Archives for November 2015

New Releases 11/10/15

Top Hits
Mr. Holmes (mystery/thriller, Ian McKellen. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 67. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The film’s plots are soft and flimsy, and they don’t mesh as gracefully as they might, but they do serve as an adequate trellis for Mr. McKellen’s performance, which is gratifyingly but unsurprisingly wonderful. With his craggy visage and papery diction, his Holmes is a study in wry, intellectual charisma. Anachronistic as it might be, it isn’t hard to imagine Benedict Cumberbatch, the kinetic, intensely focused Sherlock of the BBC series, aging into this mellow codger.” Read more…)

Self/Less (science fiction, Ben Kingsley. Rotten Tomatoes: 21%. Metacritic: 34. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Self/less,’ written by the brothers David Pastor and Alex Pastor and directed by Tarsem Singh [‘Mirror Mirror,’ ‘The Cell’], has a smooth, opulent look and a plot that consists less of twists than of carefully signaled and executed turns.” Read more…)

Trainwreck (comedy, Amy Schumer. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “In ‘Trainwreck,’ Ms. Schumer plays, well, Amy, a more vanilla version of one of her comically flawed women, who aren’t as remotely together as they think or may appear to be. The movie, which was directed by Judd Apatow from her script, is often extremely funny, even if it never approaches the radicalness of her greatest, most dangerous work. Mr. Apatow’s talent as a movie director is opening up a space on screen in which comic performers (and some total stiffs) can be effortlessly funny together. In “Trainwreck,” he creates a roomy, comfortable vehicle stuffed with second bananas (both professional zanies and guest-starring squares), who support Ms. Schumer as she tosses out jokes, pops her eyes, deploys her deadpan and shows off her gift for old-school physical high jinks, often in heels and minis.” Read more…)

Terminator: Genisys (sci-fi action, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rotten Tomatoes: 25%. Metacritic: 38. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In a scene in ‘Terminator Genisys’ that’s on heavy rotation in the movie’s ads, the ol Arnold Schwarzenegger goes up against the new. The older version has the smoothly pampered skin of the best beauty treatments that Hollywood money can buy, with scarcely a visible line etching his sharply angled and ironed facial planes. Now, though, the new movie’s cyborg has abruptly come deadpan to deadpan with an unlined, recently minted identical twin that, like the original Terminator in 1984, has entered without any clothes. It’s strange to see Old and Young Arnold go at it, their refrigerator-size bodies slamming against each other in what plays like an intimate existential clash.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Trainwreck
Terminator: Genisys
Terminator: Genisys 3D

New Foreign
Beyond Outrage (Japan, gangster drama, Beat Takeshi. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 53. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The men in Takeshi Kitano’s latest yakuza drama, ‘Beyond Outrage,’ are not ones for closure. While professionals in less bloody careers try to move from strength to strength, these mobsters in suits tend to move from outrage to outrage as part of their daily business. In this relentless, insular sequel to Mr. Kitano’s 2011 hit, ‘Outrage,’ actual physical violence is often less shocking than the scheming and betrayal that routinely shake up the traditional hierarchies behind these criminal enterprises.” Read more…)

Far From Men (France, existential drama based on Albert Camus short story, Viggo Mortensen. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 74. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “A tale of two rootless strangers, ‘Far From Men’ takes its inspiration from an Albert Camus short story that was first published in his collection ‘Exile and the Kingdom’ [1957]. The movie is considerably more sentimental than the Camus, which is as arid as its stark milieu and absent a ray of hope. The French writer-director David Oelhoffen fills in some of the narrative’s meaningful blanks with extra characters, back histories, low-key action scenes and a central relationship that feels, by turns, true and like wishful thinking. Camus sets the movie’s initial course, but Mr. Oelhoffen resolutely steers it home with political context, historical hindsight, an unambiguous moral imperative and a pair of well-matched performances; put another way, he makes the story his own.” Read more…)

Fjallbacka Murders (Sweden, crime series, Claudia Galli)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Rolling Thunder (1977, thriller, William Devane. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Vincent Canby’s 1977 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Though ‘Rolling Thunder’ appears to have been made primarily for what is loosely called ‘the action market,’ which will take violence, blood and gore over sex any day, it has a nice feeling for the way small-town America looks and sounds and it has several excellent performances.” Read more…)

Seconds (1966, sci-fi drama, Rock Hudson. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%.)

