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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT OUR SHOWS:

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

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar. This has been a real hard time for musicians, almost all of whom have seen their live performance income dry up. (There will also be a Best Video tip jar for donations.)

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

New releases 9/21/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT OUR SHOWS:

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

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar. This has been a real hard time for musicians, almost all of whom have seen their live performance income dry up. (There will also be a Best Video tip jar for donations.)

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT OUR SHOWS:

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

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

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

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

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

The schedule for the series:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT OUR SHOWS

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

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar. This has been a real hard time for musicians, almost all of whom have seen their live performance income dry up. (There will also be a Best Video tip jar for donations.)

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

Youth XL, Stephen Friedland at Best Video Thurs., Sept. 30

Youth XL plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Thurs., Sept. 30. The show starts at 5 PM with Stephen Friedland opening.

Youth XL is a charmingly irreverent indie-rock group based out of New Haven, CT. Led by singer-songwriter Alex McGuire, their live shows are a lively mix of catchy originals, curious covers, and a healthy dose of general silliness. With songs about learning Yoga, swiping right on dating apps, and texting your friends, Youth XL strikes a balance between cynical social commentary and a sense of optimism for the future. Their debut EP Text Your Friends (2020) is available on all streaming platforms.

Stephen Friedland — the group Fat Randy’s principal songwriter, vocalist and guitarist — has also been a sound engineer and co-promoter with Tiny Box Booking, Connecticut’s premiere promotions vehicle, for nearly 5 years. During his time cutting teeth in the hottest local DIY venues the Nutmeg State has to offer, he has run sound for hundreds of bands, many of whom play music at the intersection of self-conscious indie rock and insular bedroom pop. In what amounts to some kind of gratuitous exercise in Musical FOMO and a totally epic test of being able to write songs that listeners without neckbeards can enjoy, (Randy) Alex G was born.

The album, recorded and mixed by Zack Abramo (Mesmer [fka Crag Mask], Vundabar) and Friedland, is surprisingly diverse in its scope, despite hewing to a more stringent stylistic theme than recordings past. The garage bombast of “Asymmetrical Bangs, Pt. I” and “Asymmetrical Bangs, Pt. II” pays homage to bands like LVL UP (and Friedland’s very brief tenure at SUNY Purchase College, where so much of this genre of music originated), while “Not Now, I’m on Island Time” fuses Sinatra-esque croons with relaxed Hawaiian slide guitar music. At present, the album is slated for mastering at Dog Year Studio in Ellington, CT by Phil Lord (also of Mesmer), with a formal release date TBA.

ABOUT OUR SHOWS:

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

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar. This has been a real hard time for musicians, almost all of whom have seen their live performance income dry up. (There will also be a Best Video tip jar for donations.)

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

New releases 9/14/21

Top Hits
Zola (comedy/mystery, Taylour Paige. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Directed by Janicza Bravo [‘Lemon’] from a script she wrote with the Tony-nominated playwright Jeremy O. Harris [‘Slave Play’], ‘Zola’ is adapted from a thread that galvanized Twitter back in 2015, when it was somewhat less dominated by expressions of political contempt and moral self-righteousness than it is now. There was more room for crazy stories, and on Oct. 27 of that year, A’Ziah King started posting the profane, hair-raising, occasionally hilarious tale of an ill-starred excursion to Florida that involved sex work, gun play and a highly problematic frenemy.” Read more…)

How It Ends (apocalyptic comedy, Zoe Lister Jones. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 57. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The film’s writers and directors, Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein, ensure that each reconciliation has an arc that builds from confrontation to explanation to resolution, and they are also careful to ensure that each scene stands on its own. The film plays as a series of perfectly enjoyable sketches strung together, an excuse for veteran actors to chew on playful dialogue.” Read more…)

Slaxx (horror, Romane Denis. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64.From Erik Piepenburg’s capsule New York Times review: “Kephart and her co-writer, Patricia Gomez, aren’t just out for sicko laughs. They also ask viewers to think — as deeply as possible in a 77-minute movie — about conspicuous consumption, the exploitation of child labor and the hypocrisy of corporate do-gooderism. Their mayhem has a message.” Read more…)

Together Together (comedy/drama, Patti Harrison. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Gently funny and disarmingly poignant, ‘Together Together’ is unusually attuned to the isolation of single fathers. At a baby shower, Matt looks on enviously as guests encircle Anna; in his surrogacy support group, he’s the only person without a partner. A scene where he struggles alone to tie a baby sling is one of the saddest sights I’ve seen all year.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Bluebeard (France, 1963, Claude Chabrol-directed mystery, Charles Denner. From Bosley Crowther’s 1963 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “But [director Claude] Chabrol and his script writer, the astonishing Françoise Sagan, have steered dear of melodramatics and accept the whole thing in a sly, sardonic mood. Again, as in the [Charlie] Chaplin film [‘Monsieur Verdoux,’ inspired by the same true crime], not a single act of violence is shown, outside of some intercut news shots of battle action in World War I. Suavely, with the air of a French hairdresser or a salesman of cheap antiques [which he actually is], the principal in this ghoulish business woos his victims to their doom.” Read more…)

Blue Panther (France, 1965, Claude Chabrol-directed mystery/suspense, Marie Laforêt)

Rififi in Paris aka The Upper Hand (France, 1966, mystery/suspense, George Raft)

New British DVDs
Unforgotten: Season 4 (UK crime drama, Nicola Walker)

Five ‘N Change play show Sun., Sept. 26, 5:30 PM

Bluegrass quintet Five ’N Change play Sun., Sept. 26, at 5:30 PM. (This show was rescheduled from Sept. 9 due to rain.)

Five ‘n Change is a New Haven, Connecticut based bluegrass band that drives hard and carries a big pick. They respect the tradition. They respect the trailblazers. And they respect the renegade outlaws. Our final product is an eclectic balance of American roots music which both reinterprets and redefines the bluegrass songbook.

Formed in 2011, the band has spent the last several years building a catalog of music that showcases the group’s strong vocals, musicianship, and passion for genre busting. The band released their debut album in the Fall of 2013 entitled Live in the Chamber to rave reviews and followed up with a self titled EP release. (Both CD’s are available in the MUSIC section of this website).

The group is Ken McEwen (guitar & vocals), Pete Kaufman (banjo), Dave Casali (bass), David Sasso (mandolin) with Ryan Mooney (dobro, guitar).

Jim, Willow & David; David Coller play Celtic and folk-influenced music Sat., Sept. 25

Jim, Willow, and David play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Sat., Sept. 25. They are joined on the bill by singer-songwriter/folk artist David Coller. The show starts at 5 PM.

Join Jim, Willow, and David for songs and tunes that draw from Irish and old-time traditions that have been vigorously preserved and passed down over generations. Because more than half of the settlers that emigrated to Appalachia came from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the Celtic influence in the music there was strong.

The repertoire of this New Haven-based group of musical friends reflects that connection with their eclectic mix of lively Irish dance tunes and instrumentals, Celtic ballads and old-time songs. The group features Willow Sirch on 5-string fiddle and vocals; Jim Sirch on Irish flutes, whistles, bodhran, clawhammer banjo, and vocals; and David Sasso on some combination of guitar, mandolin, octave-mandolin, cittern, tenor banjo, and vocals.

Connecticut singer-songwriter David Coller is again playing local venues following a 14 year musical hiatus involving a wooden boat (if you’ve ever owned one, you understand) followed by a year and a half of COVID purgatory. He brings with him a variety of songs and styles: jazzy soon-to-be standards, new bluegrass tunes, sea-songs, a cowboy tune or two, and plenty of straight-up folk performed on the guitar, banjo, and the odd bit of button accordion. If you have wide-ranging (not to say “scattered” or “aimless”) tastes in music, an appreciation for careful instrumental and vocal arrangements, and an enjoyment of polished lyrics, you’re bound to enjoy the show.

Before vanishing into the world of splinters, sandpaper and sail, David played for many years in duos and bands in Connecticut and before that, southern California. He now resides in the last rural smidgeon of Hamden, Connecticut.

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.