Category Archives: Film

Tiananmen Plus 25

tank man 2

June 4, 1989. Chinese troops massacred several hundred, if not thousands, of peaceful, unarmed pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.  Somehow that same government is still in power, still lying and covering up. At least for now, Chinese government officials can scrub the Internet tubes of all mention of the massacre of its own citizens, but the rest of the world will always have this photograph.

Thank you, Tank Man, whoever and wherever you are.

I Read the Book But I Never Could See the Movie


The Greatest Movies You’ll Never See—Unseen Masterpieces by the World’s Greatest Directors

By Simon Braund, General Editor (Cassell Ilustrated, 2014)

A cleverly conceived and beautifully executed book of what-ifs, The Greatest Movies You’ll Never See chronicles dozens of film projects that caused such a stir or whet so many appetites or seemed so ideal in concept that it’s hard to believe the movies never actually got seen. Continue reading

Best Video: The Music


Now that Best Video’s renovations are done (see earlier item) and the stage is in its new place, the store (at 1842 Whitney Avenue in Hamden) has been able to book its music concerts and film screenings for months in advance.

Tonight (Wednesday April 30), the performer is bassist/composer Jack Vees. A fan of everything from pop to Zappa to Charles Ives to experimental classical sounds, Vees has had his works performed locally at everywhere from Firehouse 12 to Morse Recital Hall to the John Slade Ely House art gallery. He’s played Best before, and was complimented for how he was able to make some out-there stuff so appealing an accessible.

The rest of the sched, with (generally speaking) bands on Wednesdays, singer/songwriter shows on Thursdays and film screenings on Mondays.

One distinction of the Best concerts is that, if they wish, musicians can choose film to play behind them silently while they perform.

Wednesday, May 7: Jellyshirts

Thursday, May 8: Fuchsprellen (improvised music by (Pete
Brunelli, Pete Riccio, Richard Brown and Steve Chillemi)

Monday, May 12: Screening of Memento

Wednesday, May 14: Ragweed

Thursday, May 15: Frank Critelli, Mark Mirando

Sunday, May 18: Sunday Children’s Film Matinee screening.

Monday, May 19: Screening of “Mulholland Dive”

Wednesday, May 21: Haven String Quartet

Thursday, May 22: Ilana Zsigmond, Sabrina Trueheart

Monday, May 26: Screening of Local Hero

Wednesday, May 28: Mission Zero

Thursday, May 30: Sam Perduta, Jason Prince

Thursday, June 5: Kath Bloom & Tom Hanford, Bop Tweedie

Wednesday, June 11: A literary evening, with readings by Alice Mattison and Sandi Kahn Shelton

Thursday, June 12: The Anne Marie Menta Band

Wednesday, June 18: Sambeleza

Thursday, June 19: Happy Ending

Thursday, June 26: Shawn Persinger Is Prester John

Best New World


It was a half day off from school, so my daughters and I hopped on our bikes and pedaled five miles along the Farmington Canal Trail to Best Video in Hamden. It’ s a delightful ride, with a great reward at the end of the journey: After all that exercise, you get to relax at home with a movie. Continue reading

Who Needs Sundance?

Yale Latin American film series

For the past month, an exciting film series has been taking place in New Haven, apparently under the hipster radar. It is the NEFIAC Latin American and Iberian Film Series, sponsored by The Council for Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale. All films are free, open to the public, and have English subtitles. The complete schedule is included in the poster above.

One event that has already occurred was the screening of two films by Cuban-born Miguel Coyula, his work in progress Blue Heart and Memories of Overdevelopment.

Ana Arellano’s CT Latino News article on Coyula will make you wish you’d gone to the screening:

Furthermore, it will make you NOT want to miss the last three screenings in the festival:

March 31, 2014. 7 pm. Luce Hall Auditorium. Aku Rodríguez will present La gran falacia (2013, Puerto Rico). Documentary.

April 9, 2014. 7 pm. LC102. Luis Argueta (Guatemala) will present the rough cut of his soon to be released documentary, Abuelos y nietos juntos: Two Generations Together.

He will also show scenes from his work in progress, The U-Turn,

April 14, 2014. 7 pm. Luce Hall Auditorium. Isabel Castro will present Crossing Over, a rough cut of her soon to be released documentary.


Inside Dave Van Ronk

Dave Van Ronk

For those who “got” the Coen Brothers’ excellent film Inside Llewyn Davis—which chronicles a week in the life of a struggling folkie in Greenwich Village in 1961—you owe it to yourself to read the source material. The title character in the film is largely based on Dave Van Ronk, who was, himself, a bit larger than life.

Before he died of cancer in 2002, Van Ronk, an irascible and witty raconteur, talked his way through his life and career to fellow musician Elijah Wald. They were ultimately collaborating on a giant, if not definitive, book about what really happened during the “Great Folk Scare” of the early 1960s.

Unfortunately, Van Ronk died and Wald was left with hundreds and hundreds of pages of transcripts, notes and archival material. Somehow, he was able to patch together an engrossing and entertaining memoir, called The Mayor of MacDougal Street, and it is that book that inspired the Coen Brothers to create the character Llewyn Davis and put him through some of the same paces, highs and lows that Van Ronk encountered during the early years of his career.

Van Ronk comes off as more of a hipster than a folkie. An exceptionally well read, self-taught man (he dropped out of high school in Brooklyn at 15), he loved to argue about politics and music and stayed true to his socialist convictions. Every page of this book contains some new twist on that cultural epoch known as the 1960s that forces readers to reexamine their own preconceptions. You can’t ask more from a book than that.

 Da Capo has wisely just reissued the memoir in a handsome trade paperback edition, with an explanatory postscript by Wald. Perhaps future editions of this will come with a CD compilation of Van Ronk’s songs, culled from his more than two dozen albums.

Visit Elijah Wald‘s website to learn more about Van Ronk, order the book, and listen to some of the “Mayor’s” music.


Steinem, Nevins and Feminist Art & Ideas

Sheila Nevins, President of Documentaries at HBO.

Sheila Nevins, President of Documentaries at HBO.

Women got an unexpected shout-out from President Obama at his Presidential State of the Union Address Tuesday night. There was a long bipartisan ovation for the concept that women should get paid the same wage as men. Obama capped his observation with a reference to the outdated work culture we see on Mad Men.

Good timing for a screening of Gloria: In Her Own Words. Continue reading