Tag Archives: August 2013

New Releases 08/27/13

Top Hits
The Great Gatsby (literary drama, Leonardo DiCaprio. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The best way to enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s big and noisy new version of The Great Gatsby — and despite what you may have heard, it is an eminently enjoyable movie — is to put aside whatever literary agenda you are tempted to bring with you. I grant that this is not so easily done. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s slender, charming third novel has accumulated a heavier burden of cultural significance than it can easily bear.” Read more…)

Pain & Gain (action, Mark Wahlberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 44. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “To describe Pain & Gain as a Michael Bay movie on steroids would be accurate but also redundant and a little misleading. Pumped-up, aggressive, muscle-headed entertainment is Mr. Bay’s specialty, after all, and while this grisly true-crime drama is partly about performance-enhancing drugs and the bulky men who love them, it is also, compared with Armageddon or the Transformers series, a stripped-down, modest enterprise in which no major American city is reduced to rubble.” Read more…)

Kon-Tiki (action/adventure, Anders Baasmo Christiansen. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 63. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Directed by Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, with a script by Petter Skavlan, Kon-Tiki is instead a stolidly old-fashioned and manly hair-in-the-wind entertainment of the sort that could have filled out the bottom of a studio double bill. The men are handsome, the sea is pretty and if the sharks look as rubbery as last week’s chicken, at least they add some drama — and buckets of sloshing blood and guts — to what otherwise proves a dull affair.” Read more…)

At Any Price (drama, Dennis Quaid. Rotten Tomatoes: 51%. Metacritic: 60. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘Expand or die.’ That ominous motto of Henry Whipple, a successful Iowa farmer in Ramin Bahrani’s new film, At Any Price, distills the business philosophy of a man driven by ambition. Henry, who farms more than 3,000 acres, is an aggressive, unscrupulous salesman for a company that markets genetically modified seeds. With a too-wide grin that threatens to crack the corners of his mouth and a backslapping friendliness that verges on obsequiousness, Henry is portrayed by Dennis Quaid as a warped caricature of a reassuring American archetype: the down-to-earth family man in the heartland with his feet firmly planted in the soil.” Read more…)

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (drama, Riz Ahmed. Rotten Tomatoes: 54%. Metacritic: 54. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In his slim 2007 novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, the Pakistan-born writer Mohsin Hamid takes these two words and rubs them together until they throw off intellectual sparks. Written as a monologue, it is a somewhat claustrophobic blurt of a book that, given world events, continues to feel eerily timely. The monologue is delivered by Changez — a young Pakistani university lecturer grievously, possibly violently disenchanted with the United States — to an unnamed American who may be some kind of United States operative… Comparing books to the movies made of them isn’t always necessary or productive, but it’s instructive when the results are as thuddingly crude as Mira Nair’s take on The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Blunt where the novel is subtle, it follows its source in outline, with Changez [a fine Riz Ahmed] narrating his tale to the stranger, here a journalist with a preposterous name, Bobby Lincoln [Liev Schreiber], and a fairly clear-cut relationship with the American government.” Read more…)

The Painting (animated feature, Kamali Minter [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 70. From Anita Gates New York Times review: “Ramo loves Claire, but he is an Alldunn, and she is a Halfie, and their romance is forbidden in the world of Le Tableau, a French animated film now released in English as The Painting… This is a sweet adventure story for children. [Surely, American parents can deal with the bare breasts of one talking painting.] For adults it is short on narrative sophistication but visually a true objet d’art.” Read more…)

DC Universe: Superman Unbound (PG-13 animated feature)
The Dragon Pearl (fantasy/adventure, Sam Neill)

New Blu-Ray
The Great Gatsby

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
To Be or Not to Be (1942, Ernst Lubitsch-directed political satire, Carole Lombard. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Bosley Crowther’s 1942 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy was a positive declaration when compared to the jangled moods and baffling humors of Ernst Lubitsch’s new film, To Be or Not to Be, which opened yesterday at the Rivoli under delicate circumstances at best. For not only was this the last picture in which the late Carole Lombard played—and on which was therefore imposed an obligation of uncommon tact—but it happens to be upon a subject which is far from the realm of fun. And yet, in a spirit of levity, contused by frequent doses of shock, Mr. Lubitsch has set his actors to performing a spy-thriller of fantastic design amid the ruins and frightful oppressions of Nazi-invaded Warsaw. To say it is callous and macabre is understating the case.” Read more…)

