New Releases 12/31/13

Top Hits
Don Jon (drama/comedy/romance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Once upon a time Don Jon had the unhappy title Don Jon’s Addiction. That was in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where the movie had its premiere. But addiction, which conjures up drunks, druggies and roads to recovery taken 12 steps at a time, felt at odds with the skittering, upbeat cadences and feel of Don Jon, an often exuberant movie about a man hooked on pornography who can’t deal with the breathing, desiring women who end up in his bed. ” Read more…)

CBGB (music/drama, Alan Rickman. Rotten Tomatoes: 8%. Metacritic: 30. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Because of the cruel accidents of age and geography, I never set foot in CBGB during its 1970s punk heyday. So I can’t look at CBGB — Randall Miller’s sweet and nostalgic elegy to that defunct club and its owner and presiding spirit, Hillel Kristal, known to all, whether they actually knew him or not, as Hilly — and say, with the authority of experience, “It wasn’t like that.” I will leave it to others to point out the film’s lapses of chronology, taste and historical detail. But on the other hand, I would swear on a stack of Dead Boys T-shirts and a first pressing of Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ ‘Blank Generation’ that it could not possibly have been like that: so silly, so trivial, so boring.” Read more…)

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (crime/drama, Casey Affleck. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 74. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The period setting of this moody, western-ish crime drama, written and directed by David Lowery, is a bit harder to place, though the shape of the cars and a briefly glimpsed television set suggest the late 1960s or early 1970s. Not that it matters much. We could just as easily be in the 1870s or the 1930s, since the themes of violence, honor and sacrifice are as unchanging as the big, cloud-swept sky. This is a landscape of archetypes, where individual stories take on a mythic, even metaphysical resonance.” Read more…)

Last Love (comedy/drama, Michael Caine. Rotten Tomatoes: 35%. Metacritic: 37. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Psychological verisimilitude: If that were all it took to make a powerful movie about family strife and impending mortality, the German filmmaker Sandra Nettelbeck’s Last Love would join Michael Haneke’s Amour on the short list of touching late-life dramas. But despite its scattered insights and moments when you think to yourself, ‘Yes, that’s it,’ Last Love has as many coy evasions and refuses to address its real subjects: decrepitude and depression. This dull, dawdling film, adapted from Françoise Dorner’s novel La Douceur Assassine, eventually succumbs to sentimentality.” Read more…)

New Foreign
Sister (France, drama, Léa Seydoux. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 81. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The mountains loom so very large and the child looks so very small in Sister, a cool yet compassionate look at two people bound by love and shared struggles in a world of haves and have-nots. Directed by Ursula Meier, it turns on a 12-year-old, Simon [Kacey Mottet Klein, a heartbreaker], a cunning survivalist hustling to fill his belly and that of his lovely, troubled, perennially underemployed older sister, Louise [Léa Seydoux]. These are the world’s invisible, forgotten ones, slipping through the shadows and moving along the margins.” Read more…)

Either Way (Iceland, comedy, Hilmar Guojonsson)

Music: Brett Bottomley playing Chapman Stick Wed., Jan. 8, at 8 PM

Brett_Bottomley_at_BESTJazz musician Brett Bottomley returns to the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Jan. 8. The cover is $5 and the music starts at 8 PM.

Brett Bottomley is a local jazz and rock Chapman Stickist From North Haven. He has released his first solo stick CD “Journeys” this past year, and gigs extensively throughout the Northeast as a soloist and with his band Toy Masheen.

Brett plays jazz “guitar and bass” parts simultaneously  on his instrument, creating a unique listening experience.

The Stick comes from the guitar and bass, but its playing method shares roots with keyboards and drums as well, placing all of these musical voices in the hands of one musician.

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Jan. 8. JAZZ: BRETT BOTTOMLEY

• Thursday, Jan. 9. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SOLIN

• Wednesday, Jan. 15. FILM SCREENING: “THE THIRD MAN”

• Thursday, Jan. 16. SINGER/SONGWRITER: KEVIN MF KING, PAUL BELBUSTI (MERCY CHOIR)

• Wednesday, Jan. 22. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

• Thursday, Jan. 23. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ILANA ZSIGMOND

• Wednesday, Jan. 29. INDIE ROCK: SOZIO

• Thursday, Jan. 30. PSYCHO-FOLK: MILKSOP: UNSUNG

• Wednesday, Feb. 5. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: JENNIFER DAUPHINAIS, CHRISTOPHER BOUSQUET

