Music: Jazz by BadSlax on Fri., Sept. 4, at 8 PM

BadSlax_Collage_Square_WebThe jazz quartet BadSlax plays Best Video Performance space on Friday, Sept. 4. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

One of the area’s liveliest and groovin’est bands, BadSlax is four seasoned musicians who love to play. Their eclectic-but-accessible repertoire which features tunes from some of the great contemporary and classic jazz composers (John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Charles Mingus, Herbie Hancock)–along with some originals–is consistently funky, sometimes swinging, and always cooking.

BadSlax is Mark Kaplan (sax), Dave Mazza (guitar), Jim Ludoviconi (bass) and John Rispoli (drums).

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Friday, Aug. 28. FILM SCREENING: “HEAD” (CT-PRODUCED LIVE PUPPET HORROR FEATURE)

• Thursday, Sept. 3. SOLO GUITAR: JOHN THOMAS, SARAH WHITAKER

• Friday, Sept. 4. JAZZ: BADSLAX

• Wednesday, Sept. 9. COMEDY OPEN MIC WITH JAKE NIETOPSKI

• Thursday, Sept. 10. INDIE ROCK: LA TUNDA

• Friday, Sept. 11. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, Sept. 16. CARIBBEAN/FOLK: LUKE RODNEY

• Friday, Sept. 18. SINGER-SONGWRITER: DAPHNE LEE MARTIN, CHRIS KILEY

Wednesday, Sept. 23. INDIE ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

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

• Thursday, Oct. 1. TRIP HOP: THE FOREST ROOM, HIP-HOP: CHEF THE CHEF

• Friday, Oct. 2. ROCK: HENRY SIDLE

• Thursday, Oct. 8. SINGER-SONGWRITER: FRANK CRITELLI, BEN PARENT

• Friday, Oct. 9. JAZZ: THE JOVAN ALEXANDRE TRIO

• Wednesday, Oct. 14. INDIE ROCK: CHRISTOPHER MIR

• Friday, Oct. 15. SOLO GUITAR/CD RELEASE: GLENN ROTH

• Friday, Oct. 23. ALT-COUNTRY: TANNERSVILLE

• Thursday, Oct. 29. SYNTH POP/ROCK: MISSION ZERO

• Friday, Oct. 30. HALLOWEEN SILENT FILM SCREENING WITH LIVE SCORE: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT

• Friday, Nov. 6. RAGTIME/BLUES: THE RED HOTS

• Wednesday, Nov. 18. FILM SCREENING: THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962)

 

Music: Two solo guitarists—John Thomas & Sarah Whitaker—on Thurs., Sept. 3, at 8 PM

Guitarists John Thomas and Sarah Whitaker perform solo sets at Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Sept. 3, at 8 PM.

John Thomas performing at Best Video in 2013.

John Thomas performing at Best Video in 2013.

John Thomas is a fingerstyle guitar player living in Hamden, in southern Connecticut. He plays instrumental acoustic music, mainly blues and ragtime. His influences range from the blues greats of the 1920s and 1930s to Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, and Jerry Reed. Thomas’ guitar playing is deeply steeped in American roots music of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Playing solo, acoustic music for more than 40 years, his live performances and recordings feature music that ranges from the compositions of classic blues guitarists like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Rev. Gary Davis, to the classic ragtime tunes of Scott Joplin, to the Nashville playing of Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed, and to his own original compositions that echo these influences. For many of the blues tunes and rags in his repertoire he has created original arrangements, including adapting ragtime piano pieces to the guitar.

Sarah Whitaker

Sarah Whitaker

Sarah plays Hawaiian slack key guitar, a folk style native to Hawai’i. She has studied with various slack key artists in the islands. Sarah also speaks the Hawaiian language, having been inspired to learn it after her first visit in 1996. Sarah lives in Hamden with her husband.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Thursday, Aug. 27. AMERICANA: PATRICK DALTON & MIKE SKAGGS

• Friday, Aug. 28. FILM SCREENING: “HEAD” (CT-PRODUCED LIVE PUPPET HORROR FEATURE)

• Thursday, Sept. 3. SOLO GUITAR: JOHN THOMAS, SARAH WHITAKER

• Friday, Sept. 4. JAZZ: BADSLAX

• Wednesday, Sept. 9. COMEDY OPEN MIC WITH JAKE NIETOPSKI

• Thursday, Sept. 10. INDIE ROCK: LA TUNDA

• Friday, Sept. 11. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, Sept. 16. CARIBBEAN/FOLK: LUKE RODNEY

• Friday, Sept. 18. SINGER-SONGWRITER: DAPHNE LEE MARTIN, CHRIS KILEY

Wednesday, Sept. 23. INDIE ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

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

• Thursday, Oct. 1. TRIP HOP: THE FOREST ROOM, HIP-HOP: CHEF THE CHEF

• Friday, Oct. 2. ROCK: HENRY SIDLE

• Thursday, Oct. 8. SINGER-SONGWRITER: FRANK CRITELLI, BEN PARENT

• Friday, Oct. 9. JAZZ: THE JOVAN ALEXANDRE TRIO

• Wednesday, Oct. 14. INDIE ROCK: CHRISTOPHER MIR

• Friday, Oct. 15. SOLO GUITAR/CD RELEASE: GLENN ROTH

• Friday, Oct. 23. ALT-COUNTRY: TANNERSVILLE

• Thursday, Oct. 29. SYNTH POP/ROCK: MISSION ZERO

• Friday, Oct. 30. HALLOWEEN SILENT FILM SCREENING WITH LIVE SCORE: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT

• Friday, Nov. 6. RAGTIME/BLUES: THE RED HOTS

• Wednesday, Nov. 18. FILM SCREENING: THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962)

 

New Releases 8/25/15

Top Hits
AlohaAloha (romance, Bradley Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 19%. Metacritic: 40. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “While I can’t make any excuses for ‘Aloha’ — to the extent it can even figure out what movie it wants to be, it’s not a very good one — I can leaven my disappointment with mercy. Mr. Crowe is a huge fan of forgiveness, and so [occasional appearances to the contrary] am I. I can even say that I had a good time, a better time than I had at ‘Vanilla Sky’ or ‘Elizabethtown.’ But now I’m starting to get a little depressed. I enjoyed ‘Aloha’ the way you can enjoy a catch-up beer with an old friend you don’t have much in common with anymore. Set among military service people and contractors in Hawaii, it’s a loose, leisurely hangout movie, funny and sprawling and full of eccentric, interesting folks.” Read more…)

Citizenfour (Oscar winner, government surveillance, civil liberties, Edward Snowden. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “There are two ways to look at ‘Citizenfour,’ Laura Poitras’ documentary about Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose revelations of widespread surveillance launched a hundred Op-Ed columns a year ago. The first and most obvious is as a piece of advocacy journalism, a goad to further argument about how security and transparency should be balanced in a democracy, about how governments abuse technology, about how official secrets are kept and exposed. The second is as a movie, an elegant and intelligent contribution to the flourishing genre of dystopian allegory… Cinema, even in the service of journalism, is always more than reporting, and focusing on what Ms. Poitras’s film is about risks ignoring what it is. It’s a tense and frightening thriller that blends the brisk globe-trotting of the ‘Bourne’ movies with the spooky, atmospheric effects of a Japanese horror film. And it is also a primal political fable for the digital age, a real-time tableau of the confrontation between the individual and the state.” Read more…)

New Foreign
La_SapienzaLa Sapienza (Italy, drama, Fabrizio Rongione. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 72. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The characters in ‘La Sapienza,’ Eugène Green’s new film, tend to look directly into the camera when they speak, to speak clearly and grammatically, and to refrain from interrupting one another. The rhythm of the editing is similarly deliberate: The camera looks at one person, then another, and patiently surveys a landscape or the interior of an old and magnificent building. This graceful, unhurried style, with its blend of austerity and artifice and its roots in classical French theatrical traditions, is Mr. Green’s signature. American by birth and ardently European by residence and vocation, he elevates formal decorum to a moral principle. ‘La Sapienza,’ quiet and conversational as it seems, is a passionate defense of — and perhaps also an elegy for — an old and dignified ideal of civilization.” Read more…)

War Witch (Democratic Republic of the Congo, war drama, Rachel Mzanza. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “The fourth feature directed by Kim Nguyen, a Montreal-based filmmaker of Vietnamese descent, ‘War Witch’ shows a lot of gunfire but little actual bloodshed. There is nothing so overtly grisly that you might want to avert your eyes. This discretion lends the film an almost disembodied feeling, as if the horrors Komona witnesses and perpetuates were somehow unreal to her, although they are not.” Read more…)

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq (France, thriller, Michel Houellebecq. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 64. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “A fictional movie or perhaps not exactly, ‘The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq’ had its premiere at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival, a year before the Charlie Hebdo killings. There’s no direct connection between the movie and the murders, but both are part of that contested terrain known as Michel Houellebecq. By this, I mean less the real Mr. Houellebecq [whoever he is] than that site in which writerly production meets intellectual validation or condemnation, vociferous public debate and political denunciation. It is this site, this authorial marker that is presumably on view in ‘The Kidnapping,’ a divertingly eccentric, often comically absurd movie about a novelist, also named Michel Houellebecq, who finds something like happiness after being abducted.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Great Gatsby (1939, drama, Alan Ladd. Rotten Tomatoes: 38%. From Bosley Crowther’s New York Times review [log-in required]: “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic story of the ‘prohibition crowd,’ which he told with real irony and pity in ‘The Great Gatsby’ back in 1925, has been brought to the screen by Paramount with particular emphasis upon the aspects of the sentimental romance that formed the thread of the novel’s fragile plot. Except for a few pictorial tracings of parties and brittle high-life, the flavor of the Prohibition era is barely reflected in this new film at the Paramount. Indeed, there are reasons for suspecting that Paramount selected this old tale primarily as a standard conveyance for the image of its charm boy, Alan Ladd. For most of the tragic implications and bitter ironies of Mr. Fitzgerald’s work have gone by the board in allowing for the generous exhibition of Mr. Ladd.” Read more…)

New British (Commonwealth) DVDs
Harry (New Zealand police drama, Oscar Knightley)

New TV
The Good Wife: Season 6 (legal drama, Julianna Margulies)

New Documentaries
CitizenfourCitizenfour (Oscar winner, government surveillance, civil liberties, Edward Snowden. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “There are two ways to look at ‘Citizenfour,’ Laura Poitras’ documentary about Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose revelations of widespread surveillance launched a hundred Op-Ed columns a year ago. The first and most obvious is as a piece of advocacy journalism, a goad to further argument about how security and transparency should be balanced in a democracy, about how governments abuse technology, about how official secrets are kept and exposed. The second is as a movie, an elegant and intelligent contribution to the flourishing genre of dystopian allegory… Cinema, even in the service of journalism, is always more than reporting, and focusing on what Ms. Poitras’s film is about risks ignoring what it is. It’s a tense and frightening thriller that blends the brisk globe-trotting of the ‘Bourne’ movies with the spooky, atmospheric effects of a Japanese horror film. And it is also a primal political fable for the digital age, a real-time tableau of the confrontation between the individual and the state.” Read more…)

Iris (Albert Maysles doc, artist bio. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “There are few better ways right now to spend 80 movie minutes than to see ‘Iris,’ a delightful eye-opener about life, love, statement eyeglasses, bracelets the size of tricycle tires and the art of making the grandest of entrances. Directed by Albert Maysles — one half of the legendary documentary team that made ‘Grey Gardens’ — this is a documentary about a very different kind of woman who holds your imagination from the moment she appears. You can’t take your eyes off Iris Apfel [she wouldn’t have it any other way], but, then, why would you want to?” Read more…)

Film Screening: “HEAD,” a live-action, all-puppet horror film Fri., Aug. 28, at 8 PM

Best Video Performance Space screens “HEAD,” a Connecticut-produced all-puppet horror movie on Friday, Aug. 28. The program starts at 8 PM and admission is $5.

Headblogposterimage_Web

“HEAD” is a one of a kind film starring an all puppet cast in a throwback to the slasher films of the 70’s and 80’s. A group of twenty somethings go for a nice fall weekend camping trip and end up in the middle of nightmare they may never escape from…

“HEAD” is Rated R, for gore, horror, four letter words and anything else you’d expect in a horror movie starring puppets, so we advise leaving the kids at home!

Check out the teaser trailer for “HEAD”:

 

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Tuesday, Aug. 25. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Thursday, Aug. 27. AMERICANA: PATRICK DALTON & MIKE SKAGGS

• Friday, Aug. 28. FILM SCREENING: “HEAD” (CT-PRODUCED LIVE PUPPET HORROR FEATURE)

• Thursday, Sept. 3. SOLO GUITAR: JOHN THOMAS, SARAH WHITAKER

• Friday, Sept. 4. JAZZ: BADSLAX

• Wednesday, Sept. 9. COMEDY OPEN MIC WITH JAKE NIETOPSKI

• Thursday, Sept. 10. INDIE ROCK: LA TUNDA

• Friday, Sept. 11. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, Sept. 16. CARIBBEAN/FOLK: LUKE RODNEY

• Friday, Sept. 18. SINGER-SONGWRITER: DAPHNE LEE MARTIN, CHRIS KILEY

Wednesday, Sept. 23. INDIE ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Tuesday, Sept. 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: HANNAH FAIR & THE NORTH END HONEYS, ABBIE MORIN & THOMAS PEARO

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

• Thursday, Oct. 1. TRIP HOP: THE FOREST ROOM, HIP-HOP: CHEF THE CHEF

• Thursday, Oct. 8. SINGER-SONGWRITER: FRANK CRITELLI, BEN PARENT

• Friday, Oct. 23. ALT-COUNTRY: TANNERSVILLE

• Friday, Oct. 30. HALLOWEEN SILENT FILM SCREENING WITH LIVE SCORE: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT

Music: Patrick Dalton with Mike Skaggs, Mike Kusek on Thurs., Aug. 27, at 8 PM

Rootsy singer-songwriter Patrick Dalton, joined on upright bass by Mike Skaggs, plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Aug. 27. Mike Kusek opens with a solo set. The show starts at 8 PM and there is a $5 cover.

Patrick Dalton

Patrick Dalton

Patrick Dalton is something of a musical encyclopedia. Ask him to play Metallica’s”Master of Puppets” and he will oblige, then he’ll follow up with Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi. Dalton doesn’t simply play guitar or write songs, he absorbs music, breathes it in, digests it and assimilates it.

Dalton’s own music, while strikingly original and nuanced, has a familiarity to it—there’s Delta blues in his studied finger picking, folk and hip hop in his storied lyrics and powerful, breathy voice, big band in his trumpet playing, and classic American songwriting in his melodies. His songs come to terms with everything from death to macro-politics to economics, and while his subject matter may be heavy at times, Dalton’s songs leave you pensive rather than downtrodden, interested rather than pessimistic.

Dalton has lent his talents as both musician and sound engineer to many musical projects, including The Proud Flesh, Sidewalk Dave, Elison Jackson, Ports of Spain, and Ceschi. His flair for dynamics and arrangement is evident in his work as both producer and singer-songwriter, and his collaborations within the New England music scene only serves to expand his musical encyclopedia, volume by volume.

Mike Kusek

Mike Kusek

Michael Kusek is a New Haven based singer songwriter who plays guitar in the groups 10,000 Blades and Bilge Rat. Kusek’s solo material, while still being guitar based, is much more ambient, sometimes gentle, while exploring darker, even sinister tones and themes.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Friday, Aug. 21. BLUEGRASS: FIDDLE FOREVER

• Tuesday, Aug. 25. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Thursday, Aug. 27. AMERICANA: PATRICK DALTON & MIKE SKAGGS

• Friday, Aug. 28. FILM SCREENING: “HEAD” (CT-PRODUCED LIVE PUPPET HORROR FEATURE)

• Thursday, Sept. 3. SOLO GUITAR: JOHN THOMAS, SARAH WHITAKER

• Friday, Sept. 4. JAZZ: BADSLAX

• Wednesday, Sept. 9. COMEDY OPEN MIC WITH JAKE NIETOPSKI

• Thursday, Sept. 10. INDIE ROCK: LA TUNDA

• Friday, Sept. 11. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, Sept. 16. CARIBBEAN/FOLK: LUKE RODNEY

• Friday, Sept. 18. SINGER-SONGWRITER: DAPHNE LEE MARTIN, CHRIS KILEY

Wednesday, Sept. 23. INDIE ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Tuesday, Sept. 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: HANNAH FAIR & THE NORTH END HONEYS, ABBIE MORIN & THOMAS PEARO

