Film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema” concludes with Iranian “The Salesman,” presented by Farbod Honarpisheh

Best Video Film & Cultural Center has continued its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

After screening “Two Days, One Night” (Belgium), “Timbuktu” (Mauritania), and “Shoplifters” (Japan) May 3 , 10, and 17, respectively,. the series concludes with a modern masterpiece from Iran. All the spotlighted movies were released within the past decade. Each film has been presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. The screening starts at 7 PM and admission is $7.

The series wraps up with Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s 2016 Oscar-winning Best Foreign Film “The Salesman.” Farhadi wraps a gripping drama of violence, marital discord, and patriarchy around a theater company’s attempt to mount a production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” New York Times critic A.O. Scott wrote that, “Not since Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘All About My Mother,’ which brilliantly re-engineered ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ has a classic of the American stage been put to such ingenious cinematic use.”

Farbod Honarpisheh, who presents “The Salesman,” is currently a postdoctoral associate with Yale’s Film and Media Studies Program. His dissertation, “Fragmented Allegories of National Authenticity: Art and Politics of the Iranian New Wave Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s,” was completed at Columbia University. His research interests intersect film and media theory and history, critical theory, Iranian and Middle Eastern cinemas, comparative modernist studies (visual and literary), intermediality, the modern city, postcolonial theory, migration, and documentary studies.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

As an indoor event, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

Walkingwood Mandolin Quartet plays best Video deck Sat., May 21, 5 PM

The Walkingwood Mandolin Quartet plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Sat., May 21. The show starts at 5 PM. (This show substitutes for the Jim & Willow Sirch & Gary Wikfors show, which had to be postponed.)

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar—suggested donation of $10. 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 Walkingwood Mandolin Quartet (WMQ) was founded at the turn of the century to apply the quartetto classico version of the mandolin quartet to a completely new repertoire. Whatever your preconceptions are about what a mandolin quartet is like, forget them.

The current and founding, members of WMQ are: Ellen Cohn, mandolin; Colin Healy, mandola; Betsy Rome, mandolin; and Gary Wikfors, mandocello. “Walkingwood” is the name given the home of mandocello player Gary Wikfors.

Gary had acquired a chronic itch to arrange music for mandolin quartet, and eventually a mandocello and mandola to do so. After experimenting with multitrack recordings, Gary felt the need to impose this affliction on some musical friends. Betsy likes to joke that this is the first band she was invited to join by email.

All WMQ members are playing out of their normal elements in this group: Betsy is a well-known flatpick guitarist anchoring the bluegrass-swing quartet “Too Blue,” Colin is a fiddler and multi-instrumentalist at the center of the “Ash Creek String Band,” Ellen is a sought-after accompanist of traditional Irish and Quebecois tunes on piano and guitar, and Gary usually plays the wee-little mandolin with “The Fiddleheads” and others.

WMQ made its public debut in 1999 at the NOMAD festival in Newtown, CT. Since then, we have played other folk and traditional-music festivals, coffeehouses, concerts, apple orchards and private events.

Their influences? Not classical. Motown, TV themes, surf, O’Carolan, hard rock, traditional Swedish… A common response is “I can’t believe you can play that on mandolins!”

Joe Carter-Jeff Fuller Brazilian Jazz Duo plays Fri., May 20, at 5 PM

The Joe Carter-Jeff Fuller Brazilian Jazz Duo plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Fri., May 20. The duo features Joe Carter on guitar and Jeff Fuller on upright bass. The show starts at 5 PM.

The Joe Carter Brazilian Jazz Duo celebrates the music of Brazil – Samba, Bossa Nova, Choro, Baiao and more. Their repertoire features songs by Brazil’s classic composers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Moacir Santos, Jacob do Bandolim, Luiz Bonfa, Pixinguinha, Baden Powell, Ary Barroso and others. The Duo takes things a step further by using their Jazz backgrounds to add Jazz improvisation into the tunes, creating a sound that blends the best of both worlds. In other words: the best of Music from “Both Sides of the Equator.”

Having performed in such diverse places as Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba and Recife in Brazil, Bombay, Bangalore and Goa in India, Trossingen and Stuttgart in Germany and Paris and Corsica in France, Joe Carter has used these experiences to form a sound and style based in “Samba Jazz”, a style that combines the improvisational nature of North American Jazz with the lyrical and rhythmical aspects of Brazilian Bossa Nova, Samba, Choro, Baiao and MPB.

Whether performing on stage and in clubs, teaching jazz and coaching ensembles, or composing and arranging in his home studio, Jeff Fuller brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to all his musical endeavors. An integral part of the Connecticut, New York and international jazz scenes, Fuller toured worldwide and recorded with saxophonists Lou Donaldson and Paquito D’Rivera. He has played with jazz masters from all styles and eras including such diverse artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Mose Allison, “Papa” Jo Jones, Gerry Mulligan, and Clark Terry.

ABOUT OUR SHOWS:

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar—suggested donation of $10. 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 509ers play garage rock Thurs., May 19

Garage rock scorchers The 509ers play Best Video Film & Cultural Center Thurs., May 19, starting at 7 PM. The cover is $10.

The 509ers are a garage rock outfit from New Haven, CT. They have been kicking around the local music scene in various configurations for nearly thirty years and formed as The 509ers in 2009. Former angry young men, now grizzled and older, The 509ers still have something to say about the state of the world and it is not complimentary… but it is honest, loud, and raw.

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

Film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema” journeys to Japan Tues., May 17, for “Shoplifters,” presented by Aaron Gerow

Love watching the movies you rent from Best Video but want to go deeper? The discussions we’ve been having after our screenings will enrich your appreciation of cinema. Plus, they’re fun!

Best Video Film & Cultural Center has continued its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

The first and second films in the series, “Two Days, One Night” (Belgium) and “Timbuktu” (Mauritania), screened on May 3 and 10, respectively. The series will showcase acclaimed movies from Japan and Iran, all released within the past decade, over the next two Tuesdays. Each film will be presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission to each is $7.

The remaining two films are:

Tues., May 17: “Shoplifters” (2018, Japan, dir. by Kore-eda Hirokazu, presented by Aaron Gerow)

Tues., Apr. 24: “The Salesman” (2016, Iran, dir. by Asghar Farhadi, presented by Farbod Honarpisheh)

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

“Shoplifters,” directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu, is a family drama that delves deep on themes of poverty and connection. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis wrote, “Kore-eda’s great subject is the contemporary family, a topic that gives him an immensity of themes, including loss, love, class, alienation in the modern world and just about everything else.” It was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.

Aaron Gerow will introduce “Shoplifters” and moderate the post-film discussion. Gerow is Professor of East Asian cinema and culture at Yale University and has published widely on variety of topics in Japanese film and popular culture. His books include “Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship, 1895-1925” (2010); “A Page of Madness: Cinema and Modernity in 1920s Japan” (2008); and “Kitano Takeshi” (2007). He also runs his own Japanese film website Tangemania (www.aarongerow.com).

As an indoor event, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

“How to Read A Film: The American Western” concludes with Clint Eastwood’s 1992 “Unforgiven” Sun., May 15

Best Video Film & Cultural Center concludes Mark Schenker’s 11th installment of his “How to Read a Film” series, focusing again this season on a genre rather than a director. Having presented two series on film noir and another on screwball comedy, he turns now to another distinctively American film category: the western. He will consider four great movies ranging from the 1930’s through the 1950’s—a great decade for the genre both in the theater and on TV—to the 1990’s.

The concluding film in the four-film series is “Unforgiven” (1992), directed by Clint Eastwood. Admission is $7 and the event starts at 2 PM, May 15. The preceding films were “Stagecoach” (1939), “The Gunfighter” (1950), and “The Naked Spur” (1953).

The series engaged with four major filmmakers and an array of actors celebrated for their work in and beyond the western genre: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, and James Stewart; Claire Trevor and Robert Ryan; Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman—along with Morgan Freeman, Janet Leigh, Ralph Meeker, and the great character actor Millard Mitchell*—twice!

Upon its 1992 release, “Unforgiven” was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Vincent Canby wrote:

As written by David Webb Peoples and directed by Mr. Eastwood, “Unforgiven” is a most entertaining western that pays homage to the great tradition of movie westerns while surreptitiously expressing a certain amount of skepticism. Mr. Eastwood has learned a lot from his mentors, including the great Don Siegel (“Two Mules for Sister Sara’ and “The Beguiled,” among others), a director with no patience for sentimentality.

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! (He strongly recommends viewing the movie before attending a “How to Read a Film” event.) 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.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

Best Video partners with International Festival of Arts & Ideas for tribute concert to Sun Ra Thurs., May 12

As part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas exploration of the concept of Afro-futurism and the “One City, One Read” dive into writer Octavia Butler’s “The Parable of the Sower,” the festival and Best Video Film & Cultural Center present a Sun Ra tribute concert by Mykael Ross & Band. The concert will take place in front of Best Video starting at 5 PM on Thurs., May 12. The show is free.

Sun Ra was one of the most unusual musicians in the history of jazz, moving from Fletcher Henderson swing to free jazz with ease, sometimes in the same song. Portraying himself as a product of outer space, he “traveled the spaceways” with a colorful troupe of musicians, using a multitude of percussion and unusual instrumentation, from tree drum to celeste.

Sun Ra, who enjoyed cloaking his origins and development in mystery, is known to have studied piano early on with Lula Randolph in Washington, DC. His first noted professional job was during 1946-47 as pianist with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra at the Club DeLisa on the South Side of Chicago. In addition to playing piano in the band he also served as one of the staff arrangers. Finding his calling as an arranger, he put together a band to play his compositions. In the 1950s, he began issuing recordings of his unusual music on his Saturn label, becoming one of the first jazz musicians to record and sell his own albums.

Sun Ra’s band became a central part of the early avant-garde jazz movement in Chicago, being one of the first jazz bands to employ electronic instruments (as early as 1956), including electric piano, clavioline, celeste, and synthesizers.

By the 1970s, the Sun Ra Arkestra and its various permutations began touring Europe extensively. His performances had by then expanded to include singers, dancers, martial arts practitioners, film, and colorful homemade costumes, becoming a true multimedia attraction. Their performances would often stretch on for hours, including hypnotic, chanting processionals through the audience. His arrangements of his songs, however, were among the best in jazz. He made excellent use of his soloists, especially the great saxophone section: tenor John Gilmore, alto Marshall Allen, and baritone Pat Patrick, all of whom were with the Arkestra on and off for decades.

An outsider who linked the African-American experience with ancient Egyptian mythology and outer space, Sun Ra was years ahead of all other avant-garde musicians in his experimentation with sound and instruments, a pioneer in group improvisations and the use of electric instruments in jazz. Since Sun Ra’s death, the Arkestra has continued to perform under the direction of Allen.

Sun Ra was one of the most unusual musicians in the history of jazz, moving from Fletcher Henderson swing to free jazz with ease, sometimes in the same song. Portraying himself as a product of outer space, he “traveled the spaceways” with a colorful troupe of musicians, using a multitude of percussion and unusual instrumentation, from tree drum to celeste.

The band is Mykael Ross (guitar), Pat Marafiote (keyboards), Randy Bost (trumpet), Robert Turek (bass), Sam Oliver (drums), Jarawa Brian Gray (percussion), and Hank Bolden (sax).

Film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema” continues Tues., May 10, with Mauritanian “Timbuktu,” presented by Dudley Andrew from Yale Film & Media Studies

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

The first film in the series, “Two Days, One Night” (Belgium), screened on May 3. The series will showcase acclaimed movies from Mauritania, Japan, and Iran, all released within the past decade, over the next three Tuesdays. Each film will be presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission to each is $7.

The remaining three films are:

Tues., May 10: “Timbuktu” (2014, Mauritania, dir. by Abderrahmane Sissako, presented by Dudley Andrew)

Tues., May 17: “Shoplifters” (2018, Japan, dir. by Kore-eda Hirokazu, presented by Aaron Gerow)

Tues., Apr. 24: “The Salesman” (2016, Iran, dir. by Asghar Farhadi, presented by Farbod Honarpisheh)

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

“Timbuktu,” a Mauritanian/French production directed by Abderrahmane Sissako and set in the Malian city, dramatizes the hardships resulting from an occupation of the city by fundamentalist jihadists. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, the “glory” of “Timbuktu,” according to critic A.O. Scott, “lies in its devotion to local knowledge, in the way it allows its gaze to wander away from violence toward images of beauty and grace.”

“Timbuktu” will be introduced by Dudley Andrew, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Dudley Andrew at Yale University is biographer of “André Bazin,” whose ideas he extends in “What Cinema Is!,” “Opening Bazin,” and in his editing and translating of themed collections of Bazin. With two books on 1930s French Cinema, Andrew was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and gained the Lifetime Achievement Award from SCMS. His current projects include issues in world cinema (migration) and comparative arts.

As an indoor event, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

Secret Cinema, hosted by Rob Harmon, Mon., May 9

Best Video staffer Rob Harmon hosts another edition of a semi-regular cult film series under the rubric “Secret Cinema.” The next Secret Cinema takes place Mon., May 9, at 7:30 PM. Along with the night’s movie, Rob shows relevant film trailers and cranks up the Best Video popcorn machine for cinema-appropriate snacking.

The movie starts at 8 PM; the programming starts at 7:30 with some relevant videos chosen by Rob.

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.

Mark Schenker’s “How to Read a Film: The American Western” continues with “The Naked Spur” Sun., May 8

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues with Mark Schenker’s 11th installment of his “How to Read a Film” series, focusing again this season on a genre rather than a director. Having presented two series on film noir and another on screwball comedy, he turns now to another distinctively American film category: the western. He will consider four great movies ranging from the 1930’s through the 1950’s—a great decade for the genre both in the theater and on TV—to the 1990’s.

After addressing “Stagecach” (1939) on Apr. 24 and “The Gunfighter” (1950) on May 1, Schenker explores “The Naked Spur” (1953) on Sun., May 8, at 2 PM. Admission to each is $7.

The series engages with four major filmmakers and an array of actors celebrated for their work in and beyond the western genre: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, and James Stewart; Claire Trevor and Robert Ryan; Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman—along with Morgan Freeman, Janet Leigh, Ralph Meeker, and the great character actor Millard Mitchell*—twice!

*Film fans will likely know Millard Mitchell best as the studio head in 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Remaining How to read a Film:

May 8 The Naked Spur (1953) dir. Anthony Mann
May 15. Unforgiven (1992) dir. Clint Eastwood

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.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.