Music: The Heath Sisters on Thurs., July 10, at 8 PM

Heath_Sisters_Space_WebThe Heath Sisters play the Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, July 10. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

The Heath Sisters offer warm harmonies, offbeat elegance, and a kind of intimacy that makes listeners feel like old friends. They specialize in rounds, contemporary acoustic, and original music played with heart, sibling revelry, and humor.

Sarah Heath, Lucy McLellan and Peggy Ogilvy were raised in a family of classical musicians, but have been highly influenced by folk, jazz, world music and the singer songwriters of the seventies. Their singing has been described as “heartfelt, crystal clear…breathtaking.” Their multi-instrumental talent creates a concert that is full of variety and musical surprise not often heard in pop music, while their connection to an audience is direct and emotional.

The three sisters have had all kinds of experience playing apart from each other, and each has brought a different influence to the group.

Here are The Heath Sisters performing “The Fiddler’s Hymn” in 2012:

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, July 2. ROCK: EXTRASENSORY

• Thursday, July 3. BUOYANT POP ROCK: THE FURORS

• Wednesday, July 9. CLASSICAL GUITAR: ORPHÉE RUSSELL

• Thursday, July 10. FOLK: THE HEATH SISTERS

• Wednesday, July 16. FOLK/POP/SOUL: JOY IKE

• Thursday, July 17. ROCK ‘N’ SOUL: BRONSON ROCK

• Friday, July 18. SURF MUSIC, ROCKABILLY: THE SIX PACK DUTCHMEN, TOM HEARN

• Thursday, July 24. PROGRESSIVE FOLK ROCK: KINDRED QUEER

• Tuesday, July 29. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS AND HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, July 30. FOLK MUSIC: ROBERT MESSORE

• Thursday, July 31. ROCK: THE SHELLYE VALAUSKAS EXPERIENCE

• Friday, Aug. 1. ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC: DAVID ELKIN-GINNETTI

• Wednesday, Aug. 13. INDIE ROCK: THE LYS GUILLORN BAND

• Thursday, Aug. 14, ROCK: PARKER’S TANGENT

• Friday, Aug. 15. POP/ART/PUPPETRY: POCKET VINYL, GLUMPUPPET

 

Music: Orphée Russell on classical guitar Wed., July 9, at 8 PM

Orphée_Russell_at_Best_VideoOrphée Russell plays the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, July 9. He wowed the audiences the previous times he has played here. An award-winning graduate of the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, Russell currently attends the Eastman School of Music. Russell plays classical guitar. The music starts at 8 PM. The cover charge for this show is $5.

A sampling of quotes from some prominent classical guitarists about Russell’s performance in the juried student recital at the National Guitar Workshop in the summer of 2010:

“Very poetic performance-you have a musical presence” — Julian Gray,  recording artist and faculty, Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins  University

“Beautiful tone and sense of legato…Very lovely and expressive  playing” — Adam Holzman, recording artist and faculty, University of  Texas at Austin

“You have such a wonderful sense of phrasing / timing – very mature  musically…You are a beautiful young player” — Martha Masters,  recording artist and faculty, Loyola Marymount University

“You brought a lot of poise and depth of feeling to this performance”  — Marc Teicholz, recording artist and faculty, San Francisco  Conservatory

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Friday, June 27. PUNK ROCK: STARK RAVING LULU

• Sunday, June 29. BEST VIDEO FUNDRAISER

• Wednesday, July 2. ROCK: EXTRASENSORY

• Thursday, July 3. BUOYANT POP ROCK: THE FURORS

• Wednesday, July 9. CLASSICAL GUITAR: ORPHÉE RUSSELL

• Thursday, July 10. FOLK: THE HEATH SISTERS

• Wednesday, July 16. FOLK/POP/SOUL: JOY IKE

• Thursday, July 17. ROCK ‘N’ SOUL: BRONSON ROCK

• Friday, July 18. SURF MUSIC, ROCKABILLY: THE SIX PACK DUTCHMEN, TOM HEARN

• Thursday, July 24. PROGRESSIVE FOLK ROCK: KINDRED QUEER

• Tuesday, July 29. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS AND HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, July 30. FOLK MUSIC: ROBERT MESSORE

• Thursday, July 31. ROCK: THE SHELLYE VALAUSKAS EXPERIENCE

• Friday, Aug. 1. ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC: DAVID ELKIN-GINNETTI

• Wednesday, Aug. 13. INDIE ROCK: THE LYS GUILLORN BAND

• Thursday, Aug. 14, ROCK: PARKER’S TANGENT

• Friday, Aug. 15. POP/ART/PUPPETRY: POCKET VINYL, GLUMPUPPET

 

Mark Your Calendar: Best Video fundraiser on Sun., June 29, from 3—6 PM (UPDATED 6/27—Silent Art Auction, Performers, Premiums for Larger Donations)

Fundraiser_color_alt version_rev_062714_WebUPDATED 6/27: Silent art auction! Details below.

UPDATED 6/26: Premiums for different donation levels posted!

UPDATE 6/23: Performers names and times posted below!

Best Video is holding a fundraiser on Sunday afternoon, June 29, from 3—6 PM to help defray the costs of our renovations. Donation levels for attending are Friend ($25 and up), Patron ($50 and up), Movie Star ($100 and up), Oscar Winner ($500 and up) and Mogul ($1,000 and up)There will be special premiums for Patron, Movie Star, Oscar Winner and Mogul donors.

Patron donors ($50) will receive one monthly free rental for a year as well as a Best Video coffee mug. For the Movie Stars among you ($100 donation), expect the monthly free rental, the coffee mug and a Best Video t-shirt. Oscar Winners get the mug and t-shirt as well as two free movies per week for a year. If you’re a Mogul, you’re entitled to the mug, the t-shirt and four free movies per week for a year.

The event will feature music, delicious snacks (from baker Carol Merriman, renowned New Haven restaurant Caseus and others). The store may be closed during the event, which will be a fun time where members and supporters of the store can relax, chat, network and enjoy the music. Let’s all celebrate the continued vitality of our contribution to the local cultural community. And learn more about our plans for expanded programming in our beautiful new Performance Space.

Cellist Ravenna Michalsen will perform works from the English/Scottis/Irish cello canon from 3:05—3:30 PM with accompaniment by cellist Lynne Bonnett. Brazilian music with jazz inflections will be offered from 3:50—4:15 by bassist Jeff Fuller and guitarist Joe Carter. Local singer-songwriter and proponent of Local Bands on WPLR-FM James Velvet takes a turn from 4:35—5 PM, joined by his guitar-playing compatriot Johnny Memphis. And from 5:20—5:45 PM, trumpeter Nick Di Maria will offer up some swinging modern jazz sounds with his quintet.

There will also be a silent art auction as part of this event. Among the respected local artists and photographers who have donated or will be donating works are Gerald Saladyga, Marjorie Wolfe, Keith Johnson, Christopher Mir, Steven DiGiovanni, William McCarthy, Nancy Eisenfeld, Tony Juliano, Graham Honaker and Best Video owner Hank Paper.

Make your reservation in advance at the store or by phone (203-287-9286) or contribute at the door on June 29.

If you want to contribute but can’t make it on Sunday, you can still support us! You can drop by the store and contribute, or call and use a card (203-287-9286) or send a check to Best Video, Attention: Best Video Fundraiser, 1842 Whitney Ave., Hamden, CT 06517.

Enlist your neighbors and encourage your friends to sign up for our email list at our BestVideo.com Web site or at the front counter in the store.

Stay tuned for more details!

New releases 6/24/14

Top Hits
Winter’s Tale (romance/drama, Colin Farrell. Rotten Tomatoes: 13%. Metacritic: 31. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Winter’s Tale, Mark Helprin’s 1983 best seller, was the Goldfinch of its time: fat and ambitious, with a romantic view of New York City and an unabashed commitment to the kind of old-fashioned narrative abundance that seemed, then as now, to be missing from too much literary fiction. It is a bit surprising that the movie adaptation [written and directed by Akiva Goldsman] has taken so long to arrive, though perhaps less surprising that it should be so clumsy and inert, a lumbering white elephant rather than the flying white horse that is the novel’s magical mascot.” Read more…)

Rob the Mob (thriller, Michael Pitt. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 31. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Bright and fleet, Rob the Mob is a firm step up from the undiluted corn of Mr. De Felitta’s 2010 feature, City Island. This time he has delegated the script to Jonathan Fernandez, who writes tight scenes that don’t peter out and dialogue that gives Tommy and Rosie’s dumb-and-dumber partnership a chipper charm. Vividly painting Queens in the early 1990s as a landscape of crack and graffiti, the filmmakers go on to smother any menace with a swoony-upbeat soundtrack and an ‘oh, those kooky kids’ tone.” Read more…)

Some Velvet Morning (romance/drama, Stanley Tucci. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. Metacritic: 54. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “It’s difficult to discuss Some Velvet Morning, the latest movie from Neil LaBute, without giving away too much. This is by design. Set entirely inside a Brooklyn brownstone — with a brief trip to the backyard — this gendered gabfest has been constructed along familiar LaButian lines. A man and a woman pace like inmates, jawing and clawing and drawing metaphoric [or not] blood, and then Mr. LaBute, rather like a mean O. Henry, tosses in a detonating surprise that either changes what you’ve thought until that moment or ticks you off. This audience baiting is also very much by design, of course, and can be playful or sadistic or both, or neither.” Read more…)

300: Rise of an Empire (warrior war action, Sullivan Stapleton. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. Metacritic: 48. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Classical historians disagree, but it was probably Herodotus who first posed a question that would ring out across the ages, unanswered till now: Wouldn’t Eva Green look awesome kissing the severed head of an insolent captive? 300: Rise of an Empire puts the issue to rest [the answer: yes, but it’ll never last] and strives to uphold the rah-rah style of visuals and rhetoric established by its popular predecessor, 300.” Read more…)

What Richard Did (Ireland, drama, Jack Reynor. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “This brilliantly acted movie, a loose adaptation of Kevin Power’s book Bad Day in Blackrock, directed by Lenny Abrahamson from a screenplay by Malcolm Campbell, confronts the implications for both Richard and for the tightly knit community that reflexively protects one of its own. The film scrutinizes this affluent milieu with a nonjudgmental attitude that makes its impact all the more devastating. Everyone just wishes the situation would go away.” Read more…)

Blood Ties (crime drama, Clive Owen. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 46. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Hollywood gangster movies, especially those directed by Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, have conditioned us to expect every film in the genre to follow particular guidelines or risk feeling inauthentic. That’s the obstacle that the French director Guillaume Canet [Tell No One] cannot surmount in Blood Ties, his laborious, tonally wobbly attempt at an American crime epic. If it’s unfair to expect a reputable European director to follow that template, so be it. But by now, those expectations have been programmed into us. Every wrong note, of which there are dozens in Blood Ties, feels almost traitorous.” Read more…)

Joe (drama, Nicolas Cage. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “The most indelible scenes in David Gordon Green’s Joe, filmed in the backwoods of Texas, have the fierce clarity of illuminations glimpsed in a lightning flash. In one lingering afterimage, a team of mostly African-American laborers, toiling in a desiccated pine forest, methodically poison sickly trees with ‘juice hatchets’ [small axes that squirt deadly herbicide] to kill them off and make room for the planting of hardier species. These woodsmen, played by nonprofessionals, share an easy, rough-hewn camaraderie. They are the least tormented characters in Joe, a punishing exercise in Southern miserablism.” Read more…)

Enemy (drama, Jake Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 60. From A.O. Scott’s New York times review: “In Enemy, Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of a novella by the Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese novelist José Saramago, Jake Gyllenhaal plays two uncannily identical residents of an unnamed Canadian city. They are physically identical, in any case, but temperamentally distinct in ways that begin to suggest Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to name another famous literary pair. And the question that haunts the film is whether they are really different people at all, or just sides of a single disordered personality.” Read more…)

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (actor profile, show business, Elaine Stritch. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘A Molotov cocktail of madness, sanity and genius.’ That is one description of the great Broadway and cabaret entertainer Elaine Stritch in Chiemi Karasawa’s acutely intimate documentary portrait, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. It was filmed as Ms. Stritch was preparing her cabaret show ‘Elaine Stritch Singin’ Sondheim … One Song at a Time,’ while coping with diabetes and worsening memory loss. Her fierce lust for life mirrors Dylan Thomas’s dictum ‘Old age should burn and rave at close of day.'” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Winter’s Tale
300: Rise of An Empire

The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night (1964, remastered pop culture masterpiece, The Beatles. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 95.)

New Foreign
What Richard Did (Ireland, drama, Jack Reynor, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “This brilliantly acted movie, a loose adaptation of Kevin Power’s book Bad Day in Blackrock, directed by Lenny Abrahamson from a screenplay by Malcolm Campbell, confronts the implications for both Richard and for the tightly knit community that reflexively protects one of its own. The film scrutinizes this affluent milieu with a nonjudgmental attitude that makes its impact all the more devastating. Everyone just wishes the situation would go away.” Read more…)

Two Lives (Norway, drama, Liv Ullmann. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 62. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “The anxious, melancholic drama Two Lives is the story of a woman caught up in the toxic backwash of long-ago events that exert a fearful grip on the present. Unholy forces shaped the double life of this woman, Katrine [Juliane Köhler, Nowhere in Africa]. Happily married and living in Norway, she has a secret past that merges two of the darker chapters of 20th-century European history.” Read more…)

New TV
Masters of Sex: Season 1 (Showtime historical drama, Michael Sheen. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 85. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “Masters of Sex isn’t everything you wanted to know about Masters and Johnson but were afraid to ask. This Showtime series remystifies the sex researchers famous for demystifying sex. William H. Masters and his collaborator, Virginia Johnson, sought to deconstruct the physiology of pleasure during the dark ages before the sexual revolution. Masters of Sex, starting on Sunday, does an elegant job of reframing their strange, complicated and at times deeply cynical partnership into a twisted but intriguing love story.” Read more…)

The Bridge: Season 1 (crime thriller series, Diane Kruger. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 77. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “The Scandinavian version of The Bridge  [Bron/Broen] begins with a body laid across the halfway point on a bridge between Denmark and Sweden. The American adaptation of The Bridge puts the corpse on the border between Mexico and the United States. This FX series, which starts on Wednesday, should be as good or better than the original. Danish television, in particular, is known for sinister, psychologically dense crime series, but it’s hard to imagine that there is much to the cultural collision between Copenhagen and Malmo, except for maybe the narcissism of small differences. [Swedish detectives snicker at the accent of an inspector from Copenhagen.] Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, on the other hand, are rich in cultural divides and social discord.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (actor profile, show business, Elaine Stritch, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 80.)

Music: The Furors on Thurs., July 3, at 8 PM

New Haven rock ‘n’ roll legends The Furors will perform on Thursday, July 3. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover charge is $5.

Comprised of guitarist Derek Holcomb and drummer Tom Dans—Holcomb sings lead and Dans harmonizes—The Furors have been playing together for over three decades. They have self-released numerous vinyl 45s, a vinyl LP and several compact discs. Their catalog is so beloved among local musicians that a tribute album, “Let’s Get Furious,” was released in 2003 featuring 38 Furors songs covered by 38 local musicians and groups.

The Furors

The Furors

The Furors’ music is joyful, quirky three-minute pop, like a cross between They Might Be Giants and early British Invasion rock ‘n’ roll.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• 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

• Friday, June 27. PUNK ROCK: STARK RAVING LULU

• Sunday, June 29. BEST VIDEO FUNDRAISER

• Wednesday, July 2. ROCK: EXTRASENSORY

• Thursday, July 3. BUOYANT POP ROCK: THE FURORS

• Wednesday, July 9. CLASSICAL GUITAR: ORPHÉE RUSSELL

• Thursday, July 10. FOLK: THE HEATH SISTERS

• Wednesday, July 16. FOLK/POP/SOUL: JOY IKE

• Thursday, July 17. ROCK ‘N’ SOUL: BRONSON ROCK

• Friday, July 18. SURF MUSIC, ROCKABILLY: THE SIX PACK DUTCHMEN, TOM HEARN

• Thursday, July 24. PROGRESSIVE FOLK ROCK: KINDRED QUEER

• Tuesday, July 29. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS AND HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, July 30. FOLK MUSIC: ROBERT MESSORE

• Thursday, July 31. ROCK: THE SHELLYE VALAUSKAS EXPERIENCE

• Friday, Aug. 1. ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC: DAVID ELKIN-GINNETTI

• Wednesday, Aug. 13. INDIE ROCK: THE LYS GUILLORN BAND

• Thursday, Aug. 14, ROCK: PARKER’S TANGENT

• Friday, Aug. 15. POP/ART/PUPPETRY: POCKET VINYL, GLUMPUPPET

 

Music: Rock by Extrasensory with Henry Sidle on Wed., July 2, at 8 PM

Extrasensory_concert_pic_WebThe local high school band Extrasensory plays the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, July 2. The music starts at 8 PM.

