What are you doing Feb. 8? Since you're likely reading this column on the day in question, you may already have plans.
If not, may I suggest you head to the lovely Tybee Post Theater for its one-night-only revival of director Norman "Rollerball" Jewison's Big Apple-based 1987 rom-com "Moonstruck?"
A family-oriented favorite for a generation now, this - slightly - reverent old-school take on good-natured ethnic humor stars character actor supreme Danny Aiello and a young Nicolas Cage. Plus, you'll be able to get your recommended yearly allowance of Cher plus your choice of a drink (hard or soft) and a piece of chocolate (somewhere in between) for one low price. Showtime is 7 p.m., with admission prices to this and all other Film Scene events detailed in the accompanying sidebar listings.
More than a vampire flick
Not in the mood for laughter and love? How about haunting visual imagery, emotional turmoil, non-traditional depictions of gender and the occasional gory murder? In that case, skip "Moonstruck" and head instead for Trustees Theater, where SCAD's Cinema Circle presents a one-show-only screening of "Let the Right One In." This is the original 2008 Swedish version of the modern horror classic that was subsequently remade (virtually scene-for-scene) here in the USA in 2010 as the English-language "Let Me In."
Praised by critics and audiences alike for its clever twist on the age-old legend of vampires and the stark, minimalist manner in which the unpredictable story unfolds, the film is set in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1982. It took home more than 70 major awards, including: Best Foreign Language Film from the Austin Film Critics Association, London Critics Circle, Chicago Film Critics Association, Australian Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics; Best Foreign Film from the British Independent Film Awards; and Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Fest. Beautifully made and blending arrestingly nuanced acting with moments of extreme suspense, it's far more than a simple vampire flick.
Rather, it's a tender portrait of youthful feelings of rage, alienation and heartbreak as told through the lens of a shy young boy who finds himself drawn to the sensuality of a mysterious neighbor who happens to be something more than human. In addition to the full, uncut theatrical version (in Swedish, with English subtitles), there will also be a brief introduction to the film and a post-show audience discussion on its merits and impact - both led by yours truly. I hope you'll join us for this rare opportunity to see an arthouse thriller of such merit on the big screen, as its creators intended. Showtime is 8 p.m. with inexpensive tickets for the public and free admission for anyone with a valid SCAD ID.
Gray's Reef Film Festival
The very next night, Trustees Theater kicks off this year's installment of the well-regarded Gray's Reef Film Festival, which serves as both a celebration of the wonders of the ocean and as a fundraiser for Georgia's own Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, a 22-square mile underwater wildlife habitat that is one of the largest protected "live-bottom" natural reefs to be found near the Southeastern shore. This noteworthy event - which is both educational and highly entertaining for viewers of most any age - seems to grow a bit every year, and this time around spans across three venues.
Starting with a two-hour evening show Feb. 9 that includes 13 documentary films (ranging from 2 to 42 minutes in length), the festival continues the following afternoon at the SCAD Museum of Art near the Savannah Visitors Center with a 90-minute competition screening of student-made short films. The top three award-winners of that block of shorts will be included in that evening's 2-hour program at Trustees, which will also include two area premieres: "From Ironclad to Artifact: The Journey of the CSS Georgia," an hour-long doc on the salvaging of a Civil War-era shipwreck from award-winning locally based filmmaker, author and journalist Michael Jordan; and "Shifting Baselines," a 70-minute doc on the sad, changing realities impacting small family-owned fishing and shrimping companies here in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.
Finally, on Feb. 11, the festival winds up at Tybee Post Theater with a 90-minute compilation of five acclaimed documentary shorts (plus one 47-minute National Geographic special) starting at 2 p.m., followed by a wrap party featuring light snacks and a cash bar.
As in years past, admission to all Gray's Reef Film Fest screenings are free. However, the organization does suggest those who attend consider supporting their hard work on behalf of the local ecology by making a voluntary donation at the door in an amount approximate to the cost of a standard movie ticket: $8 for adults and $5 for children, seniors and members of the military. Again, you don't have to pay to get in, but they surely will appreciate it, and you'll feel better in doing so, right?
For more info on this wonderful annual event, see my interview with local filmmakers Mehmet Caglayan and Cathy Sakas, co-directors of "Shifting Baselines," here.
'Harry Potter' comeback
Meanwhile, just around the corner from Trustees, the Lucas Theatre's lengthy series of "Harry Potter and the Movie Marathon Month" continues with the next three films in that blockbuster fantasy-adventure franchise: "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." The first two chapters, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," were shown last week. For those who are fans of these internationally beloved books and/or films who never had an opportunity to catch them on a huge screen in a darkened cinema, now's your chance.
"Azkaban" shows at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9, "Goblet of Fire" at 3 p.m. on Feb. 10 and "Order of the Phoenix" follows at 7 p.m. that night. Discounts on admission for seniors, military and those with SCAD ID.
Magical 'love potion' opera
On Feb. 10, opera lovers can get their fix with another live premiere of the Metropolitan Opera's high-definition digital streaming concert series at Regal Stadium 10. This time out, it's Donizetti's comic opera "L'Elisir d'Amore," which translates to "The Elixir of Love."
Set in the Basque Country bordering France and Spain, it originally premiered in 1832 and has gone on to become one of the composer's most frequently performed works worldwide. The tale of a besotted peasant who invests in a magical "love potion" in hopes of wooing the woman of his affections away from a handsome and rich military man, it relies on carefully executed comedic timing, yet is rooted in a kindhearted and charming sense that sincerity must triumph in the end.
This new production will be performed in the original Italian, with English subtitles. It runs about three hours, and showtime is noon. Can't make it that day? The same venue will screen an encore presentation of the same debut performance at both 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14.
Valentine's Night mystery
And last, but not least, the Psychotronic Film Society's weekly Wednesday night series of overlooked feature films from across the globe continues at The Sentient Bean on Feb. 14. That's right, the PFS will take place on Valentine's Day night. Tired of crispy scored flounder, strawberry cheesecake and an overpriced bottle of wine? Looking for something unusual to do with your loved one that evening? Head on out to this unpretentious eatery on the Southern end of Forsyth Park and take a chance on what promises to be an extremely sultry and action-packed romance film.
The exact title of this steamy love story will remain a closely guarded secret right up until showtime, but here are a few clues: It's an almost completely forgotten American film from the mid-1980s that made a small stir when released into theaters before vanishing without a trace shortly thereafter, remaining unavailable on home video for decades. Its two photogenic lead actors are both fairly well-known to this date and continue to work regularly in feature films and television. In real life, the female lead was formerly married to another leading man whose debut starring role in film was actually shot right here in Savannah in 1990.
Think you know what "lost" romantic suspense flick the PFS will screen? Come on out and make your guess. A full dinner menu of award-winning vegetarian food and fair-trade coffees and teas will be available before the film, plus there will be discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the show. 8 p.m. showtime, for mature audiences only.
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. Email email@example.com.
IF YOU GO
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 8
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.
What: "Let the Right One In"
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 8
Where: Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.
Cost: $5-$8, free with SCAD ID
What: Gray's Reef Film Festival
When: Feb. 9-Feb. 11; times vary
Where: Trustees Theater, SCAD Museum of Art, Tybee Post Theater
Cost: Free; suggested donation of $5-$8 per day
What: "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 9
What: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
When: 3 p.m. Feb. 10
What: "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 10
Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.
Cost: $5-$8, free with SCAD ID
What: The Met Live in HD: "L'Elisir d'Amore"
When: Noon Feb. 10; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14
Where: Regal Savannah Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee St.
What: Psychotronic Valentine's Day Surprise
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 14
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.