AFTER A brief slowdown in alternative cinema events over the past couple of weeks, things are back up and running again at nearly full force in the greater Savannah area.
Detailed admission info on all the big-screen happenings covered below can be found in the accompanying sidebar, and we hope every reader will find at least one noteworthy screening they can support through their attendance.
As always, if you are involved in organizing any movie events which fall outside of the framework of our mainstream corporate multiplexes, make sure to send full details to me at email@example.com at least ten days in advance, for possible inclusion in this column.
We start off this preview of the next week’s worth of unusual fare on Dec. 4 at the Southside’s AMC Savannah 11, with an encore presentation of the Metropolitan Opera’s high-def film of their recent stage production of iconic minimalist composer Philip Glass’ opera “Akhnaten.”
First performed in 1983, this mesmerizing, modern take on a tribute to the eponymous Egyptian Pharaoh of old won a coveted Olivier Award when it was first produced in 2017. This will likely be your last chance to catch such a stunning work in dazzling visual and aural clarity for many years to come. Subtitled in English, it shows at 6:30 p.m.
A few days later, on Dec. 8, the AMC Savannah 11 is the setting for Fathom Events’ latest anime presentation: “Promare,” which premiered in Japan six months ago and quickly became that country’s eighth-biggest box-office hit of the year.
The high-energy futuristic action-adventure utilizes “cel-shaded” animation for an especially eye-catching visual style, which goes hand-in-hand with its storyline about a group of “flame-wielding mutant beings” calling themselves Burnish who have already burned away half of the Earth, and who now find themselves embroiled (see what I did there?) in a three-way battle against both a new group of flame-wielding mutants (I know, I know...) calling themselves, wait for it... Mad Burnish – and an anti-world burning rescue team called, wait for it... Burning Rescue. I can’t make this stuff up.
It was a hit here in the states when Fathom released it to theaters awhile back, but this time they have added a bonus short anime film which serves as a prequel (presumably in hopes of earning repeat viewership for this rerelease). It screens twice, first at 12:55 p.m. on Dec. 8 (when it will be show in spoken Japanese with English subtitles), and again at 7 p.m. on Dec. 10 (when it will be shown with an English-dubbed soundtrack).
The next week is an unusually busy one for the fiercely independent Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah, as they have three extremely unique screenings scheduled over the next eight days, all of which take place at the Sentient Bean Coffeeshop on the Southern end of Forsyth Park.
First up, on Dec. 4 is a rare public showing of “The Glass Castle,” acclaimed director René Cléments’ forgotten B&W French romantic drama from 1950. A slow-paced and ruminative feature that has been overlooked in his homeland and is virtually unknown here in the USA, it will be shown in its’ original spoken French, with English subtitles. 8 p.m. showtime.
Next, the PFS presents a special Sunday night event: the public premiere of the brand-new documentary “J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius,” which chronicles the formation, history and legacy of the public-prank-turned-actual-international-cult known as the Church of the SubGenius, whose snidely subversive and quite hysterically bald-faced send-up of hypocritical organized religions (think Scientology or Evangelical Christianity) and quack faith healers morphed into a bona-fide belief system of its own.
To date, its only screening outside of the festival circuit has been at Boston’s Emerson College, which makes this its public premiere (the film will not be released to theaters for more than a month).
Proceeds from this screening benefit local charitable organization Loop It Up Savannah, and advance tickets are available via BrownPaperTickets.com. For more information, see Jim Morekis’ feature interview with the director elsewhere in this issue. 8 p.m. showtime.
And, on Dec. 11, the PFS celebrates the 42nd anniversary of the theatrical release of the “Saturday Night Fever” not by showing that classic American coming-of-age melodrama, but by instead showing “The Face with Two Left Feet,” a shameless, Italian-made rip-off of “Fever” about a bumbling waiter who falls in love with a sexy female disco dancer.
Made barely two years after that John Travolta showcase was released, this ultra-obscure comedy stars an Italian guy who happens to look eerily similar to Travolta (this was his film debut and he never made another movie!). It’s silly, utterly strange and dubbed into English. Come prepared to laugh and cock your head to the side out of confusion. 8 p.m. showtime.
Out in the nearby city of Springfield, Ga., the historic Mars Theatre concludes its lengthy engagement of “Frozen 2,” the recently-released animated fantasy-musical that serves as a sequel to Disney Studios’ smash animated fantasy-musical of the same name. We’ve covered this film extensively in prior columns, and hell, you probably know everything you need to know about it already anyway, right? 7 p.m. showtimes on Dec. 5 and 6, and matinees at 12 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 3 p.m. on Dec. 8.
Moving back to the Southside, the AMC Savannah 10 on Stephenson Ave. presents an extended encore engagement of “They Shall Not Grow Old,” the universally-praised WWI documentary directed by New Zealand’s famed Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson (“The Frighteners,” “The Lord of the Rings Saga”). The movie offers lovingly restored, never-before-seen footage and photographs set to actual, BBC-recorded archival audio interviews with British WWI soldiers.
Jackson, utilizing recent breakthroughs in image capture and colorization, has created a realistic recreation of the Great War which allows audiences to experience the realities of that conflict in a manner unimaginable even a few years ago.
When this doc first premiered around the country for two-shows-only, it broke all attendance and box-office records for a digitally simulcast theatrical event. This encore rerelease includes bonus materials in the form of a personal on-screen introduction from Jackson himself, as well as a behind-the-scenes documentary on the technology used to make the film. Showtimes at 4 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 18, plus 7 p.m. on Dec. 7, 17 and 18.
Tybee Island’s historic Tybee Post Theater celebrates Whale Week (come on, you knew it was Whale Week, right?) with a way-cool chance to view a rough-cut of the soon-to-be-completed feature-length nature documentary “Follow the Journey,” which spotlights the exploits of endangered North Atlantic right whales as they travel from their calving grounds near the Georgia coast all the way to Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The filmmakers behind what must have surely been an arduous doc to create will be on hand to introduce the movie, and then after this premiere, in tandem with a panel of experts, will discuss both the movie and the general topic with the audience. 3 p.m. showtime.
Then, on Dec. 12, the Tybee Post will screen one of the most influential and celebrated American motion pictures of all-time (no, seriously): Orson Welles’ directorial debut, the epic 1941 drama “Citizen Kane,” based loosely (if transparently) in part on real-life American media magnates William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.
Although it was a financial failure when first released, 15 years after that initial bow, it was generously reassessed by European critics, and this belated acknowledgement of the idiosyncratic strengths of the picture –from its screenplay (a collaboration between Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz which resulted in a lengthy and ugly battle over authorship credits) to its score (by iconic composer Bernard Hermann) to its editing (by the immensely talented Robert Wise, who’d later direct such triumphant Hollywood classics as “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “West Side Story”)– resulted in the tremendous reputation it enjoys today.
Its cinematography by the great Gregg Toland demands to be appreciated in a theatrical setting such as the Tybee Post. If there’s any way you can make this 7 p.m. showing, you should. Admission price includes your choice of beer, wine or soft drink and a piece of chocolate.
And, last but certainly not least, on Dec. 13, local organization CinemaSavannah presents another regional premiere of an acclaimed independent film at Savannah’s Cultural Arts Center. This time, it’s “Give Me Liberty,” from Russian-born director and co-writer Kirill Mikhanovsky. Shot in Milwaukee, Wi., this heartwarming comedy focuses on a young medical transport driver who winds up bucking the system to tote a ragtag group of misfit senior citizens, a disabled young woman and one Russian boxer to a funeral.
Staged at a breakneck pace, this chaotic farce-on-wheels has been described as straddling the line between distinctly American dark comedy and the type of broad, inherently whimsical cinematic humor Russian filmmakers are known for crafting. Despite occasional spoken Russian (with corresponding English subtitles) the film is mostly in English, and this will almost assuredly be its exclusive area showing. 6:30 p.m. showtime. No parking on-site, so make sure to arrive early in order to find a space nearby.
Until next week, see you at the movies, be kind to those around you and don’t forget to turn off that cell phone.