THANKS TO all the Film Scene readers who came out to the Sentient Bean Coffeehouse for last Sunday night’s Public Premiere of the new documentary "J.R. 'Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius."
The movie, which won’t be released theatrically for a couple of months but has already nabbed top awards at a few respected film fests, looked great on the big screen, and garnered plenty of laughs and heartfelt moments from the full house.
Better yet, a nice chunk of money was raised for the local charitable organization Loop It Up Savannah.
Special thanks go to Connect for their generous media sponsorship of that special screening. If you missed the premiere, keep an eye on digital streaming sites over the next few months, which is where the movie will ultimately find a large audience.
It’s a real labor of love that should appeal greatly to anyone interested in doomsday cult religions and/or American fringe counterculture of the ‘70s through the early 2000s.
Now, let’s take a look at all the noteworthy alternative cinema events taking place over the next week or so. Detailed admission info on all the big-screen happenings covered below can be found in the accompanying sidebar – and remember, if you’re organizing any specialty movie events, please send full details to firstname.lastname@example.org at least ten days in advance, for possible inclusion.
Speaking of the Sentient Bean, on Dec. 11, the Psychotronic Film Society’s long-running series of underappreciated or downright obscure feature films from across the globe continues with a rare public showing of the 1979 Italian-made farce “The Face with Two Left Feet.”
Released just two years after director John Badham’s massive international disco-fueled drama “Saturday Night Fever” made buckets and buckets of cash at the box-office, this crass attempt to piggyback on that film’s success sank without a trace. However, in the intervening years it has been rediscovered by fans of movies that are “so-bad-they’re-good” and earned a small but loyal cult following for it’s ill-conceived crappiness.
Starring an Italian guy who just happened to look an awful lot like “SNF” star John Travolta, yet who had no prior acting or dancing training (and never appeared onscreen again, for that matter), it’s the slapstick-y tale of a bumbling waiter who falls in love with a beautiful disco dancer. Dubbed poorly in English, it’s bound to make even the most hardened curmudgeons smile. 8 p.m. showtime.
On Dec. 18, the PFS’ Wednesday night series offers up what they’re billing as “one of the worst movies ever made.” What will it be?
Well, the exact title remains a secret right up until showtime, and adventurous viewers who revel in observing “best worst” films are encouraged to take a chance, buy a ticket and be pleasantly surprised.
This much can be revealed: it was released in 1980, and is commonly regarded as perhaps the worst Hollywood-financed feature from that year. In fact, it won several awards for being so bad!
If you’re in the mood to alternate laughing in embarrassment for all concerned with having your jaw drop slack in bewilderment as to who signed off on making this catastrophe, then it’s the film for you. 8 p.m. showtime, with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the film.
Shifting gears completely, on Dec. 12, the Tybee Post Theater on lovely Tybee Island presents one of the absolute best and most well-made films of all time: Orson Welles’ 1941 directorial debut “Citizen Kane.” This stunning B&W drama about a massively wealthy media tycoon is rightly revered by both critics and audiences alike as a beautiful and mesmerizing piece of moviemaking that deserves to be viewed on the big screen. If you’ve never seen it or simply never seen it in a theater, now’s your chance! 7 p.m showtime, and admission includes your choice of beer, wine or soft drink and a piece of chocolate.
On Dec. 19, the Tybee Post shifts into Christmas mode by screening the 1942 musical “Holiday Inn,” starring Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds. While most folks have never heard of this lovely little film (which won multiple Academy Awards), plenty have heard of Crosby’s 1954 film “White Christmas,” which stands as one of the most successful and popular Yuletide movies ever made.
Well, guess what? “White Christmas” is in many respects, a remake of “Holiday Inn,” and both films benefit from a cache of original songs composed by none other than Irving Berlin! Get in the spirit with this 7 p.m. showing. Admission includes your choice of a drink (hard or soft).
Heading back into town, on Dec. 13 at the Savannah Cultural Arts Center the local organization CinemaSavannah brings our area another regional premiere of a critically acclaimed first-run feature. It’s writer-director Robert Tinnell’s 2018 romantic-comedy “Feast of the Seven Fishes.”
Set in 1983 and shot in Marion County, West Virginia, the film is based on Tinnell’s 2005 graphic novel of the same name, and tells the story of an awkward and contentious Christmas Eve brouhaha that breaks out at a time-honored family seafood dinner.
The reason? Well, it seems a young make member of a blue-collar Italian-American Catholic family has invited a young, wealthy Protestant girl from Ivy League lineage as his guest, which does not sit well with some of his relatives.
Unlike much of CinemaSavannah’s fare (which often skews toward heavy --and sometimes overpowering-- drama and tragedy), this easygoing Yuletide romp has been described by critics as a “disarming and delightful sleeper indie comedy” and a “warm and revitalizing” “perfect Christmas treat.” It has received awards at film fests and only recently debuted in a small number of theaters.
This 6:30 p.m. show will likely be its only screening in our area. Make sure to arrive a bit early to this downtown venue (near the Civic Center), as there is no on-site parking, meaning you’ll need to factor in time to find a spot in a parking garage or on the street and then hoof it.
Meanwhile, out in the nearby city of Springfield, Ga., their restored historic Mars Theatre offers two just-released titles over the next week. First up is the WWII drama “Midway,” directed by the master of disaster, Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Stargate,” “Godzilla”), and starring Patrick Wilson, Aaron Eckhart, Mandy Moore, Nick Jonas, Dennis Quaid and Woody Harrelson. This $100 million passion project for Emmerich took ages to get off the ground (see what I did there?), making it perhaps the single most expensive independently financed motion picture ever made.
It has yet to turn a profit, which may have something to do with the less than glowing reviews many critics have given the two-hour-and-20-minute epic. However, a large swath of audience members seem to really enjoy the picture, and one can only assume, given the director’s flair for outsized set pieces, that it’s a thrilling film to experience in a theatrical setting – regardless of the caliber of the screenplay or the acting. I mean, let’s see some planes, and smoke, right? 7 p.m. showtimes on Dec. 13 and 14, with a 3 p.m. matinee on Dec. 15.
The Mars follows up “Midway,” with a four-day engagement of “Ford v Ferrari,” starting on Dec. 19. This two-hour-and-32-minute docudrama on the historic 1966 rivalry between the American Ford Motor Company and the Italian sports car builder
Ferrari has proven to be something of a surprise hit in theaters, and one which has been given solidly positive reviews from critics. It’s said to strike a pleasing balance between over-the-top, white-knuckle reenactments of real-life, high-speed Le Mans races and an intensely dramatic narrative.
In fact, co-star Christian Bale’s performance (playing professional British race car driver Ken Miles) has already him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Dramatic Actor. Look for ace character actors Tracy Letts, Wallace Langham and Ray McKinnon in key supporting roles. Showtimes at 7 p.m. on Dec. 19 through 21, with a 3 p.m. matinee on Dec. 22.
And, last but not least, on Dec. 17 and 18, the AMC Savannah 10 on the Southside’s Stephenson Ave. presents two more encore screenings of the updated version of esteemed New Zealand filmmaker Peter (“The Lord of the Rings Saga,” “The Frighteners,” “Meet The Feebles”) Jackson’s state-of-the-art documentary on WWI, “They Shall Not Grow Old.”
This universally-adored doc combines carefully restored and often previously unseen film footage and private photographs from that time period with actual audio interviews with British WWI soldiers recorded decades ago by the BBC.
The end result is an emotionally stunning recreation of the realities of their day-to-day existence during conflict – and one which is said to have touched the hearts of modern-day viewers like no documentary before or since.
As a bonus for this this encore rerelease, a separate documentary on the groundbreaking technology used to make the film will be included as a featurette. Showtimes at 4 p.m. on Dec.18, plus 7 p.m. on Dec. 17 and 18.
Until next week, see you at the movies, be kind to those around you and don’t forget to turn off that cell phone.
Jim Reed directs the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah.