New releases 9/28/21

Top Hits
The Forever Purge (horror, Ana de la Reguera. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 53. From Lena Wilson’s New York Times review: “‘The Forever Purge’ tries for political relevance by introducing immigrant protagonists, but it easily excuses racism from the other leads. (After all, Dylan doesn’t seem so bad compared with the bands of white supremacists stalking the film.) Words like ‘colonialism’ and ‘the American dream’ are thrown around, to little avail.” Read more…)

Boys From County Hell (horror/comedy, Jack Rowan. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 56. From Erik Piepenburg’s New York Times review: “Written and directed by Chris Baugh, this is as much a slap-happy creature feature as it is a touching dramedy about friendship and family bonds. Much of the credit goes to the actor Jack Rowan, who’s all pluck and charm as the young man who defends his blue-collar hamlet against an ancient evil.” Read more…)

The Power (horror, Rose Williams. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%, Certified Fresh. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “In 1970s Britain, as the government and trade unions were warring, blackouts were regularly ordered to conserve power. During one of these pitch-black nights, a timid young woman named Val [Rose Williams] finds herself working the dark shift on her first day of duty as a trainee nurse at a run-down London hospital. The writer and director Corinna Faith doesn’t wait for the lights to dim to unleash the uneasiness in ‘The Power.’ The creaky, eerie atmosphere is felt even in daylight as Val starts to hear children’s indecipherable whispers.” Read more…)

Domino: Battle of the Bones (comedy, Lou Beatty, Jr. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “In the comedy ‘Domino: Battle of the Bones,’ the sports heroes of Compton, Calif., aren’t Lakers, Clippers, Sparks, Kings or Angels. Here, the stars of the neighborhood are bones players — a game better known as dominoes. Their championship comes with a plastic trophy and a $10,000 grand prize. The movie has a tall task to make dominoes seem action-packed, and it overcompensates by stacking its hand with over-the-top theatrics.” Read more…)

42nd Street: The Musical ( musical comedy, Bonnie Langford)

New Blu-Ray
The Sparks Brothers Blu-Ray (music, bio. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Sparks, the musical entity invented and fronted by Ron and Russell Mael, is sometimes rock, sometimes pop, sometimes art song, always idiosyncratic. They’re a cult band with an ever-renewing cult and a career that spans 50 years. ‘The Sparks Brothers,’ an energetic documentary directed by Edgar Wright, explains their appeal in part by emphasizing how it cannot be explained.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Gaia (South Africa, horror, Monique Rockman. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Guy Lodge’s Variety review: “Mother Nature might be predator, prey or another supernatural being altogether in ‘Gaia,’ infiltrating her targets with unfurling shoots and roots and sudden fungal outcrops, until she’s eventually growing from within them. Or so it seems in first-time feature director Jaco Bouwer’s cool, taciturn ecological horror, which isn’t in any kind of hurry to show us exactly what dark forces are at play in the woods that encircle a tensely matched trio of human characters. We do, however, see their effects, manifested as the film’s own. In an elegant fusion of digital and prosthetic artistry, patches of moss burst through skin like a nasty rash; human flesh is aggressively and involuntarily camouflaged by flora.” Read more…)

Throw Down (China, 2004, drama, Aaron Kwok. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Bursting with gangsters, gambling and human weakness in general, ‘Throwdown’ is so strange and idiosyncratic that it’s almost surreal. The prolific director Johnnie To [‘Breaking News’] claims to be paying tribute to the legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa; but after watching the film, his assertion seems either delusional or wickedly provocative. Mr. To’s ‘Throwdown’ and Kurosawa’s first film, ‘Sugata Sanshiro’ [1943], may share a central theme — the less lethal martial art of judo — but there the similarity ends.” Read more…)

Seven Days… Seven Nights aka Moderato Cantabile (France, 1960, drama, Jeanne Moreau. From Bosley Crowther’s 1964 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The main thing is the mood of melancholy that is developed by the director, Peter Brook. Out of a story of Marguerite Duras, who wrote ‘Hiroshima, Mon Amour,’ and a taut, cryptic, sad-eyed performance by a still healthy-looking Jeanne Moreau, he has fashioned a slowly ambulating succession of wistful images that have the emotional content of a haunting sonata or a poem.” Read more…)

Lucky Luciano (Italy/USA, Francesco Rosi-directed crime biopic, Gian Maria Volonté. From Cinescope blog’s post on the film: “But this is the antithesis of the individualized biopic, as Rosi deliberately gives zero psychological depth to Luciano, strips him of any glamour or romantic allure, and makes sure our thoughts never wander into considering how it might feel being in his shoes. Luciano is just a cog in the system, and whether it’s him, Giuliano, Al Capone or any other ambitious power-hungry mob boss, makes no difference to the big picture.” Read more…)

Illustrious Corpses (Italy, 1976, Francesco Rosi-directed mystery/suspense, Lino Ventura. From Vincent Canby’s 1976 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Until one realizes that one has been manipulated to rather predictable ends, ‘Illustrious Corpses’ is a dazzling example of fashionably radical Italian film making—elegantly composed, breathlessly paced, photographed in the beautiful, drained colors of a landscape in mourning for the sun. It’s all so beautiful, in fact, that when you see a long shot of a Sicilian piazza in which everything, including the sky, is the same matching beige, you wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a high-fashion model, dressed to the scarlet nines, posing amid beige urchins.” Read more…)

A Full Day’s Work aka Une Journée Bien Remplie (France, mystery/suspense/comedy, 1973, Jacques Dufilho)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
A Stolen Life (1946, drama, Bette Davis. From Bosley Crowther’s 1946 New York Times review: “The understandable ambition that every actress must feel to play dual roles in a movie, thus multiplying her presence by two, has been ratified by Bette Davis on her own histrionic behalf in her first self-produced Warner picture, “A Stolen Life,” which came to the Hollywood yesterday. But a friend of Miss Davis who has generally found her thoroughly sufficient in single roles must observe that she has proved no advantage by playing her dramatic vis-à-vis.” Read more…)

Winter Meeting (1948, drama, Bette Davis. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review: “Of all the frustrating experiences that Bette Davis has had in films—and, heaven knows, she has had aplenty; indeed, she has had little else—the one she now has in “Winter Meeting,” which came to the Warner yesterday, is clearly the most bewildering, not only for her but for us. For in this rather chilling encounter, Miss Davis discovers to her dismay that she’s in love with a mopish young fellow who really wants to become a priest.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Love & Basketball (sports/romance, 2000, Criterion Collection, Sanaa Lathan. From Elvis Mitchell’s 2000 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “It’s in the small touches that this movie comes alive, and it’s rare that directors can pull off this kind of thing. Generally they overemphasize the hackneyed plot and leave no room for fresh, airy touches that reflect a writer’s soul and a director’s understanding of actors. Ms. Prince-Bythewood is just the opposite, and ‘Love and Basketball’ is the first step, however unsteady, of an intriguing new talent.” Read more…)

Mark Schenker’s “How to Read a Film” series continues with “Criss Cross” Sun., Oct. 10

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is pleased to bring back Mark Schenker for the tenth installment of his popular “How to Read a Film” series, starting on Sun., Oct. 3, at 2 PM. Admission to each lecture is $7.

The series continues on Sun., Oct. 10, as Schenker illuminates the 1949 film noir classic “Criss Cross.” (Schenker explored the screwball comedy “Bringing Up Baby” as the first film in this series.)

In previous installments of “How to Read A Film,” Schenker has zeroed in on a specific director’s oeuvre or focused on four films in a particular genre, like film noir. For this series, he will “focus more broadly on genre, and how a consideration of three great genres of American film can yield a greater understanding of one of Quentin Tarantino’s masterpieces, “Inglourious Basterds,” which audaciously combines aspects of screwball comedy, film noir, and western.”

The remaining schedule for the series:

Sun., Oct. 10, 2 PM: “Criss Cross” (1949, film noir, dir. by Robert Siodmak)

Sun., Oct. 24, 2 PM: “The Searchers” (1956, western, dir. by John Ford)

Sun., Oct. 31, 2 PM: “Inglourious Basterds” (2009, dir. by Quentin Tarantino)

In a capsule review in The New Yorker, Richard Brody writes:

Robert Siodmak’s grimly romantic film noir, from 1949, set in Los Angeles, offers a hectic fusion of on-location texture and stylish artifice. Burt Lancaster stars as Steve Thompson, an armored-car driver whose barroom brawl with a gangster, Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea), is staged to throw police off the trail of their criminal conspiracy. Yet their mutual hatred is real; it’s based on their rivalry for the love of Anna (Yvonne De Carlo), Steve’s ex-wife. Working with a script by the novelist Daniel Fuchs that features long flashbacks and interior monologues, Siodmak builds Steve’s morbidly subjective tale with startling visual flourishes, gestural details, and erotic tensions.

Mark Schenker’s lectures are accompanied by screenings of the films to illustrate the points he is making—it’s like a live commentary track! His previous lectures on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Billy Wilder (among others) and the historical context in which the TV series “Downton Abbey” took place were erudite and entertaining.

(Covid safety protocols for this event will be determined closer to the actual occurrence of the lecture.)

The Living Daylights —aka Alison Farrell & friends—play Best Video Oct. 8

Award-winning singer-songwriters Alison Farrell, Ginny Bales, Cb Sheehan, Cyd Slotoroff and Diane Chodkowski—aka The Living Daylights—share the stage at Best Video Film and Cultural Center Friday, October 8, 2021 at 4:30 PM.

Great songs, great voices, excellent musicianship. Alison was named “Best Singer-Songwriter” by the New Haven Advocate, Ginny won “Songwriter of the Year” from the CT Songwriters Association, Cb Sheehan’s band Go Van Gogh won “Best Pop Band” from the New Haven Advocate, Cyd was called “a wonderful singer and songwriter and song leader” by Pete Seeger and Diane is a sought-after vocalist and has sung with David Roth and Hugh Blumenfeld.

ABOUT OUR SHOWS:

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and conscientiousness on masks. Not everybody is vaccinated yet and our venue wants to advise caution and consideration for others. Masks are optional outside but required if you go inside Best Video.

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. (There will also be a Best Video tip jar for donations.)

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band plays Best Video Thurs., Oct. 7

Restless Mountain returns to Best Video. The band plays on Best Video Film & Cultural Center’s deck at an outdoor show on Thurs., Oct. 7. The music starts at 5 PM.

Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band is a Connecticut-based bluegrass band that always offers a fun mix of traditional standards, entertaining classics and originals that bring fond memories and a smile. In the tradition of bluegrass, Restless Mountain is an all-acoustic band, serving up heartfelt vocals, 3-part harmonies and spicy instrumentals. Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band has been active in Connecticut for over a decade, featuring veteran musicians who love to play and entertain.

Band members are Matt Fleury (vocals, banjo), Jerry Devokaitis (vocals, guitar), Gracin Dorsey (vocals, mandolin), Scott Camara (resophonic guitar), and Dave Aston (bass).

ABOUT OUR SHOWS:

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and conscientiousness on masks. Not everybody is vaccinated yet and our venue wants to advise caution and consideration for others. Masks are optional outside but required if you go inside Best Video.

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. (There will also be a Best Video tip jar for donations.)

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

UPDATE: Norman & the Rockwellians get in the swing Wed., Oct. 6

UPDATE: Norman & The Rockwellians play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Wed., Oct. 6. The show starts at 5:30 PM. (This show has been rescheduled due to the expectation of rain on its original date of Sept. 23.)

Originally formed as the house band for the Institute Library, Norman and the Rockwellians is comprised of members of Swing du Jour, Dr Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps, the Brooklyn Swing Ensemble, and the Galvanized Jazz Band.

Collectively they play the music they love, from the heyday of the American songbook, highlighting Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Fats Waller, George Gershwin, and more! The players are Norman Plankey (guitar), Brian Slattery (trombone & violin), Daniel Elias (clarinet), and Art Hovey (tuba).

Dancing may spontaneously occur. Music you can whistle on your way home.

ABOUT OUR SHOWS:

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and conscientiousness on masks. Not everybody is vaccinated yet and our venue wants to advise caution and consideration for others. Masks are optional outside but required if you go inside Best Video.

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. (There will also be a Best Video tip jar for donations.)