Extrasensory is a rock band from the New Haven, CT area that began playing in the fall of 2013. Since then they have written many originals and played for large audiences. The band features Andrew Fermo (bass/piano), Will Brennan (guitar), Henry Sidle (guitar), and Jackson Roman (drums). From rock to blues or from reggae to jazz, Extrasensory is a band you should certainly hear.

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

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, June 25. INDIE ROCK: MERCY CHOIR

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

• Friday, June 27. PUNK ROCK: STARK RAVING LULU

• Sunday, June 29. BEST VIDEO FUNDRAISER

• Wednesday, July 2. ROCK: EXTRASENSORY

• Thursday, July 3. BUOYANT POP ROCK: THE FURORS

• Wednesday, July 9. CLASSICAL GUITAR: ORPHÉE RUSSELL

• Thursday, July 10. FOLK: THE HEATH SISTERS

• Wednesday, July 16. FOLK/POP/SOUL: JOY IKE

• Thursday, July 17. ROCK ‘N’ SOUL: BRONSON ROCK

• Friday, July 18. SURF MUSIC, ROCKABILLY: THE SIX PACK DUTCHMEN, TOM HEARN

• Thursday, July 24. PROGRESSIVE FOLK ROCK: KINDRED QUEER

• Tuesday, July 29. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS AND HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, July 30. FOLK MUSIC: ROBERT MESSORE

• Thursday, July 31. ROCK: THE SHELLYE VALAUSKAS EXPERIENCE

• Friday, Aug. 1. ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC: DAVID ELKIN-GINNETTI

• Wednesday, Aug. 13. INDIE ROCK: THE LYS GUILLORN BAND

• Thursday, Aug. 14, ROCK: PARKER’S TANGENT

• Friday, Aug. 15. POP/ART/PUPPETRY: POCKET VINYL, GLUMPUPPET

 

Music: Punk rock hijinx by Stark Raving Lulu on Fri., June 27, at 8 PM

Stark_Raving_Lulu_WebStark Raving Lulu play the Best Video Performance Space on Friday, June. 27. 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).

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• 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

• Friday, June 27. PUNK ROCK: STARK RAVING LULU

• Sunday, June 29. BEST VIDEO FUNDRAISER

• Wednesday, July 2. ROCK: EXTRASENSORY

• Thursday, July 3. BUOYANT POP ROCK: THE FURORS

• Wednesday, July 9. CLASSICAL GUITAR: ORPHÉE RUSSELL

• Thursday, July 10. FOLK: THE HEATH SISTERS

• Thursday, July 24. PROGRESSIVE FOLK ROCK: KINDRED QUEER

• Thursday, July 31. ROCK: THE SHELLYE VALAUSKAS EXPERIENCE

• Friday, Aug. 1. ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC: DAVID ELKIN-GINNETTI

• Wednesday, Aug. 13. INDIE ROCK: THE LYS GUILLORN BAND

• Friday, Aug. 15. POP/ART/PUPPETRY: POCKET VINYL, GLUMPUPPET

 

New releases 6/17/14

Top Hits
The Grand Budapest Hotel (comedy, Ralph Fiennes. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “It’s a tough choice, but if I had to pick the most Wes Anderson moment in The Grand Budapest Hotel, it would be the part when inmates escape from a prison using tiny sledgehammers and pickaxes that have been smuggled past the guards inside fancy frosted pastries. This may, come to think of it, be the most Wes Anderson thing ever, the very quintessence of his impish, ingenious and oddly practical imagination. So much care has been lavished on the conceit and its execution that you can only smile in admiration, even if you are also rolling your eyes a little. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mr. Anderson’s eighth feature, will delight his fans, but even those inclined to grumble that it’s just more of the same patented whimsy might want to look again. As a sometime grumbler and longtime fan, I found myself not only charmed and touched but also moved to a new level of respect.” Read more…)

