Secret Cinema, hosted by Rob Harmon, returns Mon., Dec. 27, at 7 PM

After a pandemic layoff, Best Video Film & Cultural Center staffer Rob Harmon returns to hosting a semi-regular cult film series under the rubric “Secret Cinema.” The next Secret Cinema takes place Mon., Dec. 27, at 7 PM. Along with the night’s movie, Rob shows relevant film trailers and cranks up the Best Video popcorn machine for cinema-appropriate snacking.

This is an indoor show so attendance is 30 max. Proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required.

Secret Cinema is free but donations to support Best Video Film & Cultural Center and its programming are always welcome. For more info (including what the movie title is), call BVFCC at (203) 287-9286 or sign up for email list on the front page of BestVideo.com.

New releases 12/14/21

Top Hits
One Night in Miami (speculative drama based on a 1964 meeting between [then] Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown; Eli Goree. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “It doesn’t make grand statements about race, politics, sports or music. It’s just a bunch of guys talking — bantering, blustering, dropping their defenses and opening their hearts. But the substance of their talk is fascinating, and their arguments echo powerfully in the present. This is one of the most exciting movies I’ve seen in quite some time.” Read more…)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (martial arts/Marvel Comics, Simu Liu. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Maya Phillips’ New York Times review: “Home is where the heart is. Unless you’re Shang-Chi. Then home is where your mother’s mystical secret village — and its dragon guardian — is. That’s the case in Marvel’s unsteady ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,’ directed by Destin Daniel Cretton with an obliging eye toward kung fu cinema, but not much else.” Read more…)

Werewolves Within (horror/comedy, Milana Vayntrub. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 66. From Lena Wilson’s New York Times review: “Horror villains have always shouldered a lot of cultural baggage, but there have been attempts to reclaim monstrosity on film, particularly in the last few decades of low-budget cinema. ‘Ginger Snaps’ famously linked lycanthropy and menstruation, ‘Raw’ turned carnal desire into cannibalism and ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ offered a female vampire vigilante. ‘Werewolves Within,’ a horror comedy from the director Josh Ruben, comes so close to operating on this level — before it makes a beeline for the status quo.” Read more…)

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (comedy/romance, Terence Nance. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Nicolas Rapold’s 2013 Times review: “It is not uncommon for young men of a certain age to keep notebooks to record drawings, doodles and roundabout confessions about romantic missed connections. These pages are havens for introspection, sighs, elegy and wit, all of which should really be taken into account in understanding the lovelorn individual. ‘An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,’ a most lovely and meticulously handmade hodgepodge of art and feeling, resembles a cinematic version of such a notebook, tracing and retracing the filmmaker’s failure to get together with a friend.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
One Night in Miami

New Foreign DVDs
Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue (China, documentary, Chinese history, politics, Chinese literature. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 70. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The films of Jia Zhangke, documentary and fictional, zoom in on the granular details of individual lives. At the same time, they are chapters in the single, unimaginably complicated story of China’s transformation in the decades since the 1949 revolution… ’Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue’ demystifies historical episodes that are often presented, at least in the West, as abstractions, and personalizes large-scale events. Politics hovers over the writers’ lives, but their sense of national and regional history is filtered through work, family and landscape.” Read more…)

Climax (France, horror/provocation by dir. Gaspar Noé, Sofia Boutella. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 67. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Climax,’ with its hallucinatory, often horrific images, its relentless, bass-heavy music and its vertiginous camera movements, assaults the senses and scrambles the brain. But even though the techniques are immersive — plunging you into a disorienting reality that mirrors the drug-fueled frenzy you are witnessing — the effect is also curiously distancing. You are being assaulted with an idea, bombarded by a series of theoretical propositions about sexual ethics, social behavior and the nature of cinematic representation.” Read more…)

New British (Commonwealth) DVDs
My Life Is Murder: Season 2 (Australia, police procedural series, Lucy Lawless. From a capsule New York Times review by Margaret Lyons: “The show sometimes feels a little retro thanks to its unfussy pacing and to bumper music that sounds as if it were from a ’90s sitcom, and its tone is more like that of ‘Psych’ or ‘Monk’ than of a grueling European misery opera. There’s a sunny ease and quirk to it all, and Lawless is a lot fun to watch.” Read more…)

