Haven String Quartet show rescheduled to Wed., May 21

HSQ_7331_WebRenovations, remodeling—they always take longer than you expect. We had hopes that our new Performance Space would be ready for next Wednesday’s scheduled concert by Haven String Quartet. But it’s now clear that it makes much more sense to reschedule this show to Wednesday, May 21. The cover will be $5 and the group will play at 8 PM.

We appreciate Music Haven’s and Haven String Quartet’s understanding and willingness to reschedule this show.

As the permanent quartet-in-residence of Music Haven, the Haven String Quartet’s mission is to integrate music and creative endeavor into community life. The quartet provides access to free music education and world-class chamber music performances to residents in New Haven’s most under-served neighborhoods. In conjunction with these activities, the Haven String Quartet actively performs in other communities, providing engaging performances in traditional concert halls and reaching new audiences in non-classical venues.

Each quartet member is an exemplary performer who also enjoys the work of a teaching artist. They have graduated from such institutions as Yale University, Juilliard School, New England Conservatory and Northwestern University and enjoy successful careers as performers and teachers.

Yaira Matyakubova and Gregory Tompkins are the Quartet’s resident violinists. Colin Benn and Philip Boulanger, respectively, are resident violist and resident cellist for the Haven String Quartet.

New Releases 3/25/14

Top Hits
The Wolf of Wall Street (Wall Street drama, Leonardo DiCaprio. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “From its opening sequence — a quick, nasty, unapologetic tour through its main character’s vices and compulsions, during which he crash-lands a helicopter on the grounds of his Long Island estate and [not simultaneously] shares cocaine with a call girl in an anatomically creative manner — to its raw, chaotic finish, The Wolf of Wall Street hums with vulgar, voyeuristic energy. It has been a while since Mr. Scorsese has thrown himself into filmmaking with this kind of exuberance.” Read more…)

Delivery Man (comedy, Vince Vaughn. Rotten Tomatoes: 39%. Metacritic: 44. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “As artificial as the inseminations it celebrates, Delivery Man is a soggy comedy more focused on stimulating your tear ducts than your funny bone. Rejiggering his recent French-Canadian film Starbuck, Ken Scott serves up yet another example of today’s most prolific movie character: the grown man trapped in the aspic of adolescence.” Read more…)

The Great Beauty (Italy, Oscar-winning drama/comedy, Toni Servillo. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A deliriously alive movie, The Great Beauty is the story of a man, a city, a country and a cinema, though not necessarily in that order. It was directed by Paolo Sorrentino, whose last big-screen adventure was This Must Be the Place, an English-language story about a goth musician [Sean Penn, Kabukied up to look like Robert Smith from the Cure] who, after the death of his father, a Holocaust survivor, comes out of self-imposed exile to become a Nazi hunter.” Read more…)

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (superhero animated feature, Jennifer Carpenter [voice])

New Blu-Ray
The Wolf of Wall Street
Delivery Man
The Great Beauty

New Foreign
The Great Beauty (Italy, Oscar-winning drama/comedy, Toni Servillo, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A deliriously alive movie, The Great Beauty is the story of a man, a city, a country and a cinema, though not necessarily in that order. It was directed by Paolo Sorrentino, whose last big-screen adventure was This Must Be the Place, an English-language story about a goth musician [Sean Penn, Kabukied up to look like Robert Smith from the Cure] who, after the death of his father, a Holocaust survivor, comes out of self-imposed exile to become a Nazi hunter.” Read more…)

New TV
Veep: Season 2 (HBO, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 75.)

New Documentaries
Let the Fire Burn (radical politics, civil liberties, history, MOVE, Wilson Goode. Rotten Tomatoes:  . Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Nicolas Rapold’s Times review: “Like an extended flashback or a prolonged bad dream, the film draws us into the story of Move, a separatist black organization and commune led by John Africa, which entered a cycle of belligerent resistance to authority, and suppression by the police, in the mid-1970s. Part of the achievement of the film’s director, Jason Osder, and its editor, Nels Bangerter, lies in orchestrating dual gripping dramas in constant dialogue, using footage from before, during and after the standoff.” Read more…)

The Punk Singer (feminism, riot grrl, music, Kathleen Hanna. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 75. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Kathleen Hanna, the feminist punk hero of the 1990s and beyond, is the main event of the fast-moving documentary The Punk Singer. Directed by Sini Anderson and co-produced by the music video veteran Tamra Davis, the film is less about music than it is a celebration of Ms. Hanna: most famous as the frontwoman for the poster band Bikini Kill and later for Le Tigre.” Read more…)

