New releases 4/20/21

Top Hits
Body Brokers (drama, Jack Kilmer. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 64. From Noel Murray’s Los Angeles Times review: “‘Body Brokers’ is too fascinating and deeply felt to dismiss. For every bluntly melodramatic moment, there are three or four that are bracingly real, detailing Utah’s disillusionment as he realizes not all of his ‘helpers’ are on the up-and-up. The plot here is too plain, but the details are vivid and the outrage palpable. If nothing else, this movie is one hell of an education.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on “The Exorcist” (filmmaking, movie history, William Friedkin. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75. From Glenn Kenny’s RogerEbert.com review: “If you’ve read the great director’s memoir or seen him introducing his films at rep houses, you know that Friedkin, now 85, is operating in a kind of avuncular mode. An autodidact raised in poverty in Chicago, he is remarkably erudite in conversation, or ‘conversation,’ and from the very beginning the correspondences he makes between the formation of his own aesthetic and the way “fate” conspired to lead him to direct ‘The Exorcist’ are dazzling.” Read more…)

There’s Always Tomorrow (1955, romantic melodrama, Barbara Stanwyck. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1956 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Have mercy on Dad. That’s the thesis of Universal’s ‘There’s Always Tomorrow,’ a little tale of domestic relations that came to the Palace yesterday. Here is the situation:Fred MacMurray is comfortably wed to Joan Bennett. He has a nice business, three blossoming children and a tidy home. But his family takes him for granted—treats him slightly worse than a dog. Then along comes Barbara Stanwyck, an old sweetheart—successful, unattached. She is nostalgic, sympathetic. Naturally, Dad falls. What happens next is cut to order—routine procedure, as they say.” Read more…)

New Foreign
Spiral: Seasons 7 & 8 (France, mystery series, Caroline Proust)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
History Is Made at Night (1937, drama, Criterion Collection, Charles Boyer. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1937 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Walter Wanger’s ‘History Is Made at Night,’ which the gentle week-end zephyrs wafted into the Rivoli, is as unreasonably likable a film as we have chuckled over and snorted at this season… As a literary exercise, it is nothing short of multidexterous: a farce with one hand, melodrama with the next, comedy with a third, tragedy a fourth. We have no idea what the average would be. Only an extremely clever cast could have kept the story within credible limits. And that is the picture’s saving virtue: it has an ingratiating group of players, each carrying out his assignment to the letter.” Read more…)

So Proudly We Hail (1943, World War II, Claudette Colbert. From Bosley Crowther’s 1943 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “For the basic fault in this picture is that it sets up the illusion of place but fails to maintain it with the illusion of genuine people there. And so we behold the horror of Bataan through a transparency, through the studiously disheveled glamour of the Misses Colbert, Goddard and Lake.” Read more…)

Save the dates! The 2021 Great Give® is May 4-5; advance giving begins Fri., Apr. 23

Save the dates! The Great Give® 2021 takes place from 8 AM, May 4, through 8 PM, May 5. (Advance giving begins Apr. 23.)

The Great Give®, a 36-hour fundraising marathon coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, is a financial lifeline for hundreds of cultural and social action non-profits in the greater New Haven area. And BVFCC is no exception.

Last year, we raised some $50,000 in The Great Give®, almost doubling our previous best performance. (The Great Give® overall saw an outpouring of generosity in 2020.)

Those funds were crucial to sustaining us through the (still ongoing) lean pandemic months. They enabled us to:

• invest in a beautiful outdoor deck so we could present music shows safely last fall; the shows begin again in mid-April;

• help organize this past fall’s Hamden Black Film Mini-Series;

• and to continue to expand our renowned movie library.

Planning on supporting Best Video and like for your support to go even further? Please consider becoming one of our Best Video Great Give® “fundraisers.” There are thousands of dollars in additional prizes for the organizations with the most fundraisers raising $200 or more. Last year, BVFCC won $4,000 for second place in The Great Give®’s “You’ve Got Friends” prize by having over 60 fundraisers who brought in $200 or more. This year, we would like to get that number up to 100 fundraisers. Please contact us at info [AT] bestvideo.com for information on being one of our friendly fundraisers!

And please join us on our deck—paid for by the 2020 Great Give®—for Great Give® Happy Hours on Tuesdays, Apr. 27 and May 4!

We look forward to continue to work on our mission of bringing people, film, and music together and it’s your support in The Great Give® that makes that possible.

