Mark Schenker’s “How to Read a Film” series continues with “The Searchers” Sun., Oct. 24, 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, which started Sun., Oct. 3, at 2 PM. Admission to each lecture is $7.

The series continues on Sun., Oct. 24, at 2 PM as Schenker illuminates the 1956 John Ford western “The Searchers.” (Schenker explored the screwball comedy “Bringing Up Baby” as the first film in this series; the second was the noir “Criss Cross.”)

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.”

This will be an indoors event with the following covid protocols in place:
• 30 attendees max
• proof of vaccination required
• masks required (they can be lowered to take drinks or eat popcorn but should be raised back up when done)

The remaining schedule for the series:

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 50th anniversary appreciation of “The Searchers,” the New York Times critic A.O. Scott writes:

Ernest Hemingway once said that all of American literature could be traced back to one book, Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” and something similar might be said of American cinema and “The Searchers.” It has become one of those movies that you see, in part, through the movies that came after it and that show traces of its influence. “Apocalypse Now,” “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Kill Bill,” “Brokeback Mountain”: those were the titles that flickered in my consciousness in the final seconds of a recent screening in Cannes of Ford’s masterwork, all because, at crucial moments, they seem to pay homage to that single, signature shot.

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.

Rock with The Shellye Valauskas Experience Sat., Oct. 23

The Shellye Valauskas Experience plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Sat., Oct. 23, 2021. The show starts at 5 PM.

Based in the New Haven area, Shellye Valauskas and Dean Falcone have been making music together for years. In addition to being Valauskas’ songwriting collaborator, bandmate & producer, Falcone has served the Connecticut music scene since the early ’80s with Jon Brion in The Excerpts, his own Dean and the Dragsters and a host of others. He has also worked on a national level collaborating with Norah Jones, Brian May (Queen), Aimee Mann, Lydia Loveless, Susannah Hoffs and Neko Case. Valauskas and Falcone’s shared love for the punchy pop of Crowded House, The Posies and Aimee Mann helped them nail a distinctive yet accessible radio-friendly sound from the start.

Valauskas and Falcone will be joined at this show by Brian Stevens (bass), Jim Balga (percussion), and Bruce Crowder (keyboards). The Shellye Valauskas Experience released their full-length LP “History of Panic” to rave reviews. Robert L. Ross at Popdose declared, “That’s the key thing – it satisfies on every level. The entire album. Listen to this and tell me you’re not instantly in love with it. It’s impossible to not be.”

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.

Joe Carter-Jeff Fuller Brazilian Jazz Duo perform Fri., Oct. 22

The Joe Carter-Jeff Fuller Brazilian Jazz Duo plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Fri., Oct. 22. The duo features Joe Carter on guitar and Jeff Fuller on upright bass. The show starts at 5 PM.

The Joe Carter Brazilian Jazz Duo celebrates the music of Brazil – Samba, Bossa Nova, Choro, Baiao and more. Their repertoire features songs by Brazil’s classic composers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Moacir Santos, Jacob do Bandolim, Luiz Bonfa, Pixinguinha, Baden Powell, Ary Barroso and others. The Duo takes things a step further by using their Jazz backgrounds to add Jazz improvisation into the tunes, creating a sound that blends the best of both worlds. In other words: the best of Music from “Both Sides of the Equator.”

Having performed in such diverse places as Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba and Recife in Brazil, Bombay, Bangalore and Goa in India, Trossingen and Stuttgart in Germany and Paris and Corsica in France, Joe Carter has used these experiences to form a sound and style based in “Samba Jazz”, a style that combines the improvisational nature of North American Jazz with the lyrical and rhythmical aspects of Brazilian Bossa Nova, Samba, Choro, Baiao and MPB.

Whether performing on stage and in clubs, teaching jazz and coaching ensembles, or composing and arranging in his home studio, Jeff Fuller brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to all his musical endeavors. An integral part of the Connecticut, New York and international jazz scenes, Fuller toured worldwide and recorded with saxophonists Lou Donaldson and Paquito D’Rivera. He has played with jazz masters from all styles and eras including such diverse artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Mose Allison, “Papa” Jo Jones, Gerry Mulligan, and Clark Terry.