New British
Restless (World War II spy drama, Hayley Atwell)
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (series, Essie Davis)

New TV
Better Call Saul: Season 1 (Breaking Bad prequel, Bob Odenkirk)

New Documentaries
Do I Sound Gay? (gay/lesbian issues, culture, self esteem, George Takei. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 65. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “David Thorpe’s engaging personal documentary, ‘Do I Sound Gay?,’ tiptoes into treacherous waters, where it stirs up a few ripples before gracefully backing out. Not so long ago, mockery of the sissy queen stereotype, with a limp wrist, a mincing gait and a lisp was a surefire laugh getter for comedians like Bob Hope, who made cruel sport of perceived effeminacy.” Read more…)

Mala Mala (gender identity in Puerto Rico, transgender. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 75. From Daniel M. Gold’s New York Times review: “‘Mala Mala,’ a survey of transgender individuals in Puerto Rico, is nothing if not timely. With Laverne Cox, the Amazon series ‘Transparent’ and Caitlyn Jenner, the topic of gender identity has gone mainstream.” Read more…)

Best Video Film & Cultural Center Grand Opening Celebration this Sun., Nov. 15, from 3-5 pm!

Grand_Opening_Celebration_Caseus_flyer_webWe’re having a party! On Sunday, November 15, from 3-5 pm, come to Best Video Film & Cultural Center to join us in celebrating our new non-profit direction! We’ll have snacks (including great snacks donated by Caseus restaurant), drink, music (by Brian Slattery & Norman Plankey) and we’ll tell you about what’s changing and what’s staying the same.

The event is free and open to the public (but we will gladly accept donations to support our venture at the event).

In an effort to continue its impact in the wake of the Internet era, original owner Hank Paper has sold this vibrant and vital institution to Best Video Film & Cultural Center (BVFCC). Effective November 1, BVFCC has taken ownership of the archive—along with the performance space and café—and will run the venue as an arts not-for-profit.

While many things will stay the same—the incredible archive of DVDs, the cafe, the programming of music and film events—one thing that will change is that BVFCC will offer new rental plan options. Broadening access to Best Video’s incredible library of films, membership plans will allow unlimited rentals without late fees for as little as $10 per month.

Film Screening: “The Manchurian Candidate” on Wed., Nov. 18, at 7 PM

manchurian_candidate_WebBest Video Performance Space will screen the John Frankenheimer movie “The Manchurian Candidate” on Thursday, Nov. 18. The program starts at 7 PM and the cover is $5. Christopher Sharrett, a Professor of Film Studies at Seton Hall University will introduce and discuss the film.

Christopher Sharrett is Professor of Film Studies at Seton Hall University. He has published several books on film, including Mythologies of Violence in Postmodern Media, and The Rifleman. He is a Contributing Writer for Cineaste and Film International. He is on the editorial board of Quarterly Review of Film and Video. He has lived in Hamden for 28 years, and is a Best Video loyalist!

Based on a 1959 novel by Richard Condon and released in theaters in 1962, “The Manchurian Candidate” is a classic Cold War-era suspense film. Laurence Harvey stars as a GI who is brainwashed into becoming a remote control assassin after being captured with other members of his platoon in the Korean War. Other stars are Angela Lansbury, Frank Sinatra and Janet Leigh.

Reviewing the film in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote:

With the air full of international tension, the film “The Manchurian Candidate” pops up with a rash supposition that could serve to scare some viewers half to death—that is, if they should be dupes enough to believe it, which we solemnly trust they won’t.

Its story of a moody young fellow who was captured by the Communists during the Korean campaign and brain-washed by them to do their bidding as a high-level assassin when he gets home to America is as wild a piece of fiction as anything Alfred Hitchcock might present, but it could agitate some grave imaginings in anxious minds these days, especially since it is directed and acted in a taut and vivid way.

The late critic Roger Ebert listed “The Manchurian Candidate” as one of the Great Movies and wrote in 2003, “Seen today, ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ feels astonishingly contemporary; its astringent political satire still bites, and its story has uncanny contemporary echoes. The villains plan to exploit a terrorist act, “rallying a nation of viewers to hysteria, to sweep us up into the White House with powers that will make martial law seem like anarchy.”

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Nov. 11. ROCK: ROPE; TRIP-HOP SOLO GUITAR: THE FOREST ROOM

• Friday, Nov. 13. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

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

• Thursday, Nov. 19. DARK FOLK: ELISA FLYNN; SOUL PUNK: AN HISTORIC

• Friday, Nov. 20. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Sunday, Nov. 22. FILM SCREENING/BLACK LIVES MATTER BENEFIT: “ANNE BRADEN: SOUTHERN PATRIOT”

• Friday, Nov. 27. ACOUSTIC ROCK: THE BIRDMEN

• Thursday, Dec. 3. ELECTRONIC: AVMUS

• Friday, Dec. 4. CLASSICAL: RAVENNA MICHALSEN & BETHANY WILDER

• Thursday, Dec. 10. BLUES/FOLK/COUNTRY: CODA BLUE

 

Music: Sambeleza plays Brazilian music Fri., Nov.13, at 8 PM

coverimagejpgsmall_WebSambeleza plays Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Nov. 13. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Sambeleza—featuring Isabella Mendes, Jeff Fuller, Joe Carter and Asher Delerme—performs a wide variety of Brazilian songs, both old and new, with a jazz twist. Featured composers include Tom Jobim and Ary Barroso, as well as younger composers like Djavan, Debora Gurgel and Arlindo Cruz. A few originals by group members are added to the mix.

Their first CD, “Sambeleza Live,” was released this past spring. It was recorded live at Summer Solstice Samba in June, 2014 at Voices Cafe of the Unitarian Church in Westport in association with WPKN-FM. Along with Sambeleza members Isabella Mendes, Jeff Fuller and Joe Carter on that date were special guests Ali Ryerson (flute), Adriano Santos (drums) and Ze Mauricio (percussion).

Brasil (spelled with an “s” in Portuguese) is well known for its rich heritage—a blend of indigenous, African and European cultures—from which the music has risen with fascinating rhythms, soaring melodies and colorful harmonies. The musicians of Sambeleza are outstanding U. S. and Brazilian interpreters of the great songs of the bossa nova and samba traditions, as well as outstanding jazz artists in their own right. Sambeleza derives its name from two words: samba, the national dance of Brasil, and beleza, Portuguese for “beauty.”

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Nov. 11. ROCK: ROPE; TRIP-HOP SOLO GUITAR: THE FOREST ROOM

• Friday, Nov. 13. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

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

• Thursday, Nov. 19. DARK FOLK: ELISA FLYNN; SOUL PUNK: AN HISTORIC

• Friday, Nov. 20. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Sunday, Nov. 22. FILM SCREENING/BLACK LIVES MATTER BENEFIT: “ANNE BRADEN: SOUTHERN PATRIOT”

• Friday, Nov. 27. ACOUSTIC ROCK: THE BIRDMEN

• Thursday, Dec. 3. ELECTRONIC: AVMUS

• Friday, Dec. 4. CLASSICAL: RAVENNA MICHALSEN & BETHANY WILDER

• Thursday, Dec. 10. BLUES/FOLK/COUNTRY: CODA BLUE

Music: Rope, The Forest Room on Wed., Nov. 11, at 8 PM

The group Rope and solo performer The Forest Room play Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Nov. 11. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Rope_BV_082114_Web

ROPE is a New Haven based trio playing original music, classics, underground gems, lowdown blues and folk. We also dig surf-music and lay it out both electric and acoustic. Members are all veteran performers having played in such bands as Bill Bakers Satins, SUBDUEDS (New Haven), Christine Ohlman, Hilton Valentine’s Skiffledog (guitarist for The Animals) to name a few. Sal Paradise—guitars vocals, composer/arranger—has been active in the New Haven and CT Music scene since 1978.

ROPE is Sal Paradise (guitar, vocals) Pat Quinn, (drums, back-up vocals) and David Hurd (bass).

Opener The Forest Room is Matt Streit playing solo acoustic guitar through a bevy of effects pedals.The Forest Room conjures up wonderful psychedelic ambient instrumentals, lush with echoes and oftentimes playing counter-melodies against his own lines repeated through loop pedals.

Forest_Room_BV_100115_Web

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Nov. 11. ROCK: ROPE; TRIP-HOP SOLO GUITAR: THE FOREST ROOM

• Friday, Nov. 13. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

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

• Thursday, Nov. 19. DARK FOLK: ELISA FLYNN; SOUL PUNK: AN HISTORIC

• Friday, Nov. 20. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Sunday, Nov. 22. FILM SCREENING/BLACK LIVES MATTER BENEFIT: “ANNE BRADEN: SOUTHERN PATRIOT”

• Friday, Nov. 27. ACOUSTIC ROCK: THE BIRDMEN

• Thursday, Dec. 3. ELECTRONIC: AVMUS

• Friday, Dec. 4. CLASSICAL: RAVENNA MICHALSEN & BETHANY WILDER

• Thursday, Dec. 10. BLUES/FOLK/COUNTRY: CODA BLUE

 

New Releases 11/3/15

Top Hits
Inside Out (Pixar animated feature, Amy Poehler. Rotten Tomatoes: 98. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Can movies think? This is a longstanding critical question, usually answered in the negative. Literature, the thinking goes, is uniquely able to show us the flow of thought and feeling from within, but the camera’s eye and the two-dimensional screen can’t take us past the external signs of consciousness. We can look at faces in various configurations of pleasure or distress, but minds remain invisible, mysterious, beyond the reach of cinema. One of the many accomplishments of ‘Inside Out’ — a thrilling return to form for Pixar Animation Studios after a few years of commercially successful submasterpieces — is that it demolishes this assumption.” Read more…)

Vacation (comedy, Ed Helms. Rotten Tomatoes: 26. Metacritic: 34. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “The kid with the potty mouth may cost Warner Bros. some business at the box office, but in a strange way he elevates ‘Vacation,’ a very funny R-rated movie with a PG-13 heart. The film is a sort of sequel to “National Lampoon’s Vacation,’ the 1983 comedy in which Chevy Chase played Clark Griswold, a father determined to drag his family across the country for a vacation at an amusement park called Walley World. One of those children, Rusty, has grown up and now embarks on the same ill-advised odyssey with his wife and two sons.” Read more…)

The End of the Tour (drama, Jesse Eisenberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 92. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, with screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Yale Professor of English and Theater Studies Donald Margulies. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “And since I’m about to praise a movie about David Foster Wallace that claims fidelity to at least some of the facts of his life, I should perhaps identify myself as a devoted nonconsumer of literary biographies, an avowed biopic skeptic and, unless someone offers me a lot of money to write one, a habitual avoider of celebrity profiles. So by all rights I should hate ‘The End of the Tour,’ James Ponsoldt’s new film, a portrait of the writer that has its origins in a (never-published) magazine profile. In fact, I love it.” Read more…)

She’s Funny That Way (comedy, Owen Wilson. Rotten Tomatoes: 38. Metacritic: 45. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “If only the title of ‘She’s Funny That Way’ were true, then maybe this creaky throwback padded with Hollywood names and fake accents could be forgiven its many failings. But there’s barely a whiz-bang punch line or smoothly executed setup to be found in a movie that longs to be a sparkling bedroom comedy and winds up a tortured, fizz-free farce.” Read more…)

Dark Places (thriller, Charlize Theron. Rotten Tomatoes: 26. Metacritic: 39.)

New Blu-Ray
Vacation
Inside Out

New Foreign
About Elly (Iran, thriller, Golshifteh Farahani. Rotten Tomatoes: 97. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “If the setup of the Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s devastating film ‘About Elly’ sounds familiar, it’s because this story of a young woman who disappears during a festive weekend outing at a coastal resort resembles that of Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic ‘L’Avventura.’ In both movies, a frantic and futile search ensues. But in “L’Avventura” that search is soon abandoned. In ‘About Elly’ the tension mounts, and accusations fly over who is to blame. With reputations at stake, lies are told.” Read more…)

Güeros (Mexico, drama, Tenoch Huerta. Rotten Tomatoes: 93. Metacritic: 77. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Shot in black-and-white, in the boxy, old-fashioned aspect ratio that seems to be the latest thing in art-cinema retro fashion, Alonso Ruizpalacios’s ‘Güeros’ manages to feel both sweetly nostalgic and exuberantly now. It takes place in 1999, during a period of student unrest in Mexico, and many of the young people on screen, militants and slackers alike, live consciously in the shadow of 1968, when campus uprisings shook the country and were murderously suppressed by the military.” Read more…)

New TV
Manhattan: Season 1 (historical drama series on the building of the Bomb, John Benjamin Hickey. Rotten Tomatoes: 90. Metacritic: 80.)