• Thursday, Feb. 6. ROCK: THE DRESS-UPS

• Wednesday, Feb. 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PAT STONE

• Thursday, Feb. 13. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: BIG FAT COMBO

• Thursday, Feb. 20. BLUEGRASS: 5 IN THE CHAMBER

• Wednesday, Apr. 2. CLASSICAL: HAVEN STRING QUARTET

• Thursday, Apr. 17. ACOUSTIC ROCK: THE LONESOME SPARROWS

 

New Releases 12/24/13

Top Hits
Insidious: Chapter 2 (horror, Rose Byrne. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 40. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A mess from start to finish — though, judging by the ending, this story won’t be over any time soon — Insidious: Chapter 2 is the kind of lazy, halfhearted product that gives scary movies a bad name. From its robotic acting to its generic props [enough already with the self-motivated children’s toys], this shoddy sequel, tacked together with the cynicism of a carnival barker, suggests that the director, James Wan, is long overdue for a vacation.” Read more…)

Europa Report (sci-fi, Christian Camargo. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Banishing showy effects and cheap scares, the Ecuadorean director Sebastián Cordero has meticulously shaped a number of sci-fi clichés — from the botched spacewalk to the communications breakdown — into a wondering contemplation of our place in the universe. Taking the high road throughout, he presents curious, idealistic explorers whose motives are as pure as the film’s compositions. [The production designer Eugenio Caballero and Enrique Chediak, the director of photography, are clearly a match made in heaven.]” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Insidious: Chapter 2

New Foreign
Caesar Must Die (Italy, drama, Salvatore Striano. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 77. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “It’s easy to imagine that the performers in Caesar Must Die, a riff on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, are cut from coarser, more authentic material than that found in most productions. The movie, after all, is set in an Italian prison and cast almost entirely with real inmates. The prisoners’ rough faces and darting eyes, the crooked arc of one man’s nose and the unnervingly sly line of another’s smile, suggest so much [murder most foul, to borrow a line], as do the occasional shivery biographical asides, particularly about the mafia, that jostle alongside the play’s poetry. These men, surely, know about betrayal, vengeance and power, a knife in the gut and hands washed in blood.” Read more…)

Una Noche (Cuba, drama, Dariel Arrechaga. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “The feature directorial debut of Lucy Mulloy, a New York documentarian, Una Noche surges with vitality so palpable that, for its duration, you feel as if you were living in the skins of characters often photographed in such extreme close-up that they seem to be breathing in your face. You feel the sun on their bodies and get goose bumps when they shiver from the cold.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
More Than Honey (bees, environment. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 70. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “If bees were to disappear from the globe, mankind would have four years left to live. That assertion, attributed to Albert Einstein but perhaps apocryphal, is voiced in More Than Honey, a fascinating but rambling documentary about the decimation of the world’s bee population through the phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. Directed and written by Markus Imhoof, a Swiss filmmaker, the movie is a tutorial on the biology and social behavior of bees and their exploitation in the age of industrial agriculture. Mr. Imhoof is descended from a long line of beekeepers whose cultivation of bees and harvesting of their honey are still carried out in more or less traditional ways. The film approvingly contrasts Mr. Imhoof’s family tradition with the techniques of modern agribusiness in which bee colonies are trucked from place to place to pollinate enormous orchards.” Read more…)

(UPDATED) Music: Kevin MF King, Paul Belbusti (Mercy Choir) on Thurs., Jan. 16, at 8 PM

Kevin_MF_King_BV_Web

Kevin MF King

UPDATE: This show, originally show scheduled for Thursday evening, Jan. 2, featuring Kevin MF King and Paul Belbusti (Mercy Choir), has been postponed to Thursday, Jan. 16, due to the snowstorm.

Kevin MF King and Paul Belbusti (Mercy Choir) will perform separate sets at the Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Jan. 16. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Kevin MF King’s songs run amok with topics such as work drudgery, self-reflection, escapism, the debauchery displayed in modern politics and the process of human interaction, at times using fictional folk tales to tell a story, others just beautiful instrumentals. KMFK has more than 100 self-recorded songs regularly distributed on self-released hand-stamped cds.

Paul Belbusti (Mercy Choir)

Paul Belbusti (Mercy Choir)

Mercy Choir is the songwriting/recording/performing project of Paul Belbusti, who is based in New Haven. The music has been described using any and all of the following terms: acoustic, folk, noise, psychedelic, rock, electroacoustic, outsider, indie, freak folk, bad, good, weird, beautiful, ugly, impressive, depressing, disappointing, metal, quiet, loud, authentic, fake, electronic, digital, analog, pretentious, hi-fi, lo-fi, etc.

In a review on CT.com in 2012, Chip McCabe referred to Mercy Choir as “one of the best one-man projects to come out of CT in recent memory.” McCabe wrote about Mercy Choir’s “The Very Great and Horrible Harshness” album:

Mercy Choir pulls in from a lot of different influences.  The first three tracks on the album – “The Song I Have Hoped To Write”, “GUN”, and “Chalk It Up” – remind me a lot of the solo work of Syd Barrett, which is not a bad thing at all.  Other tracks on this album do well to mix the old with the new as styles like 70’s German krautrock intermingle with today’s psych folk pioneers.  There are multiple examples on this album of how one man can create unique and beautiful music all in the comfort of his own living room.  “Ain’t It Groovy” for example is a gorgeous piece of music, with a guitar that just kind of floats like a bird against the wind.  And speaking of birds, the song “Bird” literally sounds to me like something I may have heard in a Stanley Kubrick film – that sort of heavily synthesized, dreamy, yet dark piece of music saved for the most stunning of scenes.

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Jan. 8. JAZZ: BRETT BOTTOMLEY (Just announced!)

• Thursday, Jan. 9. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SOLIN

• Wednesday, Jan. 15. FILM SCREENING: “THE THIRD MAN”

• Thursday, Jan. 16. SINGER/SONGWRITER: KEVIN MF KING, PAUL BELBUSTI (MERCY CHOIR)

• Wednesday, Jan. 22. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA (Just announced!)

• Thursday, Jan. 23. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ILANA ZSIGMOND

• Wednesday, Jan. 29. INDIE ROCK: SOZIO (Just announced!)

• Thursday, Jan. 30. PSYCHO-FOLK: MILKSOP: UNSUNG

• Wednesday, Feb. 5. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: JENNIFER DAUPHINAIS, CHRISTOPHER BOUSQUET

• Thursday, Feb. 6. ROCK: THE DRESS-UPS

• Wednesday, Feb. 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PAT STONE

• Thursday, Feb. 13. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: BIG FAT COMBO (Just announced!)

• Thursday, Feb. 20. BLUEGRASS: 5 IN THE CHAMBER

• Wednesday, Apr. 2. CLASSICAL: HAVEN STRING QUARTET

• Thursday, Apr. 17. ACOUSTIC ROCK: THE LONESOME SPARROWS (Just announced!)

 

Rob Harmon’s Recommendations 12/17/13

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksROB HARMON’S PICKS 12/17/13

A 110th Birthday Tribute to Yasujiro Ozu

“Life’s tragedy begins with the bond between parent and child.”
-Title card (a quote from Ryunosuke Akutagawa) at the opening of The Only Son (1936)

There was a time—long before his films were lauded internationally by critics and audiences alike, before movies like FLOATING WEEDS, LATE SPRING and TOKYO STORY regularly appeared on lists of the best ever made—when Yasujiro Ozu was virtually unheard of outside of his native Japan. The reason for his anonymity? Distributors, in the wake of massive international successes like RASHOMON, UGETSU and THE SEVEN SAMURAI, were afraid to promote his films because they felt that they were “too Japanese.” As a result we Yanks caught on to him very late, with his films not even being distributed here until right before his death in 1963.

Yasujiro Ozu was born on December 12th, 1903 (the same date as his death: he lived to exactly 60) in Tokyo and grew up both there and in the provincial city of Matsuzaka, where, with his father working far away in Tokyo for long periods, he apparently was a rather spoiled child. Ironically, the director who would later be dubbed “too Japanese” for export, was an avid viewer of foreign films in his teens and 20s and particularly the comedies of Ernst Lubitsch and Harold Lloyd. In fact, it is said that when Ozu interviewed for his first job at the nascent Shochiku Studios he claimed that he could remember having seen only three Japanese films in his entire life to that point! The 1920s were a moment of wild change in Japanese society and Shochiku turned out to be the perfect place for a Hollywood-o-phile like Ozu to land as it was a studio founded on progressive principles and committed mainly to the production of gendaigeki (or “stories of contemporary life,” as opposed to jidaigeki, or “period films”).