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

New releases 9/21/21

Top Hits
Censor (horror/suspense, Niamh Algar. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Gloomy in tone and gray in palette, ‘Censor’ returns often to a drab screening room where Enid [Niamh Algar], a conscientious British film censor, scrutinizes a stream of gory exploitation movies. It’s the 1980s, and the violence driving the unregulated home-video market has incited a moral panic that’s filling the tabloids and politicians’ outraged speeches.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
I Carry You With Me (Mexico, gay & lesbian romance, Armando Espitia. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Turning time and memory into an elliptical portrait of what it means when borders become barriers, ‘I Carry You With Me,’ the first narrative feature from the documentary filmmaker Heidi Ewing, trades distance for empathy. Dramatizing Iván’s story, and his longtime relationship with his partner, Gerardo Zabaleta (both men are friends of the director), Ewing and her co-writer, Alan Page, paint a journey — and a love story — defined by compromise.” Read more…)

Atlantis (Ukraine, sci-fi, Andriy Rymaruk. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Conventional cinematic dystopian futures almost always compensate for their bleakness with nifty gadgets or, at the very least, incredibly fast and dangerous cars chasing one another. Not ‘Atlantis,’ Ukraine’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year. Written, directed and shot by Valentyn Vasyanovych, the movie is an especially economical, even ruthless exercise in what could be called ‘slow cinema,’ with no shiny widgets in sight.” Read more…)

Never Gonna Snow Again (Poland, comedy, Alec Utgoff. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 69. From Guy Lodge’s Variety review: “In ‘Never Gonna Snow Again,’ a searching, cryptic satire of bourgeois insularity in modern Poland, the magic hands of an immigrant Ukrainian masseur are tasked with easing a litany of woes, from middle-class guilt to climate change anxiety to terminal cancer — though no one thinks to ask him about his own interior aches and pains. After last year’s moody but mildly received English-language diversion ‘The Other Lamb,’ prolific Polish auteur Malgorzata Szumowska returns to home turf in this Venice competition entry, and the result is her most compelling and hauntingly realized film to date.” Read more…)

New Television
Mare of Easttown (HBO crime series, Kate Winslet. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “‘Mare of Easttown,’ which was created and written by Brad Ingelsby and directed by Craig Zobel, is in the tradition of Middle American miserabilism, a genre HBO has cultivated before in ‘I Know This Much Is True’ and other series. They’re shows that aren’t about much of anything besides their characters’ despair and the painstakingly rendered small-town or suburban milieus that inevitably cause it. In ‘Mare of Easttown,’ which takes the form of a crime drama, the fruits of middle-class American life include addiction, adultery, beatings, abduction, rape and murder, and that’s just in the five episodes available to critics.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
The One and Only Dick Gregory (bio, civil rights, race, stand-up comedy, activism, Dick Gregory. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79. From Jason Zinoman’s New York Times review: “‘The One and Only Dick Gregory,’ an aptly titled new documentary, does justice to this fabled performance, setting the scene and the stakes. But what stands out most about this revolutionary moment in comedy is what a small role it plays in the overall portrait here. Gregory, who died in 2017, lived so many lives that he presents a challenge for anyone trying to document them.” Read more…)

The Human Factor (Mideast peace, diplomacy, human psychology. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘The Human Factor’ presents a cogent and involving view of the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, mainly from 1991 until the end of Bill Clinton’s first term, told through the recollections of United States negotiators charged with brokering a peace. It shows how much any international agreement relies on a rare alignment of concrete compromises and personal trust — what the former Middle East envoy Dennis B. Ross here calls the ‘human factor.’” Read more…)

Singer-songwriters Brooke Dougan, Justin Esmer play Sat., Oct. 2

Brooke Dougan and Justin Esmer play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Sat., Oct. 2. The show starts at 5 PM.

Brooke Dougan is a singer songwriter who has been performing all over Connecticut since she was 14. She has a laid back sound with a smooth voice. Brooke sings with an understated vocal style and writes sweet, simply arranged songs that are accented by interesting chord changes. The result are songs that feel familiar but have unexpected twists.

Justin Esmer is a rising 17 year old Filipino indie pop artist from Hamden, Connecticut. When creating music, Justin is inspired by dreaminess, nature, and nostalgia. He’s the lead vocalist in his high school band “Bad Habits” and is a solo artist for his independent project “Esmer.”

ABOUT OUR SHOWS:

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and conscientiousness on masks. Not everybody is vaccinated yet and our venue wants to advise caution and consideration for others. Masks are optional outside but required if you go inside Best Video.

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. (There will also be a Best Video tip jar for donations.)