Rob Harmon’s Picks 03/25/14

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksROB HARMON’S PICKS 3/25/14

Rewind This! (dir. Josh Johnson, 2013)

I do not remember when my family purchased its first VCR but it was probably sometime around 1985—I would have been about 7—when most of the rest of middle-class America was jumping on the VHS bandwagon. I do, however, vividly remember my sense of awe when we inserted the first tape into the mouth of the machine and the thing whirred to life, humming and clicking, the sound of the magnetic tape winding through the machine and wrapping around rollers and heads, and, finally, an image—a movie image—appearing on our TV screen! This instrument would prove to be a Pandora’s Box for me, tantalizing and hypnotic, one which would eventually open me up to cinematic landscapes both wonderful and sordid; whose grainy, pan-and-scan images, washed-out colors, and the sounds of crinkled tape running past video heads would substantially distort the dreams of my youth.

And then there was the packaging of the movies themselves: from the bulky, cumbersome clamshell cases to the sleeker cardboard sleeves, and the oftentimes lurid artwork which promised explosions and guns, scantily-clad women, and buckets of blood and gore for the viewer. I went to see movies in the theater, too, sure, but that was different: a videotape was brought into the home and viewed, such as the moldering library tapes early on of Disney fare like ESCAPE FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN, FREAKY FRIDAY and THAT DARN CAT, and later on, in middle and high school, taped-from-TV copies of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, STAR WARS, ALIENS and TERMINATOR 2, which were brought out on Friday nights when friends were over.

The modestly-made but hugely entertaining new documentary by Josh Johnson REWIND THIS! is composed of just this sort of gauzy, diaphanous stuff—a memory of, not just one, but many moments in time, of the nature of a decadent era not too far distant—taking the viewer on a tour through the culture surrounding the VCR which was… and continues to be.

Like many other documentaries about subcultures (TREKKIES, CINEMANIA) the meat and potatoes of Rewind This! are the obsessive-compulsives themselves who have made the VCR their life’s work. Some seem dazed and lost in time; others are bitter about society’s current obsessions with high-resolution images and streaming content. Almost all seem to survive on a steady diet of schlock, camp, and ironic patter as they sift through their collections, freely expounding upon the virtues of random violence, splatter, gratuitous nudity, rippling muscles, exercise videos, Corey Haim, Charles Bronson and Dolph Lundgren action movies, etc.

Johnson is adroit enough to recognize that kitsch alone would be insufficient and includes interviews with a wide array of talking-heads: filmmakers (Frank Henenlotter, Atom Egoyan), archivists, writers and critics, distributors, as well as technological futurists who believe that all of this nostalgia is nauseating at best, harmful to culture at worst. Various angles are examined: history, technological development, the VHS vs. Betamax format war, time shifting (taping of material to be watched at a later time), video rental, tape distribution, tape trading, and—importantly—the influence of pornography and the adult film industry on the development of the medium. Numerous clips of cheesy movies and enjoyably-dated old VCR commercials are inserted throughout.

rewind_this_poster

The film employs a three act structure: introduction of characters and initial exposition; further exposition and development; and, finally, the big questions, such as what future there is for the VCR, videotape, and their adherents. This is undoubtedly a rosy and affectionate take on the past but it is well-edited, scored (sounding, at times, like unused portions of a minimal, synthesizer-y John Carpenter score), and leaves the viewer with plenty of thought-provoking questions, oftentimes only tangentially striking upon an idea (recognizing that to follow every thought to its logical end would be to rob the film of its light and airy tone).

In truth, Rewind This! is not about movies at all: it is about media, plain and simple, the ability to physically possess a medium or, increasingly, not to. With Best Video weathering the storms of media change year after year this film does an excellent job of consolidating and summarizing an immense amount of information into one entertaining and enlightening 90-minute package.

Incidentally, I had mixed feelings when it came time to switch over to DVD: sure, the new format was better in every way—better picture, almost standard letterboxing on every movie (finally!), smaller in size, no rewinding, etc.—but my heart ached a little at getting rid of the VCR. I set it on a bottom shelf, instead, where it more-or-less just collected dust.