At Shochiku, Ozu first met Kogo Noda, the screenwriter with whom he would later collaborate on the majority of his films—and virtually all of the major ones—and who is ultimately almost as responsible for “the Ozu style” as Ozu himself. Like the “salaryman” character common to Japanese film, Ozu became a lifer at Shochiku Studios, getting his start as an assistant cameraman in 1923 (his job being purely physical: to lug the camera from place to place on the set, but affording the avid young film lover the opportunity to learn first-hand through observation) and working his way up quickly, reaching the director’s chair by 1927.

Ozu’s output during the silent period (in Japan talkies were much to slower to develop, not becoming common until the mid-1930s) is widely disparate, but mainly consists of heart-warming comedies and dramas about salarymen, families, and lazy college students. Even during this early period it is apparent that, while Ozu is certainly channeling his interests and affections for the cake of Hollywood cinema and light and nonsensical gags, he is also pursuing a purer structure for storytelling, developing a new and different syntax which is uniquely his own. By late silent masterworks like I WAS BORN BUT… (1932) and THE STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS (1934) the mature Ozu style is essentially in place, really needing only sound for its completion.

With his first talkie, the heartbreaking THE ONLY SON (1936), about the strong bond between a single mother and the son who cannot seem to live up to her expectations, Ozu finally settled upon the “home-drama” genre, or story of family life, which he would make virtually his own over the next thirty years. He, like many other directors, continued production in the teeth of the war, making for example the beloved drama THERE WAS A FATHER (1942) about a schoolteacher and widower (Ozu regular Chishu Ryu) and his selfless commitment to his son’s future throughout the years, as well as the son’s efforts to live up to his father’s memory after his death.

Immediately after the war Ozu made a pair of searing dramas about the harshness of family life in the rubble of Japan’s cities before he made Late Spring (1949), the story of a father (Ryu) and daughter (Setsuko Hara, another Ozu regular) who are so inseparable that she refuses to marry. Eventually, the father must a fake an engagement of his own in order to force her hand. The final scene, where the father arrives home to a quiet, empty house after the wedding ceremony, is possibly one of the most heartbreaking in the history of movies.

With Late Spring Ozu really began to hit his stride and continued apace with EARLY SUMMER (1951) and then Tokyo Story (1953, a loose reworking of Leo McCarey’s marvelous 1937 tearjerker MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW), about an elderly man and a woman (Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama) who head off to the big city to visit their grown children and grandchildren but instead of welcome find themselves being shunted from one household to the next. Ironically, the only real warmth that they experience seems to come from Noriko (Hara), the widow of their son who died during the war, and who would seem to have the least connection to them of anyone. The film moves steadily and resolutely towards its beautiful, devastating conclusion with the scene towards the end where Noriko breaks down at the receipt of an unexpected gift nothing short of heartrending. From there Ozu continued on with EARLY SPRING (1956), TOKYO TWILIGHT (1957), EQUINOX FLOWER (1958), GOOD MORNING (1959, a remake of I Was Born But… wherein a couple of spoiled, rascally boys stop speaking when their parents refuse to buy them a TV!), Floating Weeds (also 1959, a sensational remake of his The Story of Floating Weeds), LATE AUTUMN (1960), THE END OF SUMMER (1961), and AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON (1962).

Much has been written about Ozu’s style: the static, non-moving camera set-ups just above the floor, as though from the point-of-view of someone seated in traditional Japanese style on tatami mats on the floor; his famous “ellipses” or edited sequences of smokestacks, rooftops, hanging laundry luffing in the breeze, trains moving in the distance and train platforms, children walking to school, etc. which open and close films and provide moments of contemplation between scenes of dialogue and action; and the seeming influence of Zen Buddhism on this perhaps the most ritualistic of all filmmakers, who found meaning (and perhaps bliss) in repetition, who seemingly remade the same kind of movie over and over again until his death. I will not add much here but to say that Ozu’s body of work is a treasure that should not be overlooked. If you have never before delved into the work of this master perhaps now is the time.

New Releases 12/17/13

Top Hits
Elysium (sci-fi action, Matt Damon. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 61. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Not since Charlton Heston struggled to save humanity from itself have movies looked this grimly, resolutely fatalistic. The man who was Moses began fighting the fantasy good fight in 1968, battling damn dirty apes in Planet of the Apes, before going on to face zombie hordes in Omega Man and an overpopulated nightmare in Soylent Green. [Psst: It’s people!] Heston may be gone, but the zombie hordes have kept coming, along with other new and unusual annihilating threats, and now it’s back to the dystopian future with Elysium, a cautionary shocker from the director Neill Blomkamp about a Hobbesian war of all against all from which only Matt Damon can save us.” Read more…)

Kick-Ass 2 (comic book action, Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. Metacritic: 41. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “There isn’t anything good to say about Kick-Ass 2, the even more witless, mirthless follow-up to Kick-Ass. Like the first movie, this one involves nerds who dress up as superheroes to fight crime. This setup once could have been read as an allegory for the tribulations endured by the presumptive audience for the comic-book series from which the movies sprang.” Read more…)

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (fantasy, Logan Lerman. Rotten Tomatoes: 39%. Metacritic: 39. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “Regrettably absent here is Catherine Keener [as Percy’s mother], though Nathan Fillion [another ‘Buffy’ alum], as Hermes, has amusing moments. Sea of Monsters is diverting enough — the director, Thor Freudenthal [Diary of a Wimpy Kid], is savvy with effects and keeps his young cast on point — but it doesn’t begin to approach the biting adolescent tension of the Harry Potter movies.” Read more…)

The Lone Ranger (Disney western, Johnny Depp. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 37. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Someone in the Disney-Jerry Bruckheimer corporate suites has decided that today’s kids need their own version of the white-hat western hero with his laconic Indian sidekick, and so now we have The Lone Ranger, a very long, very busy movie that will unite the generations in bafflement, stupefaction and occasional delight. Directed by Gore Verbinski from a script credited to Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the movie tries to do for the post-Civil-War frontier what the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise did for the high seas in the Age of Sail, turning history [including the history of movies] into a hyperactive, multipurpose amusement machine.” Read more…)

The Family (action comedy, Robert De Niro. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. Metacritic: 44. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “The style of the movie — directed by [Luc] Besson from a screenplay he wrote with Michael Caleo and adapted from Tonino Benacquista’s novel, Malavita — might be described as screwball noir. If there aren’t a lot of belly laughs, The Family stirs up an appalled amusement at its gleeful amorality.” Read more…)

Angels Sing (holiday drama, Harry Connick Jr. Rotten Tomatoes: 20%. Metacritic: 41. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Angels Sing is a music video disguised as a holiday movie, populated by musicians disguised as actors. It’s as thinly written and unoriginal as made-for-television seasonal filler, and why it isn’t on the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime is a mystery, but fans of the singers in it might get a kick out of seeing them.” Read more…)

Drinking Buddies (rom-com, Anna Kendrick. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “In a different kind of movie — or rather, in the same old kind of movie the Hollywood studios have been churning out, usually in February, for the past decade or so — the Michigan high jinks would commence a crescendo of complications leading to a predictable happy ending. But Drinking Buddies, Joe Swanberg’s nimble, knowing and altogether excellent new film, refuses to dance to the usual tune. Drinking Buddies is funny and sweet enough to qualify as a romantic comedy, except that the phrase implies a structure as well as an attitude. The genre depends on tidy mathematics, a calculus of desire that produces the same result every time. Mr. Swanberg, a prolific investigator of the makeshift mores of the young, prefers a kind of fractal geometry, leaving room for contingency, confusion and randomness in his search for emotional and behavioral truth.” Read more…)

Prisoners (thriller, Jake Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 74. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “But if Prisoners, written by Aaron Guzikowski, upholds some of the conventions of the angry-dad revenge drama, it also subverts them in surprising, at times devastating ways. The easy catharsis of righteous payback is complicated at every turn, and pain and uncertainty spread like spilled oil on an asphalt road.” Read more…)

Sightseers (comedy, Alice Lowe. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 69. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Nasty, brutish and mercifully short, the woozy comedy Sightseers tells the tale of two ordinary British eccentrics who initially bring to mind the gargoyles, both amusing and alarming, that populate Mike Leigh movies. A droopy, passive-aggressive frowner, Tina [Alice Lowe], lives with her hectoring mother, Carol [Eileen Davies], in a house crammed with kitsch and collectibles, many dog-themed and portraying a beloved, recently deceased terrier. It’s the kind of domestic horror show that certain British filmmakers either mock or sentimentalize, and which the British director Ben Wheatley [Down Terrace] takes to with a very heavy, very unforgiving ax.” Read more…)

Man of Tai Chi (martial arts action, Keanu Reeves. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 53.)
Night Train to Lisbon (thriller, Jeremy Irons. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 30.)
The Secret Village (horror/thriller, Jonathan Bennett)