New TV
Love Among the Ruins (1975, George Cukor-directed made-for-TV comedy, Katharine Hepburn. From John J. O’Connor’s 1975 New York Times television review [requires log-in]: “Starring Katharine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier in their first production together, directed by George Cukor and written by James Costigan, ‘Love Among the Ruins’ is a project almost begging to be irresistible. Unfortunately, as can be seen on ABC‐TV at 9 this evening, it’s not. Occasionally, the two‐hour romantic comedy, set in 1911, slips from its ambitions of charming stylishness into mere silliness. Very occasionally, it becomes a bit of a bore.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Film About a Father Who (personality, bio, family dynamics, Ira Sachs. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “This brisk, prismatic and richly psychodramatic family portrait finds [director Lynne] Sachs assessing her relationship with her father, Ira Sachs Sr., described at one point as the ‘Hugh Hefner of Park City,’ the Utah skiing enclave where the Sundance Film Festival is held. The filmmaker Ira Sachs Jr., Lynne’s brother, says their father can’t ‘be self-consciously sad or self-consciously joyful’ — he always seems simply content.” Read more…)

Indie rock from Vertico, Too Much of a Good Thing Thurs., Dec. 23

Vertico and Too Much of a Good Thing play Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Thurs., Dec. 23. The show starts at 7 PM and the cover is $10.

This being an inside show, these are our covid protocols: attendance of 30 max, masks and proof of vaccination required.

Vertico was formed in 2017 in Monroe, CT. Since then they have written 2 albums together; Wreck (2020), and Clay Face (2021). They have recently relocated to Branford, CT where they are now based and writing their third album “Warmonger”, they hope to release sometime mid-2022.

Kurt Trembeczki plays guitar and sings, Alex McCloskey plays bass guitar and also sings, and Dylan Royka has joined the band in 2021 as their new drummer, together they play a combonation of psychedelic, punk and alternative.

Too Much of a Good Thing is made up of Matt (Chappy) Czaplinski, Malik Robie, and John Paul Scaglione. They all grew up together at summer camp and eventually worked together. Here, the bond grew. For the past four years, Too Much of a Good Thing has played original Melodic Punk music with hints of Ska, metal, and alternative rock. They love just as hard as they play.

New retro Best Video t-shirt design by Joel Evans in stock!

If you are looking for holiday gifts, we are newly stocked on t-shirts! We have restock on all adult sizes of the black and the blue Best Video Film & Cultural Center t-shirts we have been selling for several years now. And, we have just gotten in new t-shirts with a retro drawing from sign maker Joel Evans.

BVFCC barista and video staffer Jules Larson models the new t-shirt.

The t-shirt is based on a Best Video t-shirt design Joel created in the 1990s. With an image of a t-shirt bearing his original drawing to work from, Joel created a new drawing of a couple holding some 30 videos and the legend “So many movies… so little time.” The titles of the films were chosen by BVFCC staff.

The drawing by Joel Evans.

The image is printed in red on grey 50/50 cotton-polyester blend t-shirts. They sell for $15 plus tax.

The original Joel Evans design from the 1990s.

And if that isn’t enough Best Video Film & Cultural Center merch for you, we expect to be getting in new BVFCC logo baseball caps soon!

New releases 12/7/21

Top Hits
Cry Macho (western/drama, Clint Eastwood. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 58. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Mike Milo is a former rodeo rider and horse trainer — an ornery old cuss with a complicated past and a soft spot for children and animals. He’s a grouch but also a professional, with a deep knowledge of his craft and a flinty sense of honor. To put it in simpler terms, he’s played by Clint Eastwood. Eastwood also directed ‘Cry Macho,’ in a stripped-down, laid-back style that perfectly suits Mike’s approach to life. “ Read more…)

Copshop (action, Gerard Butler. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 61. From Robert Daniels’ capsule New York Times review: “The director Joe Carnahan’s film is a throwback 1970s-style shoot-em-up that uses the tropes of a western with gangster flair… In ‘Copshop,’ which crescendos with a shootout in a police station, there’s plenty of blood, plenty of madness and lots of bullets to go around.” Read more…)

Ron’s Gone Wrong (animated feature, Zach Galifianakis. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 65. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “A computer-animated film that promotes the virtues of analog living and a would-be heartwarming story that plays as faintly terrifying after the revelations of a Facebook whistle-blower, ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ sends viewers out into a world that suddenly looks more dystopian than it did before. As family entertainment, it’s fine.” Read more…)

Surge (thriller, Ben Whishaw. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 51. From Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review: “The movie’s title is well chosen. Almost each individual scene – and arguably the film itself – is a surge, an oppressive swelling of the meteorological pressure in Joseph’s head. Each sequence seems to be building, building, building to something, but then, instead of a climax, we enigmatically cut to another scene later and reset for another psycho-emotional surge. It’s a shrewd depiction of the banal day-to-day unhappiness that Joseph lives with.” Read more…)

Wild Indian (thriller, Michael Greyeyes. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Lisa Kennedy’s Times review: “‘Some time ago, there was an Ojibwe man, who got a little sick and wandered West,’ the intertitle at the start of ‘Wild Indian’ states. The camera finds a man stooped and slowly making his way through the woods and follows him for a spell. ‘Little’ is an understatement: His face is covered with pox blisters. This more-than-cautionary note sets the tone for the First Nations writer-director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.’s symbolically rich and subtle thriller focused on two cousins who share a secret about a rending act of violence.” Read more…)

New TV
His Dark Materials: Season 2 (HBO fantasy series, Dafne Keen. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Johnny Eager (1941, suspense/early noir, Lana Turner. From T.S.’s 1941 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Although gangster melodramas are not precisely the height of fashion right now, MGM’s scenario tailors have done a consummate fitting job for Robert Taylor and Lana Turner in ‘Johnny Eager,’ now at the Capitol. As another case history of a relentlessly bad boy riding high and handsome ‘straight for judgment day’ it is highly colored hokum in which women are ‘dames’ and guns are ‘gats.’ But it has been made with a flourish.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965, late noir, Sal Mineo, Juliet Prowse. From a post on crimereads.com about noir from the late 1950s and 1960s: “‘Who Killed Teddy Bear’ is a fascinating noir that feels very much ahead of its time in terms of its nods to the erotic psychological thriller genre that would emerge in the late 1970s.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Whirlybird (journalism, LA history, helicopter reporting, Katy Tur. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 68. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Drawing on an amazing video stockpile from the 1980s and ’90s, ‘Whirlybird’ is an editing feat. [The news clips and Marika consistently refer to Zoey by the name she was known by during the period recounted, before a gender transition.] The movie also has elements of a psychodrama: Building a family business around adrenaline turns out to be suboptimal for relationships and health.” Read more…)

Holiday show with Dust Hat, Bronson Rock returns Sat., Dec. 18

Party rock ‘n’ roll band Dust Hat and roots quartet Bronson Rock will power up some holiday spirit on Sat., Dec. 18, at Best Video Film & Cultural Center. The shindig starts at 7 PM and the cover is $10.

This being an inside show, these are our covid protocols: attendance of 30 max, masks and proof of vaccination required.

Garage-y rock ‘n’ roll party band Dust Hat dubs itself a rock ‘n’ roll affront for modern times on its Bandcamp page. The group features Brendan Toller (Vox, Guitar, Tambourine Man); Jeff Slocum (Guitar, Fire Extinguisher); Dan Soto (Thunderstick); and Rob Ruby (Beat of The Traps).

Bronson Rock is a four piece rock and soul band featuring Buzz Gordo (aka Gary Mezzi) on guitar and lead vocals, Eric Bloomquist on bass, Lou St. John on organ, and Tom Smith on drums. Individually, the seasoned musicians in Bronson Rock have performed with a “who’s-who” of Connecticut artists, and continue to maintain busy schedules as players.

The band featured the songwriting talents of Gordo, who was the main songwriter for New Haven’s illustrious Big Bad Johns. Two of his songs from those days have been featured in a recent season of HBO’s True Blood.

The band plays a tight, danceable mix of original garage soul sounds, with some choice obscure covers thrown in, owing a debt to groups like the Rascals and Booker T. and the MG’s.

Jeff Fuller & Friends play jazz at Best Video Fri., Dec. 17

Jeff Fuller & Friends play Best Video Film & Cultural Center Fri., Dec. 17. The show starts at 7 PM. The cover is $10.

This being an inside show, these are our covid protocols: attendance of 30 max, masks and proof of vaccination required.

