Music: Jellyshirts to play Wed., May 7, at 8 PM

Jellyshirts_BV_WebJellyshirts play the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, May 7. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Looking for a frame of reference for Jellyshirts’ music? Try the Velvet Underground and the Byrds. But the band—led by guitarist/vocalist Bret Logan for over 20 years, ably joined by drummer Scott McDonald and bass player Nick Appleby—has a sound determinedly their own.

From the band’s press packet:
Letting the wash of live sound influence each song, without anybody thinking “jazz” or “improvisation.” Never doing covers of our songs. Trying to get you to levitate about one-and-a-half feet off your chair (willingly, of course).

The short version: We’re loud and we play bars with a mystical need to reach you.

From a 2009 Shoreline Times article by musician and WPLR Local Bands radio show host James Velvet:

The band has been held in awe by its fans over the years for its sometimes soaring, sometimes droning sound, always played with intensity and skill. A good example is the current lead tune on their MySpace page, a recent live recording of a song they first performed 15 years ago, “Disinclined.” Ten minutes of dynamic live jamming. “Pick and Soar” is how their longtime champion Gary Vollono of IndepenDisc.com describes the sound. To which I would add, “…and feedback sometimes.”

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, May 7. ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Thursday, May 8. IMPROVISATION: FUCHSPRELLEN

• Monday, May 12. FILM SCREENING: “MEMENTO”

• Wednesday, May 14. BLUEGRASS: RAGWEED

• Thursday, May 15. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: FRANK CRITELLI, MARK MIRANDO

• Sunday, May 18. SUNDAY CHILDREN’S FILM MATINEE

• Monday, May 19. FILM SCREENING: “MULHOLLAND DRIVE”

• Wednesday, May 21. CLASSICAL: HAVEN STRING QUARTET

• Thursday, May 22. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: ILANA ZSIGMOND, SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Monday, May 26. FILM SCREENING: “LOCAL HERO”

• Wednesday, May 28. POP: MISSION ZERO

• Thursday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: SAM PERDUTA, JASON PRINCE

• Thursday, June 5. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: KATH BLOOM & TOM HANFORD, BOP TWEEDIE

• Wednesday, June 11. LITERARY READING: ALICE MATTISON, SANDI KAHN SHELTON

• Thursday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, June 18. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

• Thursday, June 19. GARAGE POP/PSYCHEDELIC ROCK: HAPPY ENDING

• Wednesday, June 25. INDIE ROCK: MERCY CHOIR

• Thursday, June 26. ACOUSTIC GUITAR: PRESTER JOHN featuring SHAWN PERSINGER & DAVID MILLER

Rob Harmon’s Picks 4/29/4

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksThe Act of Killing (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer [co-dir. Christine Cynn & Anonymous], 2012)

The history of documentary filmmaking is filled with examples of directors exploring the nature of evil in regards to genocide, but few have done so with the strange combination of artiness and directness of Joshua Oppenheimer’s THE ACT OF KILLING.

When I first heard about the film’s central premise—to offer a few of the more prominent perpetrators of Indonesia’s state-sanctioned (and Western government-funded) purges of communists in the mid-1960s (“communists” oftentimes serving merely as a catch-all term for anyone targeted by the government, including, for example, the ethnic Chinese) a chance to re-enact the nature of their killings in any setting of their choosing—I have to admit that I cringed a bit. Oh god, I thought: another documentary about atrocities in the third world told from an aristocratic, first world perspective. What to make of a film which gives power—any amount of it—to former death squad members?

In spite of my initial reservations and queasiness, I found myself mesmerized: The Act of Killing delivers fully on its promise and even paves interesting new terrain, occupying a hypnotizing bit of cinematic real estate somewhere near the intersection of the Stanford prison experiment and Stanley Milgram’s infamous “authority” experiments, Barbet Schroeder’s GENERAL IDI AMIN: A SELF-PORTRAIT, and Errol Morris’ THE THIN BLUE LINE and his witheringly sophisticated interrogation/conversation with Robert McNamara, THE FOG OF WAR.