New Documentaries
Los Angeles Plays Itself (cinema history, urban history. Rotten Tomatoes: 95. Metacritic: 86. From A.O. Scott’s 2004 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “According to Thom Andersen, ‘Los Angeles is where the relationship between reality and representation gets muddled.’ This is in no small part because the misrepresentation of reality drives that city’s most prominent industry, the movies. In ‘Los Angeles Plays Itself,’ his sober and indignant new documentary, Mr. Andersen takes movies involving his hometown as his subject, his source of evidence, and the target of a thought-provoking if sometimes crabby indictment. ‘This is the city,’ he writes in the film’s first-person narration [read by Encke King]. ‘They make movies here. I live here. Sometimes I think that gives me the right to criticize.’ And criticize he does, using clips from more than 200 films over nearly three hours in his defense of exploited and beleaguered Los Angeles against the cultural imperialism of Hollywood.” Read more…)

Seymour: An Introduction (teaching, music, Seymour Bernstein, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 100. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “As its title suggests, ‘Seymour: An Introduction’ doesn’t try to offer the final word on its subject, Seymour Bernstein, the pianist, composer, teacher, philosopher and ultimate New Yorker. Instead, in 81 transporting minutes, this intimate, big-hearted documentary draws you so completely into his world that you feel as if you know all there is to know, even as questions linger. So effectively does it close the distance between you and Mr. Bernstein that afterward you may find yourself scanning the streets, hoping to catch sight of him, as if for an old friend.” Read more…)

Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal (politics, media, history, Gore Vidal. Rotten Tomatoes: 94. Metacritic: 77. From A.O. Scott’s new York Times review: “In 1968, as the summer political-convention season approached, ABC News decided to take a gamble. The network seemed permanently stuck in third place, and its news division in particular suffered from the lack of a brand-name on-air authority figure to compete with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley at NBC or Walter Cronkite at CBS. Back in those days, the two leading networks covered the conventions live from beginning to end. [Can you imagine?] Instead of comprehensiveness, ABC went for provocation and at least the illusion of intellectual heft, hiring Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley to conduct a series of debates during the Republican circus in Miami and the subsequent Democratic debacle in Chicago. ‘Best of Enemies,’ Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s  lively new documentary, an accessible assemblage of archival footage and talking-head analysis, mines the Buckley-Vidal skirmishes for nuggets of historical insight.” Read more…)

Best Video is now Best Video Film & Cultural Center

Best_Video_Revised

The new logo for Best Video Film & Cultural Center, designed by John Bent. See more of John’s work at http://johncharlesbent.com/design/

After 30 years of serving Greater New Haven, Best Video—one of the last brick-and-mortar video stores in the state—has changed hands. In an effort to continue its impact in the wake of the Internet era, original owner Hank Paper has sold this vibrant and vital institution to Best Video Film & Cultural Center (BVFCC). Effective November 1, BVFCC has taken ownership of the archive—along with the performance space and café—and will run the venue as an arts not-for-profit.

While many things will stay the same—the incredible archive of DVDs, the cafe, the programming of music and film events—one thing that will change is that BVFCC will offer new rental plan options. Broadening access to Best Video’s incredible library of films, membership plans will allow unlimited rentals without late fees for as little as $10 per month.

“With the formation of Best Video Film and Cultural Institute we will be able to continue the legacy started years ago by Hank Paper. BVFCC will honor the tradition of film and bring to it ongoing community events, discussions and connection,” says Lisa Lochner, a member of the BVFCC Board of Directors. “While Netflix and Amazon as mediums for viewing film are convenient, it seems that the rich discussion of films is lost. I have long valued the ability to walk into Best Video and start a personal conversation about films current and past. And the Best Video archive has lots of great films not available through streaming.”

Kicking off its new mission as a not-for-profit organization, BVFCC will host a Grand Opening Celebration on Sunday, November 15, from 3—5 p.m. The event will be an opportunity to celebrate and learn more about this new chapter. BVFCC invites the community to enjoy some fun, family-friendly tunes, and eat, drink and be merry. The Grand Opening Celebration is free and open to the public although, of course, donations to BVFCC are welcome.

Designer John Bent generously donated his services designing a brochure promoting the new BVFCC as well as creating a new logo for the organization. John’s design nods to the past while pointing the way toward our future.