Then, one evening a few years later, I was reminiscing with my brother about a beloved-old tape of ours named DAZZLING DUNKS AND BASKETBALL BLOOPERS, hosted by a pre-sex scandal Marv Albert and former coach of the Utah Jazz Frank Layden, who engage in witty banter and introduce various segments of gnarly tomahawk and windmill jams, shattered backboards, alley-oops, bloopers, and other wonders of the NBA in its 1980’s heyday. Before I knew it I was online hunting down a copy of this treasure (a steal at only $1!) and when it finally arrived in the mail a week or so later we popped it in and the VCR hummed back to life. The machine itself – with all of its hisses and whirs – seemed unspeakably noisy to me now but also strangely comforting, as though movies – not necessarily the same things as films – were meant to be accompanied by this wall of noise.

The VCR is back under my TV now on a permanent basis and I have a small collection of tapes sitting next to it: it may not get as much use as it once did but it pleases me to know that this faithful old workhorse is ready to go at a moment’s notice.

While renting Rewind This!—a movie about, well, videos—why not consider renting a VHS tape to go with it? Best Video has thousands, including, for example, Richard Brooks’ controversial 1977 drama LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR and Ken Russell’s 1971 masterpiece THE DEVILS, neither of which has ever been released on DVD!

Last two screenings in “Complex and Compelling” postponed

Oops. We spoke too soon. While we are making progress on renovating and relocating our Performance Space, we will not be able to screen “Mulholland Drive” next Monday (March 24) and “Memento” the following week. We will announce soon when we will conclude the “Complex and Compelling” film series with the final two films.

New Releases 3/18/14

Top Hits
American Hustle (drama/comedy, Christian Bale. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 90. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The director here is David O. Russell, who, more than any other contemporary American filmmaker, has reinvigorated screwball comedy, partly by insisting that men and women talk to one another. To that end, that chatter, written by Mr. Russell and Eric Warren Singer, is fast, dirty, intemperate, hilarious and largely in service to the art of the con, specifically the Abscam scandal that almost incidentally inspired the story. The real scandal dates back to 1978 and an F.B.I. investigation into political corruption that found agents posing as wealthy sheikhs anxious to buy off public officials.” Read more…)

Frozen (animated feature, Kristin Bell. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “Allegorically, Frozen lacks the purity and elemental power of a classic myth like Beauty and the Beast, but at least its storytelling is fairly coherent, and its gleaming dream world of snow and ice is one of the most visually captivating environments to be found in a Disney animated film. There are moments when you may feel that you are inside a giant crystal chandelier frosted with diamonds.” Read more…)

Mandela: a Long Walk to Freedom (biopic, Idris Elba. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 60. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “Long Walk to Freedom sustains the measured, inspirational tone of a grand, historical pageant. Events that are worth films of their own are compressed into a sweeping, generalized history. Gripping, dynamically choreographed scenes of street violence are harrowing but short, as the story hurtles forward at breakneck speed. If the lack of specifics about politics is frustrating, how could it be otherwise? Mr. Mandela’s biography and South African history are so rich and inextricably linked that it is impossible to reduce it to a nearly two-and-a-half-hour movie without it feeling rushed and incomplete.” Read more…)

Saving Mr. Banks (comedy/drama, Emma Thompson. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 65. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Saving Mr. Banks, released by Disney, is a movie about the making of a Disney movie [Mary Poppins], in which Walt Disney himself [played by Tom Hanks] is a major character. It includes a visit to Disneyland and, if you look closely, a teaser for its companion theme park in Florida [as yet unbuilt, when the story takes place]. A large Mickey Mouse plush toy appears from time to time to provide an extra touch of humor and warmth. But it would be unfair to dismiss this picture, directed by John Lee Hancock from a script by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, as an exercise in corporate self-promotion. It’s more of a mission statement.” Read more…)

Kill Your Darlings (Beat Generation drama/origin story, Daniel Radcliffe. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Long before Allen Ginsberg became the benevolent, bearded Buddha of the counterculture — and one of the most beloved American poets — he was a skinny, anxious Columbia freshman who fell in with a group of literary rebels. John Krokidas’s debut feature, Kill Your Darlings, is intent on studying these not-yet-Beats in their fledgling state, as they write the first drafts of their own legends.” Read more…)

Rewind This! (home video, video store culture, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Blu-Ray
American Hustle
Saving Mr. Banks
Frozen
Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom
Kill Your Darlings

