New Releases 04/30/13

Top Hits
Silver Linings Playbook (drama/comedy/romance, Bradley Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Silver Linings Playbook, the exuberant new movie from David O. Russell, does almost everything right. The story tracks the feverish, happy, sad, absurdly funny ups and downs of a head case named Pat Solatano, played by a surprisingly effective, intensely focused Bradley Cooper, just as he returns to his parents’ home after eight months in a mental institution. Pat had been put away for a scarily violent crime, but now, having shed fat and the defense it offered him, and feeding on the shiny philosophy of the title instead, he feels ready to tackle the world. The world may not be ready.” Read more…)

The Details (comedy, Tobey Maguire. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 56. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “What upper-middle-class suburbanite wouldn’t be apoplectic to find his newly sodded front lawn torn up by raccoons? In The Details, Jacob Aaron Estes’s surreal moral fable cloaked as a romantic comedy, getting rid of those pesky creatures becomes the obsession of Jeff Lang [Tobey Maguire], a smug, mild-mannered Seattle physician accustomed to getting his way… Instead of turning soft and squishy, this examination of karma gets tougher as it goes along. Its refusal to settle into a cozy niche may be commercially disastrous, but I take it as a sign of integrity.” Read more…)

Broken City (thriller, Mark Wahlberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 49. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The screenplay remains the weak link in [director Allen] Hughes’s work. But if you don’t listen to the dialogue too hard, if you tune out a bit and instead watch the screen — notice how the restless cameras prowl around the actors and how shards of bright color pierce the pooling black night — then Broken City satisfies like the solid B movie it is.” Read more…)

Not Fade Away (drama/1960’s rock  music, James Gandolfini. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “There is plenty of hope but little glory in Not Fade Away, David Chase’s sympathetic, acutely drawn portrait of a young Italian-American musician in New Jersey chasing 1960s rock ’n’ roll dreams. That character, Douglas Damiano [the perfectly cast John Magaro], is not a baby Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi surrogate ascending to the pantheon while the whole world cheers. Near the beginning of the movie, a voice-over narrator, Douglas’s younger sister Evelyn [Meg Guzulescu], remarks, ‘Like most bands, you’ve never heard of them.’ As you watch the group come together, squabble and fall apart, the movie — written and directed by Mr. Chase, the creator of The Sopranos — offers an extremely knowledgeable and affectionate yet barbed survey of rock’s explosive evolution.” Read more…)

Guilt Trip (comedy, Barbra Streisand. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 50.)

New Blu-Ray
Silver Linings Playbook
Broken City

New Foreign
The Sexual Chronicles of a French Family (France, comedy/drama, Mathias Meloul. Rotten Tomatoes: 0%. Metacritic: 34. From David DeWitt’s New York Times review: “Let’s agree that too many American movies find it hilarious when teenagers, in all sorts of crass ways, rush to lose their virginity. Sexual Chronicles of a French Family takes that primary objective more seriously. It aims to break the taboo and show sex as it really is: banal.” Read more…)

Young and Wild (Chile, erotic comedy, Alicia Rodriguez. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “A teenager follows the lead of her healthy libido in Young and Wild, from the Chilean director Marialy Rivas. Named after the character’s popular, no-holds-barred blog, this playful, drifting film opens with morning-after masturbation and takes its desultory structural cues from the Web. It’s more about adolescent attitudes than the thrust of a story, yet the film’s sexual intelligence is undone by a paralyzing voice-over and an encroaching case of the blahs.” Read more…)

New British
Wagner & Me (classical music doc, Stephen Fry, in New Docs. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 56.From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “In the documentary Wagner & Me, the actor Stephen Fry, an ardent admirer of the music of Richard Wagner, wrestles with a longstanding problem for Wagner fans: how to reconcile that composer’s musical genius with his racism. Tracing the creation of masterpieces like ‘Parsifal’ and the ‘Ring’ cycle, Mr. Fry, who is Jewish, explores Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitism and Hitler’s co-optation of his music during the Third Reich. In the process he alternates between aesthetic rapture and moral repulsion.” Read more…)

Daniel Day-Lewis Triple Feature:
How Many Miles to Babylon (drama. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “He is at the center of the 1982 TV movie How Many Miles to Babylon?, a World War I story based on a novel by the Irish writer Jennifer Johnston that packs a lot of themes into its 111 minutes: Irish nationalism, British prejudices, the violent horrors of trench warfare and the Freudian horrors of a childhood in the Anglo-Irish gentry. He plays Alex, the son of Anglo-Irish landowners… The lead role gives Mr. Day-Lewis’s natural charisma more of a chance to assert itself, but his portrayal feels muffled — he’s constrained by the stiff-upper-lip sentimentality of the story and the clichés of repression and nobility that Alex represents.” Read more…)
The Insurance Man (drama. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “His most memorable performance on these DVDs, however, is the smallest one, or, to be more accurate, the shortest one. In The Insurance Man (1986), from the anthology series Screen Two, Mr. Day-Lewis is completely commanding in the key supporting role of Kafka, the most sympathetic and magnetic of a group of insurance adjusters working in a nightmarish, highly stylized bureaucracy in 1945 Prague.” Read more…)
Dangerous Corner (thriller. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “The self-consciously daring [and claustrophobically staged] proceedings feel like a less florid precursor to Suddenly Last Summer — set in an English drawing room rather than a Southern asylum — and Mr. Day-Lewis, as a young and somewhat simpering member of the group who tends toward genteel hysteria, doesn’t transcend the material. Most of the time he looks outclassed by the more experienced performers around him. But he does manage to steal a number of scenes by sitting silently in the background and scowling, nodding, pursing his lips or intensely examining his fingernails — an early indication of his ability to strike a pose.” Read more…)

My Brother Jonathan (family drama mini-series, Daniel Day-Lewis. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “As socially conscious Edwardian soap opera, My Brother Jonathan isn’t at the level of Downton Abbey, but it’s moving and entertaining in a modest way [at least until the tear-jerking mechanics really kick in during the fifth episode]. Jonathan is a reasonably complex character — his good intentions are touched with arrogance, his judgment clouded by infatuation and pride — and Mr. Day-Lewis gets to display his intelligence and sardonic humor in satisfying portions.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Wagner & Me (classical music doc, Stephen Fry. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 56. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “In the documentary Wagner & Me, the actor Stephen Fry, an ardent admirer of the music of Richard Wagner, wrestles with a longstanding problem for Wagner fans: how to reconcile that composer’s musical genius with his racism. Tracing the creation of masterpieces like ‘Parsifal’ and the ‘Ring’ cycle, Mr. Fry, who is Jewish, explores Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitism and Hitler’s co-optation of his music during the Third Reich. In the process he alternates between aesthetic rapture and moral repulsion.” Read more…)

New Music
Wagner & Me (classical music doc, Stephen Fry, in New Docs. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 56. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “In the documentary Wagner & Me, the actor Stephen Fry, an ardent admirer of the music of Richard Wagner, wrestles with a longstanding problem for Wagner fans: how to reconcile that composer’s musical genius with his racism. Tracing the creation of masterpieces like ‘Parsifal’ and the ‘Ring’ cycle, Mr. Fry, who is Jewish, explores Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitism and Hitler’s co-optation of his music during the Third Reich. In the process he alternates between aesthetic rapture and moral repulsion.” Read more…)

(The other) Hank’s Recommendations 04/30/13

Hank_Hoffman_Picks_Image_sketch_WebBest Video’s other Hank—Hank Hoffman—here with this week’s recommendation. Hank Paper will return with a new recommendation next week.

Released just months after the end of World War II, the Warner Brothers thriller CONFIDENTIAL AGENT seethes with pre-war menace. Based on a book by Graham Greene, it tells the story of Luis Denard, an agent of the Spanish republican government (played by Charles Boyer) who travels to England hoping to cut a deal with British mining interests to buy coal during the Spanish Civil War.

Playing the romantic foil to Boyer is Lauren Bacall, who had made her name the previous year starring opposite Humphrey Bogart in TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. Bacall was savaged for her performance in reviews at the time and, in truth, she doesn’t make a very convincing upper class English heiress. Still, she has an undeniable presence.

Boyer’s performance is convincing and he is ably supported by Katina Paxinou, Peter Lorre and particularly Wanda Hendrix as a young servant girl employed in the dingy hotel in which Boyer stays. But perhaps the real star is cinematographer James Wong Howe. The atmosphere is bleak with foreboding—the London streets (actually a Warner Brothers set) are thick with dark fog.

This is a smart story, skillfully told, a worthy blend of espionage yarn and film noir.

(The Other) Hank’s Recommendations 04/23/13

Hank_Hoffman_Picks_Image_sketch_WebBest Video’s other Hank—Hank Hoffman—here with this week’s recommendation. Hank Paper will return with a new recommendation next week.

Film Movement is a distributor of critically acclaimed independent and foreign films—we have dozens of their titles avilable to rent at Best Video. Their selections are, in a sense, curated, chosen for the quality of the storytelling, the persuasiveness of the acting, the commitment to personal vision.

KAREN CRIES ON THE BUS hails from Colombia, directed by Gabriel Rojas Vera. But unlike so many films from or about contemporary Colombia, it is not a shoot-em-up about narco-traffickers or guerrillas. Rather, it tells the story of Karen, a Colombian woman who leaves her unfulfilling marriage of ten years to the distant and emotionally abusive—albeit financially successful—Mario. With no jobs, no apparent friends,  little money and the disapproval of her mother, she makes her way out into Bogotá, renting a room in a rundown flophouse.

Karen is played by Angela Carrizosa with a naturalness that is wholly believable. Her growth into self-sufficiency is spurred in part by her tentative friendship with Patricia,  an outgoing beautician who also has a room at the boardinghouse. Feminism is a subtext, of course, but Rojas Vera doesn’t overplay that theme.

The strengths of Karen Cries on the Bus are the strengths of the Film Movement offerings overall: telling human scale stories in such a way as to richly accommodate grander visions. Check out the Film Movement titles in our New Foreign and various country sections. Almost every one is a gem.

View the trailer for Karen Cries on the Bus:

Update: May 1 music and film screening to be at 8 PM, not 7:30 PM

The special May Day Performance Space event featuring musician Bill Collins followed by a screening of the legendary social drama “Salt of the Earth” will take place a half-hour later than initially scheduled in order to accommodate participants of that evening’s labor march in New Haven. Collins will perform a short set of rabble-rousing folk and labor songs at 8 PM followed promptly by a screening of “Salt of the Earth.”

Film screening and discussion Sun., May 5: “All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert”

Winfred_Rembert_Vivian_Ducat_at_Best_Video_72dpiDirector Vivian Ducat will screen “All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert” in the Best Video Performance Space on Sunday, May 5, at 2 PM. Admission is $5. (A previous screening of the documentary at Best Video in early January was a standing room only sellout.) The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with director Ducat and the artist Winfred Rembert. The DVD of “All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert” is also available for purchase at Best Video for $17.98.

“All Me” is director Vivian Ducat’s first feature-length documentary. A native New Yorker, Ducat has directed, produced and written more than 20 long-format documentaries for broadcast. She spent the first part of her career in London, working for the BBC, directing films for series including The Story of English, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, Assignment (“Mr. Murakami Goes to Washington” and “Uncle Sam’s Last Stand”) and Locomotion. After returning to New York, Ducat produced programs for the WGBH series The AIDS Quarterly with Peter Jennings, MacNeil-Lehrer Productions, the ABC News series The Century, and for the WGBH series, The American Experience (“Hawaii’s Last Queen,” narrated by Anna Deveare Smith) among other broadcast venues.

Winfred Rembert, a 66 year-old African American, grew up in Cuthbert, a town in the Southwestern corner of Georgia. Rembert was given away at birth to a great aunt. He spent much of his childhood as a field worker beside his great aunt in the cotton and peanut fields. When he could attend school, he loved drawing but not much else.

Attendance at a civil rights demonstration got him thrown in jail without charges or a trial. An escape over a year later resulted in a prison sentence, but only after Rembert had survived an attempted lynching.

He fell in love with his future wife, and with leather as an art medium, while serving seven years on Georgia chain gangs. Life and eight children intervened after prison; it was not until 1995 that Rembert began to carve, tool and then dye pictures on leather, in his studio in the front room of his home in New Haven, Connecticut.

