Connecticut Suzuki Guitar Academy recital Fri., May 27, 6:30 PM

Best Video Film & Cultural Center presents a program of classical guitar music from students of the Connecticut Suzuki Guitar Academy on Fri., May 27. The show starts at 6:30 PM and the cover is $10.

As this is an inside show, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

The Connecticut Suzuki Guitar Academy, founded by David Veslocki, delivers instruction to students in and around Norwalk, CT. The Academy delivers individual and ensemble instruction that has produced a level of playing that is nationally recognized by multiple competitions. Trevor Babb began teaching with CSGA in the fall of 2019 and will be leading two of the school’s advanced ensembles—one quartet and one sextet—at Best Video in a mixture of traditional and modern repertoire for guitar ensemble.

The program will feature music by Andrew York, Bach, Vivaldi, Hindemith, Haydn, and more.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

The Howling Hound Dogs play the Best Video deck Thurs., May 26

The Howling Hound Dogs play the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Thursday, May 26. The show starts at 5:30 PM.

The Howling Hound Dogs are a fun, upbeat washboard trio who play swing standards from the 20’s to the 50’s as well as folk and blues tunes, modern arrangements and funny originals. Their shows include ukulele, guitar, kazoo, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, washboard, jug and even spoons!

As a band and as soloists they’ve appeared at festivals, town concerts, senior facilities, libraries, the New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas, Nashville’s Bluebird Café and on TV and radio. Thew members of The Howling Hound Dogs are Peter Magrane, Lou Manzi and Tom McVerry.

There will be donation vases for the musicians and the venue. Please consider being generous in supporting musicians—opportunities to perform have been fewer the past couple of years.

The parking lot is closed off for seating. There is on-street parking on Thornton Street, as well as parking behind our building and across the street at Spring Glen Church.

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.


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.

New releases 5/17/22

Top Hits
Licorice Pizza (comedy/drama, Alana Haim. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 90, Must See. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘Licorice Pizza,’ a shaggy, fitfully brilliant romp from Paul Thomas Anderson, takes place in a 1973 dream of bared midriffs and swinging hair, failures and pretenders. It’s set in Encino, a Los Angeles outpost in the shadow of Hollywood and the birthplace of such films as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Boogie Nights,’ Anderson’s 1997 breakout about a striver’s passage into pornographic stardom.” Read more…)

The Cursed (horror, Boyd Holbrook. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 62. From Noel Murray’s Los Angeles Times review: “A unique take on werewolf folk tales, the arty monster movie ‘The Cursed’ journeys to late 19th century Europe for a story that ties a persistent evil to the enduring stain of bigotry. A true auteur project for genre-hopping filmmaker Sean Ellis — who wrote, directed, co-produced and serves as the cinematographer — this period piece is slow-paced yet peppered with enough gory attacks and smartly staged scare sequences to appeal to horror connoisseurs.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray &Ultra HD 4K
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure Blu-ray (1985, comedy/family, Paul Reubens.) Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 47. From Vincent Canby’s 1985 New York Times review [requires log-in}: “For the record, ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’ is the story of what happens when Pee-wee’s bicycle is stolen and he sets out to find it, a journey that takes him to San Antonio and, finally, to the Warner Brothers studio in Burbank, Calif. You have been warned.” Read more…)

Walker Blu-ray (1987, historically-based drama, Ed Harris. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. From Vincent Canby’s 1987 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Taking the true story of William Walker, the American adventurer who once ruled as the self-declared president of Nicaragua [1856-57], the director Alex Cox and the writer Rudy Wurlitzer have made ‘Walker,’ a hip, cool, political satire that’s almost as lunatic as the title character. The main difference is that the film intends to be funny while Walker, all five egocentric, puritanical feet of him, was fatally humorless.” Read more…)

Licorice Pizza

New British DVDs
Ridley Road (1960s period drama, Agnes O’Casey. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 71. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “It might seem as if there couldn’t be any nook or cranny of British history that hasn’t received its own television costume drama by now. But ‘Ridley Road,’ premiering Sunday on PBS’s ‘Masterpiece,’ finds some new and interesting territory. It’s set in London, with side trips to Manchester and the countryside of Kent, in 1962, just as the Swinging Sixties are getting into gear. But music and fashion are strictly in the background. In the foreground are the members of an organized, street-level Jewish resistance to the then-flourishing British neo-Nazi movement.” Read more…)

Martin Clune’s Wild Life (nature series w/British actor Martin Clune as host)

New TV
Succession: Season 3 (HBO drama series, Brian Cox. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 92.)