New British
Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet (1933, Sherlock Holmes mystery, Reginald Owen. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1933 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Murder will out — if Sherlock Holmes is around. He is now to be seen at the Mayfair in a 1933 form, probably not recognizable to those who have seen the old drawings in London’s Strand Magazine in which his adventures appeared for so many years. But the astuteness and marvelous deductive powers of the Conan Doyle character are nevertheless not dimmed in the film version of A Study in Scarlet, which was offered last night at the Mayfair. Nor, judging by the audience’s reaction to this melodrama, has the interest in the well-known episode in the life of the famous criminologist lost any of its thrilling quality.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (cinema, philosophy, Slavoj Zizek. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 71. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, Sophie Fiennes’s second collaboration with the public intellectual Slavoj Zizek, sets out a daunting task. Titling a film that way, even tongue in cheek, recalls the Monty Python sketch about summarizing Proust, only with an even broader remit. Less dynamically than in this film’s predecessor, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, Mr. Zizek again harvests insights and subtexts in movies, with a bit of current events thrown in.” Read more…)

Rewind This! (home video, video store culture, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Children’s DVDs
Frozen (animated feature, Kristin Bell, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “Allegorically, Frozen lacks the purity and elemental power of a classic myth like Beauty and the Beast, but at least its storytelling is fairly coherent, and its gleaming dream world of snow and ice is one of the most visually captivating environments to be found in a Disney animated film. There are moments when you may feel that you are inside a giant crystal chandelier frosted with diamonds.” Read more…)

This Monday’s scheduled screening of “Memento” postponed to Mon., Mar. 30

MementoBecause of the rearranging of the store and the relocation of the Performance Space and screening room to the other side of our space, this Monday’s scheduled showing of the 2000 thriller “Memento” is being rescheduled to Monday, Mar. 30. The Mar. 24 screening of “Mulholland Drive” will take place as originally scheduled.

The theme of the current current Best Video/Temple Beth Sholom film series collaboration is “Complex and Compelling: Fun Movies That Make You Think.” Best Video owner Hank Paper and Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic take turns presenting and leading discussions of six unique and stirring films that not only make you think but change the way you think.

Each movie starts at 7 PM. Admission cost is $5. Reservations are highly recommended.

The next film to be shown now will be “Mulholland Drive,” director David Lynch’s 2001 take on film noir. Best Video owner Hank Paper will introduce the film and lead the post-screening discussion. In his 2001 review of “Mulholland Drive, ” film critic Roger Ebert wrote:

David Lynch has been working toward “Mulholland Drive” all of his career, and now that he’s arrived there I forgive him “Wild at Heart” and even “Lost Highway.” At last his experiment doesn’t shatter the test tubes. The movie is a surrealist dreamscape in the form of a Hollywood film noir, and the less sense it makes, the more we can’t stop watching it.

The now final film in the series is the 2000 thriller “Memento.” Best Video staffers Michael Wheatley and Rob Harmon will introduce the film and lead the discussion afterwards. Directed and written by Christopher Nolan, “Memento” stars Guy Pearce. In his 2000 New York Times review critic A.O. Scott wrote:

“Memento” is a brilliant feat of rug-pulling, sure to delight fans of movies like “The Usual Suspects” and “Pi.” Like Darren Aronofsky (who directed “Pi” and last year’s “Requiem for a Dream”), Mr. Nolan demonstrates a supercharged cinematic intelligence. He’s clearly excited by the way the medium can manipulate time and information, folding straightforward events and simple motives into Moebius strips of paradox and indeterminacy.

This is the remaining schedule for “Complex and Compelling”:

• Monday, Mar. 24: MULHOLLAND DRIVE
• Monday, Mar. 30: MEMENTO

Film screening: “Memento” with Guy Pearce on Mon., Mar. 17, at 7 PM

MementoThe theme of the current current Best Video/Temple Beth Sholom film series collaboration is “Complex and Compelling: Fun Movies That Make You Think.” Best Video owner Hank Paper and Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic will take turns presenting and leading discussions of six unique and stirring films that not only make you think but change the way you think.

Each movie starts at 7 PM. Admission cost is $5. Reservations are highly recommended.