Double-your-membership plan rentals through end of April

When we reopened for curbside borrowing of videos last May, we recognized that not being able to browse our shelves was a real loss of value for our monthly and annual members. As a way of making up for that, we let all Best Video Film & Cultural Center members on the 1-movie, 2-movie, and 4-movie plans take out double the number of rentals their plans would entitle them to.

With in-person browsing restored as of April 9, we will continue this benefit through the end of April. In May, the plans will revert back so members with a 1-movie plan can have one film out at time and similar for those on the 2-movie (two movies out at a time) and 4-movie plans (up to four movies out at a time).

We appreciate everybody’s support and understanding as we have tried to navigate these challenges in a way that was both safe for our staff and attentive to our members’ needs.

RESCHEDULED! The Sawtelles play the Best Video deck Sun., Apr. 25, rather than Apr. 16 due to rain/cold forecast

UPDATE: The Sawtelles will play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Sunday, Apr. 25, at 5 PM. This show was rescheduled due to predicted rain and cold for the original date of Friday, Apr. 16.

The Sawtelles play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Friday, Apr. 16, starting at 5 PM.

Husband and wife duo Pete and Julie Riccio are the foundation of the Sawtelles. They have added a new texture to their palette in recent years with the addition of guitarist and saxophonist Richard Brown but will play this show as a duo. Their music is a balance of four elements: alternate-tuned guitar, stand-up drum kit (ala Velvet Underground’s Mo Tucker) and two voices. Peter plays guitar and Julie plays drums; they both sing. Their sparse but intricately arranged pop is as lush as it is captivatingly unique; what is played as important as what isn’t.

Their self-produced DYI philosophy aligns them more with the hand painted Sun Ra LP’s of 1950’s and 60’s then it does with those striving for mainstream commercial success.

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and masks are mandatory. (Yes, you can lower them to take a drink but please raise them up again.)

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar. This has been a real hard time for musicians, almost all of whom have seen their live performance income dry up.

Click here for a complete listing of upcoming events.

RESCHEDULED! Shawn Taylor plays Wed., Apr. 28, instead of Apr. 15 due to rain forecast

Shawn Taylor.

UPDATE: Due to the strong expectation of rain on the originally scheduled date of Thursday, Apr. 15, the show by singer-songwriter Shawn Taylor on the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck has been rescheduled to Wednesday, Apr. 28, starting at 5:30 PM.

Singer-songwriter Shawn Taylor plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Thursday, Apr.15, starting at 5:30 PM.

With a thumping thumb, dancing fingers, wailing harp, deep, gritty, soul stirring vocals and poetic blue collar lyrics, Shawn Taylor’s songs ooze American roots; wandering roots. He’s drawn comparisons from Tom Waites to Ray Lamontagne, Bruce Springsteen to Chris Smither, but his original songs are colored by the experiences of his own working class, wandering roots. He’s been an oysterman, carpenter, hitchhiker, homeowner, familly man, Appalachian Trail ‘thru-hiker’ and a performing musician and song writer, for over twenty years.

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and masks are mandatory. (Yes, you can lower them to take a drink but please raise them up again.)

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar. This has been a real hard time for musicians, almost all of whom have seen their live performance income dry up.

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

Click here for a complete list of upcoming shows.

S.G. Carlson, Patrick Dalton, Alex Burnet share bill Sat., Apr. 24, on Best Video deck

S.G. Carlson, Patrick Dalton, and Alex Burnet play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Sat., Apr. 24, starting at 4:45 PM.

New Haven Connecticut’s S.G. Carlson writes with an acerbic punch. With incisive and often satirical lyrics he explores a fascination with the mundane, good and bad uses of time, and a fist full of bummers. He has worked in different capacities with a variety of bands including but not limited to: Ports of Spain, Laundry Day, The Proud Flesh, 10K Blades, Rob Carlson and Benefit Street, and Winter White.

According to a New Haven Independent writer, “(Carlson’s) unassuming demeanor masks a rich musical background and artistic presence.”

Patrick 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.

Carlson and Dalton are co-owners of Sans Serif Recording Studio in New Haven.

Alex Burnet is a song writer from New Haven CT. Her work with The Proud Flesh and Laundry Day has gathered regional and nation eyes. Coming off quarantine with new songs and the owner of Free As Birds Records she is ready to stretch her legs; see faces; and play music.

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and masks are mandatory. (Yes, you can lower them to take a drink but please raise them up again.)

