Before we dive into this week's alternative cinematic offerings, allow me to add my name to what must be an incalculably long list of motion picture pundits to strongly recommend you see the new Alfonso CuarÃ³n masterpiece "Gravity" on the big screen, and if possible, in 3-D.
As a rule, I avoid virtually all modern 3-D films due to their crass gimmickry and underwhelming sense of purpose. However, I gave this one a shot and found I agree wholeheartedly with the aforementioned critics: "Gravity" demands to be seen in 3-D, as the technology is utilized in perhaps the most effective and sublime way since Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams." Sure, parts of the storyline could be described as "2001: A Space Odyssey" aimed at an eighth-grade education level, and there are a handful of glaring errors of physics in an otherwise extremely accurate depiction of the harsh scientific realities facing humans adrift in outer space.
But overall, this immersive meditation on the dichotomy between the fragility of our corporeal selves and the resilience of human consciousness is a stunning achievement.
Boasting CGI that looks at times incomprehensibly real, 3-D that truly enhances the action rather than seeming like the world's most expensive ViewMaster reel and surprisingly inventive sound design, this is a chilling ride most anyone can appreciate.
One note, however: There is no sound in space - which means this can be an incredibly quiet film for long stretches. Anyone inconsiderate enough to bring along a large cellophane bag filled with dozens of individually wrapped candies and proceed to spend the entire running time methodically opening each one as slowly and gratuitously loudly as humanly possible deserves to be marooned in the sub-icy nether regions of our universe for eternity.
And, yes, I'm talking to you, frumpy older lady on the far right-hand side of Victory Square Cinema on Monday at 2:30 p.m. (Seriously? Individually wrapped candies in cellophane?)
Fun fact: If the preceding four sentences had appeared on the Huffington Post, this column would have been described as an "Epic Rant."
Now on to future events.
On Oct. 18, the Lucas Theatre continues its series of "Friday Night Frights" with a rare big-screen presentation of Clint Eastwood's almost universally maligned directorial misstep, 1997's "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."
Despite a tiny bit of subject matter related to voodoo, this film is by no stretch of the imagination a horror movie, so I'm not exactly sure why it's being included in this Halloween-season batch of thrillers (it's not thrilling, either). However, it is most certainly horrible - and perhaps supernaturally so in that only a malevolent demon spawned in the Burning Hell's yawning maw could have so bewitched this reliably competent (and often exceptional) filmmaker into creating such a celluloid abomination.
Transparently a vanity project made at the behest of Eastwood's marginally talented actress daughter Alison (who fell in love with the non-fiction novel of the same name which made both its author John Berendt and our fair city perhaps slightly more famous than either deserve and/or could responsibly handle), it's a cringe-worthy mishmash of ham-fisted vignettes, overdramatizing and Kevin Spacey's second-worst accent ever (just behind "House of Cards").
In fact, Spacey was so embarrassed by this lead balloon of a film that he refused to even mention it when appearing on "The Tonight Show" the night before its theatrical debut.
Still, for fans of atrociously bad cinema, this motion picture is an embarrassment of riches.
It's just a real shame that Berendt's legitimately engaging book wasn't instead entrusted to "Twin Peaks" creator David Lynch, and made into a no-holds-barred 10-episode HBO miniseries (just think about the potential of that for a moment).
Come prepared to laugh at just how wrong Clint got our city (and the real-life story at the center of "The Book") during what essentially amounted to an extended paid golfing trip for he and his buddies. Showtime is 7 p.m. and admission is $8.
On Oct. 19 at Muse Arts Warehouse, CinemaSavannah presents award-winning 2013 Danish action-thriller "A Hijacking."
Notable for being "the other Somali pirate movie," it details the true plight of a cargo ship boarded by criminals in the Indian Ocean and the psychological battles between the CEO of the shipping company and the desperate thugs.
Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm (who co-wrote "The Hunt," which CinemaSavannah screened at Muse just a few weeks ago), this indie film is being hailed as a much more truthful portrayal of its own subject than the similar, yet massively budgeted Paul Greengrass/Tom Hanks film "Captain Phillips" (which is out now to rave reviews despite embarrassing allegations from Phillips' crew that huge swaths of his memoir were fabricated to whitewash the captain's own culpability and portray him as a hero rather than a reckless narcissist who put his own ship in harm's way).
"A Hijacking" screens twice, at 5 and 8 p.m., with $8 admission.
And finally, the Psychotronic Film Society continues its monthlong series of overlooked horror gems with the 1991 cult classic "Popcorn" on Oct. 23 at The Sentient Bean. Scripted by Alan Ormsby ("Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things," "Deranged," "Cat People," "The Substitute"), it's a guilty pleasure about a series of grisly murders committed during an all-night horror film fest, and boldly came years before such better-known "postmodern" slasher flicks as "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Showtime is 8 p.m. with $6 admission for mature audiences.
See you at the movies.
Jim Reed directs Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah. Read more at filmsavannah.com.
IF YOU GO
What: "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 18
Where: The Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.
What: "A Hijacking"
When: 5 and 8 p.m. Oct. 19
Where: Muse Arts Warehouse, 703 Louisville Road
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 23
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
Cost: $6, mature audiences