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 10/12/21

Top Hits
Free Guy (action/comedy, Ryan Reynolds. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 62. From Maya Phillips’ New York Times review: “‘Free Guy’ is as agreeable as its main actor; Reynolds taps into his endless well of nice-guy charisma to deliver an adorable brand of humor that feels like ‘Deadpool’ Lite. And the various comic-relief characters [Lil Rel Howery as Guy’s clueless best friend, Waititi as the toxic boss] and cameos [a priceless Channing Tatum and a Marvel surprise] make for a perfectly enjoyable experience.” Read more…)

Cruella (live action Disney family/adventure/comedy, Emma Stone. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 59. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Cruella’ is a vaguely retro costume party with a doggedly retro playlist — a treat for fashion-curious kids whipped up by the boomers and Gen Xers who hold the keys to the Disney I.P. storage locker. And there’s a millennial Oscar winner in the titular role. When I say it has something for everyone I’m not being sarcastic, though I’m also not being entirely complimentary.” Read more…)

The Green Knight (fantasy/adventure, Dev Patel.) Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “From Wagner to ‘Game of Thrones’ and back again, pop-cultural medievalism has a habit of leavening sublimity and solemnity with heavy doses of intended or inadvertent silliness. The most sincere compliment I can pay ‘The Green Knight’ is that it often feels like a tribute to ‘The Seventh Seal’ by way of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ Or maybe vice versa, with some Led Zeppelin deep cuts thrown in.” Read more…)

Sweet Thing (drama, Lana Rockwell. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 73. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “What makes this simple story special is the style that the writer and director Alexandre Rockwell brings to the screen. Rockwell cast his wife and two children as Eve, Billie and Nico, and their ease and familiarity lends the film naturalistic warmth. His high contrast black-and-white film photography captures the shimmer of light in Billie’s hair. The shadows of her mother’s home sink into oblivion. The movie’s eclectic soundtrack — with songs from Billie Holiday, Van Morrison and Arvo Pärt — sets a nostalgic mood.” Read more…)

The Vigil (horror, Dave Davis. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “What could go wrong with just a few hours spent next to a dead body, anyway? So much. Keith Thomas’s slim but effective ‘The Vigil’ milks terror from a minimalistic setup, relying on the shapes we make out with squinted eyes in the shadows.” Read more…)

The Inheritance (drama, Chris Jarell. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Lovia Gyarkye’s Times review: “‘The Inheritance,’ Ephraim Asili’s debut feature film, beautifully abandons genre to consider questions about community, art and Black liberation. The experimental film opens with the story of Julian [Eric Lockley], a young Black man who has recently inherited his grandmother’s house in West Philadelphia. Inspired by his partner, Gwen [Nozipho Mclean], Julian turns the house into a collective, and it quickly becomes a site of robust intellectual exchange, inspired artistry, joy and humor.” Read more…)

Fried Barry (horror/comedy, Gary Green. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Certified Fresh. From Nick Allen’s RogerEbert.com review: “‘Fried Barry’ wants to look at the world from the inside of a kicked-over garbage can. That’s a noble idea, given that you usually don’t get people studies mixed with Midnight movie muck, which includes all of the gore, chewed up hot dogs, and heroin needles with which you can accompany a droning synth score. But viewers with either interest, of getting dirty or getting mindful, will be short-changed.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Cruella
Free Guy
The Green Knight

New Foreign DVDs
Charlatan (Czech Republic, historical drama, Ivan Trojan. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 66. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “As the world’s biggest fan of Peter Watkins’s twisted and superb ‘Edvard Munch,’ I harbor a soft spot for filmmakers who muss up the perfectly coifed looks and reassuring habits of biographical films. The great writer-director Agnieszka Holland — a connoisseur of those deemed “difficult” by society — does not disappoint with ‘Charlatan,’ her fictionalized story of the persecuted Czech herbalist Jan Mikolasek.” Read more…)

Spring Blossom (France, romance, Suzanne Lindon. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “Lindon wrote ‘Spring Blossom’ at the age of 15 while attending high school in Paris and directed it at age 19. The movie owes a debt to naturalistic coming-of-age dramas by French directors like Maurice Pialat, but Lindon’s interpretation of that work occasionally feels like a pastiche. At the same time, she rejects the trope of the angsty teenager, capturing adolescent alienation with buoyancy and subtle whimsy.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (bio, personality, food, Anthony Bourdain. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “There’s scarcely a dry eye in the frame at the conclusion of Morgan Neville’s vivid, jam-packed documentary, ‘Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,’ but this isn’t a hagiography. Bourdain, who died almost exactly three years ago at the age of 61, was many things — chef, sensualist, addict, world traveler — any one of which could have served as the movie’s lodestar. Yet it was as a writer that he found renown, and it is around his words that ‘Roadrunner’ constructs its ominous, uneasy shape.” Read more…)

Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters (dance, bio, Bill T. Jones. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “What happens to a work of art when time displaces it from its original context, and from the impetus that inspired it? That’s a question that can elicit dry theories. But in ‘Can You Bring It?: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters,’ a new documentary directed by Tom Hurwitz and Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo, the answer is passionate and moving.” Read more…)

Kath Bloom, Steve Hartlett play Best Video Thurs., Oct. 21

Avant-folk legend Kath Bloom plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck with her trio on Thurs., Oct. 21. Steve Hartlett, leader of the indie rock group Ovlov, opens at 5 PM with a solo set.

“Bye Bye These Are The Days” is the latest release by luminary songwriter Kath Bloom. Born to a musical family, Kath moved through an early life absorbed and in love with the 60s/70s sea change of musical expression, into developing of her own singular voice that would age to cast a wide net of influence. Her prolific relationship with Loren Mazzacane Connors in the 80s produced a body of work held sacrosanct by generations of avant-folk luminaries. In 2007 Chapter Music released a tribute album to her songs from that time recorded by Bill Callahan, Meg Baird, Mark Kozelek and others, and her song “Come Here” was featured memorably in Richard Linklater’s 1995 film “Before Sunrise”, in a scene which Ethan Hawke claims was “my favorite scene I ever filmed.” Two would-be lovers listen to Bloom hanging on the edge of a kiss, tense and present for a moment just out of sight.

Although performing this strange and yearning body of work at the time made her nervous and withdrawn, she continued to write and perform quietly all the while. She developed happy careers in music therapy for children and horse training, learning new forms of connection that channeled back into her music and healed her relationship with performing.

In recent years she has toured regionally from her home in Connecticut and has been invited several times to tour internationally, honing her current musical partnerships with David Shapiro (guitar, vocals) and Flo Ness (percussion, vocals). While she has been encouraged to release several new records for a new generation of fans, “Bye Bye These Days” is the first to document her current band’s sound. The group interplay and daring here parallels her storied early work but carries a more palpable joy and warmth. This is the sound of a practiced life, learned in all stages of love and loss, and resolute to keep going, like a locomotive deep into the night.”

Raised in Newtown, CT, currently in New Haven, single and ready to jingle. Over the past decade, Steve Hartlett has fronted various bands such as Ovlov, Stove, and a handful of others. Since the start of quarantine there have been 5 solo releases with many more to come.

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.

Isablla Mendes & Flavio Lira play Brazilian music Sat., Oct. 16, at 4:30 PM

Isabella Mendes and Flavio Lira play Brazilian music at Best Video Film & Cultural Center Sat., Oct. 16, The show starts at 4:30 PM.

Isabella Mendes is known for her sensitive interpretations of jazz, bossa novas, as well as the pop-tinged music and her own originals.

Isabella Mendes was born in Brazil, where she began her music studies at the age of 4. Four years later, she was composing and well advanced in mastering the piano, which earned her a scholarship to the world renowned conservatory of music Fundação Magda Tagliaferro, where she went on to earn several prizes in piano competitions and Master Classes.

In 1999, a career opportunity brought her family to the United States, where she continued her musical studies with noted instructors Rachael Elliott and Qi Liu, both then at Yale University. In her senior year of high school, Isabella received the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award and was recognized for her musical achievements with a “2002 Hamden Salutes Young Artists” by the town of Hamden and the State of Connecticut. She further her studies at New Haven’s Educational Center for the Arts (ECA) and has performed at Yale University and Woolsley Hall.

Isabella Mendes’ multicultural musical interpretations and compositions can be enjoyed at her performances throughout Connecticut.

Hailing from Brazil, Flavio Lira is very active and eclectic. Musical styles have never been a restriction for him, and since the beginning, he has performed with groups ranging from Popular Samba to Classical Chamber Music.

“Regardless of style, if there are great musicians on stage, I’m happy to be there!”
​Flavio Lira has kept developing the passion for his own musical roots, as well as working with different musical traditions of the world, such as Jazz, Caribbean music and others.

Living close to New York, Flavio Lira is able to fully employ his versatility as a musician, collaborating with different artists and performing in prestigious venues, such as Birdland and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

As part of his most recent project, Flavio Lira released the album Coffee Gold Sugar Cane, a rhythmic fusion of Brazilian grooves, Cuban clave, Colombian folkloric and jazzy chords.

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.

Daphne Lee Martin, Brian Ember offer solo sets Fri., Oct. 15

Singer-songwriters Daphne Lee Martin and Brian Ember play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Fri., Oct. 15. The show starts at 5:30 PM.

For her sixth album, “The Starter Wife (Pleasure Loves Company),” singer-songwriter Daphne Lee Martin swan dives into a maelstrom of divorce and rises from the wreckage weary, wiser, and ready to take herself a whole lot less seriously. This is cinema verite in song, boldly exploring the disposability of forever after. The intimate and elegant production aesthetic of “The Starter Wife” recalls Joni Mitchell’s early-to-mid 1970s album streak.

Classically-trained composer and singer, Brian Ember, hasn’t stopped making music since singing You Are So Beautiful to his mom as a toddler in the bathtub. He loved Elton John, Michael Jackson and Xanadu in a suburban ’80s neighborhood that tried to force KISS, Mötley Crüe and Stryper down his glammy, effeminate gullet.

With a host of works for string quartet, orchestra, and choirs under his belt, Ember started the string quartet-powered rock band, The Tet Offensive in New York City, fusing his love for counterpoint and gut-string with theatrics and thrashing.

Ember left the strings in the background for his first solo endeavour, The New Chastity, a full-on baroque pop album that takes inspiration from late ’70s musicians like Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, Eric Carmen and Electric Light Orchestra to deliver a deeply personal record about divorce and lost love.

The follow-up EP, “Tomorrow Looked Better Yesterday” and second LP are coming soon.

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.

Best Video receives Avangrid Foundation grant through UI Lighting Up the Arts Resiliency Fund

Best Video Film & Cultural Center, Inc. (BVFCC) wishes to thank the Avangrid Foundation for it’s support through the UI Lighting Up the Arts Resiliency Fund, and everything they do to continue to keep the spotlight on the arts in CT.

In keeping with their ongoing commitment to the creative ecosystem in Greater New Haven, the UI Lighting Up the Arts Resiliency Fund is investing $100,000 to support the artistic community in the region and BVFCC is the grateful recipient of one of their $500 grants. The combined gift from United Illuminating and the Avangrid Foundation will reinvigorate and uplift the cultural and artistic economy as it recovers from the pandemic. According to the Brookings Institution, the creative sector in Connecticut lost $2.4 billion in sales and 33,258 FTE jobs due to the pandemic.

This $100,000 investment represents an expansion of the UI Lighting Up the Arts Resiliency Fund, first launched in 2019 to support the vitality and sustainability of Greater New Haven’s creative community by providing unfettered financial investments in the region’s nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

St. Augustine’s Day, BlueRaspberry play Best Video Thurs., Oct. 14

Will Parker brings two of his musical projects, St. Augustine’s Day and BlueRaspberry, to the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Thurs., Oct. 14. The show starts at 5 PM.

St. Augustine’s Day (aka Folk Punk Dad) is Will Parker’s (mostly) solo project. His songs have been described as alt-folk, compassion core, and punk rock Mister Rogers. Highly prolific, Parker has written over a thousand songs throughout the last twenty years. His songs often openly relate his real-life experiences with mental illness, addiction, and grief. Lyrically, Parker navigates these topics with playfulness and an enduring sense of hope. Parker plays dynamic, fun, high-energy shows that also feel intimate and personal. At one moment, he is fast rapping lyrics like manic pressured speech, and the next he is getting the audience to sing along on a rousing chorus of resilience. Some of his greatest influences include Bob Dylan, the Mountain Goats, and WHY?. He has shared the stage with Days ‘N Daze, Rock Bottom String Band, Chris Conde, and Ceschi.

Will and Cecelia Parker combine their creative powers in their alt-folk duo project, BlueRaspberry. The married couple writes and sings songs about living life with each other and their occasional friendly visitors: anxiety, depression, and mania. Their songs explore these topics and others with a sense of humor paired with wisdom from lived experiences. Their influences include Belle & Sebastian, Kimya Dawson, Paul Baribeau, and the Front Bottoms. They’ve shared the stage with BK Peknik, Optic Arrest, Dylan Alley, and S. Reidy.