The fifth film in the series is the 2000 thriller “Memento.” Best Video owner Hank Paper will introduce the film and lead the discussion afterwards. Directed and written by Christopher Nolan, “Memento” stars Guy Pearce. In his 2000 New York Times review critic A.O. Scott wrote:

“Memento” is a brilliant feat of rug-pulling, sure to delight fans of movies like “The Usual Suspects” and “Pi.” Like Darren Aronofsky (who directed “Pi” and last year’s “Requiem for a Dream”), Mr. Nolan demonstrates a supercharged cinematic intelligence. He’s clearly excited by the way the medium can manipulate time and information, folding straightforward events and simple motives into Moebius strips of paradox and indeterminacy.

This is the remaining schedule for “Complex and Compelling”:

• Monday, Mar. 17: MEMENTO • Monday, Mar. 24: MULHOLLAND DRIVE

Rob Harmon’s Picks 03/11/14

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksROB HARMON’S PICKS 3/11/14

Join us as we search this week for… Buried Treasure at Best Video!

The Wrong Box (dir. Bryan Forbes, 1966)

Imagine for a moment a mid-1960’s all-star British, Victorian-period-set black comedy (when the trend in film comedy was bigger and zanier = better) made at the height of Mod, Swinging London and utilizing the talents of established stars Ralph Richardson and John Mills and the young upstart Michael Caine, along with accomplished comedians Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Tony Hancock, and Peter Sellers, with a script written by Larry Gelbart (later, a creator and producer of the TV series M*A*S*H and co-writer of TOOTSIE) and Burt Shevelove (the team responsible for the book to the long-running Broadway musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) – adapted from a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne – and directed by Bryan Forbes (THE L-SHAPED ROOM, SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON): it sounds like a can’t miss, right? Yet, with all that going for it, THE WRONG BOX does not seem to get the respect that it deserves.

Wrong_Box_poster

Growing up in my house my family enjoyed a healthy cult obsession with The Wrong Box: it was one of the first films that we acquired on videotape and it would be dutifully produced at just about any sizable family gathering as a kind of unifying force, a film that could be relied upon for genuine belly laughs for young and old alike. I had probably seen the movie a dozen times by the time I turned 18 and so it was not uncommon that, amongst family members, we would quote from the film ad nauseam, freely bandying about terms like “tontine” whilst mimicking the veddy British accents of the film’s various daft characters.

The film opens sometime in the nineteenth century, at a moment roughly around the dawn of Britain’s “imperial century,” on a chamber where a dusty old lawyer-type addresses a body of twenty or so bewildered, snot-nosed youths in jackets, trousers, and spats, informing them that their parents and guardians have entered them into a tontine. Don’t know what a tontine is? Don’t worry; it’s not your average SAT word: a tontine is a form of lottery, one where participants contribute an equal and agreed upon amount of money which is put into a trust that accrues interest, and which is ultimately awarded to the lone and final survivor. A quick montage of hilariously unlikely deaths (death at a ship-launching, death while being knighted, death by falconry, death by charging rhino, etc.) highlight various aspects of Queen Victoria’s sprawling empire and the Industrial Revolution until, at last—years having gone by—only two remain: the incessant chatterbox and fountain of useless trivia Joseph Finsbury (Richardson) and his demented brother Masterman (a heavily made-up Mills).

The blundering and blithely unaware Joseph has been kept alive partly due to the slavish attentions of his two bumbling adult wards, Morris (Cook)—a stuffy ornithologist who collects eggs—and John (Moore)—an irrepressible philanderer—who have greedily kept their eyes on the ever-growing tontine since the moment of their adoption. Meanwhile, Masterman’s grandson Michael (Caine) is a shy and retiring medical student who dreamily moons over his beautiful and equally-timid cousin Julia (Forbes’ wife Nanette Newman) from afar. Though the families live next door to one another they have not interacted in over 40 years! A molderingly ancient butler named Peacock, a railroad crash, a mistakenly-identified corpse, a dipsomaniac doctor named Pratt (Sellers) with an office overflowing with cats and kittens, a killer on the loose named “The Bournemouth Strangler,” two undertakers, a solicitor, a befuddled detective (Hancock), and two large boxes which are accidentally switched and delivered to the wrong addresses—one containing said body—are the only premises remaining to send this madcap farce hurtling to its gleeful conclusion. With so much at stake, who will be the last one standing?

(NOTE: The trailer is black and white but the film is in Technicolor.)

