WELCOME BACK to another Film Scene – the area’s only weekly preview of all the noteworthy "alternative cinema" events taking place in and around these parts.
We begin with an important announcement: contrary to what was written in last week’s column and due to unexpected scheduling conflicts, the Psychotronic Film Society’s next two weekly Wednesday night installments of their long-running and award-winning series of underappreciated feature films from around the globe have been cancelled – however those selections will still be shown, just at a later date.
So, no PFS on February 26 and March 4. The next Psychotronic Film at the Bean will be on March 11, when they’ll celebrate the birthday of 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Mitch Gaylord with a special showing of one of the very few movies he’s ever starred in: “American Tiger,” aka “American Rickshaw.” Shot in Miami by a famed Italian director of Euro-sleaze gems, it’s a hoot from start to finish. More on that selection in a future column.
Looking out to the nearby town of Springfield, Ga., their historic Mars Theatre wraps up its extended run of the family-oriented mix of CGI and live-action, “Sonic The Hedgehog,” with a final showing at 7 p.m. on Feb.27. The following night, they launch a three-day run of the newly-released legal drama “Just Mercy,” starring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Tim Blake Nelson and Brie Larson.
Based on the true story of an idealistic young African-American lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative and winds up fighting for the release of a convicted murderer, whom he believes was wrongfully jailed based on unreliable testimony. Showtimes at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28 and 29, plus a 3 p.m. matinee on Mar. 1.
A few nights later, the Mars presents a four-day engagement of the internationally revered WWI action-drama “1917,” which many critics named the best movie released last year. Director Sam Mendes’ epic tale has much in common plot-wise with Steven Spielberg’s WWII action drama “Saving Private Ryan,” but its outstanding visual and sound effects work elevate this picture to something which almost demands to be seen in a theatrical environment.
This post-Oscars run may be the last time you have an opportunity to view locally it in that setting. 7 p.m. showtimes on Mar. 5 through 7, with an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Mar. 8.
Speaking of one of the last times you may have an opportunity to see one of the best-reviewed and most award-winning films of the past year in a theatrical setting: the similarly-sized historic Tybee Post Theater will screen South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho’s masterful satirical horror movie “Parasite” for just three shows, on Feb. 27 and 28 at 7 p.m., and at 3 p.m. on Feb. 28 as well. If you are familiar with Bong Joon-Ho’s wondrous, earlier works like “Snowpiercer,” “Mother” and “The Host,” you know what an incredibly talented and unique visual storyteller he is.
This film, which made history when it won Best Picture at the most recent Academy Awards (the only foreign-made film ever to do so) has racked up effusive accolades wherever it has shown.
Next up at the Tybee Post is “The Two Popes,” director Fernando Meirelles’ dramatized account of the provocative relationship between Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in the mid-2000s. Its cast includes Anthony Hopkins (“Freejack”) as the Pope and the reliably amazing Jonathan Pryce (“Brazil,” Glengarry Glen Ross” and TV’s “Taboo”) as the Cardinal. This is the latest in a series of movies distributed by Netflix to play the Tybee Post.
Netflix makes virtually all their money through digital streaming direct to subscribing customers, and only ever releases a handful of their original films each year to cinemas, and then only briefly around awards season. Add to that the fact that most all U.S. cinema chains have boycotted Netflix product due to their opposition to the short or nonexistent windows of theatrical exclusivity afforded by Netflix’s business model, and the small, independently operated Tybee Post is in a unique position locally in that it is one of only three venues which can even potentially serve as a home for such rare opportunities.
Better still, this one-day engagement is completely free to the general public, as both shows (at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.) are sponsored by St. Michael’s Catholic Church on Tybee Island.
All they ask is that everyone bring a donation with them to help the homeless. They recommend mew and sealed packages of men or women’s underwear or socks, toiletry items or non-perishable food items. Don’t have any of those things handy? Then they will gladly accept cash in any amount, which they’ll put towards the same good use.
Finally, on Mar. 5, the Tybee Post presents another beloved classic example of Hollywood filmmaking: legendary writer-director Billy Wilder’s raunchy (for the time) 1960 dramedy “The Apartment,” which was nominated for an incredible ten Oscars (it wound up taking home five), and stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray and Ray Walston.
The tale of an insurance company employee who makes a name for himself among superiors by allowing them the clandestine use of his NYC apartment for extramarital trysts, its blunt look at the commonplace practice of adultery in the business world of that era turned off some viewers, while others lapped up the edgy construct. Showtime is 7 p.m.
Moving back into downtown, on Feb. 28, the city’s two highest-profile independent community cinema organizations, The Psychotronic Film Society and CinemaSavannah, join forces officially for the first time in many years. Known as the Double-Vision Film Series, this new collaborative venture is designed to take place approximately once every two months, and is co-curated by both myself and CinemaSavannah founder Tomasz Warchol (who enjoys a solid reputation for selecting and presenting high-quality titles).
Each Double-Vison (get it?) selection will be a brand-new independent or foreign-made film which would otherwise never play in our market at standard, corporate multiplexes. The idea is to seek out movies which appeal greatly to both of our programming tastes and to hopefully foster a greater crossover between regular audience members of CinemaSavannah and the PFS than already exists. These screenings will take place in the 300-plus Ben Tucker Theater at the new Savannah Cultural Arts Center in the shadow of the Civic Center, and I am very pleased to say that this series is generously co-sponsored by Connect Savannah.
Our first presentation will be a very special U.S. Premiere of an incredibly well-regarded U.K. crime thriller that has never been shown in this country outside of a few major film festivals, and will not even be released in American theaters for another three months. “A Good Woman is Hard to Find” is an intense, female-led suspense and horror hybrid about a young, widowed mother in Northern Ireland who enters into the dangerous world of criminals and drug dealers in hopes of identifying the man who killed her husband.
Written by a BAFTA winner and Oscar nominee and shot partially in Belfast and partially in Belgium, it is said to be a star turn for its lead, Sarah Bolger, who is perhaps best-known in this country for her role as Queen Mary 1 in “The Tudors.”
Tomasz and I hope to see many of you there for this gritty, cathartic flick that currently enjoys an unbelievable 100% Positive rating on RottenTomatoes.com, and which Film Threat magazine described as “an extremely harrowing, tense movie that has such an unbelievably satisfying payoff.” There’s no parking lot onsite, so make sure to factor in time to find a spot nearby on the street or in a city parking garage. 7 p.m. showtime.
The next day, Feb. 29, the AMC Savannah 11 multiplex behind the Savannah Mall presents a live, high-def digital simulcast of the Metropolitan Opera House’s new production of Handel’s story of deception, “Agripinna.” This new production from Sir David McVicar and conductor Harry Bicket features mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in the title role, and potential viewers should be aware that while no nudity is featured in this four-hour-and-ten-minute show, the Met warns of “suggestive adult content which may not be suitable for young audiences.” That said, kids’ tickets are at a discount for this live premiere at 12:55 p.m., as well as for the encore presentation on Mar. 4 at 6:30 p.m. In Italian, with English subtitles.
And last, but certainly not least, SCAD students in two different Cinema Studies Dept. classes are putting on free, public screenings of notable feature films in the cozy theater space at the SCAD Museum of Art on MLK, Jr. Blvd.m both of which are deserving of attention and support.
First up, at 6 p.m. on Mar. 2, they’ll screen celebrated French New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard’s highly stylized and charming 1960 bank robbery gem “Band of Outsiders.” Described by some critics as one of the few Godard movies which has the potential to appeal to those who find most (or all) of his other output too inscrutable for their tastes, this glorious B&W tale of crime, romance and (to a much lesser extent) dancing, is a wondrous and enthralling slice of ambiguous, low-budget cinema that relies on non-traditional pacing and framing to offer an unusually thought-provoking end result.
The students follow that up the next night, Mar. 3, with an 8 p.m. screening of Oscar-nominated filmmaker Richard Linklater’s 1993 cult classic “Dazed and Confused,” which is set in Austin, Tx. on the last day of high school in 1976.
The phenomenally naturalistic ensemble cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Nicky Katt, Milla Jovovich, Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason London and Ben Affleck. The end result? An uproarious period dramedy about the upsides and downsides of American youth counterculture in a contentious era of upheaval, which effectively served as the “American Graffiti” of its generation.
Again, both of these shows are free and open to the public. There’s very little parking directly adjacent to the museum, so remember to arrive early to find a spot nearby, or better yet, bike, walk or rideshare there and avoid all the hassle.
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.