New Blu-Ray
The Lone Ranger
Elysium
Kick-Ass 2
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
The Family
Prisoners

New Foreign
Chicken with Plums (France, comedy/drama, Mathieu Amalric. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 70. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Graphic novels, at their best, do whatever they want; movies, all too often, do what they think they are supposed to do. No artist is freer than one with a good story and a sufficient supply of paper and ink, and the graphic-novel form, as it has evolved over the last two decades — to encompass memoir, history and eyewitness journalism — is bracingly unconstrained by visual or narrative convention. It is not surprising that some of the most interesting films in recent years have tried to capture that freedom. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s brilliant 2007 adaptation of Ms. Satrapi’s two-volume autobiographical work, certainly fits into that category. And so does their new movie, Chicken With Plums, based on Ms. Satrapi’s book of the same title.” Read more…)

New Television
Shameless: Season 3
Justified: Season 4

New Documentaries
Red Obsession (wine market, economics, Russell Crowe. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 68. From Nicole Herrington’s New York Times review: “With the fierce purchasing power of its elite class, China has become the biggest importer of wines from the Bordeaux region of France. The tension generated by these new kids on the clubby French wine scene — who were driving up prices and clearing out cellars just a few years ago — is the subject of Warwick Ross and David Roach’s fast-paced, ripped-from-the-headlines documentary, Red Obsession.” Read more…)

Music: Stark Raving Lulu on Thurs., Dec. 19, at 8 PM

Stark_Raving_Lulu_WebStark Raving Lulu play the Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Dec. 19. The cover is $5 and the music starts at 8 PM.

What do you get when you combine The Shangri-Las (“Leader of the Pack,” “Give Him a Great Big Kiss”) with The Ramones? One answer might be Stark Raving Lulu. Based in Central Connecticut, the group’s “Welcome to the Fun-O-Sphere!” CD is available through iTunes and CD Baby.  On Facebook, the “grrrl rockers” list their influences as “punk, 60’s, garage rock, girl groups, rock and roll, PBR and Skinny Girl Margaritas” and their interests as “nonsense and shenanigans.” Band members are LaLa Lulu (vocals), Bella Lulu (guitar), LowEnd Lulu (bass) and BoomBoom Lulu (drums).

Check out Stark Raving Lulu playing their song “All Hail to the Sucker Queen”:

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE  EVENTS:

• Thursday, Dec. 12. JAZZ: DAVID CHEVAN

• Wednesday, Dec. 18. JAZZ: THE KITCHEN SINK with NICK Di MARIA

• Thursday, Dec. 19. PUNK ROCK: STARK RAVING LULU

• Thursday, Jan. 2. SINGER/SONGWRITER: KEVIN MF KING (Just announced!)

• Thursday, Jan. 9. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SOLIN

• Thursday, Jan. 23. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ILANA ZSIGMOND

• Thursday, Feb. 6. ROCK: THE DRESS-UPS (Just announced!)

• Thursday, Feb. 20. BLUEGRASS: 5 IN THE CHAMBER

• Wednesday, Apr. 2. CLASSICAL: HAVEN STRING QUARTET (Just announced!)

New Releases 12/10/13

Top Hits
Fast & Furious 6 (automotive action, Paul Walker. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 61. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Your auto insurance policy probably has clauses specifying whether you are covered for damage from missiles, falling objects, riots, civil war, earthquakes, hail, radioactive contamination, discharge of a nuclear weapon. But it’s time once again to check that it also addresses whether you are insured against accidentally driving onto the set of a Fast & Furious movie. If you blundered into the shooting of Fast & Furious 6, for instance, you are almost surely walking now: If the flip-your-car-over speedsters didn’t wreck your vehicle, the giant tank surely did.” Read more…)

Adore (drama, Naomi Watts. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 37. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Adore sounds like a brand of perfume or a Manhattan restaurant that opened during the stand-alone verb craze a few years back. The movie, based on the Doris Lessing novella ‘The Grandmothers, was shown in festivals as Two Mothers. Plenty of variations on its theme of intergenerational lust can be found on the Internet, though you may want to clear your browser history after you’re done searching for them.” Read more…)

Jayne Mansfield’s Car (drama, Robert Duvall. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 48. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Jayne Mansfield’s Car, directed by Billy Bob Thornton,  from a screenplay he wrote with Tom Epperson, has the loose structure and uncertain tone of a long, rambling yarn. As it drifts from topic to topic, its characters debate war, heroism, mortality and social change. Another theme of the movie, set during the Vietnam War, is generational strife, exemplified by the Caldwells’ strident pro- and antiwar factions.” Read more…)

