Music: The Nick Di Maria Quartet to play jazz Wed., May 15, at 8 PM

Nick_Di_Maria_WebThe Nick Di Maria Quartet will play jazz in the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, May 15. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover charge is $5.

Nick Di Maria is a New Haven, CT based trumpeter, composer and educator. A graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Nick holds a Bachelor’s in Jazz Performance studying under Eddie Henderson, Dave Scott, Jeremy Pelt, Taylor Ho Bynum and Rich Clymer.

Nick began playing music at age 10 and over the years has played in multiple genres from jazz to reggae to classical to punk. In 2001 Nick joined the CT Ska/Punk scene playing with the infamous band, The Flaming Tsunamis. For 5 years Nick was an integral member of the 6 piece band, touring with and  co-writing some of the band’s most famous tunes. Nick appears on 2 of the band’s albums, “Focus the Fury” and “Zombies vs. Robots!”

In 2006 upon graduating from college, Nick assembled his first working quartet. From the beginning the band began working the CT jazz scene playing all over the state, including a residency in Newtown in the summer of 2006.

In 2008, after some personnel changes, Nick assembled his current line up. A group that has been working not only CT but NYC as well. The music of Herbie Hancock’s “Mwandishi” group was very influential in the creative sound of this current group. Nick began composing in the style of the band, using electronic and avant garde influences in his writing and sound. The band released their first album in May 2011 entitled “Between You & Me” to positive reviews.

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE EVENTS:

• Wednesday, May 15. JAZZ: THE NICK Di MARIA QUARTET

• Thursday, May 16. ROCK—ROPE

• Sunday, May 19. MUSIC, IMAGE & SPOKEN WORD: MARK SABA & TOM IZZO

• Thursday, May 23. HOCKEY ROCK: THE ZAMBONIS

•Thursday, May 30. ACOUSTIC FOLK: ROBERT MESSORE

• Wednesday, June 5. PUNK/BLUES: SPACE ORPHANS

• Thursday, June 6. INDIE ROCK: ELISON JACKSON

• Wednesday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANNA AYRES-BROWN

• Thursday, June 13. INDIE ROCK: THE MOUNTAIN MOVERS

• Wednesday, June 19. CABARET: RICH MORAN

• Thursday, June 20. INDIE POP: THE FURORS, AL HOWARD

• Wednesday, June 26. INDIE ROCK: THE JELLYSHIRTS

• Thursday, June 27. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: FRANK CRITELLI, MARK MIRANDO

• Wednesday, July 10. ACOUSTIC FOLK: SHELDON CAMPBELL

• Thursday, July 11. ACOUSTIC ROCK: JAMES VELVET & THE LONESOME SPARROWS

 

New Releases 04/30/13

Top Hits
Silver Linings Playbook (drama/comedy/romance, Bradley Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Silver Linings Playbook, the exuberant new movie from David O. Russell, does almost everything right. The story tracks the feverish, happy, sad, absurdly funny ups and downs of a head case named Pat Solatano, played by a surprisingly effective, intensely focused Bradley Cooper, just as he returns to his parents’ home after eight months in a mental institution. Pat had been put away for a scarily violent crime, but now, having shed fat and the defense it offered him, and feeding on the shiny philosophy of the title instead, he feels ready to tackle the world. The world may not be ready.” Read more…)

The Details (comedy, Tobey Maguire. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 56. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “What upper-middle-class suburbanite wouldn’t be apoplectic to find his newly sodded front lawn torn up by raccoons? In The Details, Jacob Aaron Estes’s surreal moral fable cloaked as a romantic comedy, getting rid of those pesky creatures becomes the obsession of Jeff Lang [Tobey Maguire], a smug, mild-mannered Seattle physician accustomed to getting his way… Instead of turning soft and squishy, this examination of karma gets tougher as it goes along. Its refusal to settle into a cozy niche may be commercially disastrous, but I take it as a sign of integrity.” Read more…)

Broken City (thriller, Mark Wahlberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 49. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The screenplay remains the weak link in [director Allen] Hughes’s work. But if you don’t listen to the dialogue too hard, if you tune out a bit and instead watch the screen — notice how the restless cameras prowl around the actors and how shards of bright color pierce the pooling black night — then Broken City satisfies like the solid B movie it is.” Read more…)