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

• Thursday, Oct. 1. TRIP HOP: THE FOREST ROOM, HIP-HOP: CHEF THE CHEF

• Thursday, Oct. 8. SINGER-SONGWRITER: FRANK CRITELLI, BEN PARENT

• Friday, Oct. 23. ALT-COUNTRY: TANNERSVILLE

• Friday, Oct. 30. HALLOWEEN SILENT FILM SCREENING WITH LIVE SCORE: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT

(The Other) Hank’s Picks 8/18/15

Hank_Hoffman_Picks_Image_sketch_WebTwo Days, One Night (dir. Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2014)

Solidarity.

Before it was the name of an independent trade union in Communist Poland, it was the ethic that undergirds all unionism. Put in the words most often associated with the Industrial Workers of the World (colloquially known as the Wobblies), a radical American union most active in the early 1900s (although still around today): An injury to one is an injury to all.

A lack of solidarity at a small solar panels manufacturing firm in Belgium is the act that sets in motion TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT, a superb drama by Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Oscar winning actress Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, a wife and mother who has been on sick leave from work while she battles depression. As she prepares to return she finds out that 14 out of 16 of her fellow workers, when presented with a choice to receive their promised 1,000-euro bonus or lay her off, have voted her out of a job.

But Juliette—a friendly co-worker who was one of the two who voted to save Sandra’s job—has found out that the foreman interfered in the vote by telling some workers their own jobs might be at risk if they didn’t vote for the bonus. She prevails upon Dumont, the owner of the firm, to allow a re-vote on Monday.

It is up to Juliette but more particularly Manu, Sandra’s husband, to encourage Sandra to visit each one of her co-workers over the weekend and lobby them to allow her to keep her job.

Cotillard is a glamorous star but she thoroughly inhabits the role of Sandra, projecting an intense vulnerability. The film is most certainly a commentary on the struggles of workers in the contemporary economy but in no ways a polemic. In Two Days, One Night, the Dardenne brothers have crafted a riveting drama in which even the bit characters—Sandra’s fellow Solwal workers—feel fully realized.

New Releases 8/18/15

Top Hits
Riot_ClubThe Riot Club (drama, Max Irons. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 54. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘The Riot Club,’ a poisonous satire of Britain’s upper class, adapted from Laura Wade’s play ‘Posh,’ may puncture any lingering fantasies that good breeding is synonymous with noblesse oblige. The small group of rich young men on whom it focuses belong to an Oxford University dining club that has a fabled history of drunken mischief making. As they exercise their privilege at the club’s annual bacchanal, an alternate title for the movie comes to mind: ‘Boozing and Vomiting.'” Read more…)

5 to 7 (romance, Anton Yelchin. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 52. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Set in the indeterminate, immediate past, before smart devices became our greatest objects of desire, ‘5 to 7’ takes place in a New York that looks, sounds and feels like a borrowed memory. Some of that memory may have originated with the writer and director Victor Levin, but the characters, their actions and exchanges are so familiar that they can’t help but feel secondhand. Woody Allen’s New York romances [‘Manhattan,’ included) are the most obvious touchstone here, as is sometimes the case with films that take on love in the city. Mr. Levin, a television veteran making his feature directing debut, doesn’t so much quote directly from Mr. Allen; rather, like Nora Ephron in ‘You’ve Got Mail,’ he turns the city into a glittering backdrop as drained of authenticity as a studio backlot.” Read more…)

Walt Disney Short Films Collection (12 Disney short films)

New Blu-Ray Discs
Walt Disney Short Films Collection

New Foreign
Two_Days_One_NightTwo Days, One Night (Belgium, drama, Marion Cotillard. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The world of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne — a zone of factories, housing projects and modest suburban developments in and around the industrial Belgian cities of Seraing and Liège — is no place for a movie star. The Dardenne Brothers, twice winners of the top prize at Cannes, practice an austere and democratic style of realism. Their working-class heroes and heroines make their way in stark circumstances, their ethical dilemmas and material challenges presented without glamour, sentimentality or soundtrack music. That the newest member of this select, unhappy company is played by Marion cotillard, an Oscar winner and glossy-magazine icon, makes very little difference, apart from the fact that Ms. Cotillard’s performance is as fine a piece of screen acting as you will ever see.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Mikado (1939, Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, Kenny Baker. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1939 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Having weathered swinging and heating, ‘The Mikado’ has had no trouble at all in passing its screen test. The film edition of it shown last night at the Rivoli is fairly straight Gilbert & Sullivan served up in a generous and generously colorful Technicolor production, with Kenny Baker, radio star, as a quite acceptable Nanki-Poo, and Martyn Green and Sydney Granville [of the D’Oyly Carte Greens and Granvilles] overacting Ko-Ko and the Pooh-Bah in the best Savoyard tradition. How it will go down with John Q. Public this corner knoweth not, there being no statistics on the proportion of G. & S. addicts in the movie-going group. Our guess is that he will accept it good-naturedly, largely out of politeness to the British sense of whimsy.” Read more…)

New TV
The Blacklist: Season 2 (thriller series, James Spader. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%.)
The Royals: Season 1 (drama/comedy series, William Moseley. Rotten Tomatoes: 28%. Metacritic: 48.)

New Documentaries
Lambert_and_StampLambert & Stamp (music, social history, show business, The Who. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 75. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Lambert & Stamp, a loving, freewheeling new documentary by James D. Cooper, tells this origin story [of the rock band The Who and its managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp] with panache and nostalgia. While it hardly slights the achievements of the musicians — notably Pete Townshend, the band’s guitarist and principal songwriter, who appears on camera as an angry young man in concert footage and as a wise elder statesman in present-day interviews — the film dwells on the improbable partnership behind their success. It is, above all, a portrait of two friends seizing the creative and business opportunities available to their generation.” Read more…)

I Am Chris Farley (bio, comedy, Chris Farley. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 58. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Adhering to an overused backstage template, this documentary conveys a sense of Chris Farley’s quick wit and comic ethos, as well as the gusto with which he approached his routines [at times plunging forward for laughs and not even using his arms to break his falls]. Everyone interviewed — including Mike Myers, Christina Applegate, Adam Sandler and Dan Aykroyd, who is perhaps most wistful among those who compare Mr. Farley to John Belushi — speaks of him affectionately.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Walt Disney Short Films Collection (12 Disney short films)

Music: Bluegrass heaven with Stacy Phillips and His Bluegrass Characters on Tues., Aug. 25, at 7:30 PM

Stacy Phillips and His Bluegrass Characters at Best Video July, 2014.

Stacy Phillips and His Bluegrass Characters at Best Video July, 2014.

Grammy Award-winning dobro/violin player Stacy Phillips brings his recurring last Tuesday-of-the-month bluegrass show to the Best Video Performance Space on Tuesday, Aug. 25. The music will start at 7:30 PM—rather than our usual 8 PM start—and the cover is $5.

Stacy Phillips and His Bluegrass Characters features a rotating pool of the best acoustic musicians and singers in the Northeast.  The band features traditional bluegrass repertoire, good natured insults and a fun approach to this quintessential American music.

This time the band will be Dave Thompson (guitar), Bill DeTurk (banjo) Pete Kelly (bass), Phil Zimmerman (mandolin). As usual, The Characters are led by Grammy award winning dobro/violin player Stacy Phillips. These guys have played all over the world with the likes of Bela Fleck, Mark O’Connor, Pete Rowan, Dave Bromberg, Michael Cleveland, etc. etc.  Expect other fine musicians drop by for a tune or two.

Three chords and the truth, sung from the heart and through the nose. This is a recurring last-Tuesday-of-the-month show.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Friday, Aug. 14. ROCK: THE FURORS, TOM HEARN

• Wednesday, Aug. 19. FOLK: WALKINGWOOD MANDOLIN QUARTET

• Thursday, Aug. 20. INDIE ROCK: THE LYS GUILLORN BAND, CALVIN DeCUTLASS

• Friday, Aug. 21. BLUEGRASS: FIDDLE FOREVER

• Tuesday, Aug. 25. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Thursday, Aug. 27. AMERICANA: PATRICK DALTON & MIKE SKAGGS

• Friday, Aug. 28. FILM SCREENING: “HEAD” (CT-PRODUCED LIVE PUPPET HORROR FEATURE)

• Thursday, Sept. 3. SOLO GUITAR: JOHN THOMAS

• Friday, Sept. 4. JAZZ: BADSLAX

• Wednesday, Sept. 9. COMEDY OPEN MIC WITH JAKE NIETOPSKI

• Thursday, Sept. 10. INDIE ROCK: LA TUNDA

• Friday, Sept. 11. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, Sept. 16. CARIBBEAN/FOLK: LUKE RODNEY

• Friday, Sept. 18. SINGER-SONGWRITER: DAPHNE LEE MARTIN, CHRIS KILEY

Wednesday, Sept. 23. INDIE ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Tuesday, Sept. 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: HANNAH FAIR & THE NORTH END HONEYS, ABBIE MORIN & THOMAS PEARO

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

• Thursday, Oct. 8. SINGER-SONGWRITER: FRANK CRITELLI

• Friday, Oct. 23. ALT-COUNTRY: TANNERSVILLE

• Friday, Oct. 30. HALLOWEEN SILENT FILM SCREENING WITH LIVE SCORE: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT

New Releases 8/11/15

Top Hits
Hot_PursuitHot Pursuit (comedy, Reese Witherspoon. Rotten Tomatoes: 8%. Metacritic: 31. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Hot Pursuit’ is an on-the-run buddy comedy starring Sofia Vergara as the wife of a criminal and Reese Witherspoon [also credited among the film’s producers] as a San Antonio police officer. Thrown together by improbable [though entirely conventional] circumstances, the two women head across Texas, mocking and humiliating each other on the way to mutual appreciation. How you respond to the movie may depend on whether that description raises or lowers your expectations. I’ll admit that mine were perhaps unreasonably high.” Read more…)

Hector and the Search for Happiness (comedy, Simon Pegg. Rotten Tomatoes: 36%. Metacritic: 29. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Fashioned as a sort of fairy tale, ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness,’ based on a novel by the psychiatrist François Lelord, centers on a London therapist who has failed to find satisfaction himself. Tired of leading an ordered existence that’s micromanaged by his lovely girlfriend [Rosamund Pike], Hector [Simon Pegg] sets off, with apparently limitless funds, on a continent-bridging research trip to determine what makes people happy.” Read more…)

Unfriended (horror, Shelley Hennig. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 59. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “A skinflint’s dream, ‘Unfriended’ either raises or lowers the bar for low-budget, big-studio synergy. More provocative sizzle than bloody-disgusting steak, it features a small cast of whozat young actors and was directed by another question mark, Leo Gabriadze. The most recognizable name is Timur Bekmambetov, the cult filmmaker [‘Night Watch’] turned Hollywood name [‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’], who cooked up the idea of making a movie that unfolds almost entirely on computer windows.” Read more…)

Madame Bovary (period drama, Mia Wasikowska. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 52. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Madame Bovary, c’est moi,’ Gustave Flaubert said of his most famous fictional creation. Impulsive, vain and sometimes cruel, she is hardly the most sympathetic character in 19th-century literature, but she is among the most vivid and complicated. Flaubert illuminated her inner life and outward circumstances with a clarity that set a new standard for the novel, one that continues to beguile, and often to frustrate, his followers. And also filmmakers. ‘Madame Bovary’ can be cited as evidence of the fundamental mismatch between movies and books. The novel’s style and structure elude cinematic capture.” Read more…)

The Girl Next Door (2007, horror/thriller, William Atherton. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 29. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “If you’re going to make a film as repellent as ‘Jack Ketchum’s the Girl Next Door,’ you had better make sure that your redeeming reasons for doing so are crystal clear. Gregory M. Wilson, the film’s director, either doesn’t have any such reasons or doesn’t know how to convey them, which means that he has made the kind of movie that makes you wish you could rinse your brain in bleach, to wash all traces of it from your memory.” Read more…)

Welcome to New York (fact-based drama, Gerard Depardieu. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 71.)