Bassist and composer Jeff Fuller, recipient of the 2014 Jazz Haven Award, has been has long been an integral part of the Connecticut, New York and international jazz scenes. He toured worldwide and recorded with saxophonists Lou Donaldson and Paquito D’Rivera, and has played with jazz masters from all styles and eras. Co-leader of the popular Brazilian group Sambeleza, he has received commissions from the New Haven and the Hartford Symphony Orchestras and has received project grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.

Pianist/composer Darren Litzie studied jazz piano with Dr. Rex Cadwallader, jazz theory, improvisation, and composition with Jim McNeely, Mike Holober, Jimmy Greene and Jamie Begian. Darren has performed with such artists as Dave Scott, Andrew Beals, Chris Morrison, Thierry Arpino, Nick Biello, and Harvie S. Darren completed a three-year stint with the prestigious BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, where he had several of his works premiered in concert by the BMI Jazz Orchestra.

Ben Bilello received his Bachelors Degree in Jazz Studies at the Hartt School of Music. He has performed and recorded with Mulgrew Miller, Eddie Henderson, Branford Marsalis, Curtis Fuller, Javon Jackson, George Cables, Joe Wilder, Anthony Braxton, Steve Davis, Jimmy Greene, and Wayne Escoffery, among many others. In addition to performing with noted jazz musicians, Ben has toured with the South American folk groups Viva Quetzal and Markamusic.

Perennial, Window seat play indie rock/punk Thurs., Dec. 16

Perennial and Window Seat play Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Thurs., Dec. 16. The show starts at 7 PM and the cover is $10.

This is an indoor show so attendance is 30 max. Proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required.

Perennial makes loud sounds at oblique angles. Perennial makes punk for the mods. They are a noise-art 3-piece band from New England. Perennial is an effort to make something both visceral and thoughtful. Perennial is Chelsey Hahn (Organ and Vocals), Chad Jewett (Guitar and Vocals) and Wil Mulhern (Drums).

Window Seat is an indie/pop-punk three piece from New Haven. They started in 2019 as a college band, playing as many dorm room and DIY basement shows as they could. They released their debut album, Call Me in the Morning, at the beginning of the pandemic, and are itching to get back into live shows.

 

Thanks for your GivingTuesday support!

Thanks to all our friends who supported us on this past GivingTuesday! Your generosity is essential to our continued vitality.

If you missed donating to Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Tuesday, you can still make an end of year gift through our Web site or in person at Best Video.

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 BestVideo.com or in person at BVFCC.

We appreciate and thank all for another year of support as we all try to climb our way out of this pandemic. We could not be making it without your interest and participation.

Because of your support we were able to present almost 100 music shows this year, outside until the end of October and now inside (with safety precautions). As the situation has improved, we have been able to start staging indoor events, including four How to Read a Film lectures by Mark Schenker.

This holiday season please keep us in your holiday gift giving plans. Every little bit helps. Attending our shows, patronizing our cafe, 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 will be restocked next week AND have a great new retro design by sign maker Joel Evans! Also coming soon—Best Video caps!

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.

Lys Guillorn & Her Band, Elisa Flynn perform Sat., Dec. 11

Lys Guillorn and Her Band shares the bill with Elisa Flynn at Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Sat., Dec. 11. The show starts at 7 PM and the cover is $10.

This being an inside show, these are our covid protocols: attendance of 30 max, masks and proof of vaccination required.

Lys Guillorn is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, and discipline-hopping artist from Shelton, Connecticut. A stylistic shape-shifter, Guillorn dips her pointy boots in folk and psych-rock.

In 2018, Guillorn won CT Now’s Best of Hartford Readers Poll for Best Singer-Songwriter. She has two full-length studio records of original material, a collection of covers and compilation tracks, and a couple of EPs and singles on her own label Little Cowgirl Records. Her most recent single is called “Dolores & I,” released on the 2020 compilation Waiting on a Sunrise Vol. 1. Guillorn will be playing electric guitar, and will be joined by Lys Guillorn & Her Band’s bassist, Eric Bloomquist (also of Bronson Rock, Chica Non Grata.)

Elisa Flynn is a musical and visual artist, known for her literary, historical and supernatural references and powerful vocals. Her sound, which has evolved and changed over the years, now take indie rock and folk elements and add more electronic-based rhythms and sounds. Her use of layered vocals, guitars, electric banjo, synth loops and electronic drums create her own dark folktronica sound. Her most recent EP “Eighty-three” was released in the summer of 2020.