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar. This has been a real hard time for musicians, almost all of whom have seen their live performance income dry up.

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

New releases 4/13/21

Top Hits
Willy’s Wonderland (horror/action, Nicolas Cage. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 44. From Owen Gleiberman’s Variety review: “If Rob Zombie made a slasher movie that was also an ‘attack of the killer Muppets’ movie, it might look like ‘Willy’s Wonderland.’ Directed by Kevin Lewis, from a script by G.O. Parsons, this defiantly out-of-the-box and in some ways rather cunning grunge horror film, set from dusk till dawn inside a run-down family fun center, is a tongue-in-cheek thriller that knows how preposterous it is.” Read more…)

I Blame Society (comedy, Gillian Wallace Horvat. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 66. From Liz Whittemore’s Reel News Daily review: “There is no female equivalent for the phrase ‘Balls.’ What would that even look like? Lippy? ‘I Blame Society’ is extra lippy. Starring as a version of herself, filmmaker Gillian Wallace Horvat says all the quiet parts out loud. Then she acts on them just to make a point. And goddamnit, virtual high five from me. This script is unapologetic, bold, and genuinely hilarious.” Read more…)

Rams (comedy remake of Icelandic movie, Sam Neill. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 62. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The rough, dirty life of Australian sheep farmers would seem an unlikely topic to yield much in the way of cinematic lyricism. Especially in a narrative involving sheep actually dying of a devastating disease. Nevertheless, ‘Rams,’ rooted in a 2016 Icelandic movie of the same name, has its pastoral moments [mostly in its breathtaking views of Western Australian landscapes], not to mention raucous comedy.” Read more…)

New Foreign
My Little Sister (Germany/Switzerland, drama, Nina Hoss. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘My Little Sister,’ a tender domestic drama from the Swiss writers and directors Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond, faces terminal illness with a refreshing emotional candor. Lisa [Nina Hoss], a gifted Berlin playwright, stopped writing on the day that her beloved twin brother, Sven [Lars Eidinger], a celebrated theater actor, received his leukemia diagnosis. Since then, she’s been living in artistic limbo in Switzerland, where her husband [Jens Albinus] teaches at a prestigious boarding school. But the demands of Sven’s illness, and Lisa’s inability to accept his decline, only tug her closer to her brother and further from her fracturing marriage.” Read more…)

Fire Will Come (Spain, drama, Amador Arias. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 73. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The opening shots of this new film from the French-born Spanish director Oliver Laxe constitute a kind of declaration of aesthetic principles. Deep in a dark forest, the cinematographer Mauro Herce’s camera descends from a height, then glides ahead, slowly. In unobtrusive cuts, the frame reveals more detail, accentuating the bareness of the trees. The images evoke curiosity and awe without being pompous about it. And soon we see a bulldozer, piling into the wood.” Read more…)

Women Without Men (Iran, drama, Orsi Toth. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 68. From Stephen Holden’s 2010 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Every frame of ‘Women Without Men’ and every image within those frames attest to the background of its first-time director, Shirin Neshat, as a photographer celebrated for her explorations of Islamic gender issues. This visually transfixing film, which originated as a video installation, has the feel of an exhibition of Ms. Neshat’s work whose figures have stirred to life to play out a tragic feminist allegory. With its intense chiaroscuro and meticulous manipulation of color that ranges from stark black and white to richer, shifting hues in scenes set in a metaphorical orchard, the film surpasses even Michael Haneke’s ‘White Ribbon’ in the fierce beauty and precision of its cinematography [by Martin Gschlacht].” Read more…)