Not Fade Away (drama/1960’s rock  music, James Gandolfini. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “There is plenty of hope but little glory in Not Fade Away, David Chase’s sympathetic, acutely drawn portrait of a young Italian-American musician in New Jersey chasing 1960s rock ’n’ roll dreams. That character, Douglas Damiano [the perfectly cast John Magaro], is not a baby Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi surrogate ascending to the pantheon while the whole world cheers. Near the beginning of the movie, a voice-over narrator, Douglas’s younger sister Evelyn [Meg Guzulescu], remarks, ‘Like most bands, you’ve never heard of them.’ As you watch the group come together, squabble and fall apart, the movie — written and directed by Mr. Chase, the creator of The Sopranos — offers an extremely knowledgeable and affectionate yet barbed survey of rock’s explosive evolution.” Read more…)

Guilt Trip (comedy, Barbra Streisand. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 50.)

New Blu-Ray
Silver Linings Playbook
Broken City

New Foreign
The Sexual Chronicles of a French Family (France, comedy/drama, Mathias Meloul. Rotten Tomatoes: 0%. Metacritic: 34. From David DeWitt’s New York Times review: “Let’s agree that too many American movies find it hilarious when teenagers, in all sorts of crass ways, rush to lose their virginity. Sexual Chronicles of a French Family takes that primary objective more seriously. It aims to break the taboo and show sex as it really is: banal.” Read more…)

Young and Wild (Chile, erotic comedy, Alicia Rodriguez. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “A teenager follows the lead of her healthy libido in Young and Wild, from the Chilean director Marialy Rivas. Named after the character’s popular, no-holds-barred blog, this playful, drifting film opens with morning-after masturbation and takes its desultory structural cues from the Web. It’s more about adolescent attitudes than the thrust of a story, yet the film’s sexual intelligence is undone by a paralyzing voice-over and an encroaching case of the blahs.” Read more…)

New British
Wagner & Me (classical music doc, Stephen Fry, in New Docs. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 56.From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “In the documentary Wagner & Me, the actor Stephen Fry, an ardent admirer of the music of Richard Wagner, wrestles with a longstanding problem for Wagner fans: how to reconcile that composer’s musical genius with his racism. Tracing the creation of masterpieces like ‘Parsifal’ and the ‘Ring’ cycle, Mr. Fry, who is Jewish, explores Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitism and Hitler’s co-optation of his music during the Third Reich. In the process he alternates between aesthetic rapture and moral repulsion.” Read more…)

Daniel Day-Lewis Triple Feature:
How Many Miles to Babylon (drama. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “He is at the center of the 1982 TV movie How Many Miles to Babylon?, a World War I story based on a novel by the Irish writer Jennifer Johnston that packs a lot of themes into its 111 minutes: Irish nationalism, British prejudices, the violent horrors of trench warfare and the Freudian horrors of a childhood in the Anglo-Irish gentry. He plays Alex, the son of Anglo-Irish landowners… The lead role gives Mr. Day-Lewis’s natural charisma more of a chance to assert itself, but his portrayal feels muffled — he’s constrained by the stiff-upper-lip sentimentality of the story and the clichés of repression and nobility that Alex represents.” Read more…)
The Insurance Man (drama. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “His most memorable performance on these DVDs, however, is the smallest one, or, to be more accurate, the shortest one. In The Insurance Man (1986), from the anthology series Screen Two, Mr. Day-Lewis is completely commanding in the key supporting role of Kafka, the most sympathetic and magnetic of a group of insurance adjusters working in a nightmarish, highly stylized bureaucracy in 1945 Prague.” Read more…)
Dangerous Corner (thriller. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “The self-consciously daring [and claustrophobically staged] proceedings feel like a less florid precursor to Suddenly Last Summer — set in an English drawing room rather than a Southern asylum — and Mr. Day-Lewis, as a young and somewhat simpering member of the group who tends toward genteel hysteria, doesn’t transcend the material. Most of the time he looks outclassed by the more experienced performers around him. But he does manage to steal a number of scenes by sitting silently in the background and scowling, nodding, pursing his lips or intensely examining his fingernails — an early indication of his ability to strike a pose.” Read more…)