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

Children’s music with Val McKee Sat., Oct. 2, at 10:30 AM

Val McKee plays music for kids in the Best Video Film & Cultural Center parking lot on Saturday morning, Oct. 2, at 10:30 AM.

Val McKee is a writer, musician, and teacher of both. While Val fronts the band “Junebug Saddle” and has been lucky enough to share a stage or two with some of the area’s finest musicians, she is far more popular with the toddler and preschool audience.

To see just how many little friends Val has made in her ten years of teaching Music Together, join her for a trip to Stop & Shop and wait for the inevitable toddler squeal down an aisle “It’s MISS VAL!” According to Val, being a children’s musician in New Haven is the greatest version of rock star status–like an adorable, fun-sized Beatlemania.

A Tennessee native and mom of three boys, Val’s performances are full of folk and children’s music classics, with plenty of play, education, and humor–heavy on the silly.

Suggested donation is $5-10 per family but nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.

ABOUT OUR SHOWS:

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and conscientiousness on masks. Not everybody is vaccinated yet and our venue wants to advise caution and consideration for others. Masks are optional outside but required if you go inside Best Video.

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

Mark Schenker returns with 10th “How to Read a Film” series Sun., Oct. 3, at 2 PM

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is pleased to bring back Mark Schenker for the tenth installment of his popular “How to Read a Film” series, starting on Sun., Oct. 3, at 2 PM. Admission to each lecture is $7.

In previous installments of “How to Read A Film,” Schenker has zeroed in on a specific director’s oeuvre or focused on four films in a particular genre, like film noir. For this series, he will “focus more broadly on genre, and how a consideration of three great genres of American film can yield a greater understanding of one of Quentin Tarantino’s masterpieces, “Inglourious Basterds,” which audaciously combines aspects of screwball comedy, film noir, and western.”

The schedule for the series:

Sun., Oct. 3, 2 PM: “Bringing Up Baby” (1938, screwball comedy, dir. by Howard Hawks)

Sun., Oct. 10, 2 PM: “Criss Cross” (1949, film noir, dir. by Robert Siodmak)

Sun., Oct. 24, 2 PM: “The Searchers” (1956, western, dir. by John Ford)

Sun., Oct. 31, 2 PM: “Inglourious Basterds” (2009, dir. by Quentin Tarantino)

Of “Bringing Up Baby,” the inaugural film in this series, Brian Tallerico wrote at RogerEbert.com:

Movies don’t get much more delightful and joyous than “Bringing Up Baby,” a film that honestly shaped my youth. Raised on classic musicals, my mother also loved classic comedies, and comedies don’t get more classic than this 1938 screwball masterpiece from Howard Hawks. Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant star in a film that was reportedly so much fun to make that the production had to regularly stop for laugh breaks.

Mark Schenker’s lectures are accompanied by screenings of the films to illustrate the points he is making—it’s like a live commentary track! His previous lectures on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Billy Wilder (among others) and the historical context in which the TV series “Downton Abbey” took place were erudite and entertaining.

(Covid safety protocols for this event will be determined closer to the actual occurrence of the lecture.)

Little Silver return to the Best Video deck Fri., Oct. 1

Little Silver play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Fri., Oct. 1, starting at 5:30 PM.

Little Silver released their debut album “Somewhere You Found My Name” July, 2017. Based in Brooklyn at the time of the recording and now in Hamden, Little Silver is built around the ethereal vocals of married duo Erika Simonian and Steve Curtis. “Somewhere You Found My Name” is a gorgeous collection of original songs which confront the shifting landscape of gaining and losing loved ones, changes in perspective, and the uncertainty of life itself. Little Silver’s sparse arrangements and beautifully understated vocals bring these everyday truths to life.

Simonian and Curtis co-wrote all of the material on the new album. The experience of being partners in both life and music informs the themes of growth, loss, commitment, and the evolution of relationships that are woven throughout “Somewhere You Found My Name.” The beauty in Little Silver’s music is the way that they collaborate and create as a couple, working through life’s changes and encouraging the listener to process these experiences along with them.

ABOUT OUR SHOWS

We ask respect for social distancing, please, and conscientiousness on masks. Not everybody is vaccinated yet and our venue wants to advise caution and consideration for others. Masks are optional outside but required if you go inside Best Video.

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. (There will also be a Best Video tip jar for donations.)

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.