The Lego Movie (animated feature, Chris Pratt [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 82. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The visual environment created by the filmmakers [Phil Lord and Christopher Miller of 21 Jump Street wrote and directed; the animation is by Animal Logic] hums with wit and imagination. Although the images are computer generated, they move, for the most part, according to the pleasingly herky-jerky logic of hand-guided stop-motion. You are always aware that you are looking at a world of interlocking plastic blocks, an illusion enhanced in the 3-D version of the film. Smoke, sand and water are all made out of Lego, as are high-rise cities, pirate ships, mountains and a zone of free-form fantasy called Cloud Cuckoo Land.” Read more…)

Ernest & Celestine (France, animation/comedy/drama, Forest Whitaker. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A tale of mice and bears, derring-do and dentistry, this lovely animated movie originated in a cycle of children’s books by the Belgian writer and artist Gabrielle Vincent [1929-2000]. The books have simple stories, titles like Celestine and Ernest’s Picnic, and Vincent’s enchanting illustrations, which are characterized by graceful lines, muted colors and blurred edges that focus your attention on animals that, in their poignant delicacy, evoke Beatrix Potter. The screen character designs are broader and more overtly comic, but the three directors — Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier — have retained enough of Vincent’s charming vision that the movie feels intimate and personal, as if it, too, had sprung from a single hand.” Read more…)

House of Cards: Season 2 (political drama series, Kevin Spacey. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 76. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “Season 2 is as immersed in the battlegrounds of governing as The West Wing was: entitlements, Chinese cyberespionage, anthrax scares, parliamentary procedure, government shutdowns. But that Aaron Sorkin series on NBC ennobled politics. House of Cards, which was adapted from a 1990 British series of the same title, eviscerates it. And while the second season picks up where Season 1 left off [the tagline is ‘The race for power continues’], this continuation is possibly even darker and more compelling than the first.” Read more…)

Alan Partridge (comedy, Steve Coogan. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Can unpleasantness be its own kind of charm? The British comedian and actor Steve Coogan has built a career around the answer “well yes, sort of.” American audiences that know him for his uncharacteristically sweet turn in Philomena or his role as the miniature Roman soldier in Night at the Museum movies may have a distorted view of his talents. As a character named ‘Steve Coogan’ [in The Trip and elsewhere], he has satirized the fragile vanity of the semicelebrity class. But his greatest creation may be a broadcaster named Alan Partridge, a man whose Wikipedia entry helpfully describes him as ‘an insecure, superficial and narcissistic “wally.”‘” Read more…)

Mother of George (indie drama, Danai Gurira. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “There is something irresistible about a movie that begins with a wedding [think of The Godfather], and there are few movie weddings as beautiful as the one at the start of Mother of George, Andrew Dosunmu’s gorgeous and delicate new drama. The party, a swirl of color, music and sentiment, observed with an eye for telling details of behavior, sets the tone — exuberant, dignified, a little bit anxious — for what is to follow.” Read more…)

Broken Side of Time (drama from local filmmaker Gorman Bechard, Lynn Mancinelli)
Son of Batman (animated comic book action)

New Blu-Ray
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Lego Movie

New Foreign
Ernest & Celestine (France, animation/comedy/drama, Forest Whitaker, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A tale of mice and bears, derring-do and dentistry, this lovely animated movie originated in a cycle of children’s books by the Belgian writer and artist Gabrielle Vincent [1929-2000]. The books have simple stories, titles like Celestine and Ernest’s Picnic, and Vincent’s enchanting illustrations, which are characterized by graceful lines, muted colors and blurred edges that focus your attention on animals that, in their poignant delicacy, evoke Beatrix Potter. The screen character designs are broader and more overtly comic, but the three directors — Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier — have retained enough of Vincent’s charming vision that the movie feels intimate and personal, as if it, too, had sprung from a single hand.” Read more…)

Omar (Palestine, drama/thriller, Adam Bakri. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 75. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: :”Hany Abu-Assad’s new film, Omar, is about Israeli-Palestinian violence and also about three friends, young men who seem familiar almost as soon as we see them together. Tarek [Eyad Hourani] is the leader, Amjad [Samer Bisharat] is the joker, and Omar [Adam Bakri] is the sensitive one, handsome and athletic with the soul of a poet. He and Amjad are both in love with Tarek’s sister Nadia [Leem Lubany], but their rivalry is kept in check by their affection for each other and by strict customs governing courtship and family life. As he did in earlier films like Rana’s Wedding [2003] and Paradise Now [2005], a sympathetic portrait of two would-be suicide bombers, Mr. Abu-Assad, a Palestinian born in the Israeli city of Nazareth, juxtaposes the routines of everyday life in the West Bank with the brutal facts of Israeli occupation and the resistance to it.” Read more…)