The protagonist of The Act of Killing is Anwar Congo, a man who was considered the most feared executioner in north Sumatra during the purges, and who is today revered as a sort of national hero, especially by the paramilitary group Pancasila, which plays a large hand in Indonesian politics. Throughout the film it is mentioned on a few occasions that Congo was alone responsible for killing 1,000 people. Two other main characters are Herman Koto, a younger Panacasila paramilitary leader who seems to be a friend and neighbor of Congo’s, and Adi Zulkadry, a fellow executioner of Congo’s from the 60’s. There are numerous other characters, as well, like Soaduon Siregar, a low-level journalist at the time of the death squads who today survives as a sort of servile and withered Brutus, refusing to admit that he ever saw or knew anything.

Congo and other members of the death squads, it turns out, were heavily recruited from the ranks of the “movie theater gangsters,” or toughs who made their living by selling scalped movie tickets to overcrowded screenings of American films. This connection to films—especially American ones—is important, as the swagger of freewheeling gangster-ism indelibly shaped the character of Congo and others involved in the executions, which has flowed into the political rhetoric of the present. That very mythology—at the urging of Oppenheimer in The Act of Killing—is finally given its, fittingly, cinematic shape.

The scenes created by the film’s subjects are hard to characterize for one who has not seen it: Some are hopelessly stiff, ponderous evocations of genre, usually war, gangster-ism, and other tough-guy antics, with even a nod to the bucolic Western. One sequence—the recreation of the burning of a village—pulses with a frightening level of naturalism while others are baroque slices of phantasmagoria, oftentimes filled with garish musical numbers and even dancing girls, seemingly designed with the same sensibility that gave birth to the velvet Elvis painting and the lawn ornament. One wonders if the perpetrators of such grotesqueries should not also be prosecuted for unnecessary camp along with war crimes, but the sequences, regardless of their artistic merits, or lack thereof, resoundingly succeed in another respect. Yes, The Act of Killing is strangely and vibrantly alive, cinematic and surreal, in a way which few films of its type ever are, the majority tending towards heavy verbosity over image, stultifying and somber atmosphere over space.

Not that The Act of Killing is fun and games. On the contrary, as the film progresses one senses that the camera, a sort of silent Socratic interrogator, has begun to wear down its protagonist, Congo. In scene after scene we see him at work on his movie and even viewing his efforts, Jean Rouch-style (see CHRONICLE OF A SUMMER in Hot Docs!), and commenting upon them for the camera. In all cases, Oppenheimer’s MO seems to be to just keep the camera running: what insights there are appear out of sheer patience, and the director seems to have had the time and money sufficient to wait.

In fact, so bracingly candid are the subjects of The Act of Killing that one is reminded what it is like to live in a land unused to having its every movement and statement recorded and transmitted via the internet and social media. For example, the leader of the Pancasila paramilitary group, Yapto Soerjosoemarno, seems defiantly unwilling to adapt to the presence of Oppenheimer’s camera: except when he is smiling for the sake of the public just about every word out of his mouth is some jaw-droppingly lewd or profane comment, usually about women (this in a predominantly Muslim country, no less). But if the statements and actions of the film’s central bullies seem cartoonishly ham-fisted and bullheaded to the extreme, then the flipside to this situation is represented in the end credits, where crew member after crew member is listed as “Anonymous,” a chilling reminder of the very real dangers these courageous Indonesian filmmakers faced in standing up to their tormentors.

As a believer in the less-is-more school of editing, I watched the two-hour theatrical version of the film but the DVD also comes packaged with a “director’s cut,” which runs about 45 minutes longer, and a number of other interesting extras. Oppenheimer succeeds remarkably in his stated intention, and with the damning revelations of The Act of Killing there may be some hope for change for the better in Indonesia’s embattled future. The word “important” tends to be an overused one in film criticism but this seminal piece of agitprop more than deserves it, a sustained and unnerving meditation on despotic acts which takes the daring gamble of making the audience privy to the despot’s febrile imagination.

New releases 4/29/14

Top Hits
Labor Day (drama/romance, Kate Winslet. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 52. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Labor Day occupies the same psychic territory as ‘Peyton Place,’ Grace Metalious’s heavy-breathing 1956 novel, later to be a movie and television series. Both share a similar erotic fantasy of threatening, sexy male dominance. Frank is that fixture of pulp romance, a Real Man who embodies a woman’s secret dreams of a dangerous but sensitive stud as handy in the bedroom and kitchen as he is in the garage.” Read more…)

The Legend of Hercules (action, Scott Adkins. Rotten Tomatoes: 3%. Metacritic: 22. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The Legend of Hercules, a new 3-D work of Classical beefcake scholarship, directed by Renny Harlin, is likely to be met with ridicule. At the crowded preview screening I attended on Thursday night in Manhattan, there were audible hoots of derision, which were, for the most part, well earned. But really, this movie, with its relatively modest running time and not-quite-household-name cast, is no more ridiculous than, let’s say, the Thor movies, and a lot less pretentious.” Read more…)

Gloria (Chile, comedy/drama, Paulina Garcia. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The great accomplishment of Gloria, the Chilean writer-director Sebastián Lelio’s astute, unpretentious and thrillingly humane new film, is that it acknowledges both sides of its heroine’s temperament without judgment or sentimentality. In a North American movie — a fizzy Hollywood comedy of empowerment or a glum indie kitchen-sink melodrama — a woman like Gloria would most likely invite either pity or condescending encouragement. But Gloria, played with dignity and gusto by Paulina García, is too complicated for such treatment.” Read more…)

Devil’s Due (horror, Zach Gilford. Rotten Tomatoes: 18%. Metacritic: 33. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “From Rosemary’s Baby [1968] to The Brood [1979], demon spawn has been erupting from innocent wombs, to the surprise of mothers who unaccountably fail to greet this vile emission with a pillow to the face — presuming it has one, of course. Maternal instincts aside, Devil’s Due, the latest monster-in-utero movie, brings nothing new to the birthing table except the already tiresome found-footage contrivance.” Read more…)

A Farewell to Fools (drama/comedy, Harvey Keitel. Rotten Tomatoes: 40%. Metacritic: 40.)
Bad Country (action thriller, Willem Defoe)

New Blu-Ray
Labor Day

New Foreign
Gloria (Chile, comedy/drama, Paulina Garcia, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The great accomplishment of Gloria, the Chilean writer-director Sebastián Lelio’s astute, unpretentious and thrillingly humane new film, is that it acknowledges both sides of its heroine’s temperament without judgment or sentimentality. In a North American movie — a fizzy Hollywood comedy of empowerment or a glum indie kitchen-sink melodrama — a woman like Gloria would most likely invite either pity or condescending encouragement. But Gloria, played with dignity and gusto by Paulina García, is too complicated for such treatment.” Read more…)

Il Sorpasso (Italy, 1962, drama/comedy, Vittorio Gassman. From the unsigned 1963 New York Times Review [requires log-in, contains spolier]: “Mr. Risi’s fast-paced direction and, more important, the truths he underlines, give his uncluttered film meaning and poignancy as well as mere speed. He is fortunate in his principals, too. Vittorio Gassman makes a superbly brash, coarse, hail-fellow-well-met Bruno who, in one of his rare moments of honest sadness, warns Roberto away from his ‘easy life’ because ‘I’ve never had a real friend.’ As the diffident, introspective Roberto, Jean-Louis Trintignant, who has been seen here in a variety of French films, is excellent as his opposite number, an impressionable youngster whose shame and fears finally turn to admiration of his strange friend’s ‘easy life.'” Read more…)

The Rocket (Laos, drama, Sitthiphon Disamoe. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 72. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “This is the most recent movie from the Australian director Kim Mordaunt, whose last was the documentary Bomb Harvest, about an Australian explosives disposal specialist and Laotian children who gather bomb scrap metal. The prevalence of unexploded bombs is a running motif in The Rocket and, in one of the sharpest, most effective scenes, a surreal interlude in an abandoned mountainside village, large missiles can be seen propping up homes.” Read more…)