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 (

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

New releases 5/10/22

Top Hits
Dog (comedy, Channing Tatum. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 61. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Road comedies that pair an animal and a movie star are a minor genre unto themselves. The best examples, in my opinion, involve Clint Eastwood and an orangutan named Clyde, though the recent one with Eastwood and a rooster wasn’t bad. Channing Tatum is a different kind of screen presence — sweeter, chattier, bulkier — and in ‘Dog,’ which he directed with Reid Carolin, he amiably shares the screen with [spoiler alert!] a dog.” Read more…)

Martyr’s Lane (horror, Denise Gough. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. From Phil Hoad’s Guardian review: “This is a supernatural mystery set in fusty parish England rather than pure horror – though its visual vocabulary becomes increasingly gothic as it progresses; Ruth Platt’s third film is at first almost too subtle for its own good. As Leah’s new friend directs her to small objects around the house and grounds, including minuscule letter-bearing dice, Platt’s storytelling is high-risk, almost obscure, leaving viewers much to infer. Partly it’s because it is told from the point of view of a child with a tactile fetish for trinkets; but it actually means ‘Martyrs Lane’ is highly atmospheric, a diaphanous world of billowing curtains, lamplight circles and luminous stained glass.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Playground (France, drama, Maya Vanderbeque. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 86, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “This is the first feature from the writer-director Laura Wandel, and it’s a knockout, as flawlessly constructed as it is harrowing. By the time the first scene has ended, Wandel has set the anxious mood, introduced her characters, established the visual design and created a richly inhabited world that’s disturbingly familiar.” Read more…)

Kandisha (France, horror, Mathilde Lamusse. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 59. From From Erik Piepenberg’s New York Times review: “‘Kandisha’ is the latest film from Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, whose 2007 debut “Inside” was a face of the grisly genre known as the New French Extremity. Here they tone down the bloodletting with a story that explores feminism and post-colonialism with a supernatural spin. It‘s scary, even though the film sometimes detours into broad-brush teens vs. monster territory.” Read more…)

Gagarine (France, drama, Lyna Khoudri. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “In August of 2019, Cité Gagarine — a once-aspirational housing project located in the eastern suburbs of Paris, one of the last strongholds of the French Communist Party — was demolished as a crowd of its former residents watched from a distance. In ‘Gagarine,’ by the filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh, this real-life moment is re-envisioned with a heavy dose of magical realism, foregrounding the dreams of a new generation that build upon the structure’s utopian roots.“ Read more…)

Lady Chatterley’s Lover (France, 1955, drama, Danielle Darrieux. From Bosley Crowther’s 1959 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Why in the world there should ever have been any question raised about the morality of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover,’ which opened at the Little Carnegie yesterday, is beyond this observer’s comprehension.This old-fashioned French film version of the outspoken D. H. Lawrence novel, which was something of a shocker thirty years ago, is no more illustrative of lewdness or disregard for moral rectitude than have been any number of licensed movies going back to ‘The Dangerous Age.’” Read more…)

Julietta (France, 1953, comedy/romance, Dany Robin. From Bosley Crowther’s 1957 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Since the French film ‘Julietta,’ which came to the Paris yesterday, is strictly a ‘summer picture,’ they couldn’t have hit a better day to put it in the theatre. The cooling system was working fine.As for ‘Julietta,’ it is a thoroughly flimsy bagatelle about a fellow confronted with a problem of juggling two dames in his home at the same time.” Read more…)

Miklós Jancsó Collection:
The Round-Up (Hungary, 1966, period drama)
The Red and the White (Hungary, 1967, period drama)
The Confrontation (Hungary, 1969, political drama)
Winter Wind (Hungary, political drama)
Red Psalm (Hungary, 1971, 1890s period drama)
Electra, My Love (Hungary, 1974, adaptation of Greek play)

New British DVDs
Secrets of the Six Wives (drama/reenactment/history, Lucy Worsley. From Margaret Lyons’ capsule New York Times review: “The historian and TV host Lucy Worsley profiles the six wives of Henry VIII in this new three-part mini-series. The show includes Worsley in period garb, joining in the dramatic re-enactments, and also popping up to offer fun facts as though she’s the most enthusiastic social studies teacher ever.” Read more…)

New TV
The Good Fight: Season 5 (legal drama, Christine Baranski)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Desert Hearts (1985, groundbreaking lesbian romance, Helen Shaver. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 67. From Clayton Dillard’s Slant review upon the movie’s theatrical re-release in 2017: “Deitch shoots with an eye for wide-open spaces but also configures numerous interior scenes around their Sirkian potential to reveal smaller clusters of prejudice within larger societal structures. As in All That Heaven Allows, the central lovers’ blossoming attraction is configured around the gaze and thoughts of others.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies (movie history, sex, Mamie Van Doren. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 64. From Jade Budowski’s Decider review: “While things could easily feel tedious and slip into the salacious, ‘Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies’ manages to balance its more lighthearted, smirking sequences with genuinely intriguing and important social and political commentary. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel or do anything particularly exciting, but it doesn’t necessarily need to. We get all the information we might hope for and then some, plus some wonderfully unfiltered interviews with icons from both on-screen and off.” Read more…)

“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.