Despicable Me 2 (animated feature, Steve Carell [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 62. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “In its frantic, Looney Tunes-style madness, Despicable Me 2 brings to mind a cautionary children’s story about an aspiring baker who learns the hard way that doubling the recipe for bread doesn’t mean doubling the baking time. It tries so hard to double your pleasure that it emerges from the test kitchen slightly burned. Like the jams and jellies that its reformed main character, Gru, makes in his new line of work, the film combines too many flavors, along with extra sugar. Once again, the lesson that more is not necessarily better, something rarely learned by blockbuster sequels, is forgotten. That said, the new movie — concocted by the same hands [the directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and the screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul] who were behind the first Despicable Me — is consistently diverting and so cute you’ll want to pet it.” Read more…)

The Angels’ Share (comedy/crime, Paul Brannigan. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “On the most superficial level, this latest film by Mr. Loach, a grand old man [now 76] of British left-wing social realism, is a hearty paean to the pleasures of that whisky and the olfactory sophistication of connoisseurs who use the same vocabulary as wine tasters to evoke its fragrances. The movie, with a screenplay by Mr. Loach’s longtime collaborator Paul Laverty, imagines that possession of a talented nose for those scents could be a key to escaping Glasgow’s violent underclass. [The dialogue is subtitled because of the characters’ thick brogues.]” Read more…)

Berberian Sound Studio (horror/thriller, Toby Jones. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 61. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “You might call Berberian Sound Studio a workplace comedy in its fashion, albeit one filled with screams. In this affectionate film by Peter Strickland about the dubbing production for a 1970s horror film in Italy, a timid British engineer toils at mixing perfect sound for a shriek (or an impalement). But as the sonic violence takes its toll on him, the film’s culture-clash humor gives way to an uncanny fuguelike seepage between reality and artifice.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Despicable Me 2
Fast & Furious 6
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

New Foreign
The Hunt (Denmark, drama, Mads Mikkelsen. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “In The Hunt, Lucas [Mads Mikkelsen], a disgraced kindergarten teacher suspected of being a pedophile, confronts his former best friend Theo [Thomas Bo Larsen] in a church on Christmas Day. ‘Look in my eyes,’ he says to Theo. ‘What do you see?’ Lucas naïvely believes that his true nature will reveal itself: in this case, his innocence. Mr. Mikkelsen, who played James Bond’s nemesis in Casino Royale and who is Hannibal Lecter on the television series Hannibal, won a best actor award at Cannes in 2012 for his performance here. Handsome but with hooded eyes, he looks far from angelic. His plea resonates through this nightmarish story of an innocent man who becomes the victim of a small-town witch hunt.” Read more…)

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Italy, 1970, political thriller, Gian Maria Volonte. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 89. From Vincent Canby’s 1970 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Elio Petri’s complex, entertaining new Italian film, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, which opened yesterday at the Baronet Theater, is a suspense melodrama with the moral concerns of angry satire. A psychotic policeman, the chief of the homicide squad who has been newly promoted to head the political intelligence unit, sets out to affirm, “in all of its purity,” the concept of authority — that absolute power before which all men become servile children, if not idiots.” Read more…)

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (France, drama, Mathieu Amalric. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “[Director Alain] Resnais, who recently turned 91, has been exploring the slippery line between truth and illusion for a very long time, in playful and in somber moods. You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet has a little of both, and is a testament to the filmmaker’s undiminished vitality. The title evokes a piece of ancient, almost mythic film history: that surreal, Orphic moment, associated in the popular mind with The Jazz Singer, when pictures began to talk. It also has a more primal meaning. The world and the people in it might grow old, but the imagination has the power to make everything new.” Read more…)

Hannah Arendt (Germany, bio-pic/drama, Barbara Sukowa. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Not that Hannah Arendt, though ultimately a celebration of seriousness, is grim or plodding. On the contrary, the movie turns ideas into the best kind of entertainment. There is an undeniable nostalgic thrill in stepping into an era in New York when philosophers lived in apartments with Hudson River views, and smoking was permitted even in college lecture halls, especially if you are someone for whom the summit of early-’60s Manhattan magic is not Madison Avenue or Macdougal Street but Riverside Drive. But it would be a mistake to file this film with all the other rose-colored midcentury costume dramas.” Read more…)