New Classics (pre-1960)
The Strange Woman (1946, period drama, Hedy Lamarr. From A.W.’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Undoubtedly every actress this side of ten yearns for a tour de force and Hedy Lamarr, who plays the title role in The Strange Woman, which came to the Globe on Saturday, can consider that yearning wholly realized. For the somber drama of a Suave sinner in Bangor, Me., of a century ago affords Miss Lamarr her meatiest assignment in years, a chance at large chunks of choice dialogue and an opportunity to wear a wardrobe that won’t go unnoticed by the ladies. But as a study of a singular distaff temperament set off by a coterie of ruined males, this adaptation of Ben Ames Williams’ best-selling novel of a few years back has a way of telegraphing its punches. A revealing dissection of a predatory femme fatale it nevertheless lacks motivation for some of its supporting players, pace and suspense to make it completely moving drama.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Bettie Page Reveals All (social history, bio, Bettie Page. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 64. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Directed by Mark Mori, written by Douglas Miller and — best of all — narrated by Page in her low, gruff Southern drawl, Bettie Page Reveals All covers much of the material that’s been related elsewhere, but with some nice differences. For starters, Mr. Mori actually seems to have liked Page, for whom he displays genuine, believable affection, and he shares the bad along with the good without giggles, judgment or rank sensationalism. Her voice-over, stitched together from less than optimal audio interviews, suggests that Page liked him in turn. This helps warm up the story, particularly when she discusses her often-brutal childhood, which was marked by sexual abuse and a stay in an orphanage, and some of the equally desperate interludes that marred her adulthood.” Read more…)

Men at Lunch (social history, photography. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 53. From Miriam Bale’s New York Times review: “On Sept. 20, 1932, 11 workers sat on a beam 69 floors above Manhattan during the construction of Rockefeller Center. The photograph of this moment, one of the most famous images of New York, is called ‘Lunch Atop a Skyscraper’ [even though a cigarette and a liquor bottle in the hands of these workmen are as noticeable as any sandwiches]. Opening 81 years to the day after that photograph was taken is Men at Lunch, a documentary about the picture’s resonance as a symbol of Everymen and about the mystery of who those men really were.” Read more…)

Approved for Adoption (documentary memoir, animation, ethnic history. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 73. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times revew: “It’s common for animated movies to tell stories about feeling like a fish [or a mermaid] out of water, but the hand-drawn hybrid Approved for Adoption is an actual memoir steeped in that sensation. Adopted at 5 by a Belgian family, Jung Henin was a difficult child from South Korea who ultimately sought refuge from his identity crisis in drawing. This episodic film, directed by Mr. Henin and Laurent Boileau, traces his rambunctious childhood up through an awkward adolescence, complete with parental shouting matches and camaraderie with his many siblings.” Read more…)

New Music DVDs
The Rise and Fall of The Clash

Film Screening: “Diamonds in the Snow,” Holocaust documentary, with filmmaker and documentary protagonist Mira Binford, Mon., Apr. 28, 7 PM

Diamonds_in_the_SnowIn collaboration with Temple Beth Sholom, Best Video presents “Diamonds in the Snow,” a documentary by Mira Binford, on Monday, April 28. The screening is at 7 PM. Admission is free for members of Temple Beth Sholom and $5 for everybody else. Mira Binford will be on hand to discuss the making of the film and her experience as a Holocaust survivor.

Thousands of Jewish children lived in the Polish city of Bendzin before the Holocaust. Barely a dozen survived the community’s destruction. Through interviews and rare archival film and photos, this critically-acclaimed documentary tells the story of three of these children-Ada, Shulamit, and the filmmaker herself, Mira. These women recount their memories of a childhood spent hiding from the Nazis and reflect on the courage of those individuals and families who helped them survive.

The film thus not only documents a tragic historical period but also examines the complexity of human nature, undermining stereotypes about the behavior of Jews, Poles, and even some Germans during the era. The film’s story involves Alfred Rossner, a German businessman who, like Oskar Schindler, employed forced Jewish labor and saved Jewish lives, but who, unlike Schindler, was not a Nazi Party member and paid with his life for his actions.

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Apr. 30. AVANT-GARDE SOLO BASS VIRTUOSITY: JACK VEES

• Wednesday, May 7. ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Thursdasy, May 8. IMPROVISATION: FUCHSPRELLEN

• Wednesday, May 14. BLUEGRASS: RAGWEED

• Thursday, May 15. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: FRANK CRITELLI, MARK MIRANDO

• Wednesday, May 21. CLASSICAL: HAVEN STRING QUARTET

• Thursday, May 22. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: ILANA ZSIGMOND, SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Wednesday, May 28. POP: MISSION ZERO

• Thursday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: SAM PERDUTA, JASON PRINCE

• Thursday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, June 18. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

• Thursday, June 19. GARAGE POP/PSYCHEDELIA: HAPPY ENDING

• Thursday, June 26. ACOUSTIC GUITAR:  PRESTER JOHN featuring SHAWN PERSINGER & DAVID MILLER

Music: Jack Vees to play solo bass Wed., Apr. 30, at 8 PM

Jack_Vees_WebJack Vees will perform at the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Apr. 30. The music starts at 8 PM and there is a $5 cover charge.

