Music on the Best Video deck this week: Thurs., 10/22 (The Sawtelles); Fri., 10/23 (Little Silver); Sat., 10/24 (Chet, David, & Pete)

Best Video Film & Cultural Center has gotten a great response from the community of local musicians to the use of our new deck as a venue. While weather permits, we will be hosting shows Thursday-Saturday during happy hour time with music usually occurring between 4:30 and 7 PM (but exact time varies according to the act).

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.

Playing this week:

Thurs., Oct. 22, 5 PM. Indie Rock: The Sawtelles. 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. It’s a CD release party for their newest CD release, “lost and last/zap.” If you have followed the duo over the last 20 years you know that almost every release is a different color. this one is purple.

Friday, Oct. 23, 4:30 PM. Indie Rock: Little Silver. Originally based in Brooklyn and now calling Hamden their home, Little Silver released their debut album “Somewhere You Found My Name” July, 2017. 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.

Saturday, Oct. 24, 4:30 PM. Bluegrass/Country: Chet, David, & Pete. 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.

New releases 10/20/20

Top Hits
The Plot Against America (HBO series based on Philip Roth book, alternative history of early 1940s fascist takeover in USA, John Turturro. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From James Poniewozik’s Times review: “‘Plot’ is a departure for [David] Simon, who has not adapted a work of fiction before, yet it feels natural. Simon is an artist of granular realism, and the lived-in middle-to-working-class Jewish New Jersey he creates gives the series its power.” Read more…)

Amulet (horror, Alec Secareanu. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 65. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “This is [director Romola] Garai’s feature directing debut, and it is as satisfying as it is promising, despite an unfortunate wind down. She has a great eye — and a real feel for the power of silence and visual textures — but she stumbles when she explains too much. An actress-turned-filmmaker whose credits include ‘Atonement,’ Garai is clearly invested in creating juicy, complex gender roles.” Read more…)

Cut Throat City (crime/action, Shameik Moore. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “While not pursuing the cinematic pyrotechnics of the films and filmmakers mentioned in the opening scene, [hip hop artist and director] RZA tells this story [from a screenplay by Paul Cuschieri] with deliberation and imaginative daring. With ‘Cut Throat City,’ his third feature, he comes into his own as a director.” Read more…)

The Secrets We Keep (post-World War II period drama, Noomi Rapace. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 46. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “An exploitation film that proceeds as if it were a solemn memorial, ‘The Secrets We Keep’ doesn’t do right by the Holocaust history it invokes — or much else. In small-town America around the turn of the 1960s, Maja (Noomi Rapace), a Romanian housewife, spots a stranger whom she believes participated in the assault and murder of a group of women that included her and her sister near the end of World War II. But after kidnapping the man and holding him at gunpoint, with plans to execute him in a pre-dug grave, Maja loses her nerve and brings him home.” Read more…)

Quiz (TV drama, Michael Sheen. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Mike Hale’s Times review: “In ‘Quiz,’ a sprightly three-part British drama coming to AMC on Sunday, form closely follows content. The series is based on a quiz-show scandal that mesmerized Britain in the early 2000s, and it takes the form of a question: Do you think they did it? Directed by Stephen Frears and written by James Graham, based on his play of the same name, ‘Quiz’ dramatizes the events surrounding the September 2001 appearance of an army officer named Charles Ingram on the original, British ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,’ a national sensation then beginning its fourth year. “ Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Gunfighter (1950, western, Criterion Collection, Gregory Peck. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The addicts of Western fiction may find themselves rubbing their eyes and sitting up fast to take notice before five minutes have gone by in Twentieth Century-Fox ‘The Gunfighter,’ which came to the Roxy yesterday. For suddenly they will discover that they are not keeping company with the usual sort of hero of the commonplace Western, at all. Suddenly, indeed, they will discover that they are in the exciting presence of one of the most fascinating Western heroes as ever looked down a six-shooter’s barrel.” Read more…)

Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics IV:
     So Dark the Night (film noir, 1946, Steven Geray. From Time Out’s review: “The film is directed like a million bucks. Visually, it compares with ‘The Big Combo’ as one of Lewis’ purest noir achievements; beyond that, it has more cinematic ideas and effects per square foot of screen than any number of contemporary A features. In other words, it’s a ‘typical’ Lewis movie: low on thinks, but with enough style to send lovers of cinema reeling. “ Read more…)

     Johnny O’Clock (film noir, 1947, Dick Powell. From Bosley Crowther’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Another of those underworld smarties who are as hard and shiny as brass on the outside but who muffle hunks of goodness within their little-boy hearts is the unoriginal hero of Columbia’s ‘Johnny O’Clock,’ which came yesterday to Loew’s Criterion with Dick Powell as its star. And another of those smoldering exhibitions of gambling-joint jealousy and greed, set off against the law’s resistless close-in is what you get in it.” Read more…)

     Walk A Crooked Mile (film noir, 1948, Louis Hayward. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The American atomic scientists who recently have complained about the wild innuendoes of disloyalty that have been passed against distinguished members of their group should see a certain movie called ‘Walk a Crooked Mile.’ Right away, Eric Johnston would be deluged with indignant mail. For this brisk little cops-and-spies picture, which came to Loew’s Criterion yesterday, unqualifiedly places an American scientist in cahoots with Russian atomic spies.” Read more…)

     Walk East On Beacon! (film noir, 1952, George Murphy. From A. Weiler’s 1952 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There should be no doubt at this point that Communist espionage is an insidious but definite menace and the F. B. I. is ever alert to thwart these underground forces if ‘Walk East on Beacon’ is any criterion. But this latest entry in a long line of film exposes of scientific sleuthing produced by Louis de Rochemont in his typical, documentary fashion is serious spy-chasing adventure which, oddly enough, suffers somewhat because of its late arrival. For the newcomer, which was unveiled at the Victoria, is expertly turned melodrama, but melodrama in a familiar format.” Read more…)

Between Midnight And Dawn (film noir, 1950, Mark Stevens)

New British DVDs
Flesh and Blood (British mystery mini-series, Stephen Rea. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 75. From Margaret Lyons’ capsule review for the New York Times: “I wouldn’t call this a British Murder Show™, but this four-part mini-series is British, and there is a murder — or is it an accident? Think ‘juicy domestic drama with a dark side’ rather than ‘bummertown crime times with occasional family chitchat.’” Read more…)

Quiz (TV drama, Michael Sheen)

New TV
The Plot Against America (HBO series based on Philip Roth book, alternative history of early 1940s fascist takeover in USA, John Turturro)

Music, songs, & stories on the Best Video deck Thurs., Oct. 15, & Sat., Oct. 17

Best Video Film & Cultural Center has gotten a great response from the community of local musicians to the use of our new deck as a venue. While weather permits, we will be hosting shows Thursday-Saturday during happy hour time with music usually occurring between 5 and 7 PM (but exact time varies according to the act).

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.

Playing this week:

Thurs., Oct. 15, 5 PM. Singer-Songwriter Vicki F. Vicki F is a rock musician and songwriter who was the lead singer and founder of The Dini Band from 2010 to 2016, and was one of the the lead singers and guitar players for the 80s post-punk band, Troupe DiCoupe, that headlined at CBGBs, Max’s Kansas City, other NYC venues and also Ron’s Place, New Haven. She is now performing originals in and around Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Sat., Oct. 17, 4:30 PM. Songs + Stories. Host Saul Fussiner presents storytellers Kevin “RevKev” Ewing, Saul Fussiner, Cynthia Rojas, and Mike Isko, along with singer-songwriter Joe Flood.

(The show planned for this Friday with The Sawtelles has been rescheduled to Thursday, Oct. 22, due to expected rain this Friday.)

On the schedule for next week:

Thurs., Oct. 22, 5 PM. Indie Rock: The Sawtelles
Fri., Oct. 23, 4:30 PM. Indie Rock: Little Silver
Sat., Oct. 24, 4:30 PM. Bluegrass/Country: Chet, David, & Pete

New releases 10/13/20

Top Hits
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story (drama, Aaron Paul. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 72. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times review: “If remembering the heyday of one of TV’s greatest series is enough for him, then he might be just the audience for ‘El Camino,’ now on Netflix and in theaters. The film, written and directed by the series’s creator, Vince Gilligan, is a well-crafted postscript that entertainingly extends the ‘Breaking Bad’ cinematic universe by two hours without really adding to it.” Read more [but spoilers alert]…)

The Cuban (drama, Ana Golja. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 54. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘The Cuban’ opens with Cuban jazz on the soundtrack and bright watercolors of mid-20th-century Havana accompanying the credits. But things get more subdued, literally, as the watercolors start depicting a nursing home. Moving into live action, the colors are muted, the light diffuse. And they stay that way to the extent that you might wonder if something’s technically wrong. But no. The director, Sergio Navarretta, switches back to vivid color for the vivid-color memories of Luis Garcia [Louis Gossett Jr.], a once-famous Cuban musician, now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.” Read more…)

The Short History of the Long Road (drama, Maggie Siff. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 60. From Tomris Laffly’s Variety review: “A cozy and affecting tale about living off the grid, ‘The Short History of the Long Road’ begins with a peaceful image of a young woman, whose long locks float over sunny pool waters. But her serenity gets cut short by her dad before she can fully immerse in the calm of the moment. And soon enough, the time comes for the duo to hit the road again in their vintage refurbished RV, not even giving the teenager time to finish her hot dog, cooked on a grubby grill that has seen better days.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Tobacconist (Germany, drama, Bruno Ganz. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 55. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The coming-of-age costume drama ‘The Tobacconist’ is set in Vienna during the rise of Nazism, leading up to the German occupation of Austria. But despite taking place during one of the most traumatic periods of modern civilization, the movie itself feels like little more than an amusing trifle, a chance to play dress up with some of history’s most famous figures.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Nothing Sacred (1937, screwball comedy, Carole Lombard. Note to viewers: Opens with a couple of scenes that are frankly racist albeit hardly out of character for that time. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1937 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Ben Hecht has been squinting at ‘The Front Page’ again and, with one eye crinkled shut and the other sardonically glinting, he has written impiously impish comedy about that recurrednt journalistic marvel, the seven-day wonder.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Claudine (1974, drama, Criterion Collection, Diahann Carroll. From Vincent Canby’s 1974 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Claudine,’ the comedy that opened yesterday at the De Mille and Fine Arts Theaters, has its own problems, including a tendency toward cuteness and a form that recalls television’s worst situation comedies. You know the ones — about resourceful moms, dumb dads and smart-talking kids who can burp on cue. The good news this morning is that ‘Claudine’ manages to be very funny, in a couple of instances, triumphantly so.” Read more…)

Rider on the Rain (1970, mystery, Charles Bronson. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. From Vincent Canby’s 1970 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In ‘Rider on the Rain,’ as in so many of his other films, Bronson spends most of the time acting like a villain— seemingly insensitive, short sighted, arrogant and cruel —before being revealed as the hero who is suddenly, almost foolishly generous. It’s one of the ironies of national taste that the very qualities that the French pretend to find so abhorrent in American foreign policy become so beloved in an American savior‐figure.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
XY Chelsea (documentary, LGBTQ, civil liberties, national security, Chelsea Manning.Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 60. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Frustratingly fuzzy and intermittently provocative, ‘XY Chelsea’ profiles Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army analyst who leaked cascades of classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. Picking up as Manning’s 35-year prison sentence is commuted by President Obama in 2017, Tim Travers Hawkins’s good-looking documentary features more glamour shots than psychological insights.” Read more…)

Music this week on the Best Video deck: Seth Adam (10/8), The Red Hots (10/9), Thabisa (10/10)

Best Video Film & Cultural Center has gotten a great response from the community of local musicians to the use of our new deck as a venue. While weather permits, we will be hosting shows Thursday-Saturday during happy hour time with music usually occurring between 5 and 7 PM (but exact time varies according to the act).
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.
Playing this week:
Thurs., Oct. 8, 4:30 PM. Singer-Songwriter Seth Adam. Seth Adam writes compelling, genuine songs with honest lyrics. The alt-country, Americana rocker draws comparisons to Counting Crows, Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, and Jason Isbell.
Fri., Oct. 9, 4:30 PM. Novelties, Swing, & Blues: The Red Hots. The Danbury-based The Red Hots are two beautiful and talented ladies who bring life back to many classic jazz standards, old blues tunes and feisty originals with their blend of unique vocals, ukelele/guitar and harmonica, mixed with driving organic percussion.
Sat., Oct. 10, 5 PM. Afro-Soul: Thabisa. Thabisa, a charismatic dynamo of Afro-soul song from South Africa and now New Haven’s songbird, shares her talents and journey through music and storytelling.

New releases 10/6/20

Top Hits
Fisherman’s Friends (comedy/drama, Tuppence Middleton. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 45. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “This is one of those ‘based on a true story’ movies that rather undercuts its veracity by having every character talk like they’re in a movie. In 2010, in Port Isaac, Cornwall, a quartet of loutish music industry execs throwing a stag weekend for a colleague hear the singing of the local fisherman. Described by one character as ‘the rock ‘n’ roll of 1752,’ it sure has some heavenly harmonies, and one of the louts hears the sound of money.” Read more…)

Valley Girl (comedy/musical, Jessica Rothe. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 53. From Natalia Winkelman’s New York Times review: “The original movie, starring a hunky Nicolas Cage, cast this fantasy of Los Angeles as the backdrop for Julie and Randy’s star-crossed romance: Suburban fashionista meets downtown rebel. The remake… amplifies the couple’s divide by reimagining their affair as a jukebox musical. Encino-based mall rats harmonize to ‘We Got the Beat’; wild children of the strip belt ‘Bad Reputation.’ With teasing self-awareness, the director Rachel Lee Goldenberg flattens the characters into cultural touchstones.” Read more…)

Yes, God, Yes (coming-of-age drama/comedy, Natalia Dyer. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Burdened by a silly R rating that may deter the very youngsters who are likely to enjoy it most, ‘Yes, God, Yes’ [written and directed by Karen Maine] fights back with an appealing lead and an overwhelmingly innocent tone. In its hands, the pleasures of self-pleasuring might be elusive, but they’re never, ever shameful.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Load (Serbia, drama, Leon Lucev. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘The Load’ is set in Yugoslavia in 1999, amid the NATO bombings meant to put an end to roiling ethnic violence. At both the film’s opening and close to its end, bombs are seen from afar — streams of what look like fireworks that ascend and descend but never burst into color. The characters in this atmospheric, gripping film don’t respond to the sight in any way; the explosives are just one more unpleasant component of their unpleasant day-to-day living.” Read more…)

Loveless (Russia, drama, Maryana Spivak. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Unfolding beneath skies the color and density of damp concrete, ‘Loveless,’ the fifth feature from the Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev [after his notable 2014 drama, ‘Leviathan’], uses a toxic marriage to paint a larger portrait of decay, dereliction and moral detachment. And oh, his gaze is pitiless.” Read more…)

Santiago, Italia (Italy/Chile, documentary dir. by Nanni Moretti, history, Italy role in helping opponents of Chilean junta. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Richard Brody’s New Yorker review: “The Italian director Nanni Moretti crafts this fiercely earnest documentary with a frank simplicity that feels remarkably original. The film tells a historical story with personal passion and grand drama: he interviews a wide range of Chileans—factory workers, filmmakers, doctors, writers—about Salvador Allende’s jubilant rise to power, in the early seventies, the Chilean Army’s 1973 coup [aided by the United States], and the monstrous cruelties to which the junta subjected Allende’s sympathizers. One embassy in Santiago—Italy’s—allowed Chileans to take refuge within its walls, and then managed to negotiate their safe passage to Italy” Read more…)

New TV
Rick & Morty: Season 4 (animated TV series. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 84.)

Black Film Mini-Series concludes this Sat., Oct. 3, at 6:30 PM, with Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”

Best Video Film and Cultural Center, Ignite the Light, and Spring Glen Church in collaboration with the Hamden Dept. of Arts and Culture are excited to host the Hamden Black Film Mini-Series and Discussion event. The series consists of three, Black-centered movies with universal themes of love, heroes, loss, immigration and more followed by community discussion with keynote speakers relating each movie to the issues, experiences, joys, struggles and achievements of the Black community in Hamden. Attendees are invited to come for the movies and stay for discussion if interested, otherwise, come out and enjoy films together in the company of community.

The first screening, of “42: The Jackie Robinson Story,” took place on Sept. 17, and “Brown Sugar” was shown Sept. 25.

All movies will be presented outdoors with social distancing on the lawn at Spring Glen Church, 1825 Whitney Avenue. The program starts at 6:30 PM.

The final film in this mini-series will be Saturday, October 3rd, Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.”

Dr. Don C. Sawyer III will introduce and keynote the discussion of “Do the right thing.” Dr. Sawyer is the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. He is a tenured associate professor in the department of sociology, criminal justice, and anthropology as well as assistant clinical professor in the Frank H. Netter, MD, School of Medicine. He teaches courses on Race, Education, Popular Culture, Social Research Methods, and Visual Sociology, including the university’s first course dedicated to the sociological study of hip-hop culture. He earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology and M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University and a B.A. in Psychology from Hartwick College. His scholarly focus is on race, social justice, urban education, hip-hop culture, and the experiences of formerly incarcerated citizens.

Writing in 2001, film critic Roger Ebert declared “Do the Right Thing” one of the “Great Movies”:

I have been given only a few filmgoing experiences in my life to equal the first time I saw “Do the Right Thing.” Most movies remain up there on the screen. Only a few penetrate your soul. In May of 1989 I walked out of the screening at the Cannes Film Festival with tears in my eyes. Spike Lee had done an almost impossible thing. He’d made a movie about race in America that empathized with all the participants. He didn’t draw lines or take sides but simply looked with sadness at one racial flashpoint that stood for many others.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required but an RSVP to the Facebook event is appreciated. Please RSVP to this invitation so we may estimate the number of potential attendees (and calculate available lawn space).

New releases 9/29/20

Top Hits
Phoenix, Oregon (comedy, Jesse Borrego. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 49. From Devika Girish’s New York Times review: “‘Phoenix, Oregon’ is a film of forbidden pleasures, and by that I mean that it features people mingling socially, in close quarters, over food and drink. In normal times, Gary Lundgren’s charming if slight drama…, in which a man overcomes a midlife crisis by reviving a defunct bowling alley, might not register as much more than feel-good entertainment. But during our current pandemic, the film’s ode to small-town camaraderie and the joys of a local hang is rather poignant.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Ivans XTC (drama, 2002, Peter Weller. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. From A.O. Scott’s 2002 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Ivans XTC,’ a new film by Bernard Rose, is adapted from Tolstoy’s classic novella ‘The Death of Ivan Illyich.’ The locale is late-20th-century Hollywood instead of 19th-century Russia, and Tolstoy’s severe humanism has been grafted onto a scabrous, cynical view of the movie industry reminiscent of ‘The Day of the Locust’ or ‘The Player.’ Contrived as this may sound, Mr. Rose’s updating works surprisingly well. His showbiz smoothies and narcissists may inhabit a world far removed from that of the bureaucrats and gentlefolk of Czarist Russia, but the story’s sympathetic, tragic sense of the fragility of individual dignity is, if anything, made even more haunting in this version.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Elephant Man (1980, drama dir. by David Lynch, Criterion Collection, Anne Bancroft. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78. From Vincent Canby’s 1980 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In such a setting it’s no surprise that a kind of sad, desperate genteelness was once equated with human dignity. To be kind and polite, in such a landscape, under such circumstances, when the masses were living in such squalor, were reassuring signs of orthodoxy to a threatened London Establishment. This is one of the vividly unexpected impressions one carries away from ‘The Elephant Man,’ David Lynch’s haunting new film that’s not to be confused with the current Broadway play of the same title, though both are based on the life of the same unfortunate John Merrick, the so-called Elephant Man, and both, I assume, make use of some of the same source materials.” Read more…)

Subway Riders (1981, drama dir. by No Wave filmmaker Amos Poe, Robbie Coltrane. From Time Out: “Not so much subway riders as underground poseurs, Poe’s Manhattan melodramatists – psychotic saxophonist, sweaty cop, junkie femme fatale, assorted night people – do little more than stand still for Johanna Heer’s stylishly noir-conscious camera. Every shot might come ready to be framed, but it’s a frustratingly long walk through the post-Pop gallery when Poe shows no inclination to cut, and even less to encourage his cast to get on with the off-handedly minimal ‘plot.’”)

Unmade Beds (1976, No Wave drama dir. by Amos Poe, Debbie Harry)

New TV
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels: Season 1 (Showtime mystery/crime series, Natalie Dormer. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 60. From Alexis Soloski’s New York Times article on the new series: “This street, the main drag of an invented Chicano neighborhood called Belvedere Heights, hunkers at the symbolic center of ‘Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,’ a fantastical horror-whodunit. Logan’s original ‘Penny Dreadful,’ which ended a three-season run in 2016, offered a speculative fiction supergroup, imagining Dracula, Dorian Gray, Frankenstein and his monster romping through Victorian London. Its companion piece, debuting Sunday on Showtime, is arguably stranger.” Read more…)

The Good Fight: Season 4 (legal drama, Christine Baranski. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 84.)

New Documentaries
Pizza: A Love Story (documentary; New Haven pizza culture with emphasis on Sally’s, Pepe’s & Modern; Gorman Bechard. From Deborah Brown’s review in The Swellesley Report: “In the world of pizza, you should either go New Haven, Connecticut or go home. Face it, if the pizza hasn’t been oven-fired in Wooster Square — specifically Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria or Sally’s Apizza, both on Wooster Street, or Modern Apizza on State Street — that pie isn’t worth the calories or the time it takes to chew. Writer and director Gorman Bechard agrees in the feature-length film ‘Pizza, a Love Story,’ an unabashed celebration of America’s favorite food, when it’s done right.” Read more…)

Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America (music, rap, culture, Queen Latifah. From Jack Hamilton’s Slate review: “The popularity of the above [documentaries on hip hop] [and many, many others] is the clearest indication yet that hip-hop has comfortably settled into what might be considered its classic rock phase. This isn’t to say that the genre has lost any currency or relevance—it remains the most innovative and vibrant sphere of contemporary music—but rather that its past has now become a lucrative commodity unto itself… The show is frequently terrific, and it works best when it’s diving headlong into the granular details of a song’s origins and compositional history.” Read more…)

John Lewis: Good Trouble (biography, civil rights, Black history, John Lewis. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 70. From Ben Kenisgberg’s New York Times review: “The civil rights leader and longtime Georgia congressman John Lewis surely requires no introduction, but ‘John Lewis: Good Trouble,’ a documentary from Dawn Porter, provides a solid one anyway, striking a good balance between revisiting Lewis’s most famous work as an activist and chronicling his life today.” Read more…)

Mondo Balordo (1964, cult period piece “shockumentary” narrated by Boris Karloff)

Black Film Mini-Series continues Fri., Sept. 25, at 6:30 PM with “Brown Sugar”

Best Video Film and Cultural Center, Ignite the Light, and Spring Glen Church in collaboration with the Hamden Dept. of Arts and Culture are excited to host the Hamden Black Film Mini-Series and Discussion event. The series consists of three, Black-centered movies with universal themes of love, heroes, loss, immigration and more followed by community discussion with keynote speakers relating each movie to the issues, experiences, joys, struggles and achievements of the Black community in Hamden. Attendees are invited to come for the movies and stay for discussion if interested, otherwise, come out and enjoy films together in the company of community.

The first screening, of “42: The Jackie Robinson Story,” took place on Sept. 17.

All movies will be presented outdoors with social distancing on the lawn at Spring Glen Church, 1825 Whitney Avenue. NOTE that the time has changed: The program for the final two films will start at 6:30 PM, which is moved up from the 7:30 start time for “42: The Jackie Robinson Story.” The remaining movie line-up is as follows:

Friday, September 25th: Brown Sugar
Saturday, October 3rd: Do the Right Thing

Dr. Siobhan Carter-David from Southern Connecticut State University will lead the discussion for “Brown Sugar.”

Dr. Carter-David is an Assistant Professor in History, teaching in the areas of fashion/beauty studies, American culture and identity politics, and African American, urban, and recent United States history. Her research explores the “new” politics of racial uplift as represented in the fashion instruction of post-Civil Rights African American print media, as well as more broadly, American fashion, beauty culture, and the politics of presentation. She has written and given numerous talks on hip-hop music, black nationalism, youth culture, culture and clothing, and urban style. She also curated an exhibit, “Strong Shoulder: Revisiting the Women’s Power Suit,” which explored the meaning of “power dressing,” its position within third-wave feminism and corporate culture, and the evolution of women’s professional fashions in the 1980s.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required but an RSVP to the Facebook event is appreciated. Please RSVP to this invitation so we may estimate the number of potential attendees (and calculate available lawn space).

Prof. William Foster addressing the audience at the Sept. 17 screening of “Brown Sugar.”

New releases 9/22/20

Top Hits
Babyteeth (drama, Eliza Scanlen. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 77. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Directed by Shannon Murphy from a script that Rita Kalnejais adapted from her play of the same title, ‘Babyteeth’ is such a fragile, earnest and inoffensive thing that I almost feel bad for not liking it more. It’s a coming-of-age story in a gently if overly studied eccentric key that follows Milla [Eliza Scanlen] as she finds love and grapples with her parents.” Read more…)

Waiting for the Barbarians (drama, Mark Rylance. Rotten Tomatoes: 54%. Metacritic: 52. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The stark sight of a western-style military outpost in the middle of a whole lot of desert nothingness, where ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’ begins, may remind cinephiles of the 1976 Valerio Zurlini film ‘The Desert of the Tartars.’ It’s unclear whether the director of this picture, Ciro Guerra, meant the scene as a homage to Zurlini’s film, but he didn’t even need to. As it happens, J.M. Coetzee, whose novel of the same name inspired this film, was likely influenced by Dino Buzzati’s book ‘The Tartar Steppe,’ the source for ‘Tartars.’” Read more…)

Military Wives (drama/inspiration, Kristin Scott Thomas. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 55. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The title ‘Military Wives’ is plain to the point of blandness. This good-hearted comedy-drama, starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan, deserves a little better. The movie is directed by Peter Cattaneo, who also oversaw the 1997 phenom ‘The Full Monty.’” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The City Without Jews

New Foreign DVDs
On A Magical Night (France, comedy/romance, Chiara Mastroianni. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: . From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The original title of this French film, ‘Chambre 212,’ is also the hotel room its lead character, Maria, checks into after an argument with her husband, who’s discovered profanely erotic texts from a student with whom she’s been carrying on. Maria, played with exemplary candor and feistiness by Chiara Mastroianni, is a woman who, in early middle age, clearly feels like stirring the pot.” Read more…)

The Girl With a Bracelet (France, courtroom drama, Melissa Guers. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. From Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review: “There’s a cool, forensic reserve to this French movie, mimicking the legalistic procedure that makes up most of the running time. It is a remake of The Accused, a 2018 film from Argentinian director Gonzalo Tobal about a teenage girl on trial for murdering her best friend, allegedly as revenge for putting a sexually explicit video of her online. Guilty or not guilty?” Read more…)

The City Without Jews (Austria, 1924, satiric critique of anti-semitism lated banned by the Nazis. Johannes Reimann. From Jordan Hoffman’s article at Slate on the restoration of the film: “For a story about the forced expulsion of an entire ethnic group, Hans Karl Breslauer and Ida Jenbach’s The City Without Jews is oddly good-natured. Adapted from Hugo Bettauer’s novel, the 1924 satire is not dissimilar from other light silent films of the era. The scenario was topical, but intended as ludicrous, a “be-careful-what-you-wish-for” fable whose moral argues for tolerance, if of a somewhat backhanded kind.” Read more…)

The Koker Trilogy (Iran, dir. by Abbas Kiarostami):
     And Life Goes On (1992, adventure/drama, Farhad Kheradmand. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Stephen Holden’s 1992 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In ‘And Life Goes On,’ that catastrophe is a devastating earthquake in the north of Iran. The Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, accompanied by his young son, drives into the area only a day or two after the quake. Although his ostensible goal is to find out what happened to some young actors who live in the area and who once worked with him, his real quest seems to be the gleaning of as much spectacular post-quake film as possible. The film… is a visually gripping travelogue in which the more the director is thwarted, the more his journey acquires metaphoric weight.” Read more…)
     Through the Olive Trees (1994, drama, Mohamad Ali Keshavarz. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Stephen Holden’s 1994 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The film… is the story of one persistent man’s pursuit of a woman who believes he is beneath her. It is also a richly textured quasi-documentary portrait of a rural Muslim society in which the people display a remarkable resilience in the face of catastrophe. In ‘Through the Olive Trees,’ the Iranian director has some serious cinematic fun in the manner of Truffaut’s ‘Day for Night.’” Read more…)
     Where Is the Friend’s House (1987, drama/family, Babek Ahmed Poor. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From a New York Times “Watching” recommendation: “Though director Abbas Kiarostami’s films would later head off into more overtly challenging and esoteric terrain, ‘Where Is the Friend’s House?’ has all the qualities that put Iranian cinema on the map: formal simplicity, emotional directness, and the use of children as a window into societal ills. As the film’s resolute hero wanders off in search of his friend, Kiarostami contrasts his moral courage and determination with the grown-ups who misinterpret him, condescend to him, or snort at the urgency of his mission.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Never Steal Anything Small (1959, musical/comedy/drama, James Cagney. From A.H. Weiler’s 1959 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Working on the somewhat startling premise that union politics simultaneously can be rough, funny, chivalrous, profitable, romantic and tuneful, scenarist-director Charles Lederer and a company of energetic players headed by James Cagney have not made anything especially big out of ‘Never Steal Anything Small.’ For the comedy with music that was unveiled at the Capitol yesterday is merely an amiable antic that is only partly successful on any of these counts.Perhaps the fault lies in an indecisive script that evolves is a combination of a Damon Runyon lampoon, a serious inspection of the sordid side of New York’s waterfront union machinations and a medium-grade musical.” Read more…)

New TV
The Good Fight: Season 4 (legal drama, Christine Baranski. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 84.)