My Brother Jonathan (family drama mini-series, Daniel Day-Lewis. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “As socially conscious Edwardian soap opera, My Brother Jonathan isn’t at the level of Downton Abbey, but it’s moving and entertaining in a modest way [at least until the tear-jerking mechanics really kick in during the fifth episode]. Jonathan is a reasonably complex character — his good intentions are touched with arrogance, his judgment clouded by infatuation and pride — and Mr. Day-Lewis gets to display his intelligence and sardonic humor in satisfying portions.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Wagner & Me (classical music doc, Stephen Fry. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 56. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “In the documentary Wagner & Me, the actor Stephen Fry, an ardent admirer of the music of Richard Wagner, wrestles with a longstanding problem for Wagner fans: how to reconcile that composer’s musical genius with his racism. Tracing the creation of masterpieces like ‘Parsifal’ and the ‘Ring’ cycle, Mr. Fry, who is Jewish, explores Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitism and Hitler’s co-optation of his music during the Third Reich. In the process he alternates between aesthetic rapture and moral repulsion.” Read more…)

New Music
Wagner & Me (classical music doc, Stephen Fry, in New Docs. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 56. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “In the documentary Wagner & Me, the actor Stephen Fry, an ardent admirer of the music of Richard Wagner, wrestles with a longstanding problem for Wagner fans: how to reconcile that composer’s musical genius with his racism. Tracing the creation of masterpieces like ‘Parsifal’ and the ‘Ring’ cycle, Mr. Fry, who is Jewish, explores Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitism and Hitler’s co-optation of his music during the Third Reich. In the process he alternates between aesthetic rapture and moral repulsion.” Read more…)

(The Other) Hank’s Recommendations 04/23/13

Hank_Hoffman_Picks_Image_sketch_WebBest Video’s other Hank—Hank Hoffman—here with this week’s recommendation. Hank Paper will return with a new recommendation next week.

Film Movement is a distributor of critically acclaimed independent and foreign films—we have dozens of their titles avilable to rent at Best Video. Their selections are, in a sense, curated, chosen for the quality of the storytelling, the persuasiveness of the acting, the commitment to personal vision.

KAREN CRIES ON THE BUS hails from Colombia, directed by Gabriel Rojas Vera. But unlike so many films from or about contemporary Colombia, it is not a shoot-em-up about narco-traffickers or guerrillas. Rather, it tells the story of Karen, a Colombian woman who leaves her unfulfilling marriage of ten years to the distant and emotionally abusive—albeit financially successful—Mario. With no jobs, no apparent friends,  little money and the disapproval of her mother, she makes her way out into Bogotá, renting a room in a rundown flophouse.

Karen is played by Angela Carrizosa with a naturalness that is wholly believable. Her growth into self-sufficiency is spurred in part by her tentative friendship with Patricia,  an outgoing beautician who also has a room at the boardinghouse. Feminism is a subtext, of course, but Rojas Vera doesn’t overplay that theme.

The strengths of Karen Cries on the Bus are the strengths of the Film Movement offerings overall: telling human scale stories in such a way as to richly accommodate grander visions. Check out the Film Movement titles in our New Foreign and various country sections. Almost every one is a gem.

View the trailer for Karen Cries on the Bus:

New Releases 04/23/13

Top Hits
The Impossible (family/action, Naomi Watts. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 73. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The Impossible, the second feature from the Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona, uses digital imagery, meticulous sound design and tried-and-true editing techniques to recreate both the violence of unleashed waters and the desolation that followed their assault on southern Thailand. Much more than Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, which used the tsunami as a framing device for one of its tales of supernatural obsession, The Impossible plunges the audience into the catastrophe and then immerses us in the panic, grief and disorientation of the aftermath.” Read more…)

Gangster Squad (crime/gangster, Sean Penn. Rotten Tomatoes: 32%. Metacritic: 40. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Gangster Squad is less a movie than a costume party run amok. Set in a late-’40s Los Angeles painted in cartoon colors rather than noir shadows, it is a hectic jumble of fedoras and zoot suits, stockings and cigarettes, and red femme-fatale dresses. The accessories of choice are guns of various calibers and styles, deployed to drown out — or perhaps to emphasize — knucklehead dialogue and inept storytelling.” Read more…)