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 10/5/21

Top Hits
Space Jam: A New Legacy (animated feature/live action, Lebron James. Rotten Tomatoes: 26%. Metacritic: 36. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The 1996 live-action/animation mash-up comedy ‘Space Jam,’ in which Michael Jordan met the Looney Tunes crew, has a settled reputation as one of those pictures everybody saw but few critics found satisfactory. This did not dissuade Warner Media from constructing a starring vehicle for contemporary basketball titan LeBron James around the same conceit. Only hypertrophied. Naturally. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee from a script by six credited writers, ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ has a bit more on its hectic mind than its predecessor did.” Read more…)

First Date (action/comedy, Shelby Duclos. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 52. From Amy Nicholson’s New York Times review: “‘First Date’ is a boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-evade-goon-squad action romance from Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp, a debut filmmaking team putting their faith in Jean-Luc Godard’s maxim that ‘all you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.’ Hey, that cliché sold Quentin Tarantino’s first scripts, and this likable homage moves at a clip, as though the young writer-directors are impatient to introduce themselves to producers beyond their immediate families.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Munyurangabo (USA/Rwanda, 2007, post-genocide drama, Jeff Rutagengwa. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In a recent issue of The New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch, author of the definitive English-language book on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, wrote about that country’s progress, 15 years after the killing, toward national reconciliation and political normalcy. “Munyurangabo,” a quiet, probing film by Lee Isaac Chung that was first shown at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, examines similar themes in a different key, using the fine-grained techniques of cinematic neorealism to illuminate the psychological and emotional landscape of a still-traumatized place.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Of Human Bondage (1934, drama, Leslie Howard. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1934 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “W. Somerset Maugham’s widely circulated novel, ‘Of Human Bondage,’ has come through the operation of being transferred to the screen in an unexpectedly healthy fashion. It may not possess any great dramatic strength, but the very lifelike quality of the story and the marked authenticity of its atmosphere cause the spectators to hang on every word uttered by the interesting group of characters.” Read more…)

Serenade (1956, musical Mario Lanza. From A.H. Weiler’s 1956 New York Times review: “Although ‘Serenade’ gave the Warner Brothers their full share of script headaches, their efforts to transpose a touchy subject to the screen appear to have paid off. The laundered version of James M. Cain’s somewhat shocking novel, published in 1937, which arrived yesterday as the Music Hall’s Easter attraction, is guaranteed not to startle the customers.Although it now is a basically simple but lengthy tale of an opera singer who is deeply hurt by one love and redeemed by another, it serves to bring Mario Lanza back to the movies.” Read more…)

That Midnight Kiss/ The Toast of New Orleans (1949/1950, musicals, Mario Lanza. From Bosley Crowther’s 1949 New York Times review of “That Midnight Kiss” [requires log-in]: “No one can say that Metro has done things by quarters—or even halves—in bringing forth Mario Lanza, its latest singing man. It has launched the beaming young tenor in a juicy leading role alongside of Kathryn Grayson in a lark called “That Midnight Kiss.” Furthermore, it has loaded this package with music and talent galore, a muchness of colorful production and plenty of pleasant romance. The consequence is a launching of which any opera veteran might be proud.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Power and The Glory (1961, made for TV Graham Greene adaptation, Laurence Olivier. From Jack Gould’s 1961 New York Times review: “Last night’s production of ‘The Power and the Glory,’ starring Sir Laurence Olivier, was an absorbing paradox such as might occur only in television: At one and the same time it was both a proverbial milestone and a major disappointment… Yet as a two-hour entity designed for showing both on home TV and later in motion picture theatres, ‘The Power and The Glory’ was a great expectation that remained largely unfilled. It was extremely elaborate and methodically deliberate. But in its pursuit of epic dimensions, the presentation somehow mislaid the tiny and elusive kernel of inspiration and humanness that would have touched and moved the individual viewer to share in the priest’s agonizing torment and final redeeming sacrifice.” Read more…)

Rad (1986, sports/young adult, Lori Loughlin. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 24. From Walter Goodman’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The bicycle acrobatics behind the credits at the opening of ”Rad” are so spectacular that you wonder what the movie can do to improve on them. The short answer is, nothing. It’s all uphill once the tale gets under way of the hometown rider of a BMX, a type of two-wheeler designed to fly and bounce as well as roll, who beats the arrogant and corrupt outsiders in the big race.” Read more…)

Uncle Sam (1997, horror, Robert Forster. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%.)