Jack Vees has been active as a composer and bass guitarist since the mid 1970’s. While still in college he had the opportunity to play with a diverse array of jazz and rock luminaries from Gerry Mulligan to Toots Thielmanns to Carmine Appice. In 1981 his “The Book on Bass Harmonics” was published by Alfred Music and cemented his reputation as a creative visionary of the instrument.

Vees will be performing a solo set, including lots of pedals and an occasional laptop digital frippery, playing a number of unusual low end guitars, including an 8-string bass and a 12-string baritone guitar.

As a composer he has worked with many of the most creative ensembles in the contemporary music scene.  Yet at the same time his works have resisted fitting into any one style, and have been performed from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam to CBGB’s in New York, and his recording of “The Restaurant Behind the Pier” stands as a unique example of an entire CD comprised of pieces exclusively for bass guitar.  For the past 25 years he has taught at the Yale School of Music, where he is the director of the Center for Studies in Music Technology.

Watch Jack Vees do a cover version of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy” from “Abbey Road”:

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Apr. 23. ART ROCK: FLOATING LANTERNS

• Wednesday, Apr. 30. AVANT-GARDE SOLO BASS VIRTUOSITY: JACK VEES

• Wednesday, May 7. ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Thursdasy, May 8. IMPROVISATION: FUCHSPRELLEN

• Wednesday, May 14. BLUEGRASS: RAGWEED

• Thursday, May 15. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: FRANK CRITELLI, MARK MIRANDO

• Wednesday, May 21. CLASSICAL: HAVEN STRING QUARTET

• Thursday, May 22. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: ILANA ZSIGMOND, SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Wednesday, May 28. POP: MISSION ZERO

• Thursday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: SAM PERDUTA, JASON PRINCE

• Thursday, June 5. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: KATH BLOOM & TOM HANFORD, BOP TWEEDIE

• Thursday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, June 18. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

• Thursday, June 26. MODERN PRIMITIVE ACOUSTIC MUSIC: PRESTER JOHN
featuring SHAWN PERSINGER & DAVID MILLER

 

Rob Harmon’s Picks 4/22/14

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksThe Uninvited (dir. Lewis Allen, 1944)

Is Best Video haunted?

Sometimes—late at night when the store is empty and it is just me and another co-worker—I do wonder that. A few times I have even been putting away movies and heard a strange sound, a thump or a ker-plop, and, moving nervously through the aisles, have finally come sharply around a corner to find… a dusty old VHS copy of MANNEQUIN or some equally innocent object which has toppled from a high shelf.

The more time you spend in a place—be it home, office, school, etc.—the more it tends to take on life-like characteristics, which, when you think about it, is a kind of haunting. This is especially true in the case of Best Video which is filled, floor to ceiling, with movies, each of which has a story and a history of its own. There is a lot of life on our shelves!

I may not be an expert in spiritualism but I am a video store employee who has seen a lot of scary movies in my life. No, Best Video is not haunted, at least not in the traditional sense of some unfortunate phantom walking the aisles, wailing over a miserable life lost in late fees, or a mischievous poltergeist haunting the Fellini section. Trust me, I have looked for ghosts; they are not there.

Not all places are so calm, however, especially in motion pictures, where the haunted house has been a staple practically since the days of the nickelodeon. The conventions of the genre are obvious to all: Main character tiptoes down hallway, sloooowly turns doorknob, hand—from off-camera—reaches out menacingly to touch main character’s shoulder, hand turns out to be the butler’s, etc. In truth, it takes a supremely confident and deft touch to make a haunted house film which is not awash in clichés.

Lewis Allen’s 1944 film THE UNINVITED is one such example of the genre done right. Produced in the midst of World War II by Paramount (when Val Lewton’s horror film unit at RKO was making a killing turning out pictures like CAT PEOPLE and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE) Allen’s debut remains today as sophisticated and as subtly eerie as the day it rolled out of the lab and—courtesy of Criterion—it arrived late last year in a beautiful new DVD edition.

Brother and sister Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald (Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey) are in the market to buy a house in the country in southwestern England when they happily stumble upon beautiful old Windward House, which overlooks the ocean. They call upon its owner, a former seaman named Commander Beech (Donald Crisp), and find that the house is going for a rock-bottom price. They spring for it, over the protestations of Beech’s beautiful granddaughter Stella Meredith (Gail Russell), whose mother died in the house and seems to have an unhealthy attachment to it. Soon after moving in, however, strange things begin to happen, eerie sights and sounds—this in spite of the growing love affair between Roderick and Stella—and especially revolving around that formerly-locked room at the top of the stairs which always seems so cold and drafty and the ominous cliff which overlooks the sea.

What The Uninvited achieves—which is a slow-boiling, all-pervasive type of atmosphere—is done through expressionistic shadows and camera angles, expert production design, music (courtesy of Victor Young), sound effects, editing, and the crisp black-and-white photography of Charles Lang. The film’s more serious tone is nicely balanced by Milland’s lightly comic touch. Edith Head does the costumes and the screenplay is by Dodie Smith and Frank Partos, based upon a novel by Dorothy Macardle. Allen went on to a mostly workmanlike directing career in TV and movies, although he did make the compact little powder keg of a political thriller SUDDENLY in 1954. Cornelia Otis Skinner turns in a memorable performance as the stern and dreamily self-possessed Miss Holloway, the owner of a sanatorium where Stella’s mother had undergone treatment while alive and who still carries a torch for her deceased charge.

Yet the most bewitching phantom in The Uninvited is undoubtedly Ms. Russell. Not only does she seem to combine the dark-haired, sultry beauty of Hedy Lamarr with the high cheek bones and poise of Gene Tierney, but she has a tragic life story to match. Discovered while still a student at Santa Monica High School by a Paramount talent scout she was put on the fast-track for success and with The Uninvited—her first significant role—emend to deliver fully on that promise. However, she reportedly suffered from stage fright and, under pressure to become a star, she early on turned to drink in order to calm her nerves in front of the camera. What began as a strategy, however, soon became a habit and she drank heavily, developing a reputation around Hollywood as being “too difficult to work with.” After years of dwindling roles and bad publicity from DUI arrests she was found dead in her apartment in 1961 of liver damage resulting from alcohol abuse. She was 36.

New releases 4/22/14

Top Hits
Big Bad Wolves (mystery/thriller, Lior Ashkenazi. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 63. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In other words, there’s a serial killer loose, and he’s raping, torturing and decapitating girls, whose heads he then hides, mainly, it seems, to give this otherwise generic setup extra ick. As the police futilely chase clues, a motley triangle emerges: a suspended cop, Micki [Lior Ashkenazi]; a religious teacher, Dror [Rotem Keinan]; and a mourning father, Gidi [Tzahi Grad]. In time, the three converge in an isolated cabin that turns into a chamber of horrors as they play a psychological game of no exit amid Jewish mother jokes, some noshing and one character’s — after taking a blowtorch to another man’s chest — sniffing the air and wistfully reminiscing about barbecue.” Read more…)

The Pirate Fairy (animated Disney feature, Mae Whitman [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 51.)
Cleaver Family Reunion (comedy, H.M. Coakley)

New Foreign
Big Bad Wolves (Israel, mystery/thriller, Lior Ashkenazi, in Top Hits.. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 63. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In other words, there’s a serial killer loose, and he’s raping, torturing and decapitating girls, whose heads he then hides, mainly, it seems, to give this otherwise generic setup extra ick. As the police futilely chase clues, a motley triangle emerges: a suspended cop, Micki [Lior Ashkenazi]; a religious teacher, Dror [Rotem Keinan]; and a mourning father, Gidi [Tzahi Grad]. In time, the three converge in an isolated cabin that turns into a chamber of horrors as they play a psychological game of no exit amid Jewish mother jokes, some noshing and one character’s — after taking a blowtorch to another man’s chest — sniffing the air and wistfully reminiscing about barbecue.” Read more…)

Inch’Allah (Canada/France, drama, Evelyn Brochu. Rotten Tomatoes: 56. Metacritic: 47. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review:” A hard-edged drama with a very fuzzy center, Inch’Allah views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the exhausted eyes of a young Canadian obstetrician with more naïveté than sense.” Read more…)

