing and interesting stickers and posters covering the walls and windows.  This wasn’t slick or corporate, it was like visiting a cool friend’s basement rec room.  I knew that in a few months, when I started attending Bowdoin, that I would be spending a lot of time at this quirky shop right down the road (it wasn’t until a few years later that I learned the founder of Bull Moose was a Bowdoin grad; I began to love the store even more).

I don’t have the receipt of my purchases that day, but I do know one of the discs I walked out the door with was Old and In the Way’s self-titled release.  I was getting into the Grateful Dead over the past year and had recently been introduced to Jerry Garcia’s diverse side projects.  This bluegrass effort seemed like a promising album and eleven years later, I still consider it one of my favorites.  Besides the CD I purchased, I do have one other memento from that day.  I signed up for my frequent buyers card during that visit, and I still have the same card in my wallet.  It’s been in my pocket longer than any other card I carry, and I’ve had to repair it with packing tape to keep it from breaking in half, but it is still the one card that I don’t leave home without.

Beaten and broken but still earning me points

Beaten and broken but still earning me points

I’ve had a lot of great experiences at the various Bull Moose stores, here are some of my favorites:

Walking down the stairs and into the Old Port location to find myself in the middle of a very low key El Vez live performance.

Spending a gift certificate for my birthday on The FeeliesOnly Life” album and being told by the cashier that “every time someone purchases a Feelies reissue an angel gets its wings.”

Being called out by name when I accidentally left my frequent buyer card behind at the counter.  Sure, maybe the only reason the girl working new my name was because she had just scanned my card, but I’d like to think it was because I was visiting the Brunswick store an average of two to four times a month.

Buying a copy of Johnny Cash‘s Unearthed box set (in pristine condition) from the used section and being complimented for my good taste in music while also being chided for buying it before any of the staff had a chance to set it aside for themselves.

I was in the Brunswick store late on a Saturday night when I was kicked out because the store was closing.  I was having somewhat of a tough time at college at that point, and this was one in a long number of Saturday nights I hadn’t done anything exciting.  I had decided to go cheer myself up with a music purchase.  The store was about to close and I didn’t want to leave empty handed, so I grabbed the Talking Heads Remain in Light disc.  I had never heard the album, and only knew that it was supposed to be good (Phish had covered it in its entirety and that was enough of a recommendation for me at the time).  The guy working who was kicking me out told me I had made an awesome choice as he rung me up. Unbeknownst to him, that little compliment made my day.  That disc also turned me into a devoted Talking Heads fan.  I now own all of their albums, all purchased from various Bull Moose locations.  [For years, the first thing I would do when I went to Bull Moose was check the used section for any Talking Heads CDs I didn’t own; about three years ago I finally found a copy of Little Creatures, the elusive holdout in my collection.]

As I implied above, in college I was a pretty big Phish fan.  The band was playing two nights at the Cumberland County Civic Center in December of 1999 and I wanted tickets for both nights.  I had quite the scare when I went to buy my tickets at Bull Moose.  I don’t know if the cashier hit a wrong button, but when I first tried to get them, he told me the show had just sold out (the people in front of me in line all got tickets).  Luckily for me, he tried again and was able to secure my tickets for the shows.

In one of many musical discoveries, I remember being at the Scarborough store with my then girlfriend, now wife, and hearing some impressive rockabilly/bluegrass/awesome music over the loudspeakers.  After about 15 minutes of listening while browsing, we had to find out what we were listening to.  It was Langhorne Slim‘s When the Sun’s Gone Down album, a copy of which we promptly bought (and have been fans of ever since).  [Which reminds me, I need to come in and get his latest release!]

While not happening in the store, nor exclusive to a single event, I need to list this decidedly Bull Moose occurrence.  If you are like me, and love to spread your love of Bull Moose, I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience.  I love watching the reactions of friends and family members when they unwrap a gift to discover a dreadful looking CD, only to open the case and realize what they are actually holding is a Bull Moose gift certificate.  [Also, I have to celebrate that Bull Moose still offers gift certificates in “bad cd” form; it’s so much more fun to give or receive than a gift card.]

All of these moments stand out enough in my mind for me to recount them here, but I think the small, insignificant experiences that blend together are the ones that I  remember most fondly.  I don’t know many times my friends and I have walked into a store and spent literally hours browsing, trying to decide which or the thousands of great discs we should spend out money on.  At this point in my life, my collection is too large to remember where each CD came from, but I know a number originated as a discovery in the used section.  Usually when I find a great disc for a pre-owned price I think about how lucky I am, but once in a while I feel sorry for the person who had to give up such great music.  I can’t think of another store that makes something as mundane as shopping into such a wonderful experience for me.

I’m really glad that Bull Moose is still with us (the full 20 years for some of you, 11 for me).  We hear a lot about how the recording industry is changing and that it is impossible for independent music stores to survive.  At this time of the year, when we think about all the things we are grateful for, I am very thankful that Bull Moose has proven to be successful in spite of what is occurring in the words of music and movies as well as in the face of such difficult economic times.  I hope it is around for a long time to come.  I can’t imagine buying my music, movies, or video games any place else.

Lastly, a collection of some of the words of wisdom printed on my old receipts:

  • steely dan makes me weep.
  • experience the awe of the moist gumball
  • beck really wants you to dance
  • harry potter books not sold here
  • ask chad why he’s called “chadmatoes.”
  • harry connick mowatt jr.
  • …hang on to the sasss…
  • dinosaurs once roamed here—never forget
  • I was negative 2 in 1985
  • how many times can you watch zombies?
  • my lips feel like warm cheese
  • pathetic attempt to sound indie
  • it’s not a glow-stick, it’s a slim jim!
  • what about the voice of geddy lee?

My Old School

Posted by Jim on Nov 18th, 2008
Nov 18

This is exactly how I remember Bowdoin, except in color.  Tons more images available via the LIFE maganize archives hosted at Google.  Some highlights: Party on the Rocks, dorm life, a bonfire, the old guard, and a visit to Colby.