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Film Scene: See if these out-of-the-ordinary screenings pique your interest

 

Film Scene: See if these out-of-the-ordinary screenings pique your interest

08 Mar 2017

If you dig cinema like nobody’s business and you’re in the mood for something outside of the realm of standard-issue multiplex fare, the next seven days offer plenty of options that may pique your interest. So let’s get right to it, shall we?

An emotional wallop

As I mentioned at the tail end of last week’s column, the Tybee Post Theater (a renovated and upgraded single-screen room out on the island) will present director John Schlesinger’s envelope-pushing and Oscar-winning 1969 drama “Midnight Cowboy” for one show only March 9. The edgy — and at times exceedingly dark — tale of two mismatched losers who find each other on the mean streets of New York City stars Dustin Hoffman (“Outbreak”) and Jon Voight (“The Karate Dog”) as said losers, who attempt to make ends meet by offering themselves up as novice male prostitutes to whomever will have them.

Originally rated X for its adult subject matter (read: homosexual content), the film is one of the few to later be reclassified at a less restrictive rating as social mores evolved and said content became far less disturbing to Middle America. It’s now an R-rated film, yet no cuts were required to the film’s original running time to attain that more accurate classification. A landmark feature that helped usher certain elements of underground filmmaking into the mainstream, it remains somewhat dated, but still packs an emotional wallop. Showtime is 7 p.m., with $10 admission for mature viewers (which includes a glass of wine for those of legal drinking age and a chocolate kiss).

Opera on the big screen

A couple of days later on March 11, both the Regal Savannah 10 multiplex (behind the Savannah Mall on the Southside) and the Cinemark in Bluffton, S.C. will host a live, high-definition simulcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s current production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “La Traviata,” starring the Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva, acclaimed new American tenor Michael Fabiano and beloved American baritone Thomas Hampson, in one of his most famous roles.

“La Traviata” was initially jeered by crowds at its Venice debut in 1853, yet has been embraced wholeheartedly in the intervening generations and is currently ranked by many as the most performed opera in the world. A tragedy rooted in the shame of sin and its deleterious effects on true love, it’s a tearjerker and a gut-wrencher in the grandest sense of those words. As with the Met’s other HD simulcasts, the live performance will be presented in stunning clarity, utilizing thoughtful camera angles and ideal vantage points. During the intermission, behind-the-scenes footage of the backstage area and interviews with the technical crew, actors and singers are shown, enhancing the viewing experience.

The entire show runs four hours, and is presented in spoken Italian, with English subtitles. This matinee will take place promptly at 12:55 p.m. at both locations, with tickets available at the door, or in advance through FathomEvents.com. Online advance admission prices range from about $20-$26. Can’t make this live simulcast? “La Traviata” returns to theaters for a one-time-only encore re-broadcast at 6:30 p.m. March 15.

Special tribute screening

March 12 marks a special Sunday night movie at The Sentient Bean, courtesy of the Psychotronic Film Society. The occasion is a hastily arranged Memorial Tribute to the late, great actor and director Bill Paxton, who passed away unexpectedly Feb. 25 at the age of 61, from a stroke following heart surgery.

A genial and well-liked performer known best for his memorable lead and supporting characters in such blockbuster big-screen features as 1996’s “Twister,” 1995’s “Apollo 13,” 1986’s “Aliens,” 1994’s “True Lies” and 1997’s “Titanic,” Paxton was also known to relish appearing in smaller, independent (and downright fringe) movies, such as “Streets of Fire,” “Near Dark,” “One False Move” and “Boxing Helena.” Always up for a challenging role and willing to go to extreme lengths, turning in fearless performances, Paxton nearly perfectly embodied the journeyman actor able to balance a career in arthouse cinema with regular appearances in mainstream fare.

In honor of that lengthy, diverse and daring career, the PFS will present a rare public screening of one of Paxton’s least-known, yet most memorable and impressive roles. The exact title of the featured film will remain a secret until showtime, but it can be said that this seriously under-the-radar picture was one of Paxton’s personal favorites, and boasts a downright amazing supporting cast. A total flop at the box office when first released in theaters, this picture made less than $30,000 in ticket sales, and was later unavailable for almost two decades. It has since earned a small but loyal cult following for its bizarre subject matter, unsettling imagery and dreamlike, neo-noir production design.

Anyone who appreciates the challenging vibe of pictures by David Lynch, John Waters or Alex Cox should appreciate this bona fide rarity. Showtime is 8 p.m., with $8 admission, and discounts on organic wine and craft beer during the film.

St. Patrick’s cult film

A few days later, on March 15, the PFS returns to The Bean for its regular Wednesday evening series of underappreciated cinematic features from around the world. That night, the society will present another “mystery feature,” which — in honor of St. Patrick’s Day — is generally considered one of the only true cult films ever made in Ireland.

Need some clues as to the title of this “funny, moving and desperate” motion picture? Well, despite winning several major awards at European film festivals and being nominated for tons more, it also nabbed nominations for Best Irish Film, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Script, Best Editing, Best Hair/Makeup and Best Music at the Irish Television and Film Awards. It also earned its director the top prize at that event, Best Film Director. However, it was deemed “too Irish” for mainstream American viewers, and only screened once in the U.S., as part of the Telluride Film Fest. Its director would later go on to establish himself as one of the finer filmmakers of his era, and in fact is best known for being at the helm of one of the most award-winning and critically acclaimed dramas of 2015.

Expect a grimly humorous dramedy that offers a decidedly unvarnished take on the hardscrabble life of young Irishmen (with strong monkeys on their backs). Fans of “Trainspotting” as well as the criminally overlooked 1971 gem “Dusty and Sweets McGee” will especially appreciate this unexpected selection. In spoken English (with heavy Irish accents, natch). Showtime is 8 p.m., with $8 admission.

Plan ahead

And finally, here’s a heads-up: next weekend, the Tybee Post Theater will present special engagements of two of this year’s most celebrated movies over four days. They’ll screen the drama “Fences,” starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this role) on March 16-17, and the Ryan Gosling/Emma Stone musical “La La Land” on March 18-19. Advance tickets are on sale now through the theater’s website.

Until next issue, see you at the movies, be kind to those around you and don’t forget to turn off that cell phone.

Jim Reed directs Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah. Email psychotronicfilms@hotmail.com.

JIM’S NOTES

In addition to his prolific acting career in both film and TV, Bill Paxton also occasionally directed features and shorts, including the iconic “underground” music video for the song “Fish Heads” by the avant-garde group Barnes & Barnes (a band that included actor and musician Billy Mumy, best known as young Will Robinson on the 1960s TV series “Lost in Space”).

The Mystery Irish Cult Film that will be screened at The Bean on March 15 received an extremely enthusiastic reception at the Berlin Film Fest. It has been described by established critics as “mordantly funny and unexpectedly poignant” and “a downbeat comedy or slapstick tragedy, depending on which way you look at it.”

IF YOU GO

What: “Midnight Cowboy”

When: 7 p.m. March 9

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $10, includes glass of wine

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

What: The Met live in HD — “La Traviata”

When: 12:55 p.m. March 11; 6:30 p.m. March 15

Where: Regal Savannah Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee Ave., and Cinemark Bluffton, 106 Buckwalter Parkway, Bluffton, S.C.

Cost: Adults, $25.68; seniors, $23.54; children $19.26

Info: fathomevents.com

What: Bill Paxton Memorial Tribute

When: 8 p.m. March 12

Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.

Cost: $8

Info: sentientbean.com

What: Mystery Irish Cult Film

When: 8 p.m. March 15

Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.

Cost: $8

Info: sentientbean.com

What: “Fences”

When: 7 p.m. March 16-17

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $7 for adults; $5 for children

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

What: “La La Land”

When: 3 p.m and 7 p.m. March 18-19

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $7 for adults; $5 for children

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

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