New Foreign
Camille_Claudel_1915Camille Claudel 1915 (historical drama, Juliette Binoche. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “The brutally austere films of the French director Bruno Dumont scrutinize human behavior with a chilly, quasi-scientific detachment that borders on misanthropy. His characters are pitiable creatures whose baser instincts are in conflict with their spiritual aspirations. The sexual couplings in his movies are anti-romantic; his lovers rut like farm animals. When Mr. Dumont fixes his gaze on Juliette Binoche in his newest feature, ‘Camille Claudel 1915,’ the disparity between his dispassion and her overflowing humanity generates warmth, a rare quality in his films. One way to describe the movie is as a passionate dialogue between science (Mr. Dumont) and art (Ms. Binoche), in which art comes out ahead.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Group (1966, drama, Candice Bergen. In 1966 New York Times critic Bosley Crowther didn’t like this movie (but maybe you will!) [requires log-in]: “Sidney Lumet must be kidding. His film from Mary McCarthy’s book, ‘The Group,’ is such a feeble and foolish contemplation of the assorted post-college lives of eight young ladies from Vassar, Class of 1933, that it must be a spoof of something—some sort of crude, anti-college-girl joke. If it isn’t—if it is seriously intended—it is the worst misfire of a movie in many a year.” Read more…)

New TV
The Knick: Season 1 (HBO period hospital drama, Clive Owen. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 75. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “‘The Knick’ is unusual and very good. It’s a great leap backward in time, yet another ambitious examination of an important but often overlooked epoch in history. Television keeps forging new bridges to the past. And like ‘Mad Men’ or ‘Manh(a)ttan,’ this show has a revisionist agenda: It, too, explores a field that was defined and dominated by white men, adding contributions by African-Americans and women.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
I_Am_Big_BirdI Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (biography, popular culture, Caroll Spinney, Big Bird. Rotten Tomatoes; 84%. Metacritic: 72. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “The world’s most famous giant bird has a human performer inside it, and it turns out that this nearly anonymous fellow has interesting stories to tell. There’s the one about the puppeteer who was almost part of a space-travel disaster. There’s the one about the guy who wanted to quit the job he was born to do practically before he had started it.” Read more…)

Music: Fiddle Forever draws bows across strings Fri., Aug. 21, at 8 PM

Fiddle_Group_Photo_WebThe quartet Fiddle Forever plays Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Aug. 22. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Fiddlers Howie Bujese, Tahlia Cott, Sophia Chiarandini and guitarist Dick Neal are Fiddle Forever. They perform a variety of lively music revolving around the sound of the three fiddles, sometimes playing in unison, sometimes in harmony, and often in swirling counterpoint. Their show consists of old-time dance tunes and bluegrass breakdowns, pulsating Irish airs, waltzes, and sophisticated swing tunes.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Aug. 12. ELECTRONIC IMPROVISATION: DAVID ELKIN-GINNETTI & DEREK PIOTR

• Thursday, Aug. 13. INDIE FOLK: KINDRED QUEER

• Friday, Aug. 14. ROCK: THE FURORS, TOM HEARN

• Wednesday, Aug. 19. FOLK: WALKINGWOOD MANDOLIN QUARTET

• Thursday, Aug. 20. INDIE ROCK: THE LYS GUILLORN BAND, CALVIN DeCUTLASS

• Friday, Aug. 21. BLUEGRASS: FIDDLE FOREVER

• Tuesday, Aug. 25. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Thursday, Aug. 27. AMERICANA: PATRICK DALTON & MIKE SKAGGS

• Friday, Aug. 28. FILM SCREENING: “HEAD” (CT-PRODUCED LIVE PUPPET HORROR FEATURE)

• Friday, Sept. 4. JAZZ: BADSLAX

• Wednesday, Sept. 9. COMEDY OPEN MIC WITH JAKE NIETOPSKI

• Thursday, Sept. 10. INDIE ROCK: LA TUNDA

• Friday, Sept. 11. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNW MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, Sept. 16. CARIBBEAN/FOLK: LUKE RODNEY

• Friday, Sept. 18. SINGER-SONGWRITER: DAPHNE LEE MARTIN

• Tuesday, Sept. 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: HANNAH FAIR

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

• Thursday, Oct. 8. SINGER-SONGWRITER: FRANK CRITELLI

• Friday, Oct. 23. ALT-COUNTRY: TANNERSVILLE

• Friday, Oct. 30. HALLOWEEN FILM SCREENING WITH LIVE SCORE: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT