Music: Kath Bloom with a new band, Dan Greene solo on Wed., June 10, at 8 PM

Singer-songwriter Kath Bloom plays Best Video Performance Space with her new group on Wednesday, June 10. Dan Greene of The Mountain Movers will open with a solo set. The show starts at 8 PM and there is a $5 cover.

Kath Bloom

Kath Bloom

Bloom will play songs from her new album “Pass Through Here” with Florence Marie, Byl Cote and Bop Tweedie.

For fans of the song and how to feel it, Kath Bloom (USA) is some kind of legend. She comes from a special place where country, blues and folk are made beautifully translucent and emotive. She has a special gift – her voice is delicate and tender,  yet retains that raw emotion and hard worn truths that allows each sung word to be felt.

The more you hear of Kath Bloom, the more you notice it’s not just the arresting voice, but the power of the songwriting. “Beautiful” is the typical response—the kind of beauty that comes from truth, musical and the deeply lyrical. There are no good comparisons, but if you like the deep well of Emmylou Harris, the more poignant lyrics of Lou Reed, the joy of Maher Shalal Hash Baz or even Joni Mitchell, you’re kinda in the right zone. In reality, she’s simply Kath Bloom: horse whisperer, vocalist, mum, songwriter and a beautiful person.

In the 90′s Kath’s music was famously featured in Richard Linklater’s film Before Sunrise. Since then she has been busy writing and recording to great acclaim. Two new albums in the last few years and she and her songs where also honoured on a tribute album featuring Bill Callahan, Scout Niblett and Mark Kozelek.

Dan Greene

Dan Greene

Dan Greene has been a mainstay of the New Haven underground scene for a decade and a half, first with the Butterflies of Love–currently on unofficial hiatus–and presently with the Mountain Movers. Greene, an incredibly prolific and talented songwriter, writes all the tunes for the Mountain Movers after sharing the duties with Jeffrey Greene (no relation) in the Butterflies of Love.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, June 3. ALT-COUNTRY: LINES WEST; SINGER-SONGWRITER: KYLE DUKE

• Thursday, June 4. AVANT-GARDE: ZERO DOLLAR, PARLAY DRONER

• Friday, June 5. STRING QUARTET ROCK: THE TET OFFENSIVE

• Monday, June 8. FILM SCREENING: “FINDING TATANKA”

• Wednesday, June 10. SINGER-SONGWRITER: KATH BLOOM, DAN GREENE

• Thursday, June 11. ECLECTIC ACOUSTIC: DR. CATERWAUL’S CADRE OF CLAIRVOYANT CLAPTRAPS & THE CYGNET SISTERS

• Friday, June 12. BLUEGRASS: THE WOOL HATS STRING BAND

• Monday, June 15. SINGER-SONGWRITER: DANIELLE ATE THE SANDWICH, GLUMPUPPET

• Thursday, June 18: SILENT FILM with MUSIC: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT scores “THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI”

• Friday, June 19. BLUEGRASS: RAGWEED

• Wednesday, June 24. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA (CD RELEASE SHOW!)

• Thursday, June 25. CONTRA DANCE/FOLK: WRY BRED

• Friday, June 26. INDIE FOLK: OLIVE TIGER

• Wednesday, July 1. ART SONG: TWINS OF EL DORADO; JAZZ: WORK AND WHY WE DO IT

• Friday, July 10. INDIE SINGER-SONGWRITER: DEEPER SLEEPER

• Friday, July 17. PIANO POP/PAINTING: POCKET VINYL

• Friday, July 24. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: ANNE MARIE MENTA, SHELLYE VALAUSKAS

• Friday, July 31. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SAMUEL BASS

• Friday, Aug. 7. INDIE ROCK: MERCY CHOIR

• Wednesday, Aug. 26. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, Sept. 30. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANGELA EASTERLING

 

Music: String quartet rock with The Tet Offensive on Friday, June 5, at 8 PM

The Tet Offensive plays Best Video Performance Space on Friday, June . The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

The Tet Offensive at Best Video September, 2014.

The Tet Offensive at Best Video September, 2014.

Their self-description:

The Tet Offensive are a string quartet-powered rock band led by composer and singer Brian Robinson. I know that you just read a sentence that used the words “string quartet” and “composer” in them. And yet we’re still a rock band. We still cover the White Stripes and Soundgarden. We’ve playing the Knitting Factory and CBGBs.

We still play rock music despite the contemporary notion that string quartets are a part of the classical music world, and that composers are brooding and effete loners with sallow complexions and mood swings. I say to Hell with that preconception.

In a genre that celebrates the visceral and gritty, is there nothing more visceral than screaming a taut bow of horsehair against strings, and having no amplification or effects pedals to mask what you’re playing? We’re celebrating the risk-taking and scary parts of rock. Where Dylan plugged in, we’re kicking out the whole band and replacing it. Like our namesake, we are the surprise attack during a national holiday. We are the Tet Offensive.

They’ll have new songs and the added thwack! of a new drummer. Don’t miss it.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Thursday, May 28. SINGER-SONGWRITER; ACOUSTIC GUITARIST: SETH ADAM; GLENN ROTH

• Friday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Wednesday, June 3. ALT-COUNTRY: LINES WEST; SINGER-SONGWRITER: KYLE DUKE

• Thursday, June 4. AVANT-GARDE: ZERO DOLLAR, PARLAY DRONER

• Friday, June 5. STRING QUARTET ROCK: THE TET OFFENSIVE

• Monday, June 8. FILM SCREENING: “FINDING TATANKA”

• Wednesday, June 10. SINGER-SONGWRITER: KATH BLOOM, DAN GREENE

• Thursday, June 11. ECLECTIC ACOUSTIC: DR. CATERWAUL’S CADRE OF CLAIRVOYANT CLAPTRAPS & THE CYGNET SISTERS

• Friday, June 12. BLUEGRASS: THE WOOL HATS STRING BAND

• Monday, June 15. SINGER-SONGWRITER: DANIELLE ATE THE SANDWICH, GLUMPUPPET

• Thursday, June 18: SILENT FILM with MUSIC: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT scores “THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI”

• Friday, June 19. BLUEGRASS: RAGWEED

• Wednesday, June 24. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA (CD RELEASE SHOW!)

• Friday, June 26. INDIE FOLK: OLIVE TIGER

• Wednesday, July 1. ART SONG: TWINS OF EL DORADO; JAZZ: WORK AND WHY WE DO IT

• Friday, July 17. PIANO POP/PAINTING: POCKET VINYL

• Friday, July 24. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: ANNE MARIE MENTA, SHELLYE VALAUSKAS

• Friday, July 31. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SAMUEL BASS

• Wednesday, Aug. 26. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, Sept. 30. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANGELA EASTERLING

 

Music: Avant-garde sounds on Thurs., June 4, with The Zero Dollar Trio, Parlay Droner

The avant-garde improvisational musical acts The Zero Dollar Trio and Parlay Droner play Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, June 4. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

The Zero Dollar Trio

The Zero Dollar Trio

The Zero Dollar Trio performances are expressions of free improvisation. No two performances are ever the same. From jazz to post-punk to electronic to beyond. The Zero Dollar Trio features Nick Di Maria on trumpet, melodica and electronics; Jeff Cedrone on guitar, synth and electronics; and Mike Rasimas on drums and percussion.

Parlay Droner is a local modern renaissance man of the avant-garde: illustrator/improv noisemaker/poet/painter/soundbreaker; member of AMOD Records, Filthybroke Recordings, SPLNSHNTS, the rifles repeating, Light Upon Blight. He offers up a constellation of beats/tape loops/noise/live improv/ink&paint/unprose&nonpoem.

Parlay Droner

Parlay Droner

The blog CT Indie wrote about his release “Mother Brother Live Sessions”:

Sonic wizard Parlay Droner is neck deep in projects and releases right now, and the fruits of these labors are sure to break your ears hearts as well as your ears drums! Big ups to Quantum Wampum for putting this little gem out… …Parlay is the man to watch, as his catalog grows his grasp on his sound strengthens and becomes more realized.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, May 27. BLUEGRASS: THE FIDDLEHEADS

• Thursday, May 28. SINGER-SONGWRITER; ACOUSTIC GUITARIST: SETH ADAM; GLENN ROTH

• Friday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Wednesday, June 3. ALT-COUNTRY: LINES WEST; SINGER-SONGWRITER: KYLE DUKE

• Thursday, June 4. AVANT-GARDE: ZERO DOLLAR, PARLAY DRONER

• Friday, June 5. STRING QUARTET ROCK: THE TET OFFENSIVE

• Monday, June 8. FILM SCREENING: “FINDING TATANKA”