The Wrong Box is an immaculate satire, one which takes square—but loving—aim at the stodginess, long-winded sense of ceremony, and sexual mores at the heart of British society, not just in Victorian times but in its contemporary moment, as well. The film was made at a uniquely ripe moment in British comedy and satire—post-Golden Age of Ealing Studios, but pre-Monty Python—and takes full advantage of the ample pool of talent available. The Wrong Box also belongs to the bustling, cluttered era of mid-1960’s movie comedy when filmmakers responded to the ever-expanding parameters of the screen and the inroads made by television by filling every possible square-inch of the cinematic frame with rollicking action and color, oftentimes centered in or around the classic “chase sequence,” which itself was usually a critique of human greed and the rat race mentality of the day (think of THE PINK PANTHER; IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD; THE GREAT RACE, etc.).

The film benefits mightily from its agreeably lilting, breezy score by John Barry (numerous James Bond films, DANCES WITH WOLVES) which keeps the proceedings moving along at a smooth and jaunty pace and which helps to underscore many of the sillier moments. The film additionally takes numerous potshots at the stylistics of Victorian-era melodrama and silent-film clichés through occasionally-inserted title cards (example: “Alone with her at last—in a room full of eggs!”).

The Wrong Box is a treat for fans of great British comedy, a film which takes the historical and renders it hysterical. Fittingly, the film opens on animated imagery of wagon wheels spinning while the final chase involves various carriages, horse-drawn rigs, and hearses careening towards the cemetery. In truth, the wagon wheel—indicative both of the gentility of Britain’s upper-crust, as well as the workhorse of the Industrial Revolution—could not have been better selected as a symbol for this full-tilt, well-oiled, pull-out-all-the-stops laugh riot of a movie.

Best Video manager Richard Brown to perform Thurs. with The Sawtelles

Best Video manager Richard Brown will perform several songs on saxophone this Thursday, Mar. 13, when The Sawtelles play the final show in the original Best Video Performance Space. The Sawtelles played the very first Performance Space show in June, 2011. The new Performance Space will be on the other side of the store.

The show will start at 8 PM with an opening solo set by Lys Guillorn, The cover is $5.

Brown has played sax and guitar with renowned singer-songwriter Mark Mulcahy. He plays lead guitar and sax in the local band Happy Ending with Best Video assistant manager Hank Hoffman.

Watch Brown perform the song “Hale Bopp” with Big Fat Combo at the Best Video Performance Space June 14, 2012:

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New Releases 3/11/14

Top Hits
Inside Llewyn Davis (drama/comedy, Oscar Isaac. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 92. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song,’ Llewyn Davis says, brandishing his guitar during a set at the Gaslight. That’s a pretty good definition, one that certainly applies to ‘Hang Me, Oh Hang Me,’ the chestnut that opens Inside Llewyn Davis, Joel and Ethan Coen’s intoxicating ramble through Greenwich Village in 1961, before the neighborhood was annexed by New York University and Starbucks. Llewyn’s repertoire and some aspects of his background are borrowed from Dave Van Ronk, who loomed large on the New York folk scene in its pre-Bob Dylan hootenanny-and-autoharp phase. Oscar Isaac, who plays both Llewyn and the guitar with offhand virtuosity, is slighter of build and scowlier of mien than Van Ronk, with a fine, clear tenor singing voice. But in any case, this is not a biopic, it’s a Coen brothers movie, which is to say a brilliant magpie’s nest of surrealism, period detail and pop-culture scholarship.” Read more…)

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Homefront (thriller, Jason Statham. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 39. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Nothing says Thanksgiving like a beat-’em-up written by Sylvester Stallone in which Jason Statham gets to knock the stuffing out of James Franco.If you think that’s a spoiler, you’ve either never seen an audience-pandering movie or the poster for Homefront, which shows a snake-eyed Mr. Franco glowering, in what appears to be hell, under an image of the stern-looking Mr. Statham overlaid with an American flag and embracing a child. The movie is as blunt an instrument as the poster, but it’s also crammed with enough moving parts and unexpected distractions [Winona Ryder as a ‘meth whore’] to make it an indefensibly enjoyable piece of exploitation hackwork.” Read more…)

The Book Thief (World War II-era drama, Geoffrey Rush. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 53. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Speaking in the honeyed, insinuating tone of the Wolf cajoling Little Red Riding Hood to do his bidding, the narrator of The Book Thief is none other than Death himself [Roger Allam], although he coyly refuses to disclose his identity. This irritating know-it-all regularly interrupts the story of Liesel [Sophie Nelisse], a bright-eyed girl living with foster parents in a fictional German town during World War II, to comment obliquely on human nature and mortality.” Read more…)