Promised Land (drama/ecology, Matt Damon. Rotten Tomatoes: 51%. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Sant, is an earnest attempt, sometimes effective, sometimes clumsy, to dramatize the central arguments about fracking and its impact. Issues that have been addressed in Josh Fox’s documentary Gasland and in a series of articles by Ian Urbina in The New York Times crystallize in the story of Steve, a man whose ambition comes into conflict with his conscience.” Read more…)

Any Day Now (drama, Alan Cumming. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 60. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “When Alan Cumming turns on his beaming grin in Any Day Now, Travis Fine’s militant tear-jerker, he conveys such intense, unguarded emotion you almost want to avert your eyes. That smile, and the blazing performance it distills, conveys so ferocious a mixture of desire, hurt, defiance, courage, neediness and reckless abandon that it makes everyone else seem cowardly. You consider the real meaning of the Jerry Herman anthem, ‘I Am What I Am,’ from La Cage aux Folles, as it is lived out in extremis by one flamboyantly gay man.” Read more…)

Pawn (crime thriller, Michael Chiklis)

New Blu-Ray
The Impossible
Gangster Squad
Promised Land

New Foreign
In Another Country (South Korea, romance, Isabelle Huppert, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 69. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Like many other films by the sly and prolific South Korean director Hong Sang-soo, In Another Country is at once a comedy of manners and an oblique commentary on the power of cinema to expose and alter reality. Its three chapters, each a little under a half-hour long, are scenarios dreamed up by an aspiring young screenwriter [Jung Yumi] in the midst of some vague family trouble. The movies she writes, which we see enacted on the screen [with Ms. Jung as a helpful neighbor], are variations on some of Mr. Hong’s favorite themes: social awkwardness, sexual frustration and the selfishness of Korean men.” Read more…)

Commissario Brunetti Ep. 15 & 16 (Germany, Donna Leon mystery series, Uwe Kockisch)
Commissario Brunetti Ep. 17 & 18 (Germany, Donna Leon mystery series, Uwe Kockisch)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Devil and Miss Jones (1941, socially conscious screwball comedy, Jean Arthur. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1941 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Just suppose—but you need’nt, if it revolts you—that you were the wealthiest man in all the world. Then suppose that a group of employes in a department store you didn’t even know you owned hung your effigy outside the building as a token of their contempt for you. Would you, in a state of burning fury, take a job incognito in the store in order to find out the reasons for such a disrespectful attack? Maybe you wouldn’t. In fact, it would be a most illogical thing for a man to do. But, anyhow, we are mighty happy that Frank Ross and Norman Krasna contrived to have Charles Coburn pretend to such an exalted position and do exactly that thing in their picture called The Devil and Miss Jones, which breezed into the Music Hall yesterday. For the consequence is the frothiest comedy since—well, since The Lady Eve.” Read more…)

New British
Mr. Selfridge (historical drama mini-series, Jeremy Piven. Metacritic: 59. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “Mr. Selfridge is an eight-part, roughly eight-hour mini-series about the American businessman who opened the revolutionary London department store Selfridges in 1909. It’s also a soldier in the current bloody war for period-drama domination between the British television networks ITV and BBC, whose combatants include Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, on ITV, and Call the Midwife and The Paradise, on BBC. [Already dead: BBC’s flat-footed Upstairs Downstairs sequel.] After doing service in Britain, these shows often take R&R on PBS, which is where Mr. Selfridge shows up on Sunday night as part of Masterpiece Classic. American viewers will immediately compare it with Downton Abbey and note some things that are lacking: tailcoats, Maggie Smith, a castle. Mr. Selfridge is a more commercial and proletarian affair, focused on innovations in window dressing and the love lives of shop girls, music hall stars and grubby capitalists.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
The Central Park Five (Ken Burns doc, justice system, racism, crime. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 79. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The documentary The Central Park Five revisits two New York nightmares. The first and most famous was the rape and beating of a 28-year-old white woman who, very early on April 20, 1989, was found in Central Park bound, gagged, nearly naked and nearly dead, her head crushed and shirt soaked in her blood. For years she was known only as the Central Park jogger, and her assailants were widely thought to be the five black and Latino teenagers, 14 to 16, who were arrested in the attack. The directors Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns argue that the convictions, and the years the defendants served for the crime they were later absolved of, were a second, racially motivated crime.” Read more…)

Meet the Fokkens (aging, prostitution, Amsterdam red light district. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 68. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “When Martine Fokkens bustles into the small grocery store early in Meet the Fokkens, a 2011 documentary portrait of identical twin prostitutes, she calls out a cheery hello to the man behind the counter. She has a purple hat and orange scarf framing her plump white face and a Chihuahua tucked under an arm, and what she needs, she announces, is a box of condoms. She was 69 when the movie was shot and still plying her trade from one of the picture windows in Amsterdam’s red-light district. Two years earlier her sister, Louise, had hung up her own riding crop because, as the second twin explains in this insistently upbeat movie, ‘I couldn’t get one leg over the other.'” Read more…)

New Gay & Lesbian DVDs
Any Day Now (drama, Alan Cumming, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 60. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “When Alan Cumming turns on his beaming grin in Any Day Now, Travis Fine’s militant tear-jerker, he conveys such intense, unguarded emotion you almost want to avert your eyes. That smile, and the blazing performance it distills, conveys so ferocious a mixture of desire, hurt, defiance, courage, neediness and reckless abandon that it makes everyone else seem cowardly. You consider the real meaning of the Jerry Herman anthem, ‘I Am What I Am,’ from La Cage aux Folles, as it is lived out in extremis by one flamboyantly gay man.” Read more…)

Nick Di Maria Quartet rescheduled to Wed., May 15

The performance by jazz trumpeter Nick Di Maria and his quartet, originally scheduled for next Thursday, April 25, has been rescheduled to Wednesday, May 15.

Music: Henry Sidle to perform Wed., Apr. 24, at 8 PM

Henry_Sidle_at_Best_Video

Henry Sidle, right, at Best Video Performance Space in December, 2012, accompanied on guitar by his friend Noah Kesselman.

Henry Sidle will perform in the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Apr. 24. The cover charge is $5 and the music starts at 8 PM. Henry Sidle has played the Performance Space twice before—as an opening act for Happy Ending in April of last year and headlining a bill with Anna Ayres-Brown this past December. He will have this night to himself.

Henry Sidle, born in Chicago, is a teenage guitar player and singer/songwriter who plays gigs most days of the year. When Henry was 11, he began to play the guitar. Several years later, Henry has made his way to major festivals, venues, studios, cities and private parties. Henry’s music has been played Sirius XM’s Grateful Dead station. Henry has a unique acoustic rock sound, spiced up with his BOSS RC-30 loop station and large repertoire of originals and covers.

Henry’s main influences are The Beatles, Phish, Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Sublime, The Avett Brothers, Toots and the Maytals, and Keller Williams. Henry’s originals go from topics such as human awareness to life stories to relationships. Henry has played his guitar at benefit concerts for schools and has played educational songs for pre-schoolers. Back in middle school, Henry performed for large audiences with the jazz band that featured Henry on guitar and the concert band with Henry on piano and guitar. Henry has played small farmers markets, city streets, and book stores. Henry has also played large events such as the Gathering of the Vibes which has featured Crosby Stills and Nash, every living member of the Grateful Dead, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Cliff, The Avett Brothers, and Zappa Plays Zappa. Henry got to play at this festival in 2011 and 2012. By now, Henry has played almost every venue in the New Haven area and has racked up hundreds of shows. Yale Daily News calls Henry “New Haven’s Youngest Troubador.”

Henry plays bass in his band Funk You Up. He also plays guitar in the Klezmer band, the Nu Haven Kapelye. He also is a classical pianist and has played recitals in churches. In the summer of 2011, Henry began to work for the Rex Foundation. Henry wrote a song for their World as it Could Be project called “The World as it Could Be” and “There’s a Way.” Both are human awareness songs that have gotten kind words. Green FL Broker said “Henry’s music video is not only beautiful, it is thought-provoking and inspirational to experience a 12 year old’s concerns about the future.  I sure wish I could be at the concert to experience Henry’s début into the musical world! I have no doubt Henry will follow his heart and will end up involved in Mother Earth’s well-being as part of his life’s journey.” Henry has played gigs from Jacksonville, FL to New York, NY to Washington D.C. to Montreal, QU. Henry mostly plays locally in his home area of New Haven.