Most of his colorful art depicts scenes and themes from African American life in segregated Cuthbert, GA and from the time he spent on those chain gangs. His work was exhibited at the Yale University Art Gallery in 2000 and a triptych about a lynching was acquired by Yale for their permanent collection. Rembert subsequently exhibited at various other venues. His first major catalogued one-man exhibition was presented in New York in 2010 by Adelson Galleries in association with Peter Tillou Works of Art. Rembert and his family still live in New Haven’s inner city.

View the trailer for “All Me”:

 

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE EVENTS:

• Sunday, May 5. FILM SCREENING & DISCUSSION: “ALL ME: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WINFRED REMBERT”

• Wednesday, May 8. INDIE ROCK: POOLS ARE NICE, BUCK McGRANE

• Thursday, May 9. BEST VIDEO MANAGER RICHARD BROWN’S 60TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: MUSICAL SPECIAL GUESTS—THE FURORS, THE STREAMS, HAPPY ENDING and more

• Wednesday, May 15. JAZZ: THE NICK Di MARIA QUARTET

• Thursday, May 16. ROCK—ROPE

• Thursday, May 23. ROCKABILLY: BIG FAT COMBO

• Wednesday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANNA AYRES-BROWN

• Thursday, June 13. INDIE ROCK: THE MOUNTAIN MOVERS

• Wednesday, June 19. CABARET: RICH MORAN

• Thursday, June 20. INDIE POP: THE FURORS, AL HOWARD

• Wednesday, June 26. INDIE ROCK: THE JELLYSHIRTS

• Thursday, June 27. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: FRANK CRITELLI, MARK MIRANDO

• Thursday, July 11. ACOUSTIC ROCK: JAMES VELVET & THE LONESOME SPARROWS

Music: The Sawtelles to perform Thurs., May 2, at 8 PM

The indie rock duo The Sawtelles will play the Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, May 2. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover charge is $5.

The music of husband and wife duo the Sawtelles is a balance of four elements: alternate-tuned guitar, stand-up drum kit (ala Velvet Underground’s Mo Tucker) and two voices. Sparse but intricately arranged pop that is as lush as it is threadbare makes what is played as important as what isn’t. Peter plays guitar and Julie plays drums; they both sing. Their sparse but intricately arranged pop is as lush as it is captivatingly unique.

Their self-produced DYI philosophy aligns them more with the hand painted Sun Ra LP’s of 1950’s and 60’s then it does with those striving for mainstream commercial success. They have released 4 CDs; for a preview, see their website.

View a Sawtelles performance from last year videotaped by Dave Kelsey of Golden Microphone Productions:

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE EVENTS:

• Sunday, May 5. FILM SCREENING & DISCUSSION: “ALL ME: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WINFRED REMBERT”

• Wednesday, May 8. INDIE ROCK: POOLS ARE NICE, BUCK McGRANE

• Thursday, May 9. BEST VIDEO MANAGER RICHARD BROWN’S 60TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: MUSICAL SPECIAL GUESTS—THE FURORS, THE STREAMS, HAPPY ENDING and more

• Wednesday, May 15. JAZZ: THE NICK Di MARIA QUARTET

• Thursday, May 16. ROCK—ROPE

• Thursday, May 23. ROCKABILLY: BIG FAT COMBO

• Wednesday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANNA AYRES-BROWN

• Thursday, June 13. INDIE ROCK: THE MOUNTAIN MOVERS

• Wednesday, June 19. CABARET: RICH MORAN

• Thursday, June 20. INDIE POP: THE FURORS, AL HOWARD

• Wednesday, June 26. INDIE ROCK: THE JELLYSHIRTS

• Thursday, June 27. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: FRANK CRITELLI, MARK MIRANDO

May Day special event: singer Bill Collins and screening of “Salt of the Earth” Wed., May 1, at 8 PM

BillCollins

(Note: this post has been updated on April 25 to reflect the following change: In order to accommodate any possible attendees who might also be participating in the march in New Haven for immigrant rights, labor rights and peace, we have moved back the starting time to 8 PM from the originally scheduled 7:30 PM.)