The Mole Agent (Chile, documentary/drama on elder abuse. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The movie’s straddling of the dramatic and the documentary forms is unsettling. Unless you unquestioningly accept its method, this chronicle can look like a glaring invasion of privacy. But the film’s people are moving, and the payoff is compassionate, humane and worth heeding.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
The Captive Heart (1946, war drama, Michael Redgrave. From A.W.’s 1946 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The English film makers take a good look at what happened to their prisoners of war in Germany during the late conflict. That examination is unbiased and compassionate to both captive and captor, and despite a somewhat complex story line, which snags the action, this topical and discerning drama emerges as one of the season’s finest importations.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Farmer’s Daughter (1947, comedy/romance, Loretta Young. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “It is a thoroughly pure and pristine examination of the vagaries of romance, mixed in with some healthy observations upon the chicane of politics. And it is also a cheerful comedy-drama of the sort that the movies handle well when they get on the subject of American character without too much sugar in their spoon.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
September 30, 1955 (1978, drama, Richard Thomas. From Vincent Canby’s 1978 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “We seem to be in the grip of a whole new batch of movies that are as much meditations on the meaning of various aspects of American popular culture as they are demonstrations of that culture—‘Saturday Night Fever,’ ‘American Hot Wax,’ ‘Handle With Care’ now James Bridges’s funny, solemn, dead-on-accurate ‘September 30, 1955.’ The film, which opens today at the Cinema II, is all about the sturm und drang precipitated on that day, nearly 23 years ago, in one small Arkansas college town when word is received that James Dean has been killed in a car crash in California.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (bio, brain science, writing, Oliver Sacks. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The neurologist and author recounts anguish, alienation and drug addiction in the book ‘On The Move,’ which this documentary, directed by Ric Burns, shows Sacks seeing to publication in the months before his death. A deftly edited mix of archival footage, still imagery, talking-head interviews and in-the-moment narrative, ‘His Own Life’ — which in a perfect world would be a companion piece to Sacks’s book, not the substitute some might make it — illuminates details of what can only be called an extraordinary existence.“ Read more…)

New Music DVDs
Urgh! A Music War (1981, concert video, The Police, Devo, Joan Jett, more. From Robert Palmer’s 1983 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Urgh! A Music War’ consists of 25 songs or song fragments performed by 24 bands. The opening and closing songs are played by The Police, the most commercially successful group involved. Apparently, the idea behind the format was that the film be ‘democratic’ and reflect the anti-elitist sentiments of the movement it documents. But few rock groups can communicate much of what they stand for or are capable of in one song.” Read more…)

Chet, David & Pete on the Best Video deck Fri., Apr. 23, at 5 PM

Chet, David, and Pete play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Friday, Apr. 23, 2021, starting at 5 PM.

Chet Duke, David Sasso, and Pete Kaufman are three multi-instrumentalists taking turns on guitar, mandolin, and banjo. They sing old country songs. They pick fiddle tunes. And they play original string band music in the acoustic folk tradition. They have previously played Best Video as members of Five ‘N Change, On the Trail, and the Wallace and Sasso Duo.

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and masks are mandatory. (Yes, you can lower them to take a drink but please raise them up again.)

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar. This has been a real hard time for musicians, almost all of whom have seen their live performance income dry up.

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

Dr. Caterwaul’s, Leg Up play Best Video deck Thurs., Apr. 22, at 5 PM

Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps and Leg Up share the bill on the Best video Film & Cultural Center deck on Thursday, Apr. 22. The music starts at 5 PM.

Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps plays music from around the world and uses it as a launching pad for improvisations that never lose their sense of groove—whether it’s Colombian cumbias, Ethiopian jazz, Romanian horas, Argentinian tangos, traditional music from the United States, or original songs by accordionist and singer Adam Matlock.

The members of Dr. Caterwaul’s are Adam Matlock, Brian Slattery, Chris Cretella, Mike Tepper, and Michael Paolucci.

Leo and Brian Slattery (Leg Up) are two musicians—son and father—who have used the quarantine as a chance to work up their swing repertoire with son on violin and father on guitar. Come hang for a happy hour of tunes ranging from Louis Armstrong and Cole Porter to Antonio Carlos Jobim and Django Reinhardt, in all likelihood punctuated by banter filled with outrageous puns.

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and masks are mandatory. (Yes, you can lower them to take a drink but please raise them up again.)

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar. This has been a real hard time for musicians, almost all of whom have seen their live performance income dry up.

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

Click here for a complete listing of upcoming events.

Songs + Stories 11 on the Best Video deck Sat., Apr. 17, at 4:30 PM

SONGS + STORIES returns to live performance (but outdoors, with masks + social distance), Saturday, April 17th from 4:30 to 6:00 PM. There is a suggested $5 donation to the tip jar for the performers.

The event is hosted by Saul Fussiner and this edition’s theme: is “Friendship Stories.” Paticipating storytellers are Laconia Therrio, Wendy Dalton Marans, Val McKee, and Saul Fussiner. Singer-songwriter Brian Larney will provide the songs this evening.

Beer, wine, and coffee are available at the Best Video Cafe Window.

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and masks are mandatory. (Yes, you can lower them to take a drink but please raise them up again.)

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

Click here for a complete listing of upcoming events.