Henry plays guitar hours and hours each day. He plays a great deal of open mics when he is not booked for the night. In 2012, Henry won a Neighborhood Music School merit award for his guitar playing. Henry has now played in CT, DC, DE, FL, MA, ME, NH, NY, and RI. Henry’s music has gotten popular on YouTube. His homemade videos have gotten many likes and views. He also broadcasts some sets on USTREAM. Henry continues to play new songs, write new music, work with new people, and find any way he can to perform.

Watch Henry play his song “The World as It Should Be” at the Gathering of the Vibes Festival in 2011:

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE EVENTS:

• Thursday, Apr. 25. JAZZ: THE NICK Di MARIA QUARTET (postponed)

• Wednesday, May 1. MAY DAY TROUBADOR & FILM SCREENING: BILL COLLINS and May Day-appropriate film TBA

• Thursday, May 2. INDIE ROCK—THE SAWTELLES

• Sunday, May 5. FILM SCREENING & DISCUSSION: “ALL ME: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WINFRED REMBERT”

• Wednesday, May 8. INDIE ROCK: POOLS ARE NICE, BUCK McGRANE

• Thursday, May 16. ROCK—ROPE

• Thursday, June 6. ACOUSTIC ROCK: JAMES VELVET & THE LONESOME SPARROWS

• Wednesday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANNA AYRES-BROWN

New Releases 04/16/13

Top Hits
Django Unchained (action, Jamie Foxx. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Django Unchained is unabashedly and self-consciously pulpy, with camera moves and musical cues that evoke both the cornfed westerns of the 1950s and their pastafied progeny of the next decade. [The title comes from a series of Italian action movies whose first star, Franco Nero, shows up here in a cameo.] It is digressive, jokey, giddily brutal and ferociously profane. But it is also a troubling and important movie about slavery and racism.” Read more…)

Future Weather (drama, Perla Haney-Jardine. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 67. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “A delicate wildflower in a garden of weeds, Lauduree, the 13-year-old protagonist of Jenny Deller’s Future Weather, has little resemblance to her relatives in a scraggly Midwestern backwater. A bright, gifted junior high school student obsessed with global warming, she lives in a trailer with her single mother, Tanya, a flouncing Daisy Mae type… This tiny, beautifully acted movie was funded in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as part of its mission to support films that broaden interest in science and technology.” Read more…)

The Haunting in Connecticut 2 (horror, Chad Michael Murray. Rotten Tomatoes: 23%. Metacritic: 26.)

New Blu-Ray
Django Unchained
The Quiet Man

New Foreign
A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (France/Israel, drama, Agathe Bonitzer. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 58. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Set in 2007 and unfolding over a single year, A Bottle in the Gaza Sea [based on a young-adult novel by Valérie Zenatti] is a simplistic but heartfelt engagement with war as experienced by those still growing into their opinions and allegiances.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Repo_Man_DVDRepo Man (1984, Criterion Collection edition of classic dark comedy, Emilio Estevez. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Vincent Canby’s 1984 Times review [requires log-in]: “Repo Man, the first feature to be written and directed by a bright new film maker named Alex Cox, is a most engaging reprieve from Hollywood’s general run of laid- back comedies of simulated nastiness and half-baked nonchalance. Repo Man, which opens today at the Eighth Street Playhouse, is the real thing. It’s a sneakily rude, truly zany farce that treats its lunatic characters with a solemnity that perfectly matches the way in which they see themselves. Its a neo-Surreal, southern California fable, set in a landscape inhabited by failed punk rockers, automobile-repossession men who behave as if they were the knights errant of capitalism, some creatures from outer space, as well as a television evangelist who preaches against ‘godless Communism abroad and liberal humanism at home.'” Read more…
From Dave Kehr’s New York Times review of the just-released Criterion Collection edition of Repo Man: “Mr. Cox would go on to direct the definitive punk romance Sid and Nancy [1986] and a whole series of sly, politically pointed comedies and craftily subverted genre pieces [a favorite remains Three Businessmen, a 1998 fable about the impossibility of finding an edible dinner in Liverpool]. But Repo Man, his first feature-length work, remains a cult favorite, and has now earned its place in the Criterion Collection in a deluxe edition that incorporates a raft of extras, including a hilariously desultory edited-for-television version in which the salty language has been overdubbed by bizarre non sequiturs. Smile when you call me a melon farmer, pardner.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Kumare_DVDKumaré (spirituality, impersonation. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 60. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “‘Faith begins as an experiment and ends as an experience.’ That quotation from the Anglican priest William Ralph Inge, which begins the documentary Kumaré: The True Story of a False Prophet, evokes the film’s ambiguous exploration of religion, teaching and spiritual leadership. When Vikram Gandhi — the movie’s New Jersey-born director, protagonist and narrator — grows a beard and flowing hair and dons Indian robes to make a film in which he poses as a swami, you anticipate a cruel, ‘Borat’-like stunt. Cynics will expect a nasty chortle when this glib charlatan finally pulls the rug out from under his credulous followers. But the outcome is much more complicated.” Read more…)