• Wednesday, June 10. SINGER-SONGWRITER: KATH BLOOM, DAN GREENE

• Thursday, June 11. ECLECTIC ACOUSTIC: DR. CATERWAUL’S CADRE OF CLAIRVOYANT CLAPTRAPS & THE CYGNET SISTERS

• Friday, June 12. BLUEGRASS: THE WOOL HATS STRING BAND

• Monday, June 15. SINGER-SONGWRITER: DANIELLE ATE THE SANDWICH, GLUMPUPPET

• Thursday, June 18: SILENT FILM with MUSIC: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT scores “THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI”

• Friday, June 19. BLUEGRASS: RAGWEED

• Wednesday, June 24. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA (CD RELEASE SHOW!)

• Friday, June 26. INDIE FOLK: OLIVE TIGER

• Wednesday, July 1. ART SONG: TWINS OF EL DORADO; JAZZ: WORK AND WHY WE DO IT

• Friday, July 17. PIANO POP/PAINTING: POCKET VINYL

• Friday, July 24. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: ANNE MARIE MENTA, SHELLYE VALAUSKAS

• Friday, July 31. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SAMUEL BASS

• Wednesday, Aug. 26. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, Sept. 30. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANGELA EASTERLING

 

Film Screening: Documentary “Finding Tatanka” with director Jacob Bricca on Mon., June 8, at 7 PM

Jacob Bricca

Jacob Bricca

Filmmaker Jacob Bricca presents his poignant documentary “Finding Tatanka” at Best Video Performance space on Monday, June 8. The screening starts at 7 PM. Admission is $5. In “Finding Tatanka,” an idolizing son—Jacob Bricca—confronts the enigma that is his father, a Sixties dreamer one scheme away from financial ruin.

Kit Bricca was a leader of the Bay Area protest movements of the 1960s and 70s with a fierce passion for social justice, but found the transition from activist to breadwinner a challenging one. In this moving, psychologically complex documentary, filmmaker Jacob Bricca follows the extraordinary journey of his father Kit ,a man whose uncompromising idealism changed the world but tore his family apart.

Kit organizes with Joan Baez and Cesar Chavez in the 1960s, helps start Amnesty International USA in the 1970s, then transforms himself into a high-flying commodities broker in the Eighties and a shamanic healer named Tatanka in the Nineties. As the financial crisis of 2008 hits and Kit’s finances fall into disarray, Jacob begins searching for answers by following his father on a series of quixotic adventures.

Finding_Tatanka_image_Web

Both epic and intimate, “Tatanka” features never before seen footage from a lost era and tells a sweeping story about the fate of American idealism, the cost of dreams and the meaning of family.

Jacob Bricca:

I wanted to make a film that could answer my own questions about my father’s identity and also portray the profound questions that many of us ask every day: What is the right path between idealism and practicality? Where is the line between dreams and delusions? in my father’s story lives the power of individuals to make profound change, but also the heartbreak of broken dreams and the bittersweet tension of expectations between parents and their children.

Jacob Bricca is an award-winning film editor and director whose work has been screened theatrically across the globe. Among the dozen feature films he has edited are the international theatrical hit “Lost In La Mancha” (IFC Films), the New Yorker Films theatrical release “Con Artist,” and two films that have shown in prime time on PBS’s Independent Lens series.  His directorial credits include “Pure,” which was one of only four American shorts invited to the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival, and the feature “Indies Under Fire: The Battle for the American Bookstore,” which screened in over a dozen venues around the country and won awards at the Newburyport Documentary Festival and the Santa Cruz Film Festival.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, May 27. BLUEGRASS: THE FIDDLEHEADS

• Thursday, May 28. SINGER-SONGWRITER; ACOUSTIC GUITARIST: SETH ADAM; GLENN ROTH

• Friday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Wednesday, June 3. ALT-COUNTRY: LINES WEST; SINGER-SONGWRITER: KYLE DUKE

• Thursday, June 4. AVANT-GARDE: ZERO DOLLAR, PARLAY DRONER

• Friday, June 5. STRING QUARTET ROCK: THE TET OFFENSIVE

• Monday, June 8. FILM SCREENING: “FINDING TATANKA”

• Wednesday, June 10. SINGER-SONGWRITER: KATH BLOOM, DAN GREENE

• Thursday, June 11. ECLECTIC ACOUSTIC: DR. CATERWAUL’S CADRE OF CLAIRVOYANT CLAPTRAPS & THE CYGNET SISTERS

• Friday, June 12. BLUEGRASS: THE WOOL HATS STRING BAND

• Thursday, June 18: SILENT FILM with MUSIC: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT scores “THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI”

• Friday, June 26. INDIE FOLK: OLIVE TIGER

• Friday, July 17. PIANO POP/PAINTING: POCKET VINYL

• Friday, July 31. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SAMUEL BASS

• Wednesday, Aug. 26. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, Sept. 30. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANGELA EASTERLING

New Releases 5/26/15

Top Hits
Mortdecai (crime comedy, Johnny Depp. Rotten Tomatoes: 13%. Metacritic: 27. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Mr. Depp’s wizardly expertise at disappearing into a character is intact. But what if that character isn’t funny and hasn’t an ounce of charm? Charlie Mortdecai, a bumbling aristocratic bon vivant and sociopath who lives beyond his means and deals in stolen art, is a vehicle for Mr. Depp to turn into a kind of Austin Powers manqué. There is no wink behind the wink because Mr. Depp is so busy showing off.” Read more…)

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (comedy, Rob Corddry. Rotten Tomatoes: 14%. Metacritic: 29. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Who knows what the world will look like in 2025? The goofballs from the smart-dumb 2010 guy comedy ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ are accidentally given an advance peek in the frenzied, chaotic sequel. As could have been predicted, ‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2’ is vastly inferior to the first ‘Hot Tub,’ but it’s not stupid so much as desperately frantic.” Read more…)

Seventh Son (fantasy action, Julianne Moore. Rotten Tomatoes: 13%. Metacritic: 30. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Every year, in between the big heave known as the fall awards season and that folly we call the Academy Awards, the major movie companies turn into a cinematic slag heap of the bad, the risible and the inexplicable. Even on paper, the latest February throwaway, ‘Seventh Son,’ sounds like a bad idea, even if it does feature the wasted talent of the veteran production designer Dante Ferretti and was directed by Sergei Bodrov, who has a few fine credits to his name. As it turns out, there are those, including this reviewer, who can be seduced into seeing just about anything if it comes with name actors like Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, a herd of digital dragons and the cute guy who plays that incurably know-nothing Jon Snow in the HBO show ‘Game of Thrones.'” Read more…)

Cymbeline (crime drama based on Shakespeare play, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 54. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Whatever Mr. Almereyda’s inspiration, his version of ‘Cymbeline’ [which for a while was actually titled ‘Anarchy’] reaffirms that Shakespeare can always survive every interpretive trick, with or without choppers and chrome. As soon becomes evident in this appealing eccentric divertissement, the loudest, flashiest of contemporary appurtenances, from blazing machine guns to gleaming leather jackets, are inevitably outshone by Shakespeare’s words, even in a lesser-known, lesser-loved late play like this.” Read more…)

Cut Bank (thriller, Liam Hemsworth. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 44. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Cut Bank is a small Montana town of around 3,000 residents that welcomes visitors with an oversize plaster penguin announcing it is the coldest spot in the United States. This movie’s smart-aleck rehash of much better films by the Coen brothers and David Lynch looks down at Cut Bank as a town of yokels and eccentrics whose misplaced sense of civic pride is embodied by that penguin.” Read more…)

Everly (action thriller, Salma Hayek. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 35.)

New Blu-Ray
Seventh Son

New Television
Ray Donovan: Season 2 (Showtime crime drama, Liev Schreiber. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 73.)

New Documentaries
Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (cinema history, bio, Orson Welles. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 67. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Following his subject from child prodigy to complicated legend, the director, Chuck Workman, touches down so lightly on the mile markers of Welles’s life that he barely leaves an imprint. Artistic triumphs and financial flops, often one and the same, roll by in spotless slices, as do the voices of luminaries, living and dead [John Houseman, how you are missed], who sing Welles’s praises.” Read more…)

Music: Lines West, Kyle Duke on Wed., June 3, at 8 PM

The alt-country group Lines West and singer-songwriter Kyle Duke perform Wednesday, June 3, at Best Video Performance Space. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Compared to Wilco and Big Star, Lines West feature a wide range of American rock traditions. Lines West is a four-piece group co-fronted by John Radzin on guitar and vocals and Brian Larney on keyboard, guitar, and vocals. Radzin and Larney formed Lines West in May 2013. “Stop Look and Listen,” their first record, was co-produced by Radzin and Larney (under their production moniker JAYBEE).

Lines West live at Best Video Performance Space in February, 2015.

Lines West live at Best Video Performance Space in February, 2015.

Fueled by the songwriting tandem of Radzin and Larney, “Stop Look and Listen” is a unique blast of rootsy pop/rock described by Review Stalker as as “perfectly crafted pop songs that should be all over terrestrial radio at the very least”.

Kyle Duke is a young artist, songwriter, and producer. A student of NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music class of 2019, he is currently in the production and promotion stages of his debut EP “Cigarettes And Lovers,” which will be available later in 2015 through Factory Underground Records and distributed by ILS/Caroline/Universal Distribution.

Kyle Duke

Kyle Duke

His solo performances combine elements of indie rock, blues, and folk, into a unique, guitar-driven one-man show. Kyle has also worked closely with a number of bands, most recently playing electric guitars on a number of tracks off fellow Factory Underground artist Edisun’s upcoming sophomore album, “Collision.”

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, May 27. BLUEGRASS: THE FIDDLEHEADS

• Thursday, May 28. SINGER-SONGWRITER; ACOUSTIC GUITARIST: SETH ADAM; GLENN ROTH

• Friday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Wednesday, June 3. ALT-COUNTRY: LINES WEST; SINGER-SONGWRITER: KYLE DUKE

• Thursday, June 4. AVANT-GARDE: ZERO DOLLAR, PARLAY DRONER

• Friday, June 5. STRING QUARTET ROCK: THE TET OFFENSIVE

• Monday, June 8. FILM SCREENING: “FINDING TATANKA”

• Wednesday, June 10. SINGER-SONGWRITER: KATH BLOOM, DAN GREENE

• Thursday, June 11. ECLECTIC ACOUSTIC: DR. CATERWAUL’S CADRE OF CLAIRVOYANT CLAPTRAPS & THE CYGNET SISTERS

• Friday, June 12. BLUEGRASS: THE WOOL HATS STRING BAND

• Thursday, June 18: SILENT FILM with MUSIC: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT scores “THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI”

• Friday, June 26. INDIE FOLK: OLIVE TIGER

• Friday, July 17. PIANO POP/PAINTING: POCKET VINYL

• Friday, July 31. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SAMUEL BASS

• Wednesday, Aug. 26. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, Sept. 30. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANGELA EASTERLING

Music: Singer-songwriter Sabrina Trueheart returns Fri., May 29, at 8 PM

Singer-songwriter Sabrina Trueheart, who attends Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School in New Haven, returns to perform at the Best Video Performance Space on Friday, May 29. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Sabrina_Trueheart_2015_Web

Sabrina Trueheart is a singer/songwriter from New England. Her music is folk-based, her main instrument is guitar but sometimes ukulele and harmonica are included in her music.

She is comparable to singer/songwriters such as Jewel, Joni Mitchell, Lana Del Rey and Anthony Green. Sabrina currently studies jazz guitar and music theory in school.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Thursday, May 21. INDIE ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Friday, May 22. ROCK: NOTHING SPECIAL

• Wednesday, May 27. BLUEGRASS: THE FIDDLEHEADS

• Thursday, May 28. SINGER-SONGWRITER; ACOUSTIC GUITARIST: SETH ADAM; GLENN ROTH

• Friday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Thursday, June 4. AVANT-GARDE: ZERO DOLLAR, PARLAY DRONER

• Friday, June 5. STRING QUARTET ROCK: THE TET OFFENSIVE

• Monday, June 8. FILM SCREENING: “FINDING TATANKA”

• Wednesday, June 10. SINGER-SONGWRITER: KATH BLOOM, DAN GREENE

• Thursday, June 11. ECLECTIC ACOUSTIC: DR. CATERWAUL’S CADRE OF CLAIRVOYANT CLAPTRAPS & THE CYGNET SISTERS

• Friday, June 12. BLUEGRASS: THE WOOL HATS STRING BAND

• Thursday, June 18: SILENT FILM with MUSIC: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT scores “THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI”

• Friday, June 26. INDIE FOLK: OLIVE TIGER

• Friday, July 17. PIANO POP/PAINTING: POCKET VINYL

• Wednesday, Aug. 26. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

Rob Harmon’s Picks 5/19/15

Rob_photo_031715_WebBig Eyes (dir. Tim Burton, 2014)

Not all great artists, writers, or directors become the inspiration for words in the English language: for example, there are no such words as Leonardoish, Hemingwayian, or Truffautian — not officially in the dictionary, anyway. (These words, besides, are a little clunky!) Other artists, however, achieve such a degree of iconicity, either by creating a new brand of art or by coming to embody one that already existed, that inventing or coining an adjective to describe that art, or one particular aspect of it, becomes practically imperative, as in Rubenesque, Aristotelian, or Hitchcockian.