In recognition of May Day, the Best Video Performance Space will host a performance by New Haven-based singer and guitarist Bill Collins followed by a screening of the legendary blacklisted film “Salt of the Earth” on Wednesday, May 1. The program begins at 8 PM and admission is $5.

As singer, songwriter and guitarist, for the last 35 years, Bill Collins has played everything from Hardcore Punk to Children’s music: Irish, Rockabilly, Ska, Folk, Blues, Metal, Reggae, Country, Rap, and nearly every kind of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Since 2005, he has expanded his musical calling to perform music that supports progressive political causes, especially the Labor Union Movement. Collins will play a short rabble-rousing set at 7:30, prior to the showing of the film.

Collins was a 2010 recipient of an Arts Council of Greater New Haven Arts Award. The Arts Awards “honor the artistic excellence and outstanding achievements of visual, performing and literary artists, arts organizations, architects, arts educators, advocates and administrators whose contributions enable the arts to thrive in the region.” In honoring Collins, the Arts Council wrote:

Bill Collins is an established guitarist and singer-songwriter whose music is steeped in diverse musical traditions, from punk rock to country, folk, blues, and rockabilly. For 25 years, Bill Collins’ performances of original and traditional songs have lent a powerful voice to the struggles of the working class and the passions of social activists. From his work with groundbreaking punk-rock artists of the 1980s to his forays into rockabilly and explorations of Irish song, Bill Collins’ music has delivered a message. When he married a labor organizer, Collins’ found another source of inspiration, and, with a renewed dedication to political activism, he found a new movement to support and a new message to deliver. Through his rousing and inherently participatory music, Bill Collins continues to lead a spirited rally cry, providing a sturdy voice for the interests of the working class, and always choosing passion and possibility over profit and probability.

Salt_Of_The_Earth“Salt of the Earth,” completed in 1954, tells the story of a strike by mine workers in the American Southwest. But it is so much more than that. The only true American Neorealist film in the tradition of the Italian directors Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini, it is also remarkable for its ahead-of-its-time feminist viewpoint and its incisive depiction of anti-Latino discrimination. “Salt of the Earth” was chosen in 1992 to be included on the National Film Registry maintained by the Library of Congress of “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films.”

“Salt of the Earth” was made under conditions of extreme political repression: director Herbert Biberman, screenwriter Michael Wilson, producer Paul Jarrico and actor Will Geer were all targets of the anti-communist blacklist. The screenplay was based on a 1951 strike against the Empire Zinc Company in New Mexico led by the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. The Mine, Mell and Smelter Workers—which had been expelled from the CIO for refusing to purge alleged Communists from union leadership—helped bankroll the production; there was an attempt to burn down their local affiliate’s union hall during the filming. The production was targeted by the Red-baiting press and anticommunist vigilantes attacked union families—many participants in the strike on which the film was based acted in the production—and members of the film crew. The film had to be processed and edited in secrecy because the blacklist forbade Hollywood labs from doing the work. After its opening night in New York City, showings of the film were extremely rare because theater owners feared bad publicity, possible visits by the FBI and the potential that they might themselves be blacklisted.

Notwithstanding the foregrounding of the film’s social message(s), “Salt of the Earth” stands as a gripping human drama. New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther wrote in 1954, “Against the hard and gritty background of a mine workers’ strike in a New Mexican town—a background bristling with resentment against the working and living conditions imposed by the operators of the mine—a rugged and starkly poignant story of a Mexican-American miner and his wife is told in “Salt of the Earth.”

Crowther wrote:

“Salt of the Earth” is, in substance, simply a strong pro-labor film with a particularly sympathetic interest in the Mexican-Americans with whom it deals. True, it frankly implies that the mine operators have taken advantage of the Mexican-born or descended laborers, have forced a “speed up” in their mining techniques and given them less respectable homes than provided the so-called “Anglo” laborers. It slaps at brutal police tactics in dealing with strikers and it gets in some rough, sarcastic digs at the attitude of “the bosses” and the working of the Taft-Hartley Law.

But the real dramatic crux of the picture is the stern and bitter conflict within the membership of the union. It is the issue of whether the women shall have equality of expression and of strike participation with the men. And it is along this line of contention that Michael Wilson’s tautly muscled script develops considerable personal drama, raw emotion and power.

Under Mr. Biberman’s direction, an unusual company made up largely of actual miners and their families, plays the drama exceedingly well. [Actress Rosaura] Revueltas, one of the few professional players, is lean and dynamic in the key role of the wife who compels her miner husband to accept the fact of equality, and Juan Chacon, a non-professional, plays the husband forcefully. Will Geer as a shrewd, hard-bitten sheriff, Clinton Jencks as a union organizer and a youngster named Frank Talevera as the son of the principals are excellent, too.

The trailer for “Salt of the Earth”:

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE EVENTS:

• Thursday, May 2. INDIE ROCK—THE SAWTELLES

• Sunday, May 5. FILM SCREENING & DISCUSSION: “ALL ME: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WINFRED REMBERT”

• Wednesday, May 8. INDIE ROCK: POOLS ARE NICE, BUCK McGRANE

• Thursday, May 9. BEST VIDEO MANAGER RICHARD BROWN’S 60TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: MUSICAL SPECIAL GUESTS—THE FURORS, THE STREAMS, HAPPY ENDING and more

• Wednesday, May 15. JAZZ: THE NICK Di MARIA QUARTET

• Thursday, May 16. ROCK—ROPE

• Thursday, May 23. ROCKABILLY: BIG FAT COMBO

• Wednesday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANNA AYRES-BROWN

• Thursday, June 13. INDIE ROCK: THE MOUNTAIN MOVERS

• Wednesday, June 19. CABARET: RICH MORAN

• Thursday, June 20. INDIE POP: THE FURORS, AL HOWARD

• Wednesday, June 26. INDIE ROCK: THE JELLYSHIRTS

• Thursday, June 27. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: FRANK CRITELLI, MARK MIRANDO

New Releases 04/23/13

Top Hits
The Impossible (family/action, Naomi Watts. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 73. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The Impossible, the second feature from the Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona, uses digital imagery, meticulous sound design and tried-and-true editing techniques to recreate both the violence of unleashed waters and the desolation that followed their assault on southern Thailand. Much more than Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, which used the tsunami as a framing device for one of its tales of supernatural obsession, The Impossible plunges the audience into the catastrophe and then immerses us in the panic, grief and disorientation of the aftermath.” Read more…)

Gangster Squad (crime/gangster, Sean Penn. Rotten Tomatoes: 32%. Metacritic: 40. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Gangster Squad is less a movie than a costume party run amok. Set in a late-’40s Los Angeles painted in cartoon colors rather than noir shadows, it is a hectic jumble of fedoras and zoot suits, stockings and cigarettes, and red femme-fatale dresses. The accessories of choice are guns of various calibers and styles, deployed to drown out — or perhaps to emphasize — knucklehead dialogue and inept storytelling.” Read more…)

Promised Land (drama/ecology, Matt Damon. Rotten Tomatoes: 51%. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Sant, is an earnest attempt, sometimes effective, sometimes clumsy, to dramatize the central arguments about fracking and its impact. Issues that have been addressed in Josh Fox’s documentary Gasland and in a series of articles by Ian Urbina in The New York Times crystallize in the story of Steve, a man whose ambition comes into conflict with his conscience.” Read more…)

Any Day Now (drama, Alan Cumming. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 60. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “When Alan Cumming turns on his beaming grin in Any Day Now, Travis Fine’s militant tear-jerker, he conveys such intense, unguarded emotion you almost want to avert your eyes. That smile, and the blazing performance it distills, conveys so ferocious a mixture of desire, hurt, defiance, courage, neediness and reckless abandon that it makes everyone else seem cowardly. You consider the real meaning of the Jerry Herman anthem, ‘I Am What I Am,’ from La Cage aux Folles, as it is lived out in extremis by one flamboyantly gay man.” Read more…)

Pawn (crime thriller, Michael Chiklis)

New Blu-Ray
The Impossible
Gangster Squad
Promised Land

New Foreign
In Another Country (South Korea, romance, Isabelle Huppert, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 69. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Like many other films by the sly and prolific South Korean director Hong Sang-soo, In Another Country is at once a comedy of manners and an oblique commentary on the power of cinema to expose and alter reality. Its three chapters, each a little under a half-hour long, are scenarios dreamed up by an aspiring young screenwriter [Jung Yumi] in the midst of some vague family trouble. The movies she writes, which we see enacted on the screen [with Ms. Jung as a helpful neighbor], are variations on some of Mr. Hong’s favorite themes: social awkwardness, sexual frustration and the selfishness of Korean men.” Read more…)

