New releases 12/1/20

Top Hits
Beeswax (drama, Tilly & Maggie Hatcher. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Beeswax,’ at first glance a modest, ragged slice of contemporary life, turns out to be a remarkably subtle, even elegant movie. Its leisurely scenes and hesitant, circling conversations conceal both an ingenious comic structure and a rich emotional subtext. [Director Andrew] Bujalski, who has been compared at times to John Cassavetes, at times to Eric Rohmer, has, with an anthropologist’s sympathetic detachment and a novelist’s eye, discovered some of the hidden codes and rituals that govern modern behavior.”)

Words on Bathroom Walls (drama/romance, Charlie Plummer. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 61. From Nell Minow’s review: “But at its essence it is a story about what all teenagers—and all people—want: to be independent, to have satisfying work, and to love and be loved. The specifics work, with superb performances from an exceptional cast, and that illuminates the universal themes of identity and intimacy.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Irishman

New Foreign DVDs
Purple Noon (France, 1960, drama, Criterion Collection, Alain Delon. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1961 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Against some sparkling backgrounds of the blue Tyrrhenian Sea, a fishing port on the Gulf of Salerno and the tree-shaded avenues of Rome, French director Rene Clement has done the incongruous thing of unfolding a murder thriller that is as fascinating as it is dazzlingly beautiful.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Crash (1996, David Cronenberg-directed cult drama, Criterion Collection, James Spader. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 50. From Janet Maslin’s 1997 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “[Director David] Cronenberg, who will now rattle audiences even more powerfully than he did with ‘Dead Ringers’ or ‘Naked Lunch,’ cannot be dismissed as a twisted panderer despite the clear leanings of ‘Crash’ in that direction. As Mr. [novelist J.G.] Ballard did [in the book from which the movie was adapted], he envisions a work of sexually charged science fiction. The ‘Crash’ characters sleepwalk through this story in a state of futuristic numbness, seeking extreme forms of sensation because familiar feelings have long since failed them.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Desolation Center (music, punk, underground culture, history. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bill Pearis’ Brooklyn Vegan review: “‘You know, in Europe you don’t have the same access to explosives and weapons that Americans do,’ Einstürzende Neubauten’s Blixa Bargeld said of his band’s truly incendiary 1984 performance in the California desert, one of a series of totally DIY shows put on by the Desolation Center collective during the Reagan Years. Desolation Center was the brainchild of Stuart Swezey who, nearly 40 years later, has made a wonderful documentary about the concerts and the time. It’s not often that a film leaves you totally envious of the people who were there, but this is one of them.” Read more…)

Please support Best Video Film & Cultural Center on GivingTuesday, Dec. 1

This December 1 is #GivingTuesday. Please support Best Video Film & Cultural Center on this day and throughout the final month of this historic and difficult year.

GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. GivingTuesday was born and incubated at the 92nd Street Y and its Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in New York City. GivingTuesday is now an independent nonprofit and a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

Consider renewing a soon-expiring membership, purchasing a gift membership for a friend and buying a gift certificate for anything and all we offer. Please consider a donation as well as year end nears. Remember, we are a not-for-profit charitable cultural organization and any donation to Best Video is completely tax deductible. You can join as a member or donate at or in person at BVFCC.

We appreciate and thank all for another year of support in the midst of incredible difficulties, struggles, and tragedy for so many. We could not be making it without your interest and participation.

This holiday season please keep us in your holiday gift giving plans. Every little bit helps. The dead of winter is likely to be a challenge for us so coming out now for a coffee, a pop-up show when the weather permits, a holiday special order or purchase can all add up to a happy and sustaining season for Best Video Film and Cultural Center. Best Video t-shirts make for great gifts!

We wish all a safe, happy and healthy holiday season and hope to see you at BVFCC sometime soon. And thanks again for your continued support. We’ll give it all back to you in the coming year, adding more films to our vast library, more live music as circumstances permit, beautifying our space, and having a place for you, your families and neighbors to meet (safely!) and feel the sense of community that is yours and ours. Here at Best Video Film and Cultural Center.

New releases 11/24/20

Top Hits
The Irishman (drama/bio, Robert De Niro. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘The Irishman,’ with a blustering, showboating, disarmingly tender Al Pacino in the Hoffa role, isn’t competing with [a 1992 Jimmy Hoffa movie bio], or trying to correct the historical record. There was a real Frank Sheeran, who really did claim involvement in Hoffa’s demise, though not everyone believes him. [Director Martin] Scorsese, working from Steve Zaillian’s adaptation of a book by Charles Brandt [called ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’], assembles a kind of gangland greatest hits. The pun is intended: this is a history of the United States in a few dozen killings.” Read more…)

Mulan (Disney live action remake, Yifei Liu. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Set jointly in the Old World and in that newer mythic realm of happily-ever-after female empowerment, this live-action ‘Mulan,’ directed by Niki Caro, is pretty much what happens when a legend meets Disney’s global bottom-line. It’s lightly funny and a little sad, filled with ravishing landscapes and juiced up with kinetic fights [if not enough of them]. It has antiseptic violence, emotional uplift and the kind of protagonist that movie people like to call relatable: a brave, pretty young woman [the suitably appealing Yifei Liu], who loves her family, but doesn’t quite fit in [yet].” Read more…)

The Tale (drama, Laura Dern. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 90. From Margaret Lyons’ New York Times review: “‘The Tale’ is a push, then, to disseminate a hard truth — and by extension an argument for confronting the reality of abuse and abusers, no matter how painful that process might be. And it’s effective. Frighteningly, unforgettably so.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Mulan (live action remake)

New Foreign DVDs
Buoyancy (Australia, drama, Sarm Heng. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “[Director Rodd] Rathjen has said he was inspired to make ‘Buoyancy’ after reading a news article about conditions in the contemporary Thai fishing industry, and one of the strengths of his movie is that it remains tethered to the material world, to straining muscles, to sweat, to blood. He doesn’t find spurious poetry in other people’s pain or try to glean greater meaning from it. He knows that the suffering is meaning enough.” Read more…)

Gate of Hell (Japan, 1953, samurai drama, Kazuo Hasegawa. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1954 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Out of Japan has come another weird and exquisite film—this one in color of a richness and harmony that matches that of any film we’ve ever seen. It is a somber and beautiful presentation of a thirteenth century legendary tale, smoothly and awesomely unfolding behind the volcanic title, ‘Gate of Hell.’” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)

The Killing Floor (1984, drama, Alfre Woodard, Rotten Tomatoes: 100. From John J. O’Connor’s 1984 New York Times television review [requires log-in]: “At the heart of ‘The Killing Floor’ are the early efforts, taking place from 1917 to 1919, to unionize Chicago’s giant meat-packing companies. With American soldiers marching off to World War I, there suddenly were jobs for those left behind – most notably, immigrants from Europe and poor black sharecroppers from the South. Among the sharecroppers were Frank Custer and Thomas Joshua, two young men who decided to seek a better life ‘up North.’ The teleplay, written by Leslie Lee from a story by [Elsa] Rassbach, is based on actual events and the names of the participants have not been changed.” Read more…)

The Dollmaker (1984, theater/drama, Jane Fonda)

New TV
The Deuce: Season 3 (Times Square drama, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 79.)

Better Call Saul: Season 5 (drama/comedy Breaking Bad spinoff, Bob Odenkirk. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 92.)

Best Video will be closed for Thanksgiving

To allow our staff to enjoy the holiday (safely), Best Video Film & Cultural Center will be closed on Thanksgiving. We will reopen with regular hours on Friday—8 AM-1 PM for the cafe and 3-7 PM for curbside video pickup.

We wish all our members and friends a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

And thanks to all for the tremendous support BVFCC has received throughout this year. We are truly grateful and humbled by your generosity and your continuing patronage.

Best Video hours for curbside video pickup changed; now 3-7 PM every day

Starting this weekend, Best Video Film & Cultural Center’s hours for curbside movie pickup on Thursday-Saturday will be changed from 4-8 PM to 3-7 PM. Cafe hours will remain 8 AM-1 PM.

Best Video will be closed Thanksgiving Day to give our staff a day to rest and celebrate—safely—the holiday.

Richard Neal to play the Best Video deck Sat., Nov. 21, in final outdoors music show of the year

Richard Neal.

Singer-songwriter Richard Neal plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck in what is likely the last outdoors show of 2020. (It’s getting colder and darker.)

Richard Neal is a student of music, songwriting, record production, and live performance. A multi-instrumentalist (guitar, 5-string banjo, mandolin, dobro, slide), he has been privileged to make a living as a musician and to work in a wide variety of musical settings and styles.

Neal appears regularly in concert as a sideman for any number of acts, and also as a regular member of the bluegrass band HOE. As a solo artist and songwriter, he has released 2 CD’s of original music, HOE and Beacon. Several of his compositions have been recorded by other singers.

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.

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

New releases 11/17/20

Top Hits
The Broken Hearts Gallery (rom-com, Geraldine Viswanathan. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 57. From Richard Brody’s New Yorker review: “At a time when romantic comedies are often enfeebled either by sentiment or cynicism, saccharine tones or absurd premises, a new one, ‘The Broken Hearts Gallery,’ written and directed by Natalie Krinsky [and opening on Friday in some place called ‘theatres’], bridges the gap with a high concept. It is, unfortunately, a concept so high that it rarely touches the ground, and its theoretical ingenuity leaves plenty of empty dramatic space to be filled. That work is done by its lead actress, Geraldine Viswanathan, who shows, as she did in previous roles in ‘Blockers’ and ‘Bad Education,’ that she’s among the most talented performers of her generation.” Read more…)

Unhinged (mystery, Russell Crowe. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 40. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “It’s been a while since we’ve seen humans slaughtered as nature intended: on a full-sized movie screen. So, by way of encouraging those brave enough to follow the first major post-lockdown release into an actual theater, Solstice Studios presents ‘Unhinged,’ a psycho-killer story that will leave you feeling as beat-down as its casualties.” Read more…)

Summerland (World war I-era drama, Gemma Arterton. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 56. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A thumb to suck in troubled times, ‘Summerland’ offers a digit of nostalgia that many viewers will latch onto with something approaching relief. Set mainly during World War II, this picturesque debut feature from Jessica Swale is as uninterested in international conflict as Alice (Gemma Arterton), its distracted heroine.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Children (horror, includes DVD, 1980, Martin Shakar)

New British DVDs
The Nest (British drama mini-series, Sophie Rundle. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 68.)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Dark Star (1974, sci-fi/comedy, Dan O’Bannon. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. From Janet Maslin’s 1979 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “John Carpenter, the director of ‘Halloween,’ made ‘Dark Star’ in 1974, when ‘Star Wars’ was barely a subatomic particle in George Lucas’s eye. Accordingly, Mr. Carpenter’s space-movie send-up toys with the conventions of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ instead of trying to simulate intergalactic whizzing.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin (Werner Herzog-directed documentary, bio, Bruce Chatwin. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,’ Hamlet says to his friend in the Shakespeare tragedy. Remove the air of derision from the character’s remark, and you have a possible summation of the perspective held by the filmmaker Werner Herzog and the writer and explorer Bruce Chatwin, who were friends and sometimes collaborators. Both artists shared a dogged interest in the people, sights and objects that can be found only in the farthest corners of the world — and in what those people, sights and objects have to show us about what all members of the human race have in common.” Read more…)

Prairie Trilogy (politics, history, socialism. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “These are affectionate and affecting portraits. This socialist was a learned man, a little bit of a romantic, but someone nevertheless devoted to practical solutions to very real problems. These films — which were funded, in part, by the North Dakota A.F.L.-C.I.O. — are moving and still pertinent depictions of the human realities that animate labor struggles.” Read more…)

Shellye Valuaskas & Dean Falcone play the deck Fri., Nov. 20, at 5 PM

Shellye Valauskas and Dean Falcone return for an acoustic performance on the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Friday, Nov. 20, starting at 5 PM.

The Shellye Valauskas Experience is led by vocalist/guitarist Shellye Valauskas. By the time she formed the band, she was an established solo performer, winning the New Haven Advocate’s Grand Band Slam readers’ poll and rating a slot in New York’s CMJ Marathon. As her songwriting collaborator and bandmate, she enlisted ace guitarist Dean Falcone, who has earned a stellar reputation in the Connecticut music scene since starting out in the early 1980s with Jon Brion in The Excerpts.

Valauskas’ and Falcone’s shared love for the intelligent, heartwarming yet punchy pop of Crowded House, The Posies and Aimee Mann, as well as the burgeoning Americana movement, helped them nail a distinctive yet accessible radio-friendly sound from the start.

Their most recent release, 2018’s “History of Panic,” garnered a rave review at the online blog Pop Dose:

This is really good. I mean REALLY GOOD. This second album from The Shelleye Valauskas Experience, History Of Panic, which is anchored by singer-guitarist Ms. Valausakas and Mr. Dean Falcone on second guitar, took almost a decade to make and release, but it’s damned well worth the wait. Ten perfectly, meticulously crafted power pop (emphasis on “power”) tracks that shimmer and shine.

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.

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

(UPDATE: Thurs. show cancelled due to weather) Music on the deck Thurs. & Sat. (weather permitting) with Dr. Caterwaul; Mat & Erik from Goodnight Blue Moon

(UPDATE Nov. 12, 2020: Due to the uncertainty over the weather, tonight’s scheduled show with Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps has been cancelled. We hope, if possible to reschedule it for the near future.)

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.

Thursday, Nov. 12, 6 PM. Eclectic World Folk: Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps. Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps plays music from around the world and uses it as a launching pad for improvisations that never lose their sense of groove—whether it’s Colombian cumbias, Ethiopian jazz, Romanian horas, Argentinian tangos, or traditional music from the United States.

Saturday, Nov. 14, 4:30 PM. Americana: Mat Crowley & Erik Elligers from Goodnight Blue Moon. Goodnight Blue Moon is an Americana/indie-folk band that writes great songs and puts on an outstanding show. Whether it’s traditional sea chanties or through composed orchestral pop, their arrangements are thoughtful and their melodies are contagious. Mat plays mandolin and Erik plays acoustic guitars; both of them write songs, sing, and harmonize. (The full GNBM also features cello, bass, drums, electric guitar, and violin.)

Best Video participating in Stop & Shop’s Giving Tag fundraising program—buy reusable bags & direct $1 of purchase to BVFCC

Best Video Film & Cultural Center, a non-profit committed to bringing film, music, and people together, has begun generating donations through the Stop & Shop Giving Tag Program.

The Stop & Shop Giving Tag Program, which launched in May 2019, is a reusable bag program that facilitates community support with the goal to make a difference in the communities where shoppers live and work.

When a shopper purchases the $2.50 reusable Community Bag at any Stop & Shop store, they have the opportunity to direct a $1 donation to a local non-profit by using the attached Giving Tag. BVFCC has already begun generating donations through the use of the Giving Tag.

“We’re excited to be participating in the Stop & Shop Giving Tag Program. In tough times, every added income source is precious,” said BVFCC Executive Director, Hank Hoffman. “Funds raised through the program can help support the maintenance and expansion of our archive, the programming, and capital improvements.”

For more information on the Stop & Shop Giving Tag Program, visit