New TV
The Walking Dead: Season 3
Sons of Anarchy: Season 5

New Documentaries
Koch (bio, politics, Ed Koch. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 71. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In the film [former New York City Mayor Edward] Koch himself, who dies at 88 on Friday, seems to have mellowed very little. New York may be a safer, cleaner and less argumentative place than it was in the 1980s, but the Ed Koch of 2010 appears as contentious, as mischievous and at times as inflammatory as ever. We see him campaigning for Andrew Cuomo, whose father, Mario, was Mr. Koch’s rival in a bitter Democratic primary in 1977 and in the gubernatorial race five years later. We also hear him call the younger Cuomo ‘a schmuck’ on election night and speak disparagingly of another Democrat, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.” Read more…)

Iceberg Slim: Portrait Of A Pimp (bio, culture, literature. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 56. From Miriam Bale’s New York Times review: “The monikers Ice-T and Ice Cube nod to the influence of Iceberg Slim, the pimp turned author whose real name was Robert Beck, on the ethos and style of gangster rap. In further homage, Ice-T has produced Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp, a documentary told through talking-head admirers including Chris Rock and Snoop Dogg. The film was directed by Ice-T’s manager, Jorge Hinojosa, a first-time director who credits reading Mr. Beck’s first book, Pimp: The Story of My Life [1967], at Ice-T’s suggestion, with teaching him everything he needed to know about ‘the game’ of managing a rap star with larger ambitions.” Read more…)

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s (fashion, Giorgio Armani. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 55. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “It’s clear that top fashion designers aspire to a presence at Bergdorf Goodman, the high-end Manhattan department store, given the numbingly relentless litany of encomiums in Matthew Miele’s documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s.In this glossy, fawning valentine to conspicuous consumption [the title derives from a Victoria Roberts cartoon in The New Yorker], the stars — Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, the Olsen twins, Marc Jacobs, Manolo Blahnik, Michael Kors and others — dutifully pay tribute. Thank heaven for a bubble-popping Joan Rivers, who blithely observes, ‘People who take fashion seriously are idiots.'” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
The Painting (animated feature, Kamali Minter [voice], in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 70. From Anita Gates New York Times review: “Ramo loves Claire, but he is an Alldunn, and she is a Halfie, and their romance is forbidden in the world of Le Tableau, a French animated film now released in English as The Painting… This is a sweet adventure story for children. [Surely, American parents can deal with the bare breasts of one talking painting.] For adults it is short on narrative sophistication but visually a true objet d’art.” Read more…)

The Dragon Pearl (fantasy/adventure, Sam Neill, in Top Hits)

Rob Harmon’s recommendations 08/27/13

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksTO BE OR NOT TO BE (dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)

Midway through the 1942 war-time dark comedy To Be or Not to Be Col. Ehrhardt of the Nazi Gestapo (Sig Ruman) calmly refers to a past performance of Polish ham actor Joseph Tura’s (Jack Benny) by saying, “What he did to Shakespeare we are now doing to Poland”: If Tura’s on-stage butchery of the Bard is any indication then this is pretty bad, indeed!

Welcome to the artistry of Ernst Lubitsch, who throughout a career that saw him rise to prominence in Germany before emigrating to Hollywood, so became associated with the subtle interweaving of visual wit, innuendo, sophisticated dialogue and use of sound, and a winking, continental sensibility toward sex that it became his trademark and calling card: the Lubitsch Touch.  His bedroom farces and musicals were the champagne of Hollywood throughout the 20s, 30s, and into the 40s, (he died in 1947) and he won the admiration of many, including a young Billy Wilder, whom he both collaborated with and acted as a mentor for.

In To Be or Not to Be, he faced one of his greatest challenges: a dark comedy about Nazi Germany’s invasion of Europe, made extra difficult due to the fact that it went into production before the United States had even entered the war. As a German Jewish émigré, Lubitsch had reason enough to tackle this project with relish, but, beyond that, the culture of fascism itself was all that his worldview was not: stilted, tyrannical, prudish, ham-fisted, unsophisticated, obsessed with power and national and racial superiority… frankly, pretty dull stuff! Think of this as one filmmaker’s creative response to the threat of National Socialism: In Lubitsch’s world, anyway, the Nazis are out-manned, out-gunned, and, generally, out-smarted.

The action is set in Warsaw and begins just before the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland: Joseph Tura is the preening lead in a prominent acting company while his beautiful wife Maria (Carole Lombard), the lead actress, is neglected and forced to endure his colossal ego. During a performance of Hamlet one evening she receives a bouquet of flowers in her dressing room. They have been sent by a handsome young airman, Lieut. Stanislav Sobinski (Robert Stack), whom she agrees to meet, telling him to step out of the theater as soon as her husband has uttered the line of the movie’s title—the beginning of a lengthy soliloquy which will guarantee their safety from discovery. The sight of an audience member rising to his feet at the most dramatically crucial moment of the play so wounds Tura that he never considers for a moment that his marriage is in danger, thinking only of his prestige as an actor!

The Nazis invade Poland, abruptly interrupting Maria and Stanislav’s affair, and the remainder of the plot concerns Stanislav, who has fled to England and joined the Royal Air Force, secretly re-entering Poland in order to intercept a list of names of sympathizers to the resistance before it can be passed on to the Gestapo. The acting troupe is called into action and all manner of hijinks ensue as the thespians do battle with the fascists, using their skills to outwit the enemy.

The genius of this film is its multi-layered approach to a difficult subject, where Lubitsch’s subtle lampoon of the world of theater and cheap theatrics helps to underscore his overall disdain for fascism. In the end, it is no accident that the Nazis are fooled by a ruse which any child could spot. The breezy romantic triangle at the heart of the film helps to cover over the life-or-death moments which might otherwise drag the picture down into gloom. The Lubitsch Touch was always about life and in To Be or Not to Be it is employed in a literal opposition of life-over-death.  Though controversial upon its release, To Be or Not to Be is widely and justly hailed today as a masterpiece, as evidenced by Criterion’s new re-release of the film.

The screenplay is by playwright Edwin Justus Mayer and an uncredited Lubitsch, adapting a story by Melchior Lengyel. The supporting cast is excellent, including Stack, Ruman, Lionel Atwill, Tom Dugan, and especially Felix Bressart—a Lubitsch favorite—who here plays low-rung actor Greenberg, desperate for his chance to utter Shylock’s famous “Hath not a Jew eyes?” monologue. Benny is perfectly cast as the ham-of-all-hams Tura: this is his one great film role. Lombard worked her way up in Hollywood, playing mostly-undistinguished leads in silents and early talkies until her breakthrough in Howard Hawks’ TWENTIETH CENTURY (1934), which in turn led to further screwball gold in films such as MY MAN GODFREY (1936) and NOTHING SACRED (1937). She is at her dotty, overwhelmed best here as Maria: an actress who knows how to turn up the charm when lives are on the line. Tragically, Lombard would die before To Be or Not to Be’s release at the age of 33, killed in an airplane crash with her mother and 20 others on the way back from a war bond rally in her home state of Indiana.

Ernst Lubitsch, who so adored crafting the make-believe world of film that he famously once said that Paramount’s version of Paris was more “Parisian” than the real Paris, here gave us a peak at a tantalizing new configuration for comedy: as a fantasy antiseptic, and philosophical salvo, against dark happenings in the real world.

If you cannot get enough of the Lubitsch Touch from To Be or Not to Be many more classic films, such as NINOTHCHKA, TROUBLE IN PARADISE, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, THE MARRIAGE CIRCLE, HEAVEN CAN WAIT, BLUEBEARD’S EIGHTH WIFE, THE SMILING LIEUTENANT and ONE HOUR WITH YOU, are available for rental in our Ernst Lubitsch section.

Music: Solin to perform Thurs., Aug. 29, at 8 PM

Solin_WebSolin will perform a solo set in the Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Aug. 29. The cover is $5 and the music begins at 8 PM.

Solin aka Pat Luciano has been on the local and extended music scene for 40+ years Known for his versatility, he always knows how to captivate his audience. Long time friend of Jon Brion, he has played with big acts such as Aimee Mann , Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, and has also both Headlined and opened at Toads place many times. Also noted for his years of performance as John Lennon in the legendary off broadway Beatlemania. Solin still has regular appearances at Cafe Nine but has been working on a new LP soon to come. Rejoining the live music scene full time now as he begins to wrap up his newest album.



• Thursday, Aug. 29. SOLO POP: SOLIN



• Wednesday, Sept. 25. BLUEGRASS: RAGWEED



New Releases 08/20/13

Top Hits
Amour (France, drama, Jean-Louis Trintignant. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A masterpiece about life, death and everything in between, Michael Haneke’s Amour takes a long, hard, tender look at an elderly French couple, Georges and Anne — played by two titans of French cinema, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva — in their final days. Set in contemporary Paris, it begins with the couple’s front door being breached by a group of firemen. One moves through the rooms, delicately raising a hand to his nose before throwing open several large windows. He may be trying to erase the smell that probably brought the firemen there in the first place and which has transformed this light, graceful, enviable apartment into a crypt.” Read more…)

Scary Movie 5 (comedy/horror, Mike Tyson. Rotten Tomatoes: 4%. Metacritic: 11. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “The ‘Scary’ movies are noted for its cameo appearances, and ‘V’ is no exception: Molly Shannon, Snoop Dogg [I thought he was Snoop Lion!], Heather Locklear, Usher, Mike Tyson and Tyler Perry as his Madea character parade through the scattershot skits. Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan have a faintly amusing bit at the start in which they’re in bed and Mr. Sheen mocks his sexual appetites as Ms. Lohan gamely pokes fun at her arrest record.” Read more…)

Shadow Dancer (thriller, Clive Owen. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “In the prologue of James Marsh’s taut, somber conspiracy thriller “Shadow Dancer,” the 12-year-old Collette McVeigh (Maria Laird), idly stringing beads into a necklace, ignores her father’s request to go out and buy cigarettes. It is 1973 in Belfast, and the city is a powder keg. Her younger brother goes instead, and is shot to death outside the house in cross-fire between British and Irish Republican Army forces. As the McVeigh home erupts in anguished chaos, the father casts a recriminatory glare at Collette, who is guilt-stricken.” Read more…)

Epic (animated feature, Amanda Seyfried. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 52. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Epic [from the creators of the Ice Age movies and Rio] is much better at visualizing the woods and its residents than at constructing a resonant pop allegory. The best it can come up with is the motto ‘Many leaves, one tree,’ about all things being connected. You can read whatever else you like into a soothing fable for flower children that gently preaches that nature is good and its destruction bad. There is no suggestion of political axes being sharpened.” Read more…)

Highland Park (comedy/drama, Parker Posey)
Boardwalk Empire: Season 3 (in Top Hits)

New Blu-Ray
The War Within

New Foreign
Post Tenebras Lux (Mexico, drama, Adolfo Jimenez Castro. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The film’s title is Latin for ‘after darkness, light,’ which, after the Reformation, became a motto of Geneva. Post Tenebras Lux isn’t an overtly religious film, but it is — as its opposing scenes of the luminous child and that red-hot devil suggest — a deeply personal, intermittently hermetic exploration of innocence and sin, good and evil. The vessel for much of this metaphysical investigation is an architect, Juan [Adolfo Jiménez Castro], who with his wife, Natalia [Nathalia Acevedo]; their somewhat older son, Eleazar; and the toddler, Rut, lives in rural splendor in an isolated house. It looks like a little bit of paradise, though one that needs an armed guard.” Read more…)

The Big City (India, 1963, drama, Madhabi Mukherjee. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1964 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The second New York Film Festival was concluded Saturday night with the showing of the latest production of the distinguished Indian director, Satyajit Ray. It is Mahanagar [The Big City], a comedy-drama of modern Indian life, and it served as a commendable finale for the not-always-commendable program of festival showings in Philharmonic Hall. In contrast to several other of the highly touted festival films, there is nothing obscure or over-stylized about this characteristic work by Mr. Ray. It is another of his beautifully fashioned and emotionally balanced contemplations of change in the thinking, the customs and the manners of the Indian middle-class.” Rread more…)

Charulata (India, 1964, romance/drama, Madhabi Mukherjee. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. From Howard Thompson’s 1965 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In a sense, the very opening shot—Miss Mukherjee’s hands darting a needle into an embroidery hoop—keys all that follows. Arranging every single camera frame to convey nuance, mood or tension, Mr. Ray has photographically embroidered a steady flow of quiet images with precise, striking acuity. One montage—when the day-dreaming wife, in a garden swing, rocks to and fro like a pendulum—is unforgettable. And the final shot in the film—a stop-motion close-up of two hands—is a memorable period to Mr. Ray’s structure.” Read more…)

The Inspector Vivaldi Mysteries (Italy, mystery series, Lando Buzzanca)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1958, sci-fi/drama, Harry Belafonte. From Bosley Crowther’s 1959 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In this Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture, made in black-and-white CinemaScope and directed by Ranald MacDougall, the initial assumption is that most of the people in the world have been destroyed—apparently disintegrated—by some sort of radioactive salt. There are only three evident survivors, two men and a beautiful girl, who eventually find themselves together and isolated in a completely deserted and dehumanized New York. Up to this point, the drama is graphic and interesting, presenting a science-fiction idea in good, vivid cinematic style. The arrival of the first man in the city to find the George Washington Bridge clogged with hundreds of empty and silent automobiles, the barren streets flecked with telltale litter, the buildings and apartment houses stark and still, stabs the imagination and gives the viewer the creeps. Mr. MacDougall has portrayed this awesome phenomenon with pictorial force and clarity.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
George Gently: Series 5

New TV
Boardwalk Empire: Season 3 (in Top Hits)
The Good Wife: Season 4

New Documentaries
No Place on Earth (Holocaust survival story. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 58. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “For the Ukrainian Jews in Janet Tobias’s No Place on Earth, going underground was both a brute necessity and a literal reality. After the Nazi invasion their families sought improbable refuge in caves outside their village. There they stayed and lived — without sunlight — for more than 500 days. Some emerged at night to forage; at one point hostile villagers sealed an entrance with dirt.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Epic (animated feature, Amanda Seyfried, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 52. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Epic [from the creators of the Ice Age movies and Rio] is much better at visualizing the woods and its residents than at constructing a resonant pop allegory. The best it can come up with is the motto ‘Many leaves, one tree,’ about all things being connected. You can read whatever else you like into a soothing fable for flower children that gently preaches that nature is good and its destruction bad. There is no suggestion of political axes being sharpened.” Read more…)

Scooby-Doo: Stage Fright (animated movie)

Rob Harmon’s recommendations 08/20/13

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksROB HARMON’S PICKS

AMOUR (dir. Michael Haneke, 2012)

Due to the commercial demands of filmmaking movies have traditionally tended to focus on stories about young people, and relationships, when they are depicted, are conventionally shown from their inception—think of the classic screwball set-up, “meeting cute,” for example, and how many films end with the central couple in a clinch, if not standing at the altar, itself. There are films which analyze the malaise of middle-age and the politics of divorce but relatively few which cast an unflinching eye on what might be called the “back-end” of a married relationship: the inevitable approach of old age and death. Among this limited pool Leo McCarey’s three-hanky classic MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937), Yasujiro Ozu’s studied and rapturous TOKYO STORY (1953) (loosely inspired by the former), and Mark Rydell’s ON GOLDEN POND (1981) immediately jump to mind, as well as a touching, though brief, segment towards the end of Terence Davies’ recent THE DEEP BLUE SEA (2011).

With the exception of saccharine—though enjoyable—fantasies like COCOON, these movies depicting the twilight years of marriage are rare, and few, indeed, are the filmmakers willing to cast a meaningful, unsentimental eye on the subject.

Enter Austrian-born Michael Haneke—this generation’s Francisco Goya—a director whose probings into the dark recesses of human behavior (FUNNY GAMES, THE PIANO TEACHER) and the machinations of fate (CACHÉ, THE WHITE RIBBON) are capable of singeing indelible, haunting images on the backsides of moviegoers’ eyeballs.

His Amour begins with authorities discovering an elderly woman dead in her Paris apartment and questions being asked about her death. Months earlier the woman, Anne Laurent (Emmanuelle Riva), and her husband Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), both retired piano teachers in their eighties, are shown attending a concert one evening of a former pupil. All seems normal until the next morning when, in the midst of breakfast, Anne suddenly begins staring blankly off into space. At first imagining that Anne is playing some sort of a game with him Georges eventually becomes worried and prepares to call for help when, suddenly, he finds his wife up and about again, although not recognizant of the events of a few minutes before. She claims to be fine at first before admitting to the loss of memory and ultimately proving to be highly unsteady, almost incapable of pouring herself a cup of tea.

Anne has suffered a stroke and surgery performed on a blocked artery eventually results in paralysis to her right side and her being confined to a wheelchair. Upon arriving home Anne, who has a life-long fear of doctors, makes Georges promise to never take her back to the hospital again. This promise becomes the crux of the remainder of the film as Georges aims to stay true to his word, becoming, essentially, the sole companion of his beloved wife during their difficult final months together.

Viewers who are unused to this subject matter and to Haneke’s searing filmmaking-style may find the material dark, at times, and a little unsettling. One of the director’s trademark themes, paranoia, even plays a role, after the couple find that someone has attempted to break into their flat and Georges’ fears begin to close in on him in a particularly eerie and unexpected sequence. Haneke, as usual, makes no attempt to varnish the world around him, his vision at times cold and bleak.

But there are life and beauty to be found here, as well. “Amour” is French for “love,” after all, and, though a film depicting a husband standing by his wife while she fades away can make for difficult viewing, it is important to keep that fact in mind. The final scenes of this film, when Georges attempts to keep his word to Anne, are particularly heartbreaking.

Emmanuelle Riva (HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR; LÉON MORIN, PRIEST; and THREE COLORS: BLUE) and Jean-Louis Trintignant (A MAN AND A WOMAN, Z, MY NIGHT AT MAUD’S, THE CONFORMIST, CONFIDENTIALLY YOURS, THREE COLORS: RED) are both legends of the French screen and their faces, associated particularly with the French New Wave and years afterwards, here lend an extra poignancy to Haneke’s twilight tale. Trintignant, as the stalwart-yet-vulnerable Georges, reveals multiple layers of emotion, even during a long and unexpectedly moving sequence towards the end of the film when he attempts to capture a pigeon which has flown into the apartment. Riva, in a part which must have been physically very difficult for her to play, is magnificent. Not to be overlooked, the estimable Isabelle Huppert (a frequent presence in the films of Haneke) is excellent as Georges and Anne’s loving but busy and sometimes distant daughter.

Haneke, who has made his name in film with paranoid delusions, ominous gloom, and sudden, unexpected bursts of violence, here in this memento mori tells an unexpectedly restrained and touching story of an elderly man and woman’s deep love for one another, close to the end.

Music/Multimedia: Happening/Now on Thurs., Aug. 22, at 8 PM

Happening_Now_poster_WebHappening/Now is Andrew Suzuki, Benjamin Asbell, Chloe Andree, and David Elkin-Ginnetti. We put on artful collaborations of music, poetry, and photography. They will put on an event on Thursday, Aug. 22. The performance starts at 8 PM, admission is $5.

Andrew, 18, and David, 17, have both studied at the Neighborhood Music school and the Educational Center for the Arts in music, and perform segments of electronic and instrumental experimentation, using home-made synthesizers, layers of effects, guitars, basses, and brass/woodwind instruments.

Chloe, 18, is an accomplished presenter of surreal poetry. Her work has been featured in the City Lights Publishing group of San Francisco, and other venues in New Haven such as the Educational Center for the Arts.

Benjamin, 18, is a freelance photographer and graphic artist who has contributed to publications such as The Hamden Journal LLC and I Love New Haven. Seen through his lens are themes and depictions of urban decay, abandonment, industrialism, faith and hope.

These ideas all intermingle and project within in an hour of meditation, experience and introspection, and help us construct what is Happening/Now.

New Releases 08/13/13

Top Hits
The Company You Keep (political drama, Robert Redford. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 57. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “A seam of melancholy runs through The Company You Keep, Robert Redford’s reflective melodrama about political idealism run amok and the wages of youthful folly. For audiences over 50, in particular, this fictional story of homegrown terrorists sprung from the 1960s counterculture should conjure complicated feelings of pride, shame, anger and regret.” Read more…)

Welcome to the Punch (action, James McAvoy. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 49. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Watching Welcome to the Punch I kept hoping for clowns, the inflatable kind that you sock in the head and that bounce back again and again — or maybe a couple of pugilists with tragic faces and Michelangelo musculature. While this curiously titled, intently self-serious British cops-and-robbers showdown doesn’t feature any clowns, it does include plenty of mano-a-mano action and a clutch of presumably unintended laughs. This isn’t a warning. It’s a recommendation.” Read more…)

What Maisie Knew (drama, Julianne Moore. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “In their brilliant, haunting adaptation of [writer Henry James’ short novel] What Maisie Knew, set in 21st-century Manhattan, the directors, Scott McGehee and David Siegel, and the screenwriters, Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright, take liberties with the Master’s plot while remaining true to the ‘design’ that he somewhat boastfully explained in his preface to the New York edition of the book. James relayed an adult drama of marital spite, sexual jealousy, meanness and weakness entirely through the point of view of a child, who could not possibly understand everything she witnessed.” Read more…)

Olympus Has Fallen (action, Gerard Butler. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 41. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The most recent Die Hard movie — which the record shows I reviewed a little more than a month ago, although I have no recollection of it — was terrible, but it turns out not to have been the worst Die Hard movie this year. That honor, for the moment at least (it’s only March!), belongs to Olympus Has Fallen, which is not, strictly speaking, part of the franchise at all. It is more a school of Die Hard production, in which a weary and battered law enforcement professional, severely constrained by time and space, fights off a ridiculous number of bad guys.” Read more…)

The Big Wedding (rom-com, Robert De Niro. Rotten Tomatoes: 7%. Metacritic: 28. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “To say that Justin Zackham’s farce The Big Wedding takes the low road doesn’t begin to do justice to the sheer awfulness of this star-stuffed, potty-mouthed fiasco directed by the screenwriter of The Bucket List. This is a movie in which the racket kicked up by various couples ‘boinking,’ to use its favorite euphemism, is enough to wake up an entire city.” Read more…)

On the Road (road movie/ drama, Sam Riley. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%. Metacritic: 56. From the New York Times review: “America the Beautiful has rarely looked more ripe for exploration than it does in On the Road, a noble attempt by the Brazilian directo Walter Salles [The Motorcycle Diaries, Central Station] to capture literary lightning in a bottle. With spacious skies stretching endlessly over open, uncongested roads bordered by amber waves of grain, and purple mountains beckoning in the distance, the movie resurrects a perennial frontier dream and invites you to barrel into the unknown with its Beat Generation legends. That elusive lightning is the electricity in the hopped-up prose of On the Road, Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel, which a decade after its publication inspired countless stoned hippie odysseys to Haight-Ashbury and beyond. But can prose that snaps and sizzles be translated into an electrifying movie?” Read more…)

Emperor (war drama, Tommy Lee Jones. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 48. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Aggrieved and exasperated: that is the signature expression of Tommy Lee Jones, a star who often conveys an attitude of terminal impatience, as if coping with the fools around him were almost more than he could bear. That gruff demeanor suits his character, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, in Emperor, the British director Peter Webber’s stolid, simplified history lesson about the delicate relationship between the United States and Japan just after World War II.” Read kore…)

New Blu-Ray
On the Road
Olympus Has Fallen
The Company You Keep
What Maisie Knew

New Foreign
The Guillotines (China, martial arts, Xiaoming Huang. Rotten Tomatoes: 18%. Metacritic: 35. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Swords flash and heads roll, spin and bounce in The Guillotines, a sumptuous tale about bad men and good, peasants and rulers and what happens to a movie when it is sliced and diced into progressively more forgettable itty bits. Directed by Andrew Lau, best known in the United States for the terrific Infernal Affairs trilogy, the new movie takes place during the Qing dynasty, China’s last imperial era.” Read more…)

New TV
Girls: Season 2
Enlightened: Season 2
Southland: Season 5

New Documentaries
The Revisionaries (education, social issues, Culture War, Texas Board of Ed. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Daniel M. Gold’s Times review: “The culture wars have their place in this year’s presidential campaign, out where voters can see them. But as The Revisionaries, a documentary by Scott Thurman, reminds us, the true battles are fought in meeting rooms across the country. At the Texas State Board of Education 15 elected commissioners decide which textbooks are used in the public schools, and what they say. And because the state constitutes such a large market, the choices are felt across the country. The Revisionaries looks at 2009 and 2010, when new books were being evaluated. The board’s dominant social-conservative faction worked to ensure that evolution was challenged in the science textbooks.” Read more…)

Hank’s (and Rob Harmon’s) Recommendations 08/13/13

hank_paperHANK’S PICS 08/13/13

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP — When a wife and mother, and former member of the Weather Underground (Susan Sarandon), turns herself in for her role, thirty years ago, in the robbery of a bank and the murder of a security guard, it upsets a whole network of former Weathermen who have since rebuilt new lives, especially one who is now forced to go on the run, pursued by both the FBI and a dogged reporter.

Directed by and starring Robert Redford, this film is a man-on-the-run thriller, a newspaper drama about going for a big story in a dying industry, as well as a film about families, lies and betrayals. It is also about the past (the Vietnam War and the violent protests against it) and the present (posing political questions that are still relevant today).

While Redford himself looks perhaps ten years too old for the part, he has assembled an incredible cast (Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrance Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Elliot and Brit Marling) to tell a fairly gripping, thought-provoking story.

While not, perhaps of the stature of Redford’s other directorial outings (ORDINARY PEOPLE, THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR, A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, QUIZ SHOW, THE HORSE WHISPERER; Redford also, more recently, directed the less compelling THE CONSPIRATOR), this is an under-rated, under-distributed film, both intelligent and entertaining, whose company you should definitely keep.

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksROB HARMON’S PICS 08/13/13:


Today is the birthday of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, born this day in 1899 in Leytonstone, England and died on April 29, 1980 at the age of 80. My earliest fascination with Hitchcock and his films almost exactly coincides with when I was first becoming interested in film itself—middle school and high school—and the two (film and Hitchcock) have been almost synonymous in my mind ever since.

Mr. Hitchcock’s staggering influence upon the cinema survives to this day, particularly in the genres of mystery/suspense thrillers and horror, but equally important in many other respects, too numerous to list here. With a total of 53 films to his credit it is never a bad time to familiarize yourself with the Master of Suspense: let’s call this Film, or Hitchcock, 101!

To Catch A Thief MoviestillsWe’ll start with Ten Hitchcock Masterpieces:

1 • REBECCA (1940): Poor Mrs. Danvers….
2 • FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940): Intrigue for a Yank across the pond, with Europe on the brink of war.
3 • SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943): Everyone should have an Uncle Charlie.
4 • NOTORIOUS (1946): Hitchcockian romance, at its very best.
5 • STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951): Hitchcock adapts Highsmith—mind who you speak to on trains….
6 • REAR WINDOW (1954): Did he, or didn’t he, see a murder?
7 • VERTIGO (1958): Dark, touching, and sad, this is perhaps Hitchcock’s most personal film.
8 • NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959): Some guys have all the fun.
9 • PSYCHO (1960): Bates Motel – twelve cabins, twelve vacancies.
10 • THE BIRDS (1963): It’s woman vs. nature.

Seen those? How about, Ten Must-Sees from Hitchcock’s British Period:

1 • THE LODGER (1926): Jack the Ripper, anyone?
2 • THE RING (1927): Excellent silent boxing drama.
3 • BLACKMAIL (1929): Guilt pursues the killer—an innovative use of early sound technology.
4 • RICH AND STRANGE (1932): Eerie, early romantic melodrama.
5 • THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934): Knowing too much is a dangerous thing, indeed…. (1956 American version: Stewart and Day give strong performances; a worthy encore!)
6 • THE 39 STEPS (1935): High adventure on the Scottish moors—a man, a woman, and a pair of handcuffs!
7 • SABOTAGE (1936): Who killed cock robin?
8 • YOUNG AND INNOCENT (1937): The camera identifies the killer.
9 • THE LADY VANISHES (1938): Intrigue among passengers on a train across Europe—a ripping good yarn!
10 • JAMAICA INN (1939): Great adventure story; Laughton memorable as the villain, Sir Humphrey Pengallan.

Still hungry? Here are Ten Further Classics from Hitchcock’s Hollywood Career:

1 • SABOTEUR (1942): It’s The 39 Steps in the good old U.S.A.!
2 • LIFEBOAT (1944): Tallulah Bankhead in a boat.
3 • SPELLBOUND (1945): Romance and psychoanalysis – a union that only Hitchcock could bring about.
4 • ROPE (1948): What’s in the trunk?
5 • STAGE FRIGHT (1950): Highly under-rated; Dietrich sings “The Laziest Gal in Town.”
6 • DIAL ME FOR MURDER (1954): Crackling good murder mystery; originally filmed in 3-D!
7 • THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955): Dead body on a mountain-top—what to do with it?
8 • THE WRONG MAN (1956): Eerie, dark drama based on a real-life case.
9 • MARNIE (1964): Hitchcock examines the female psyche—’nuff said!
10 • FRENZY (1972): Hitchcock returns home to England—who knew rigor mortis could be this much fun?

Music: Jazz by Nick Di Maria Thurs., Aug. 15, at 8 PM

Nick_Di_Maria_BV_WebNick Di Maria brings his jazz group to the Best Video Performance Space for a return engagement on Thursday, Aug. 15. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover 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.



• Thursday, Aug. 15. JAZZ: THE NICK Di MARIA QUARTET




• Thursday, Aug. 29. SOLO POP: SOLIN


Music: Garage rock by The Estrogen Highs on Wed., Aug. 14, at 8 PM

Trouble in Mind recording artists The Estrogen Highs play in the Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Aug. 14. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.


From the Trouble in Mind Records Web site:

The anxiously awaited follow up to the Estrogen Highs excellent self-released 2011 album “Friends and Relatives” is finally here and let us be the first to say that if you aren’t already a fan of these guys, you are about to become one. After two LP’s, one 12″ EP, four 7-inches, and one cassette, the project that started as Stefan Christensen in 2007 playing and recording everything by himself has now fully jelled into a rock-solid, full-band quartet.

“Irrelevant Future” synthesizes all of the bands best attributes into one hit packed, perfectly paced LP. It expounds on the the wiry (and Wire-y) DIY whiffs from previous releases, emphasizes the thinking mans punk of the Minutemen and all the while an under-current of Kiwi-jangle ebbs and flows. With all of this in mind Estrogen Highs thankfully don’t sacrifice the off-kilter weirdness that already established fans know and love. Songs like “Alchemy Contest” and “Status Quo (Oh No)” have a quirky melodic sensibility that plays off intricate guitar and bass lines. “Grass of Leaves” holds down the chugga-chugga punk angle while “They Told Me I Was Everything” meditates on Shakesperean betrayal. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on the record’s direction, they hammer you with “Seventh Sunday of the Ordinary Times”, a “ripper” if there ever was one in the band’s canon. The album’s closer “I Wanna Be Tall” is a measured leap forward, focusing the band’s strength’s into the first perfect pop song of 2012—guaranteed to be stuck in your head for days! The first edition LP of 500 copies comes pressed on 150gm randomly mixed vinyl & includes a download code. CD is packaged in a LP-style slip-sleeve pocket!

The band’s lineup is Stefan Christensen (guitar and vocals), Mark Scialabba (guitar and bass), Wes Nelson (bass, guitar and vocals) and Ross Menze (drums).

Check out some of The Estrogen Highs’ performance at Williantic Records last year:




• Monday, Aug. 12. FILM SCREENING: “CRASH”


• Thursday, Aug. 15. JAZZ: THE NICK Di MARIA QUARTET




• Thursday, Aug. 29. SOLO POP: SOLIN