Commissario Brunetti Ep. 15 & 16 (Germany, Donna Leon mystery series, Uwe Kockisch)
Commissario Brunetti Ep. 17 & 18 (Germany, Donna Leon mystery series, Uwe Kockisch)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Devil and Miss Jones (1941, socially conscious screwball comedy, Jean Arthur. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1941 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Just suppose—but you need’nt, if it revolts you—that you were the wealthiest man in all the world. Then suppose that a group of employes in a department store you didn’t even know you owned hung your effigy outside the building as a token of their contempt for you. Would you, in a state of burning fury, take a job incognito in the store in order to find out the reasons for such a disrespectful attack? Maybe you wouldn’t. In fact, it would be a most illogical thing for a man to do. But, anyhow, we are mighty happy that Frank Ross and Norman Krasna contrived to have Charles Coburn pretend to such an exalted position and do exactly that thing in their picture called The Devil and Miss Jones, which breezed into the Music Hall yesterday. For the consequence is the frothiest comedy since—well, since The Lady Eve.” Read more…)

New British
Mr. Selfridge (historical drama mini-series, Jeremy Piven. Metacritic: 59. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “Mr. Selfridge is an eight-part, roughly eight-hour mini-series about the American businessman who opened the revolutionary London department store Selfridges in 1909. It’s also a soldier in the current bloody war for period-drama domination between the British television networks ITV and BBC, whose combatants include Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, on ITV, and Call the Midwife and The Paradise, on BBC. [Already dead: BBC’s flat-footed Upstairs Downstairs sequel.] After doing service in Britain, these shows often take R&R on PBS, which is where Mr. Selfridge shows up on Sunday night as part of Masterpiece Classic. American viewers will immediately compare it with Downton Abbey and note some things that are lacking: tailcoats, Maggie Smith, a castle. Mr. Selfridge is a more commercial and proletarian affair, focused on innovations in window dressing and the love lives of shop girls, music hall stars and grubby capitalists.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
The Central Park Five (Ken Burns doc, justice system, racism, crime. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 79. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The documentary The Central Park Five revisits two New York nightmares. The first and most famous was the rape and beating of a 28-year-old white woman who, very early on April 20, 1989, was found in Central Park bound, gagged, nearly naked and nearly dead, her head crushed and shirt soaked in her blood. For years she was known only as the Central Park jogger, and her assailants were widely thought to be the five black and Latino teenagers, 14 to 16, who were arrested in the attack. The directors Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns argue that the convictions, and the years the defendants served for the crime they were later absolved of, were a second, racially motivated crime.” Read more…)

Meet the Fokkens (aging, prostitution, Amsterdam red light district. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 68. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “When Martine Fokkens bustles into the small grocery store early in Meet the Fokkens, a 2011 documentary portrait of identical twin prostitutes, she calls out a cheery hello to the man behind the counter. She has a purple hat and orange scarf framing her plump white face and a Chihuahua tucked under an arm, and what she needs, she announces, is a box of condoms. She was 69 when the movie was shot and still plying her trade from one of the picture windows in Amsterdam’s red-light district. Two years earlier her sister, Louise, had hung up her own riding crop because, as the second twin explains in this insistently upbeat movie, ‘I couldn’t get one leg over the other.'” Read more…)

New Gay & Lesbian DVDs
Any Day Now (drama, Alan Cumming, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 60. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “When Alan Cumming turns on his beaming grin in Any Day Now, Travis Fine’s militant tear-jerker, he conveys such intense, unguarded emotion you almost want to avert your eyes. That smile, and the blazing performance it distills, conveys so ferocious a mixture of desire, hurt, defiance, courage, neediness and reckless abandon that it makes everyone else seem cowardly. You consider the real meaning of the Jerry Herman anthem, ‘I Am What I Am,’ from La Cage aux Folles, as it is lived out in extremis by one flamboyantly gay man.” Read more…)

Nick Di Maria Quartet rescheduled to Wed., May 15

The performance by jazz trumpeter Nick Di Maria and his quartet, originally scheduled for next Thursday, April 25, has been rescheduled to Wednesday, May 15.

