The Bargain plays the Best Video deck Fri., Sept. 24

The Bargain—a trio featuring Frank Critelli, Shandy Lawson, and Michael Rivers—play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Friday, Sept. 24, starting at 5 PM.

A bargain was struck with the devil and each other to write, record, and perform the songs Frank Critelli, Muddy Rivers, and Shandy Lawson lasso while sitting around the kitchen table.

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 9/7/21

Top Hits
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (DC superhero action, Gal Gadot. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 54. From Maya Phillips’ New York Times review: “I know I’m leading you astray, beginning this review of Zack Snyder’s extended “Justice League” cut with hope when what follows will sound more like despair. And yet hope is at the core of this four-hour marathon of a film — and is also what it fails to understand.” Read more…)

Beasts of No Nation (war drama, Criterion Collection, Abraham Attah. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 79. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ is based on Uzodinma Iweala’s harrowing, linguistically dazzling novel of a child soldier’s life. Mr. Iweala’s distinctive prose style is sometimes echoed in Agu’s voice-over narration, but the boy’s point of view is more immediately conveyed in the watchful eyes and sensitive features of Abraham Attah, the nimble young actor who plays him.” Read more…)

Small Axe (drama anthology, UK West Indian community, John Boyega. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “When the British filmmaker Steve McQueen conceived the five films he collectively named ‘Small Axe,’ he could not have foreseen the drastically disrupted world into which they would be released — a world that could shift, and perhaps intensify, the impact with which they would land. Narratively diverse but thematically intertwined, the anthology [beginning with ‘Mangrove’ last month and continuing on Amazon with new releases through next week] shines a sociopolitical spotlight on London’s West Indian community from the mid-1960s to the ’80s.” Read more…)

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (horror, Vera Farmiga. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 53. From Lena Wilson’s New York Times review: “‘The Conjuring’ movies offer a fascinating peek into the American psyche. Based on the lives of the Northeastern paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, the franchise demands viewers invest in a worldview ruled by Christian dogma, where Godly good must battle satanic evil. ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ is by far the most well-constructed, terrifying entry in the franchise, but its plot relies all too heavily on that same bizarre evangelism.” Read more…)

The Duke of Burgundy (gay & lesbian/drama, 2014, Sidse Babett Knudsen. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 87. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Here are two somewhat contradictory things I can tell you about ‘The Duke of Burgundy,’ which takes its name from a species of butterfly. It is, I’m fairly certain, quite unlike any other Sapphic S-and-M lepidoptery-themed psychological romance you have ever seen. At the same time, though, its uniqueness rests on a passionate, you might say slavish, devotion to a particular cinematic style of the past. Peter Strickland, who seeded and tended this exquisite hothouse flower of high-toned eroticism, is unabashedly fetishistic in his love of old exploitation movies.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
The Duke of Burgundy

New Foreign DVDs
My Wonderful Wanda (Germany, drama/comedy, Agnieszka Grochowska. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 54. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “The film, written by Oberli and Cooky Ziesche, satirizes class divides and xenophobia [‘the Pole’ constantly carries a derogatory connotation here], but never takes the satire far enough to be memorable, challenging or anything beyond whimsical, as Wanda and the Wegmeister-Gloors negotiate the future of the unborn child. The story also suffers from its division into three acts and an epilogue; it loses emotional momentum with each new section.” Read more…)

The Clockmaker of St. Paul (France, 1974, debut drama feature by Bertrand Tavernier, Philippe Noiret. From Vincent Canby’s 1976 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The film, an adaptation of the Georges Simenon novel ‘The Clockmaker of Everton,’ is a rather startling combination of old and new talents. Maybe reconciliation is the better word. The screenplay is by Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost—who wrote the adaptation of ‘Le Diable au Corps’ and are closely identified with the French cinema establishment of the 1940’s against which the New Wave a reaction—but it is the first feature to be directed by Bertrand Tavernier, a young French critic and film scholar who belongs to the post‐New Wave generation.” Read more…)

Je T’Aime Je T’Aime aka I Love You, I Love You (France, 1968, sci-fi/romance dir. by Alain Resnais, Claude Rich. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. From Manohla Dargis’ 2014 New York Times Critic’s Notebook: “Most stories begin once upon a time and, after the usual chronological tramp toward the inevitable and an occasional detour into the past or future, end happily ever after [or not]. In ‘Je T’Aime, Je T’Aime,’ a magnificent film from out of the past, the French director Alain Resnais takes dozens of interludes from one man’s life — images of everyday banality and commonplace delights, scenes of him at work and at play — and arranges them nonchronologically.” Read more…)

The Widow Couderc (France, 1971, mystery, Simone Signoret. From Nora Sayre’s 1971 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Since Simone Signoret appears in all too few movies these days, it’s so good to see her on the screen that one tends to be almost undemanding of the picture—which, in this case, is a modest film of high quality that never quite gets off the ground, despite its many fine details and a beautiful evocation of the French countryside.” Read more…)

The Gang/Three Men to Kill (France, crime/gangster directed by Jacques Deray, Alain Delon)

New British DVDs
What We Did On Our Holiday (comedy, 2014, David Tennant. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 54. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A family of bickering, broken adults has its priorities realigned by three children and a terminally ill grandpa in ‘What We Did on Our Holiday,’ a damp-eyed comedy whose banal title isn’t the only thing needing improvement. Transferring their successful sitcom formula — scene-stealing kids plus frazzled parents — to the Scottish Highlands, the writing and directing team of Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin [‘Outnumbered’] piles on the contrivances.” Read more…)

Moonlighting (drama, 1982, Jeremy Irons. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Vincent Canby’s 1982 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Working in a style that appears to have little connection with any of his earlier films, including the French-language ‘Le Depart’ and the English-language ‘The Shout,’ Jerzy Skolimowski, the Polish film maker who has been living in England for years, has made a new film of the sort of introspective intensity seldom achieved on the screen. Movies journey into men’s minds at some peril. ‘Moonlighting’ possesses such clarity of vision and simplicity that it seems to have been made in one uninterrupted burst of creative energy. It’s a small, nearly perfect work of its kind.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Thunderbolt (mystery/suspense, 1929, dir. by Josef von Sternberg, Fay Wray. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1929 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The dialogue in this production was written by Herman J. Mankicwicz. It is of the wise-cracking species. Jules and Charles Furthman are responsible for the story and Josef von Sternberg officiated as the director. It is a musical comedy plot striving to masquerade as a drama.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
What’s So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968, comedy, Mary Tyler Moore. From Vincent Canby’s 1968 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?’ which opened here yesterday at the Trans-Lux East, is a comedy for the old at heart of all ages. By picturing the things it lampoons in a soft focus, the movie ultimately sentimentalizes them. A fruit-eating bird of tropical America, a splendidly plumaged toucan who flies straight enough but walks with a list to starboard, arrives in New York and begins to spread a fearfully cute virus. Its victims are relieved of all anxieties and inhibitions.” Read more…)

The Road to Salina (1971, mystery, Rita Hayworth. From Vincent Canby’s 1971 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “R’oad to Salina,’ which opened yesterday at the Paris Theater, thus begins with a good deal of trashy promise, but then, like someone who gets drunk without ever experiencing a pleasant high, it falls on its face several reels before the plot requires. It’s both disoriented and disorienting—an English language mystery melodrama, made by Frenchmen, played by Americans [Rita Hayworth, Mimsy Farmer. Robert Walker and the late Ed Begley], set in Mexico and shot on Lanzarote, off the West Coast of Africa in the Canary Islands.” Read more…)

The Black Marble (1980, thriller/comedy, Paula Prentiss. From Roger Ebert’s 1980 review: “The movie’s not altogether a comedy, although we laugh; it’s a love story that kids itself and ends up seriously; it contains violence but is not really violent. What it always does is keep us off balance. Because we can’t anticipate what’s going to happen next, the movie has a persistent interior life; there’s never the sense that a scene is included because it’s expected.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Apocalypse ’45 (war, World war II, archival film, oral history. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 80. From Natalia Winkelman’s New York Times review: “Startling images appear throughout ‘Apocalypse ’45,’ a transfixing documentary that depicts the final months of World War II in rare detail. The film combines vivid archival footage from war reporters with the accounts of an array of veterans. Its project is to immerse us in the horrors of warfare, and to convey the ways its witnesses cope with war’s psychic toll.” Read more…)

All the Streets Are Silent (hip hop, skateboarding, street culture. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 60. From Isabelia Herrera’s New York Times review: “‘All the Streets Are Silent,’ a documentary from the director, Jeremy Elkin, is a portrait of that time, capturing the transformative moment when hip-hop and skateboarding culture converged in New York. It draws on archival footage of influential figures like Justin Pierce and Harold Hunter, among dozens of others, and incorporates new interviews with major players like Fab 5 Freddy and Darryl McDaniels, of Run-DMC. Throughout, Elkin explores how racial associations with both subcultures crumbled as their worlds collided.” Read more…)

The Mandingo Ambassadors return with joyous West African jazz Sun., Sept. 19

The Mandingo Ambassadors, led by guitarist Mamady Kouyate, play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Sun., Sept. 19. The music starts at 5:30 PM. (This show was rescheduled from Aug. 27 due to forecasted thunderstorms that never appeared.)

An African jazz band with beats to make chairs obsolete and melodies to put your mind at ease! Check out NYC’s magnificent Mandingo Ambassadors at this last of the old school video stores (turned non-profit cultural center)!

The Mandingo Ambassadors was founded in New York City by griot-guitarist Mamady Kouyaté in 2005. As a veteran of the great orchestras of the golden age of Guinean dance bands, Kouyate is a living library of musical science inherited from his ancestors and from a half century of experience as an arranger, band leader, accompanist and soloist.

Mamady Kouyaté carried this heritage with him to New York where he has collaborated with members of the West African diaspora and Western musicians to continue the great tradition and sound of Guinean Afro-jazz.

Since the summer of 2008 the group has been in residence at Barbes, performing every Wednesday night at this well-known Brooklyn venue. In addition, they have performed at many clubs, events and festivals including Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Celebrate Brooklyn, and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

In a review of a show at Barbès in 2008, New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff wrote:

The music of the Mandingo Ambassadors has been structured to make you feel good. It puts dazzling vocal and guitar patterns over a rhythm section that is like a perfect system: a locked drum groove, much of it played on high-hat cymbal and drum rims; soft bass lines that fall short or start late, or leave gaps in a run of notes; fingerpicked rhythm guitar notes like clear fizz. In the small, square backroom of Barbès on Wednesday — as it will be next Wednesday and for Wednesdays to come — the music sounded loud and light and unfailingly right…

It could have gone on forever, and that was a nice thought.

Joining Mamady Kouyate on Aug. 27 will be rhythm guitarist Mamady Kouruma, bass player Emanuel Gatewood, drummer Jeremy Dion.

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.

The Moon Shells play Americana on the Best Video deck Sat., Sept. 18

The Moon Shells play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Sat., Sept. 18. The show starts at 5:30 PM.

The Moon Shells draw from the traditional music of Appalachia, Louisiana, West Africa and elsewhere to try to make something new. Whether performing as an acoustic stringband, a stripped-down trio, or a five-piece making modern sounds on traditional instruments at clubs and festivals, the Moon Shells move hearts and feet.

In 2019 they released two albums—Seaside Asylum, an album of original songs and tunes, and Screech Plank, an album of more traditional fiddle tunes. The Hartford Courant named Seaside Asylum one of its favorite regional albums of 2019. Their next album of original songs, House of Air, came out in 2020 to similar acclaim. Both albums have gotten radio airplay throughout New England. The band is currently finishing its next two albums for release later in the year and this gig will be one of the band’s first chances to play new songs for an audience.

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.

Anne Marie Menta with Richard Neal and Cadence Carroll Fri., Sept. 17

Anne Marie Menta plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Friday, Sept. 17, starting at 5:30 PM. She will be joined by Richard Neal on guitar and mandolin and Cadence Carroll on harmony vocals and percussion.

Anne Marie Menta hails from New Haven, CT., where she has been a long time favorite singer/songwriter. She comes from a family of three brothers, where playing and listening to music was their great passion. Her musical credits include fronting various rock & roll, folk, and country bands as a singer/guitarist, including The Wanderers, Sugar Moon, Sky Riders, and Rodeo Radio. In the mid 90s, she decided to concentrate on her own original music, and those tunes of hers that she “snuck” into her cover band repertoire now became her main focus. But, the country, folk, and pop music that she loved continued to be an influence in her writing.

Her most recent CD, “Sky Tonight,” came out in the fall of 2019.

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.

Ramblin’ Dan Stevens plays fingerstyle blues and Americana Wed., Sept. 15

George Haling Photo

Ramblin’ Dan Stevens plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Wed., Sept. 15. The show starts at 5 PM. (It was rescheduled from July 29 due to rain.)

“Ramblin” Dan Stevens performs an eclectic mix of traditional fingerstyle blues, popular songs and originals and has entertained audiences throughout the US, Germany, UK, Canada and Virgin Islands. Of special interest is his unique style of “bottleneck” slide playing popularized by early Mississippi delta bluesmen including his use of a homemade, three stringed “Cigar Box Guitar” and one stringed “Diddly Bow”, both primitive blues instruments.

As a finalist in the International Blues Challenge ’08 on Beale St. in Memphis TN and protege of the legendary Dave Van Ronk, Dan has been lauded for his ability as a raconteur and for the authenticity of his approach gained by many years on the road as a traveling blues musician.

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.

For a full list of upcoming events, click here.

Dave Mazza & Friends jazz show this Fri., Sept. 3, at 5:30 PM

The sounds of jazz will enliven an early September evening on the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck as Dave Mazza & Friends take a tour through jazz standards. The show is this Fri., Sept. 3, starting at 5:30 PM.

(This show was scheduled to take the place of the previously scheduled Mega-Illegal Leg Farm show, which was canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.)

The group features accomplished local jazz musicians Dave Mazza on guitar, Mark Kaplan on saxophone, and Esdras Lubin on bass. (Mazza and Kaplan are both members of The Dave Mazza Group, formerly known as Badslax.)

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.

Jug band music from Washboard Slim & the Bluelights Sat., Sept. 11

Washboard Slim & The Bluelights play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Sat., Sept. 11, starting at 5 PM.

After 40 years of playing together, Washboard Slim and the Bluelights has evolved into one of the country’s most versatile and original of jug bands incorporating pure Americana instruments like tub bass, washboard, jug, banjo, harmonica, and fiddle.

Adding drums and powerful vocal harmonies, this band rocks sold-out concerts, dance halls and family shows. Playing their own compositions as well as original arrangements of traditional gospel, blues, country and early rock n’ roll, their music is by turns playful, haunted and uplifting.

The band for this show is Peter Menta (aka Washboard Slim), Howie Horn, John Pendergast, Brooks Barnett, and Mat Kastner.

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 8/31/21

Top Hits
In the Heights (musical, Anthony Ramos. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 84, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “A dream can be a fantasy or a goal, an escape or an aspiration, a rejection of the way things are or an affirmation of what could be. ‘In the Heights,’ adapted from Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes’s Tony-winning Broadway show, embraces all of these meanings. After more than a year of desultory streaming, anemic entertainment and panicky doomscrolling, it’s a dream come true.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Berlin Alexanderplatz (Germany, drama remake, Welket Bungué. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 43. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Alfred Döblin’s masterpiece “Berlin Alexanderplatz” received its most famous dramatization not at the movies but on TV, with Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 15-hour adaptation in 1980. Burhan Qurbani’s ambitious film by the same name re-centers the Weimar Era original on a 21st-century immigrant from Guinea-Bissau who seeks the straight and narrow but works for a psychopathic drug dealer.” Read more…)

Summer of 85 (France, romance/gay & lesbian, Félix Lefebvre. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 65. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “The prolific French director François Ozon wants ‘Summer of 85’ to be more than a gay coming-of-age romance in the vein of ‘Call Me By Your Name.’ With an elliptical narrative that jumps back and forth from Alexis’s summer fling to an unspecified future in which he is being interviewed by a suspicious caseworker about the death of David, the film also aims to be pulpy and provocative, teasing the idea that its lovesick protagonist turns homicidal with jealousy.” Read more…)

Bäckström: Series 1 (Sweden, police procedural, Kjell Bergqvist)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Jane Eyre (costume drama made for TV, 1971, George C. Scott. From John J. O’Connor’s 1971 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In fact, the approach may be at touch too rational. Though the production was shot in England, a few miles north Of Yorkshire, in locations ‘as authentic as the present day will permit,’ and though the performances are uniformly good, the whole is curiously slack, the mysterious passions of the novel tinged with just a bit too much ordinary logic.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over (biography, music, personality, Lydia Lunch. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The musician, writer and spoken-word artist Lydia Lunch is an immediately provocative figure. The name alone, right? Escaping a horrifically abusive home in Rochester, N.Y., at 16, she took one look at the burgeoning 1970s punk rock scene on Manhattan’s Bowery and was determined to both join and upend it. ‘I had a suitcase and $200,’ she recalls in ‘Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over,’ a vigorous documentary directed by Beth B, whose own work as an underground filmmaker began in the same milieu as Lunch’s early efforts.” Read more…)

Americana music from The Steve Nystrup Trio Fri., Sept. 10

The Steve Nystrup Trio plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Fri., Sept. 10,starting at 5:30 PM.

Steve Nystrup Trio is a true family affair. Steve on guitar and vocals, his son Aaron on bass guitar and wife Maureen Wasik on lead vocals “blend perfectly to make transcendent and uplifting music. Whatever they play becomes their own (not to mention their own compositions!).” The band plays a colorful mix of folk, blues, Americana and popular songs. The harmonies are tight and the interplay between father and son on guitar and bass is always compelling!

Steve is an award winning guitarist, composer and educator. His music has been featured on several “Folk Next Door” CD”s from WWUH and on many CT Classical Guitar Society recordings. It has also been on NPR radio, and in theaters, commercials and films. He was hired by Peter Asher to play with Kate Taylor in the early days when he was playing with the Ogres on Marthas Vineyard. Steve received an Emmy award as composer with the producers of “Amistad Legacy” for CPTV.

Maureen has been singing all her life and is well know to audiences in NYC and along the CT shore where she has performed as a member of Acoustic Exile, Freefall, and Step Edna. She was an original member in NYC of the Bartlettes with comedian Rob Bartlett touring widely in the region.

Aaron has been playing bass guitar with his dad since he was 14 years old and appears on several recordings with him. He lives in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, NY and is a member of the very popular band Everest Cale. They just racked up over 1 million hits on Spotify for their song, “Before I Knew What Love Was”.

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.