The past few weeks have seen strong turnouts at a number of notable cinema events around town.
Several hundred folks attended Trustees Theater screenings of Steven Spielberg's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and "Jurassic Park 3-D," close to 300 went to the Lucas Theatre's revival of the 1967 Paul Newman classic "Cool Hand Luke," close to 100 at CinemaSavannah's Muse Arts Warehouse showing of the acclaimed British thriller "Berberian Sound Studio" and dozens (hey, it's a much smaller room!) helped the Psychotronic Film Society celebrate iconic exploitation filmmaker Larry Cohen's 72nd birthday at the Sentient Bean through a mystery screening of one of his underrated cult classics.
It's encouraging to see slow, steady growth in the public's awareness of the unique alternatives Savannah now enjoys when it comes to independent, foreign and revival cinema, and given the way-cool opportunities afforded adventurous viewers over the next seven days, the odds are three of those increasingly popular big-screen venues will enjoy solid crowds for their next offerings.
CinemaSavannah kicks things off with a one-day-only engagement of a new, award-winning Uruguayan/Mexican feature, just one week after it opens in New York City and Los Angeles.
"Tanta Agua" aka "So Much Water" is the directorial debut of collaborators Ana Guevara and Laticia Jorge, which tells the story of a 14-year-old daughter's rebellion against her divorced father's heartfelt efforts to spend quality time with his two young children. When plans to visit a hot springs resort are quashed by a massive rainstorm, father and kids are virtually trapped by the downpour in a small cabin, with little to do and little to see but each other.
Can this estranged trio bridge the frustrations that dominate their relationship and find a way to not only enjoy each others' company but also strengthen their bonds? The boredom that can result from young children being cooped up with a parent during a stressful time is a universally understood situation critics say should resonate with viewers of all ages, worldwide.
The film has been praised for its ultra-realistic acting and lack of artifice. It's said to be an unpretentious coming-of-age gem. Festival judges agree, as it recently won the Miami Film Fest's Grand Jury Prize and Screenwriting Award and the San SebastiÃ¡n International Film Fest's prestigious Norteado Award. It screens two times only, at 5 and 8 p.m. July 19 at Muse Arts Warehouse. Admission is $8. The film is in spoken Spanish with English subtitles.
On July 20, the Lucas presents the Walt Disney Studios classic "Mary Poppins," a G-rated film rarely seen theatrically these days. The lighthearted 1964 musical was a smash for Disney (it has to date grossed more than $100 million and cost only $6 million) that has stood the test of time, earning new fans with each successive generation.
Based on a popular series of children's books, it's the fanciful tale of a busy British couple in Edwardian London who are incapable of controlling their sweet - but troublesome - children until a strange "practically perfect" woman (Mary Poppins) shows up on their doorstep and charms her way into becoming the family's nanny. Mary, along with a loveable, roguish chimney sweep named Bert (played bizarrely by U.S. comedic great Dick Van Dyke in one of the best Cockney roles ever, second only to Noel Fielding's Baboo Yagu), teaches the children the value in being productive citizens with active imaginations.
A pioneering piece of cinema which featured hand-drawn animation superimposed alongside live action footage, it was nominated for a whopping 13 Oscars and took home five, including Best Film Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Song and Best Visual Effects. Julie Andrews (in the title role) won Best Actress, as well.
If you have easy access to some youngsters who might otherwise know nothing of it, grab 'em (with their parents' permission, of course) and bring 'em to Trustees for a spoonful of sugar. Admission is $8 or $5 for students/seniors with ID. 7 p.m. showtime.
And at 8 p.m. July 24, the Psychotronic Film Society salutes the uniquely gifted Albert Brooks on his 66th birthday.
A trailblazing standup comic and writer who came to prominence in the late '60s through appearances on the "Tonight" show and "The Flip Wilson Show," his gifts as a filmmaker became evident in the early '70s, when he was commissioned to create short films for TV's "Saturday Night Live."
This led to him writing, directing and starring in several comedic features, such as "Real Life," "Modern Romance," "Lost In America," "Mother" and "The Muse," when not appearing as an actor in well-received movies like "Taxi Driver," "Broadcast News," "Out of Sight" and - in a dramatic role which earned him more than 25 major awards for Best Supporting Actor of 2011 - the Ryan Gosling crime drama "Drive."
For this Mystery Screening, the PFS will show one of Brooks' most adored and hilarious directorial efforts, but the exact title will not be revealed until showtime. The selection is suitable for ages 15 and older. Admission is $7.
See you at the movies.
Jim Reed directs the award-winning Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah - presenting indie, foreign, classic and cult cinema year-round. Read more from Jim on Savannah's film scene at filmsavannah.com.
What: "Tanta Agua" ("So Much Water")
When: 5 and 8 p.m. July 19
Where: Muse Arts Warehouse, 703 Louisville Road
Cost: $8 (film is in Spanish with English subtitles)
What: "Mary Poppins"
When: 7 p.m. July 20
Where: The Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.
Cost: $8 or $5 with student/senior ID
What: Albert Brooks Mystery Screening
When: 8 p.m. July 24
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park St.
Cost: $7; ages 15 and older