Music: Henry Sidle to perform Wed., Apr. 24, at 8 PM

Henry_Sidle_at_Best_Video

Henry Sidle, right, at Best Video Performance Space in December, 2012, accompanied on guitar by his friend Noah Kesselman.

Henry Sidle will perform in the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Apr. 24. The cover charge is $5 and the music starts at 8 PM. Henry Sidle has played the Performance Space twice before—as an opening act for Happy Ending in April of last year and headlining a bill with Anna Ayres-Brown this past December. He will have this night to himself.

Henry Sidle, born in Chicago, is a teenage guitar player and singer/songwriter who plays gigs most days of the year. When Henry was 11, he began to play the guitar. Several years later, Henry has made his way to major festivals, venues, studios, cities and private parties. Henry’s music has been played Sirius XM’s Grateful Dead station. Henry has a unique acoustic rock sound, spiced up with his BOSS RC-30 loop station and large repertoire of originals and covers.

Henry’s main influences are The Beatles, Phish, Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Sublime, The Avett Brothers, Toots and the Maytals, and Keller Williams. Henry’s originals go from topics such as human awareness to life stories to relationships. Henry has played his guitar at benefit concerts for schools and has played educational songs for pre-schoolers. Back in middle school, Henry performed for large audiences with the jazz band that featured Henry on guitar and the concert band with Henry on piano and guitar. Henry has played small farmers markets, city streets, and book stores. Henry has also played large events such as the Gathering of the Vibes which has featured Crosby Stills and Nash, every living member of the Grateful Dead, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Cliff, The Avett Brothers, and Zappa Plays Zappa. Henry got to play at this festival in 2011 and 2012. By now, Henry has played almost every venue in the New Haven area and has racked up hundreds of shows. Yale Daily News calls Henry “New Haven’s Youngest Troubador.”

Henry plays bass in his band Funk You Up. He also plays guitar in the Klezmer band, the Nu Haven Kapelye. He also is a classical pianist and has played recitals in churches. In the summer of 2011, Henry began to work for the Rex Foundation. Henry wrote a song for their World as it Could Be project called “The World as it Could Be” and “There’s a Way.” Both are human awareness songs that have gotten kind words. Green FL Broker said “Henry’s music video is not only beautiful, it is thought-provoking and inspirational to experience a 12 year old’s concerns about the future.  I sure wish I could be at the concert to experience Henry’s début into the musical world! I have no doubt Henry will follow his heart and will end up involved in Mother Earth’s well-being as part of his life’s journey.” Henry has played gigs from Jacksonville, FL to New York, NY to Washington D.C. to Montreal, QU. Henry mostly plays locally in his home area of New Haven.

Henry plays guitar hours and hours each day. He plays a great deal of open mics when he is not booked for the night. In 2012, Henry won a Neighborhood Music School merit award for his guitar playing. Henry has now played in CT, DC, DE, FL, MA, ME, NH, NY, and RI. Henry’s music has gotten popular on YouTube. His homemade videos have gotten many likes and views. He also broadcasts some sets on USTREAM. Henry continues to play new songs, write new music, work with new people, and find any way he can to perform.

Watch Henry play his song “The World as It Should Be” at the Gathering of the Vibes Festival in 2011:

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE EVENTS:

• Thursday, Apr. 25. JAZZ: THE NICK Di MARIA QUARTET (postponed)

• Wednesday, May 1. MAY DAY TROUBADOR & FILM SCREENING: BILL COLLINS and May Day-appropriate film TBA

• Thursday, May 2. INDIE ROCK—THE SAWTELLES

• Sunday, May 5. FILM SCREENING & DISCUSSION: “ALL ME: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WINFRED REMBERT”

• Wednesday, May 8. INDIE ROCK: POOLS ARE NICE, BUCK McGRANE

• Thursday, May 16. ROCK—ROPE

• Thursday, June 6. ACOUSTIC ROCK: JAMES VELVET & THE LONESOME SPARROWS

• Wednesday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANNA AYRES-BROWN