New British
The Angels’ Share (comedy/crime, Paul Brannigan, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “On the most superficial level, this latest film by Mr. Loach, a grand old man [now 76] of British left-wing social realism, is a hearty paean to the pleasures of that whisky and the olfactory sophistication of connoisseurs who use the same vocabulary as wine tasters to evoke its fragrances. The movie, with a screenplay by Mr. Loach’s longtime collaborator Paul Laverty, imagines that possession of a talented nose for those scents could be a key to escaping Glasgow’s violent underclass. [The dialogue is subtitled because of the characters’ thick brogues.]” Read more…)

Doc Martin: Series 6
Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor (50th Anniversary Special, Matt Smith)

New Children’s DVDs
Despicable Me 2 (animated feature, Steve Carell [voice], in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 62. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “In its frantic, Looney Tunes-style madness, Despicable Me 2 brings to mind a cautionary children’s story about an aspiring baker who learns the hard way that doubling the recipe for bread doesn’t mean doubling the baking time. It tries so hard to double your pleasure that it emerges from the test kitchen slightly burned. Like the jams and jellies that its reformed main character, Gru, makes in his new line of work, the film combines too many flavors, along with extra sugar. Once again, the lesson that more is not necessarily better, something rarely learned by blockbuster sequels, is forgotten. That said, the new movie — concocted by the same hands [the directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and the screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul] who were behind the first Despicable Me — is consistently diverting and so cute you’ll want to pet it.” Read more…)

Music: Nick Di Maria, Kitchen Sink to play “electric era” Miles Davis jazz Wed., Dec. 18, at 8 PM

Nick_Di_Maria_BV_081413_WebThe Kitchen Sink, led by trumpeter Nick Di Maria, play the Best Video Performance Space on Wed., Dec. 18. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Nick Di Maria has been performing his original music for the last 6 years all over the northeast. His music can be described as electro-acoustic, combining acoustic swing with modern back beats and moods. After the release of his 3rd album, Di Maria wanted to create a side project that played the music of jazz’s subculture. The result was adding an extra keyboardist and reed player to his normal quartet, “everything but the kitchen sink.”

The Kitchen Sink is comprised of some of the hardest working jazz musicians in Connecticut. Under the direction of Trumpeter Nick Di Maria, The Kitchen Sink plays the music of electric era jazz such as Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew” and Herbie Hancock’s “Mwandishi” and “Head Hunters” albums. The band creates sublime grooves and improvisations over a full stereo effect with the use of two keyboardists, joined by the unusual frontline of bass clarinet and trumpet.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Dec. 11. WORLD MUSIC/FOLK: DR. CATERWAUL’S CADRE OF CLAIRVOYANT CLAPTRAPS

• Thursday, Dec. 12. JAZZ: DAVID CHEVAN

• Wednesday, Dec. 18. JAZZ: THE KITCHEN SINK with NICK Di MARIA

• Thursday, Dec. 19. PUNK ROCK: STARK RAVING LULU

• Thursday, Jan. 9. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SOLIN

• Thursday, Jan. 23. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ILANA ZSIGMOND

• Thursday, Feb. 20. BLUEGRASS: 5 IN THE CHAMBER

UPDATED! Contest: Win tickets! Italian prog rock group Goblin, composers of “Suspiria” soundtrack, to play New Haven, Wed., Dec. 11

Goblin_poster_Web

UPDATE, 12/7/13: Congratulations to Christopher Taylor Beaudette for winning the Best Video/Manic Productions trivia contest! Chris won two tickets to the upcoming Goblin show at Center Church on the Green as well as a DVD of the Dario Argento-directed horror classic “Suspiria,” which has a soundtrack composed by Goblin.

CONTEST: Legendary Italian prog rock band GOBLIN is coming to the Center Church in New Haven this Wednesday, December 11th! For a chance to win TWO TICKETS & SUSPIRIA on DVD—the band composed the soundtrack for the film—come into Best Video tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 6) between the hours of noon and 9 PM and answer this question: “Name the other cult classic horror film directed by Brian De Palma which stars the actress who plays Suzy Bannion in Suspiria.”

You must write your answer and your contact info on a piece of paper provided at the store; Manic Productions will draw a winner at random this Saturday, Dec. 7, at Noon!

This concert is Presented by Manic Productions and Redscroll Records.

http://www.manicproductions.org/event/388153-goblin-new-haven