Orchestra of Exiles (history, Holocaust, music. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 58. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Richly researched and partly told by some of today’s top-flight musicians, Orchestra of Exiles retraces the world-renowned violinist Bronislaw Huberman’s heroic feat of organizing an orchestra far from the genocidal scourge of the Nazis. While this documentary from Josh Aronson fleshes out every twist in the endeavor with a letter, a reflection or an anecdote, it lacks the storyteller’s sleight of hand that lifts a narrated chronology into something that moves.” Read more…)

Hank’s Recommendations 04/16/13

hank_paperDJANGO JANGLES SPURS AND NERVES

DJANGO UNCHAINED — An escaped slave (Jamie Foxx) bonds with an intellectual German white bounty hunter posing as an itinerant dentist (Christoph Waltz) in order to rescue the slave’s wife from the plantation he escaped from.

This film is the first to deal unstintingly with the cruelties and indignities of slavery since Steven Spielberg’s AMISTAD, but dare I say the treatment here is different. The style of director Quentin Tarantino’s film derives in part (especially the climactic part) from the testosterone blood-splattering showdown mannerisms of the “spaghetti western” made famous by one of Tarantino’s pulp mentors, Sergio Leone (FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, A FEW DOLLARS MORE, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY).

In other words, Tarantino’s film addresses seriously and with a feeling of authenticity the violence of slavery of the anti-bellum South in yet an often non-serious, humorous, albeit stylistically violent way. Some critics and viewers have found this pulp treatment of such a serious subject jarring, even offensive (as they did his pulp treatment of the Holocaust in his prior Academy Award nominated film, THE INGLORIOUS BASTERDS). Spike Lee went out of his way to harshly criticize both Tarantino and his film, tongue-lashing his white colleague’s inappropriately self-taken treatment of an illimitably serious subject that was none of his business in the first place. Others have applauded Tarantino’s daring in offering historically telling details through a stylistically entertaining genre that brings the subject home to a popular mass audience.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s just Tarantino being Tarantino, ever on a quest to top himself both thematically and visually, putting his archival film and filmmaking knowledge in the service of his audacity. Interestingly, Mrs. Video shied away from seeing this violent movie but wound up really liking it; just as many women have come up to me at the store to tell me how much they liked The Inglorious Basterds.

The film does offer historical information made vividly fresh in a good, well-produced story laden with surprises and many Oscar-nominated (and winning) performances. Unmentioned in all the Academy Awards hullabaloo are particularly impressive performances by Leonardo DiCaprio as the glibly menacing wealthy plantation owner and Samuel Jackson as the owner’s servile but deviously self-serving black task master. The film does go on too long (as many films do these days), ending not where the dramatic arc demands but continuing on through a long, blood-splattering coda in order, I suspect, to have the Jamie Foxx character prevail as the hero instead of his white Kemo Sabe dentist bounty hunter. But all carping aside, the film is one to reckon with: to contemplate and even argue about.

Spike Lee admitted he never actually saw the film. You should.

“What Would You Do?” film screening of “Walk on Water” on Mon., Apr. 22, at 7 PM

Walk_on_Water_DVDThe “What Would You Do: Ethical Dilemmas in Great Films” film series is a collaborative effort of Temple Beth Sholom and Best Video. Best Video owner Hank Paper and Temple Beth Sholom Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic will take turns introducing films and leading the post-film discussions.

The admission cost per film is $5 and reservations are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. Most of the previous screenings have been sold out. Seats are still available for this upcoming show.

On Monday, Apr. 22, at 7 PM, we present the 2004 Israeli  film “Walk on Water.” The film will be introduced and the discussion led by Rabbi Scolnic. This is the final film in this highly successful first film series at Best Video.

New York Times reviewer Dana Stevens wrote in 2004:

The director Eytan Fox had an unexpected international success in 2002 with “Yossi and Jagger,” a gay love story set against the unlikely backdrop of the Israel Defense Forces. With “Walk on Water,” his third feature-length film, Mr. Fox takes on the even more controversial subject of Israeli nationalism in the aftermath of the Holocaust. In fact, there isn’t much that “Walk on Water” doesn’t take on, from global terrorism and Israeli-Palestinian relations to homophobia in the Mossad, the Israeli security service.

View the trailer for “Walk on Water”:

Music: Singer-songwriter Esther Golton on Wed., Apr. 17, at 8 PM

Esther_Golton_PressPhoto2_WebSinger-songwriter Esther Golton, a recent transplant to Connecticut from distant Alaska, will perform in the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Apr. 17. The cover charge is $5 and the music starts at 8 PM.

Philadelphia born, educated with a degree in flute performance, jazz and composition, Esther moved to Alaska in 1997 to live a simple life in a wilderness log cabin.  “Alaska is a place of extreme weather and fiercely independent people.  And it’s beautiful.  I think my songs and style have come to evoke that experience.”

Esther Golton creates music that satisfies the quest for something delightfully different and diverse.  Her voice has been described as  “silky smooth, precise and winsome.”  Add an unusually intricate use of the mountain dulcimer, stunningly fluid flute, and melodic, colorful writing, and you begin to turn heads.

Esther’s extraordinary life has included an Appalachian Trail Thru-hike (’91), 2 years in Tokyo teaching English and busking in the train stations (’92-’93), self-building a cabin while in Alaska (’98), and traversing the U.S. as a touring singer-songwriter (’07-present).  She was also an integral part of Whole Wheat Radio, an 8-year web-radio project (’02-’10) that encouraged discovery and support of independent music, and hosted top-notch touring acoustic musicians for live-webcast house concerts, as well as providing a community gathering space to the local townsfolk.

Esther’s newest work, Stay Warm, will be released in 2013.   She previously produced 2 other projects:  a lyrically rich collection of songs titled Unfinished Houses, and Aurora Borealis: Conversations with Alaska’s Northern Lights, an album of exquisite flute-dulcimer instrumentals.  Says Carrie Newcomer: “The world so needs works of honesty and truth and worth like these.”

Listen to Esther Golton’s song “Going to Shadu”:

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SPACE EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Apr. 17. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ESTHER GOLTON

• Monday, Apr. 22. FILM SCREENING FOR “WHAT WOULD YOU DO?” SERIES: “WALK ON WATER”

• Wednesday, Apr. 24. SINGER-SONGWRITER: HENRY SIDLE

• Thursday, Apr. 25. JAZZ: THE NICK Di MARIA QUARTET

• Wednesday, May 1. MAY DAY TROUBADOR & FILM SCREENING: BILL COLLINS and May Day-appropriate film TBA

• Thursday, May 2. INDIE ROCK—THE SAWTELLES

• Sunday, May 5. FILM SCREENING & DISCUSSION: “ALL ME: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WINFRED REMBERT”

• Wednesday, May 8. INDIE ROCK: POOLS ARE NICE, BUCK McGRANE

• Thursday, May 16. ROCK—ROPE

• Thursday, June 6. ACOUSTIC ROCK: JAMES VELVET & THE LONESOME SPARROWS

• Wednesday, June 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANNA AYRES-BROWN