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Out of the Furnace (thriller, Woody Harrelson. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 63. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In movies, the working class often serves as a sacrificial emblem of the failure of the American dream, one that these days is often embellished with lovingly photographed decay and an elegiac air. Set in a corroded stretch of the Rust Belt, Out of the Furnace ups the ante with a story of two blue-collar brothers — a steel mill welder and a former soldier — who are as totemic as the figures immortalized in a Works Progress Administration mural. It’s a heavy, solemn tale of blood ties that turns into a melodramatic gusher filled with abstractions about masculinity, America and violence, but brought to specific, exciting life by Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Book Thief
Homefront
Out of the Furnace

New Foreign
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium, drama/romance,music, Veerle Bsetens. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 71. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Much like the tattoos etched on the beautiful body of one character and the beard sprouting on the face of another, the narrative two-step performed in The Broken Circle Breakdown goes a long way toward distracting you from the familiarity of the story. The ink adorns Elise (Veerle Baetens), a tattoo artist, who lives with her bearded partner, Didier [Johan Heldenbergh], a bluegrass musician, and their young daughter, Maybelle [Nell Cattrysse], in the kind of picturesque country spread where a dog chases chickens that roost in a pickup truck. It looks like a slice of hillbilly heaven, except that this isn’t Kentucky but a pastoral corner near the Flemish city of Ghent in Belgium.” Read more…)

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The Patience Stone (Afghanistan/France, drama/war, Golshifteh Farahani. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 64. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Life and death circle each other restlessly and then furiously in the Afghan-set movie The Patience Stone. Life takes the form of an unnamed beautiful young woman [the fine Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani] who, when the story opens, is caring for her wounded, much older husband, also unnamed [Hamidrez Javdan], an immobilized Mujahedeen fighter with a bullet in his neck and the slender tube of a medical drip bag snaked into his mouth. They’re simply two people inside an austere room. Yet, as bombs shake the walls and she places a bloodied compress on his head, they are quickly transformed into a time-tested, outwardly reassuring vision of a woman heroically ministering to a wounded, possibly dying man.” Read more…)

New TV
Treme: Season 4

New Documentaries
Come Back, Africa (South Africa, apartheid, Miriam Makeba, in Hot Docs. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1960 New York Times review [log-in required]: The strength of this picture is the same as was the strength of Mr. Rogosin’s previous film, On the Bowery, which caught a segment of futile life in New York. That is its candid, forceful and offen poignant pictorial quality—its distinction of catching the image in sharp and relentless terms. Whether Mr. Rogosin is filming a swarm of men going down into the mines or a band of urchins with penny whistles and steel drums beating it out in dusty Sophia-town, he gets his picture in clear and usually exciting form so that one gets a sense of the vividness and reality of the scene.” Read more…
From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review on the occasion of Come Back, Africa‘s DVD/Blu-Ray release: “An early champion of Italian Neorealism, André Bazin praised movies like Rome Open City and Paisan for the immediacy of their ‘re-enacted reportage.’ Lionel Rogosin’s 1959 Come Back, Africa, a clandestinely made exposé of South African apartheid, is more like reportage re-enacted under fire. The people of a Sicilian fishing village played themselves in Luchino Visconti’s Neorealist epic La Terra Trema. Rogosin employed a similar strategy, but unlike Visconti, he was obliged to keep his intentions a secret. South African authorities were told he was filming a musical travelogue to promote tourism. Dramatizing the oppression of South African blacks was dangerous for Rogosin and far more so for the people who appeared in his movie. Among the extras included in Milestone’s newly released two-disc set is a documentary on the chances taken and a brief introduction by Martin Scorsese extolling the film’s heroism.” Read more…)

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Girl Rising (education, female empowerment. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 59. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “If Girl Rising is wholly a vehicle furthering the cause of girls’ education across the globe, it’s more of a multicolored bus to worthy destinations than a pace car. In this twist on the social-issue documentary, girls act out stories adapted from their own lives by writers from their own countries, including Edwidge Danticat, Aminatta Forna and Manjushree Thapa. The hybrid results feature occasional bold strokes alongside ad-pitch eye candy and sleeve-tugging.” Read more…)