New British
Alan Partridge (comedy, Steve Coogan, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Can unpleasantness be its own kind of charm? The British comedian and actor Steve Coogan has built a career around the answer “well yes, sort of.” American audiences that know him for his uncharacteristically sweet turn in Philomena or his role as the miniature Roman soldier in Night at the Museum movies may have a distorted view of his talents. As a character named ‘Steve Coogan’ [in The Trip and elsewhere], he has satirized the fragile vanity of the semicelebrity class. But his greatest creation may be a broadcaster named Alan Partridge, a man whose Wikipedia entry helpfully describes him as ‘an insecure, superficial and narcissistic “wally.”‘” Read more…)

New TV
House of Cards: Season 2 (political drama series, Kevin Spacey, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 76. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “Season 2 is as immersed in the battlegrounds of governing as The West Wing was: entitlements, Chinese cyberespionage, anthrax scares, parliamentary procedure, government shutdowns. But that Aaron Sorkin series on NBC ennobled politics. House of Cards, which was adapted from a 1990 British series of the same title, eviscerates it. And while the second season picks up where Season 1 left off [the tagline is ‘The race for power continues’], this continuation is possibly even darker and more compelling than the first.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
The Upsetter: The Life & Times of Lee Scratch Perry (reggae titan/eccentric bio)

New Music
The Upsetter: The Life & Times of Lee Scratch Perry (reggae titan/eccentric bio, in New Music)

New Children’s DVDs
The Lego Movie (animated feature, Chris Pratt [voice], in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 82. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The visual environment created by the filmmakers [Phil Lord and Christopher Miller of 21 Jump Street wrote and directed; the animation is by Animal Logic] hums with wit and imagination. Although the images are computer generated, they move, for the most part, according to the pleasingly herky-jerky logic of hand-guided stop-motion. You are always aware that you are looking at a world of interlocking plastic blocks, an illusion enhanced in the 3-D version of the film. Smoke, sand and water are all made out of Lego, as are high-rise cities, pirate ships, mountains and a zone of free-form fantasy called Cloud Cuckoo Land.” Read more…)

Ernest & Celestine (France, animation/comedy/drama, Forest Whitaker, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A tale of mice and bears, derring-do and dentistry, this lovely animated movie originated in a cycle of children’s books by the Belgian writer and artist Gabrielle Vincent [1929-2000]. The books have simple stories, titles like Celestine and Ernest’s Picnic, and Vincent’s enchanting illustrations, which are characterized by graceful lines, muted colors and blurred edges that focus your attention on animals that, in their poignant delicacy, evoke Beatrix Potter. The screen character designs are broader and more overtly comic, but the three directors — Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier — have retained enough of Vincent’s charming vision that the movie feels intimate and personal, as if it, too, had sprung from a single hand.” Read more…)

Music: Prester John featuring Shawn Persinger and David Miller on Thurs., June 26, at 8 PM

Point Color_WebPrester John, a duo featuring Shawn Persinger (guitar, vocals) and David Miller ( mandolin, harmony vocals) play the Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, June 26. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

With a unique blend of acoustic folk, jazz, pop, classical, bluegrass, humor, and the avant-garde, New Haven, CT duo Prester John has a sound that is entirely their own. Formed in 2008 by underground guitar-hero Shawn Persinger, Prester John also showcases the musical talents of David Miller on mandolin and harmony vocals.

The Chicago Tribune once said, “Prester John has made a career out of balancing technical prowess with pop accessibility (and) a dash of punk-rock rawness.” One minute you’re hearing a pop/rock song in the tradition of Cat Stevens or Jack Johnson, the next you’re listening to music that could have been composed by Stravinsky or Frank Zappa. When it comes to traditional and mainstream styles Prester John’s authenticity is also difficult to match; their bluegrass repertoire sounds straight out of Appalachia (no doubt due to Persinger’s West Virginia roots) and their swing tunes recall the bygone days of The Hot Club of France. The ease and flexibility they display traversing and transcending genres is practically unheard of in this day and age (if ever).

Prester John have released two “sister CDs,” with Desire for a Straight Line showcasing the instrumental side of their repertoire while Rise O’ Fainthearted Girls focuses on their singer-songwriter skills. Both recordings have garnered considerable popular and critical acclaim. The Village Voice described Desire for a Straight Line as an “eclectic assortment of slipstream compositions touching on prog-tinged jazz, classical, manouche, and newgrass idioms. It’s a lot of fun.” Desire… also found it’s way onto the 2010 Grammy nomination ballot for “Best Contemporary Jazz Recording,” though Prester John are the first to point out, “It’s not really jazz. More a mix of jazz, classical, and contemporary acoustic instrumental music.”

Critical reception of Rise O’ Fainthearted Girls has been equally complimentary, with Premier Guitar stating that Prester John are “remarkable instrumentalists and engaging singers [with] wildly entertaining, funny, clever and smart songs. The melodies are strong, catchy and unique, with a pop sensibility running under the clear influences of everything from Dawg music to heavy metal to the Beatles to gypsy jazz to bluegrass, with the occasional neo-classical flight of fancy thrown in for good measure.”

“This duo started with a backlog of Shawn’s songs but the future of our sound is wide open,” says Miller. “We both have an interest in different types of music and we also have the ability to play many styles. Whether it’s the simplicity of a two and four backbeat or the complexity of an atonal melody. Nothing is dismissed.” It is that eclectic taste and skill that makes Prester John a force to be reckoned with.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• 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

• Friday, June 27. PUNK ROCK: STARK RAVING LULU

• Sunday, June 29. BEST VIDEO FUNDRAISER

• Wednesday, July 2. ROCK: EXTRASENSORY

• Thursday, July 3. BUOYANT POP ROCK: THE FURORS

• Wednesday, July 9. CLASSICAL GUITAR: ORPHÉE RUSSELL

• Thursday, July 10. FOLK: THE HEATH SISTERS

• Thursday, July 24. PROGRESSIVE FOLK ROCK: KINDRED QUEER

• Thursday, July 31. ROCK: THE SHELLYE VALAUSKAS EXPERIENCE

• Friday, Aug. 1. ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC: DAVID ELKIN-GINNETTI

• Wednesday, Aug. 13. INDIE ROCK: THE LYS GUILLORN BAND

• Friday, Aug. 15. POP/ART/PUPPETRY: POCKET VINYL, GLUMPUPPET

 

Music: Mercy Choir on Wed., June 25, at 8 PM

Mercy_Choir_WebMercy Choir plays the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, June 25. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Mercy Choir is the songwriting and recording project of New Haven, CT based musician Paul Belbusti. Over the past decade, Paul has produced a large quantity of critically acclaimed music ranging from abstract experiments to more traditional pop and rock and roll. His latest releases include the scattershot “His Noiseless Ball, His Boxwood Rattle” and the punishing experimental “PPIANO.”

Paul Belbusti plays guitar and sings, Tim Goselin plays bass, Chris Zollo is on keyboards and Sachin Ramabhadran plays drums.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

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

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

• Friday, June 13. FOLK: ROBERT MESSORE

• 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

• Friday, June 27. PUNK ROCK: STARK RAVING LULU

• Sunday, June 29. BEST VIDEO FUNDRAISER

• Wednesday, July 2. ROCK: EXTRASENSORY

• Thursday, July 3. BUOYANT POP ROCK: THE FURORS

• Wednesday, July 9. CLASSICAL GUITAR: ORPHÉE RUSSELL

• Thursday, July 10. FOLK: THE HEATH SISTERS

• Thursday, July 24. PROGRESSIVE FOLK ROCK: KINDRED QUEER

• Thursday, July 31. ROCK: THE SHELLYE VALAUSKAS EXPERIENCE

• Friday, Aug. 1. ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC: DAVID ELKIN-GINNETTI

• Wednesday, Aug. 13. INDIE ROCK: THE LYS GUILLORN BAND

• Friday, Aug. 15. POP/ART/PUPPETRY: POCKET VINYL, GLUMPUPPET