New Classics (pre-1960)
Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954, prison drama, Neville Brand. From A.W.’s 1954 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The grim business of melodrama behind prison walls, so often depicted in standard, banal fashion in films, is given both tension and dignity in Riot in Cell Block 11, which erupted onto the Mayfair’s screen yesterday. Although it is explosive enough to satisfy the most rabid of the ‘cons versus “screws”‘ school of moviegoer, it also makes a sincere and adult plea for a captive male society revolting against penal injustices. In its own small way, Riot in Cell Block 11 is a realistic and effective combination of brawn, brains and heart.” read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
The Pirate Fairy (animated Disney feature, Mae Whitman [voice], in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 51.)

Don’t let the plywood fool you—we are very much open during renovations!

Boarded_up_Best_Video_WebWe’re looking pretty inside–ask anyone who was at last week’s show by James Velvet and the Lonesome Sparrows–but for the next few weeks the front of the store will be boarded-up like a condemned property. But appearances are deceiving. In fact, the facade is being renovated and will be much more attractive when the renovation is completed. In the meantime, we are open for business, as usual.

The only possible inconvenience is that customers may not have access to a store drop box and will have to return rentals when the store (or the Coffee Bar, which opens at 6:30 AM) is open.

Music: Art rock by Floating Lanterns Wed., Apr. 23, at 8 PM

Art rock group Floating Lanterns play the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Apr. 23. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Floating_Lanterns_Outer_Space

Searching for answers through art. The compositions are influenced by the experimental and truth seeking nature of the ’60s, and ’70s, with the ideals of a once promised, hopeful future. Floating Lanterns was born in a bleak world during uncertain times. Art and melancholy under darkening skies.

Players are Jeff Cedrone (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Jackson LaRose (bass, vocals), Neil McCarthy(alto saxophone, effects), John C. Miller (synthesizers, electronics) and Joe Mignosa (drums). For more info check out their Facebook page.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Apr. 23. ART ROCK: FLOATING LANTERNS

• Wednesday, Apr. 30. AVANT-GARDE SOLO BASS VIRTUOSITY: JACK VEES

• Wednesday, May 7. ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Thursdasy, May 8. IMPROVISATION: FUCHSPRELLEN

• Wednesday, May 14. BLUEGRASS: RAGWEED

• Thursday, May 15. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: FRANK CRITELLI, MARK MIRANDO

• Wednesday, May 21. CLASSICAL: HAVEN STRING QUARTET

• Thursday, May 22. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: ILANA ZSIGMOND, SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Wednesday, May 28. POP: MISSION ZERO

• Thursday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: SAM PERDUTA, JASON PRINCE

• Thursday, June 5. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: KATH BLOOM & TOM HANFORD, BOP TWEEDIE

• Thursday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, June 18. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

• Thursday, June 26. MODERN PRIMITIVE ACOUSTIC MUSIC: PRESTER JOHN
featuring SHAWN PERSINGER & DAVID MILLER

 

Upcoming Best Video Performance Space shows

Now that the new room is ready to go, we are starting to fill up the schedule for the spring.

new_Performance_Space_Web

Here are the shows currently booked:

• Wednesday, Apr. 23. ART ROCK: FLOATING LANTERNS

• Wednesday, Apr. 30. AVANT-GARDE SOLO BASS VIRTUOSITY: JACK VEES

• Wednesday, May 7. ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Thursdasy, May 8. IMPROVISATION: FUCHSPRELLEN

• Wednesday, May 14. BLUEGRASS: RAGWEED

• Thursday, May 15. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: FRANK CRITELLI, MARK MIRANDO

• Wednesday, May 21. CLASSICAL: HAVEN STRING QUARTET

• Thursday, May 22. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: ILANA ZSIGMOND, SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Wednesday, May 28. POP: MISSION ZERO

• Thursday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: SAM PERDUTA, JASON PRINCE

• Thursday, June 5. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: KATH BLOOM & TOM HANFORD, BOP TWEEDIE

• Thursday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, June 18. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

• Thursday, June 26. MODERN PRIMITIVE ACOUSTIC MUSIC: PRESTER JOHN
featuring SHAWN PERSINGER & DAVID MILLER