New releases 3/14/17

Top Hits
Fences (August Wilson drama, Denzel Washington. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “But even as it properly foregrounds [playwright August] Wilson’s dialogue — few playwrights have approached his genius for turning workaday vernacular into poetry — ‘Fences’ is much more than a filmed reading. Mr. Washington has wisely resisted the temptation to force a lot of unnecessary cinema on the play. The action ventures beyond Troy and Rose’s yard — into their house and onto the street, mostly — to give them a bit more room to move and the audience a little more to look at. Confinement, however, is a theme implied in the play’s title, and opening it up too much would risk diluting the power of watching large personalities colliding in a narrow place.” Read more…)

Passengers (sci-fi, Jennifer Lawrence. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 41. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “At its most gripping, “Passengers,” directed by Morten Tyldum [‘The Imitation Game’] from a screenplay by Jon Spaihts [a collaborator on the scripts for ‘The Darkest Hour,’ ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Doctor Strange’], conveys the panic and despair of finding yourself trapped in a luxurious corporate prison in the middle of nowhere. Solitary confinement, even amid opulence, is solitary torture.” Read more…)

Collateral Beauty (drama/romance, Will Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 12%. Metacritic: 23. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The five stages of grief sometimes seem applicable to movie reviewing, except that I usually skip denial, rarely get around to acceptance and generally just settle into anger, which is where I am with ‘Collateral Beauty.’ Many of the words that I would like to use to describe this waste of talent and time, which riffs on Dickens’s eternal ‘A Christmas Carol’ and tries to manufacture feeling by offing Tiny Tim, can’t be lobbed in a family publication. So, instead, I will just start by throwing out some permissible insults: artificial, clichéd, mawkish, preposterous, incompetent, sexist, laughable, insulting.” Ouch! Read more…)

Elle (drama, Isabelle Huppert. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The opening scene of ‘Elle’  is a shocker: a brutal sexual assault witnessed by a house cat and filmed with pitiless detachment. “The opposite of a trigger warning,” as a friend of mine said. Everything that follows is, in some ways, even more shocking, as the movie — a masterpiece of suave perversity, directed by Paul Verhoeven — leads its audience through a meticulously constructed maze of ambiguity, scrambling our assumptions and expectations at every turn, dispensing discomfort and delight and daring us to distinguish one from the other.” Read more…)

Shanghai (thriller, John Cusack. Rotten Tomatoes: 4%. Metacritic: 36. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “It is never a good sign when a movie produced and distributed throughout much of Asia in 2010 doesn’t make its American theatrical debut until five years later. And given the temperamental and editorial idiosyncrasies of the Weinstein Company, which executive-produced and controls distribution of ‘Shanghai,’ a period espionage thriller directed by Mikael Hafstrom, you might be forgiven for expecting either an unfairly squelched masterpiece or an unholy mess.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Fences
Elle
Passengers

New Foreign
Being 17 (France, coming of age gay drama, Kacey Mottet Klein. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “To fight or to fall in love: That is the choice two antagonistic high school classmates face in ‘Being 17,’ a touching drama about raging hormones, bullying and sexual awakening — and the strongest film in many years by the post-New Wave French director André Téchiné.” Read more…)

Canoa (Mexico, history-based drama, Enrique Lucero, Criterion Collection)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
The Last Best Year (1990, drama, Mary Tyler Moore. From John J. O’Connor’s 1990 New York Times TV review [requires log-in]: In tonight’s exquisitely crafted ABC movie, Ms. Peters plays Jane Murray, a gifted career woman who, while being dumped by her married lover, discovers that she has cancer. Not wanting to be a burden on anyone, Jane is ready to withdraw from life and leave quietly. But her doctor urges her to see Wendy Allen, a psychologist, portrayed by Ms. Moore. What takes place is that rare occurrence in films of any sort — a female bonding. Coming to know each other closely and deeply, the two women begin discovering who they are in their own separate ways.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
For the Love of Spock (bio, television history, Leonard Nimoy. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 74. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “At the outset of his documentary ‘For the Love of Spock,’ the director Adam Nimoy [son of Leonard Nimoy] imparts its origins. He intended to examine his father’s ‘Star Trek’ character, Mr. Spock, and his place in culture for that franchise’s 50th anniversary. But in February 2015, Leonard Nimoy died, and the project became more of a tribute to his life. This film nimbly straddles biography and ‘Trek’ valentine [Adam is a longtime television director], but also recounts the fraught if ultimately devoted ties between Adam and Leonard.” Read more…)

New Oscar contenders film series starts Tues., Feb. 7, with interracial romance/historical drama “Loving”

Best Video Film & Cultural Center’s next film series—showcasing Oscar-contending films—begins on Tuesday, Feb. 7, with a screening of “Loving.” An historical drama, “Loving” tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial Virginia couple who went to the Supreme Court to affirm their right to be married and to overturn Virginia’s racist anti-miscegenation law.

While “Loving” screens on a Tuesday, the five remaining films will be shown on the next five successive Monday nights. All screenings start at 7:15 PM. Admission to individual movies is $7—free for members of Temple Beth Sholom—or the advance price for the entire series is $30. Purchasers of the full series pass are also entitled to $10 off the cost of attending BVFCC’s Feb. 26 Oscar Day Brunch and Fundraiser.

All attendees for the three films preceding the Academy Awards broadcast will be given an Oscar ballot to fill out and a prize will be given to the individual who picks the most correct winners.

“The Oscar Race—The Main Contenders” is co-sponsored by Temple Beth Sholom Adult Education. The films will be introduced by either Best Video founder Hank Paper or Temple Beth Sholom Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic. As always, feel free to stick around for the optional post-film conversations.

We are very excited about this series, which features a lineup of films sure to spark some invigorating discussions.

View the trailer for the first movie in the series. “Loving”:

The schedule:

Tues., Feb. 7: “Loving”: They loved; a segregated Virginia did not love them back. Loving revisits a Supreme Court civil-rights landmark case on interracial marriage. “It was the absolute ordinariness of their love that defined them and that made their fight for it into an indelible story of this country.” (Manohla Dargis, The New York Times) “A cinematic take on a familiar story that’s deeply relevant today.”(Clay Cone) “The precision of Nichols’ film makes every shot meaningful….For once, a cinematic history lesson doesn’t feel artificial and processed in every pore.” (Tasha Robinson)

Mon., Feb. 13: “Birth of a Nation”: This tour-de-force retelling of the 1831 slave rebellion led by slave-turned-preacher Nat Turner – written, produced, directed, and starring Nate Parker – could not be more timely. “An unapologetic, impassioned biopic, this film begins quietly but ends in a howl of rage. It might not be perfect, but it’s powerful enough to stay with you….soul-shakingly powerful.” (Phil De Semlyen, Empire)

Mon., Feb. 20: “Arrival”: When gigantic spaceships touch down around the world, linguistic professor (Amy Adams) races against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrials, taking a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind. “Epic and intimate.” (Christopher Orr, The Atlantic). “This deeply thoughtful, profoundly compassionate sci-fi movie beautifully mixes realism with a sense of wonder.” (Common Sense Media). “The best film of the year to date, ambitious in conception and extraordinary in execution, has arrived.” (Rotten Tomatoes)

Mon., Feb. 27: “Elle”: Isabelle Huppert delivers a stand-out performance as a ruthless, seemingly indestructible video game CEO, attacked in her home, who then turns the tables on her attacker. “A masterpiece of suave perversity, the movie leads its audience through a meticulously constructed maze of ambiguity, scrambling our assumptions and expectations at every turn.” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times)

Mon., Mar. 6: “Manchester By the Sea”: Following his brother’s death, a reclusive, depressive loner —working as a handyman in Boston — is summoned back to his coastal hometown where he reluctantly becomes guardian to his 16-year-old nephew and reunited with his divorced wife (Michelle Williams). “This beautifully textured, richly enveloping drama…succeeds because of its love for its characters, rather than for their misfortunes.” (David Sims, The Atlantic) “You can’t really prepare yourself for the emotional powerhouse that is ‘Manchester by the Sea.’ … No film this year has moved me more with its humor, heart and humanity.” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

Mon., Mar. 13: “Moonlight”: A young man deals with his dysfunctional home life as he comes of age in Miami during the “War on Drugs” era, struggling to find himself as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love while grappling with his own sexuality. “’Moonlight’ is both a disarmingly, at times almost unbearably personal film and an urgent social document, a hard look at American reality and a poem written in light, music and vivid human faces.” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times) “‘Moonlight’ [is] a flat-out masterpiece.” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Thursday, Jan. 26. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: THE BOSSA NOVA PROJECT

• Friday, Jan. 27. ROOTS ROCK: BRONSON ROCK

• Saturday, Jan. 28. FILM SCREENING FOR KIDS: “MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO” (Sponsored by Pediatrics Plus of North Haven)

• Monday, Jan. 30. FILM SCREENING: SEAN KERNAN’S “CROW STORIES”

• Wednesday, Feb. 1. JAZZ OF OUR GENERATION: JEFF FULLER & TONY LOMBARDOZZI & BARRY REIS

• Friday, Feb. 3. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Sunday, Feb. 5. FREE FIRST SUNDAY AFTERNOON BLUEGRASS JAM HOSTED BY GUITARTOWNCT

• Tuesday, Feb. 7. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “LOVING”

• Wednesday, Feb. 8. BLUEGRASS: BAIT AND SWITCH

• Thursday, Feb. 9. INDIE ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Friday, Feb. 10. ROCK: HAPPY ENDING, MERCY CHOIR (solo)

• Monday, Feb. 13. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “BIRTH OF A NATION”

• Thursday, Feb. 16. ALT-COUNTRY/ROCK: NO LINE NORTH

• Friday, Feb. 17. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ALEX BLAIR

• Monday, Feb. 20. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “ARRIVAL”

• Wednesday, Feb. 22. JAZZ: THE PAUL SHANLEY QUARTET

• Thursday, Feb. 23. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

• Friday, Feb. 24. INDIE POP: THE SHELLYE VALAUSKAS EXPERIENCE

• Saturday, Feb. 25. PROTEST MUSIC CABARET: “SHALL WE TALK ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT?”

• Sunday, Feb. 26. “AND THE AWARD GOES TO…”: BVFCC OSCAR AWARDS BRUNCH/FUNDRAISER 4-6 PM

• Monday, Feb. 27. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “ELLE”

• Saturday, Mar. 4. CULT FILM SCREENING: TBA

• Monday, Mar. 6. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “MANCHESTER BY THE SEA”

• Saturday, Mar. 11. JAZZ: THE FAKE MUSIC ENSEMBLE PLAYS “BLACK, BROWN AND BEIGE; YELLOW, TRANS AND QUEER: MY COUNTRY ‘TIS OF THIS (A PROTEST SUITE COMPOSED BY ALLEN LOWE)

• Monday, Mar. 13. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “MOONLIGHT”

• Thursday, Mar. 16. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SETH ADAM, KATHY MUIR

Friday, Mar. 17. INDIE ROCK: DISCO TEEN 66

• Wednesday, Mar. 22. CLASSICAL: 4-3-2-1: A EUPHONIUM AND FRIENDS PRODUCTION

• Friday, Mar. 24. SOLO GUITAR: GLENN ROTH; SINGER-SONGWRITER: BELLE OF THE FALL

• Saturday, Mar. 25. JAZZ: : THE FAKE MUSIC ENSEMBLE PLAYS “BLACK, BROWN AND BEIGE; YELLOW, TRANS AND QUEER: MY COUNTRY ‘TIS OF THIS (A PROTEST SUITE COMPOSED BY ALLEN LOWE)

• Wednesday, Mar. 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: LAMONT

• Saturday, Apr. 1. CULT FILM SCREENING: TBA

• Saturday, Apr. 8. CLASSICAL GUITAR: MAX LYMAN; AMERICAN PRIMITIVE GUITAR: ALEXANDER

• Friday, Apr. 21. POP: THE DRESS-UPS

• Friday, Apr. 28. BLUEGRASS: THE SLOCAN RAMBLERS (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Friday, May 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SHAWN TAYLOR & WANDERING ROOTS (CD Release)

• Saturday, May 6. CULT FILM SCREENING: TBA