Still, as speakers and as writers, we tend to invent words all the time – whenever convenient, really – boiling the essence of something down to a single adjective or verb, a sort of shorthand referring to something or someone’s most salient aspects. Cineastes do this all the time with directors: for example, if I were to tell you that a certain film was “Carpenter-esque, Lynchian, and Wilder-esque,” you might understand this to mean: a film – possibly horror – with a minimal, widescreen visual aesthetic, and equally minimal music – probably synthesizer-based (à la John Carpenter); which, further, is surreal (David Lynch); and features strongly-written characters and a scathingly acerbic sense of humor (Billy Wilder).

Burtonesque is not in the dictionary (I just checked, although one website offered up this priceless definition: “a general feeling of mystical and somewhat dark wonderfulness”), and may never be, but for those who know movies well the word evokes rich and potent images: a darkly Gothic and comic, fairy-tale-like atmosphere; the subtle satire of suburbia, middle-class values, and the dysfunctional family unit; the aesthetics of Edgar Allan Poe, Roger Corman, and England’s Hammer Studios; the campy-but-endearing theatrics of Vincent Price; wounded, child-like heroes cast adrift in a world they never made; and, of course, the hauntingly innocent musical stylings of frequent-collaborator and composer Danny Elfman (former frontman of legendary band Oingo Boingo; for more on this “other” side of the versatile Elfman see 80s midnight classic THE FORBIDDEN ZONE in our Cult section!).

Director Tim Burton achieved such astonishing success early in his career (PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, BEETLEJUICE, BATMAN, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, ED WOOD) that he had solidly established a house style – call it “Burtonesque,” if you will – at a point when most other filmmakers are still struggling to find their voice.

Yet, for a time, all of that seemed to work against Burton, as he fought to stabilize his career after the days of heady, early success. As he labored through a seemingly endless array of remakes and remodels, Tim Burton seemed to be forever in the shadow of… well, his younger self. Tim Burton – the wunderkind who shook up Hollywood with his whip-smart comedy/horror pastiches – now seemed a shadow of his former self, an illustrator of others’ ideas, his patented Burtonesque house-style forced into servitude. Not long ago it would have been legitimate to ask: “Whatever happened to Tim Burton?”

2844957BIG EYES is based on the life of painter Margaret Keane, beginning in 1958 in a typically-ordered and candy-colored Burtonesque suburbia somewhere in northern California, as soft-spoken housewife Margaret Ulbrich (Amy Adams) works up the courage to walk out on her stifling, loveless marriage. With young daughter Jane in the back seat she drives to San Francisco and sets up a new life as a single mother (San Francisco in 1958? Shades of VERTIGO, anyone?), struggling to find employment, before, ultimately, succeeding.

Additionally, fueled by the energy of the city around her, she channels her latent artistic impulses by going to art fairs on the weekends and applying paint to canvas: her pet theme the portrayal of children – inspired by her daughter – with eerily large and disproportioned eyes. The windows to the soul, she says. It is while rubbing elbows with the bohemian set that she meets the larger-than-life Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), an artist and all-around-operator, whose secret that he is actually a well-off real estate agent proves to be only the tip of the iceberg. Walter and Margaret are married and Margaret continues to develop her portraits of destitute and lachrymose, staring waifs. Recognizing that the rapidly-growing middle class has a healthy appetite for the snobbery associated with art, Walter hits upon new, undreamt-of ways of promoting Margaret’s paintings to the masses, even taking his role as salesman to another level by assuming credit for his wife’s work once it begins to sell… and sell and sell…. Ultimately, of course, as Keane Mania sweeps the nation, attracting the supercilious derision of the critical establishment, the fraudulent enterprise becomes ever more difficult to keep under wraps….

BIG EYES was written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, a team best known for biopics, such as Miloš Forman’s THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT and MAN ON THE MOON, as well as Burton’s exceptional ED WOOD. BIG EYES is well-acted, particularly by the two leads Adams and Waltz.

Proving that there are second acts in life, Burton’s BIG EYES manages to be: a smart and subtle parable about art and the artistic process; a send-up of the unholy marriage of art and commerce; a pseudo-feminist statement, as Margaret struggles to find her voice in a patriarchal society, with daughter Jane’s staring eyes (and, by extension, the eyes of her painted subjects) calmly recording the abuses which mother is subjected to; as well as a meditation on the greater values of cheap, mass-produced “art” (as in, *ahem*, movies…): all-in-all, an understated work from a matured director – one whose career has already seen its fair share of ups and downs.

Burton clearly recognizes Margaret as a kindred spirit in kitsch, a fellow creator whose private obsessions may too easily be dismissed or written off as specious. Burton seems to also identify, up to a point, with husband Walter, a sort-of P. T. Barnum of the art world, whose business savvy ignites a firestorm of demand in the belly of Middle America. Margaret and Walter are presented as two halves of a duality, as yin and yang, two forces who can’t seem to live together or apart: a powerful metaphor, indeed, for the creative process.

For more “Burtonesque” works check out our Tim Burton section in Best Directors!

New Releases 5/19/15

Top Hits
American Sniper (war drama, Bradley Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 72. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “As a young boy, which is to say before he grows up into a burly, bearded Bradley Cooper, Chris Kyle receives a lesson in life from his strict Texan father. The world, according to Dad, is divided into sheep, wolves and sheepdogs, those rare, righteous souls called to protect the innocent from the wicked. It’s a tough, stark view of the order of things, one that guides Chris in his subsequent career as a Navy SEAL sniper and one that has, with some modification, informed much of the work of Clint Eastwood, the director of ‘American Sniper.’ Faithful in shape and spirit to the real Chris Kyle’s memoir, ‘American Sniper’ also reaffirms Mr. Eastwood’s commitment to the themes of vengeance and justice in a fallen world. In the universe of his films — a universe where the existence of evil is a given — violence is a moral necessity, albeit one that often exacts a cost from those who must wield it in the service of good.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
American Sniper

New Foreign
Leviathan (Russia, Oscar-winning drama, Aleksey Serebryakov. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 92. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “As its imposing title suggests, the Russian drama ‘Leviathan’ is something of a monster movie. It turns on a modern-day Job who endures trials and tribulations in an Arctic town in northern Russia. Some of his miseries are self-inflicted — he’s a boozer, not the pious soul of the Bible story — but many of his agonies originate with corrupt authorities, including the local mayor, a Hobbesian brute who sits at his desk under a photograph of Vladimir V. Putin. The director, Andrey Zvyagintsev, has a heavenly eye but a leaden hand, and his movie is as heavy as it is transporting, filled with stirring shots of the natural world and deep dives into a human realm flooded with tears and vodka.” Read more…)

Girlhood (France, drama, Karidja Touré. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Céline Sciamma’s ‘Girlhood’ can be described (like so many movies these days) as a coming-of-age story, and it honors the genre, and its main character, with exemplary sensitivity and sympathy. But even as she stops at familiar stations on the road to maturity — problems at home and school, new friendships and first love — Ms. Sciamma revels in the risky, reckless exuberance of adolescence and in the sheer joy of filming it.” Read more…)

The Blue Room (France, drama, Mathieu Amalric. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “There’s a shot at the start of ‘The Blue Room,’ an elegant psychological freak-out about adultery and other madness, of a vacated hotel room. The calm gray-blue walls and understated furnishings paint a tranquil scene. Yet it’s here that Julien [Mathieu Amalric] and Esther [Stéphanie Cléau] have routinely broken their marriage vows in a frenzy of tangled and sweat-slicked limbs. With its covers thrown back, the large bed that dominates the room seems less empty than ravaged. It looks like a stage after the final performance. It also looks like the scene of a crime.” Read more…)

The Last Sentence (Sweden, historical drama, Jesper Christensen. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “It’s plausible that Torgny Segerstedt, a crusading Swedish journalist, was every bit as heroic, freethinking and sexually irresistible to women as he is portrayed in ‘The Last Sentence.’ But you will need to take it on faith even after seeing this stultifying movie, a fictionalization of how Segerstedt [1876-1945] positioned himself on the right side of history by writing an editorial that declared ‘Herr Hitler is an insult.’ Hermann Göring sent a telegram objecting to this boldly tossed gauntlet, one of many such complaints that challenged Segerstedt’s lonely fight.” Read more…)

New Television
Orange Is the New Black: Season 2 (TV prison drama series. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 89. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “But there’s a lot to be said for smart entertainment. I suspect I’m not the only viewer who looks back with nostalgia, after less than a decade, to the macabre whimsy of HBO’s ‘Six Feet Under’ [or, more recently, Showtime’s ‘Dexter’] and wonders when cable drama got so grim. ‘Orange Is the New Black’ reminds me in spirit of ‘Six Feet Under,’ except that it’s better and funnier.” Read more…)

Music: Singer-songwriter Seth Adam and fingerstyle guitarist Glenn Roth perform Thurs., May 28, at 8 PM

Singer-songwriter Seth Adam (accompanied by guitarist Gerry Giaimo) and fingerstyle acoustic guitarist Glenn Roth will play sets at Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, May 28. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Seth Adam (Photo by Dawnmarie)

Seth Adam (Photo by Dawnmarie)

Seth Adams describes his music as “singer-songwriter/Americana/alt-country/folk/rock. That’s a lot of sub genres, but probably the best way to characterize it.” His earliest influences were Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Kenny Rogers from records played for him by his father when he was a kid. Though he went through his “hair-metal, progressive-rock, and grunge phases,” he considers “the music I write now to be the most heartfelt. My biggest influence is Counting Crows (much more than a ’90’s band’), with Led Zeppelin coming in at a close second place. In recent years I’ve come to nearly deify The Beatles and Son Volt.”

Since his last band broke up in 2005, he’s continued making music under his own name. In 2007, his song ‘Get Out’ was licensed to Volkswagen for their Sights and Sounds campaign. In 2008, entertainment columnist Roger Friedman (then at FoxNews.com) called him “the hardest-working, best live act in indie rock.” In 2010, Adam was recognized in The New Haven Advocate’s reader’s poll, winning the Best Rock Band category.

The experiences of touring – the pursuit, the push to be something bigger than myself, days of doubt, days of pride, meeting some wonderful folks, sharing a lot of different stories, and seeing some amazing places – became the catalyst to write the songs for his record “Steel Tempered Pride,” which came out in September, 2013.

Glenn Roth is a fingerstyle guitarist, his thumb riding the bassline and the melody driving all. His compositions suggest multiple guitars, but it’s really just one guy, ten flying fingers, one instrument. All instrumental, Roth’s songs suggest moods and narratives that compel the listener to fill in the details.

Glenn Roth (Photo by Grace Pisano)

Glenn Roth (Photo by Grace Pisano)

Roth has released three CDs to date: Innovations (2005), Busker (2006), and Into the Unknown (2010). His original compositions have been hailed as “sheer virtuosity” (20th Century Guitar magazine) and “delicate, accomplished solo acoustic guitar work” (PLAY: New Haven Arts & Entertainment Weekly). Roth released a new “Another Dimension EP” in April of 2014.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, May 20. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: JAY PRINCE, PATRICK DALTON

• Thursday, May 21. INDIE ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Friday, May 22. ROCK: NOTHING SPECIAL

• Wednesday, May 27. BLUEGRASS: THE FIDDLEHEADS

• Thursday, May 28. SINGER-SONGWRITER; ACOUSTIC GUITARIST: SETH ADAM; GLENN ROTH

• Friday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Thursday, June 4. AVANT-GARDE: ZERO DOLLAR, PARLAY DRONER

• Friday, June 5. STRING QUARTET ROCK: THE TET OFFENSIVE

• Monday, June 8. FILM SCREENING: “FINDING TATANKA”

• Wednesday, June 10. SINGER-SONGWRITER: KATH BLOOM, DAN GREENE

• Thursday, June 11. ECLECTIC ACOUSTIC: DR. CATERWAUL’S CADRE OF CLAIRVOYANT CLAPTRAPS & THE CYGNET SISTERS

• Friday, June 12. BLUEGRASS: THE WOOL HATS STRING BAND

• Thursday, June 18: SILENT FILM with MUSIC: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT scores “THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI”

• Friday, June 26. INDIE FOLK: OLIVE TIGER

• Friday, July 17. PIANO POP/PAINTING: POCKET VINYL

• Wednesday, Aug. 26. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS