Do Savannnah

Film Scene: Anniversary screenings, Audrey Hepburn on the island and more

 

Film Scene: Anniversary screenings, Audrey Hepburn on the island and more

17 May 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those of you whose schedules may not have allowed you to catch the recent one-day-only big-screen revival of visionary French filmmaker Luc Besson’s over-the-top sci-fi-comedy mashup “The Fifth Element” are in luck: this 20th anniversary special event was actually a two-day-only revival, and the second day of that brief run is coming up May 17.

Fathom Events, the company responsible for creating and presenting high-definition digital screenings of classic, cult and niche-oriented films, live concerts and stage plays is behind this cinematic happening. As with many of their premium shows of this sort, the film will be accompanied by a short bonus feature based around a newly shot interview with Besson himself in which he reminisces about the making of this quirky, futuristic action flick starring Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich, Ian Holm and Chris Tucker.

While I know some folks who outright despise “The Fifth Element,” I recall enjoying it tremendously in its initial theatrical run. A bold and brash blast of snappy, screwball comedy-inspired verbiage and flamboyant, graphic novel-esque production and costume design, it stands as one of the most idiosyncratic pseudo-mainstream films of its era, and plays like a bizarre cross between “Blade Runner,” “The Dukes of Hazzard” and whatever the campiest Roger Moore-led James Bond film is you can name. Those who dig it, dig it.

If you’re in that club, or you think you might be based on my admittedly somewhat ridiculously reductive description, give it a try. I am willing to bet you won’t be disappointed. Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Regal Savannah Stadium 10, with $13.38 admission.

Opera in HD

The same night at the same multiplex (as well as at the Cinemark over in Bluffton, S.C.), Fathom presents another encore — this time it’s the high-def, up-close-and-personal documentation of Richard Strauss’ opera “Der Rosenkavalier,”as performed a few days earlier at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Acclaimed vocalist Renée Fleming offers up her final performance ever of what has been referred to as her “signature role” — that of the married noblewoman known as the Marschallin.

The 58-year-old singer and actress recently described the Marschallin to a theater writer as “the most interesting, complex soprano character in opera,” and the ability to see her bid goodbye to this challenging part in pristine audio and video is a wondrous opportunity indeed. The show will be performed in its original German, with English subtitles for those of us who don’t speak the language. Viewers will be treated to behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew during intermissions, as always with these “Live from the Met” productions. Admission ranges from $19-$25, with a 6:30 p.m. showtime.

‘Gifted’ on Tybee

May 18 finds Tybee Post Theater presenting a three-day-engagement of the new drama “Gifted,” which was shot almost entirely in the greater Savannah area last year. The critically praised film stars Captain America himself, Chris Evans, as a single parent raising a precocious and educationally advanced young daughter (played by the dazzlingly talented Mckenna Grace) in middle Florida. When the daughter shows signs of being a world-class math prodigy, it attracts the attention of her maternal grandmother, an icily cold and duplicitous mathematician herself (played by the reliably phenomenal British thespian Lindsay Duncan), who then attempts to wrench the child away from her laid-back father in hopes of grooming her to be the next international number-crunching superstar.

In addition to two fistfuls of recognizable Tybee and Savannah locations, this above-average tearjerker features Octavia Spencer and Jenny Slate in supporting roles, and, while it won’t win any awards for originality, the finesse and aplomb with which all onscreen — and offscreen — deliver this rather predictable tale make it an above-average picture and well worth the price of admission. 7 p.m. showtime each night, with a 3 p.m. matinee May 20 only. $7 admission ($5 for kids).

40 years for ‘Smokey’

May 21 finds the Regal Savannah Stadium 10 behind the Savannah Mall and the Cinemark in Bluffton taking part in a special 40th anniversary event celebrating the beloved romantic action-comedy “Smokey and the Bandit,” starring Burt Reynolds (“Skullduggery”), Jerry Reed (“Hot Stuff”), Sally Field (“Mongo’s Back in Town”), Jackie Gleason (“Skidoo”), Pat McCormick (“Scrooged”) and Paul Williams (“Phantom of the Paradise”).

The madcap tale of a pair of wisecracking Southern truck drivers who agree on a bet to illegally smuggle 400 cases of Coors beer from deep in Texas to Atlanta in only 28 hours was considered a guaranteed flop by the major film studios — until it humbled them all and generated $300 million in box office receipts on a shooting budget of less than $5 million.

Crass, silly, harmlessly raunchy and packed with more non-fatal car crashes than an episode of “The A-Team” (it was written and directed by legendary Hollywood stuntman Hal Needham), “Smokey and the Bandit” has proven itself to be one of the most durable cult movies of all time. Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at both venues, with a second chance to catch it May 24 at the same times.

‘Battle for Jerusalem’

In between those two bookings, on May 23, at the same venues as “The Bandit,” Fathom Events presents another in the growing number of religious-themed political docudramas aimed squarely at the Christian church crowd. This time out, it’s “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem,” timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War that pitted the state of Israel against the combined forces of Syria, Jordan and what would later be known as Egypt. This film offers a fictionalized narrative centered around the tale of Israel’s 55th Paratrooper Brigade and their impassioned defense of what was then a barely 20-year-old nation. Showtime is 7 p.m., with $13.38 admission.

Z-grade entertainment

The next night at The Sentient Bean Coffeehouse, the Psychotronic Film Society’s long-running Wednesday night series continues with a special 81st birthday salute to American cult film actor Richard Harrison (“Ninja Terminator,” “Challenge of the Tiger,” “Scorpion Thunderbolt,” “South Pacific”). In his honor, they’ll present an exceedingly rare public screening of the low-budget Filipino exploitation flick “Fireback!”

Directed by Teddy Page (infamous for his mastery of creating cinematic havoc on a non-existent budget), it’s the gritty tale of U.S. military weapons expert Jack Kaplan (Harrison) who winds up a POW in Vietnam (or Cambodia or Laos, it’s never clear), and upon returning to the U.S. learns his wife has been kidnapped. While trying to find and rescue her, he’s framed for murder by a team of gangsters and winds up a fugitive.

Luckily, he can rely on his copious soldiering skills (and a bizarre weapon that seemingly combines a crossbow, shotgun and bazooka) to help him elude the bad guys who’d prefer him dead. Filled with laughably inane dialogue, amateurish acting, ineptly staged fight sequences and stunts, plus characters with names like “Panther,” “Digger” and “Man with the Golden Hand,” it’s a ridiculous, guilty pleasure of an action flick that’s earned a solid rep among cult film aficionados as one of the most enjoyable “Z-grade” revenge movies of its kind. Never released on DVD anywhere in the world, this will be the best-quality uncut print of this schlock rarity known to exist. 8 p.m. showtime, with $7 admission and discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the film.

Breakfast’ on the island

And finally, on May 25, the Tybee Post Theater will screen director Blake Edwards’ 1961 romantic comedy “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” starring Audrey Hepburn (“Roman Holiday”), George Peppard (TV’s “Banacek”), Patricia Neal (“The Day the Earth Stood Still”), Buddy Ebsen (“The Beverly Hillbillies”) and Martin Balsam (“Psycho”). The story of an extroverted New York City socialite (Hepburn) with small-town Southern roots who finds herself intrigued by a rather dashing man who resides in her apartment building enjoys a fervent and loyal following. It has generally stood the test of time, save for sideman Mickey Rooney’s horribly racially insensitive “yellowface” portrayal of a Japanese man which is — quite simply — deeply disturbing to watch.

Still, the film’s reputation precedes it, and new generations of young lovers continue to warm to the picture, making it something of a reliable bet for repertory film programmers across the globe. As part of the Post’s “Girls’ Night Out” series, $10 admission to the film includes a glass of wine (if you’re old enough) and a package of Kleenex, as they assume tears will flow at some point in this picture. Showtime is 7 p.m.

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

“Gifted” was directed by Marc Webb, who got his start helming music videos for such acts as The Wallflowers, Green Day, Weezer, Miley Cyrus and Matisyahu and short films before graduating to full-length features beginning with 2009’s romantic dramedy “(500) Days of Summer,” and then the first two post-Sam Raimi reboot installments in the “Spider-Man” franchise.

Supporting players in 1983’s “Fireback!” comprise a “who’s who” of Z-grade actors — many of whom also can be found filling ancillary roles in many more cheaply made Filipino and Indonesian action and exploitation flicks from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. Even if such names as Bruce Baron, Gwendolyn Hung and Mike Monty don’t ring a bell, their bored faces and inept performance skills will be instantly recognizable to anyone who’s ever watched a film of this caliber made in that part of the world. Baron and Monty in particular have developed diehard fanbases of their own, made up of perplexed and bemused viewers who find it hard to conceive these men made a career of appearing in feature films.

The soundtrack to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” featured an original score that was both composed and conducted by the late, great Henry Mancini (“The Pink Panther Theme,” “Peter Gunn”), with additional songs co-written by Mancini and iconic lyricist (and Savannah native) Johnny Mercer. The two artists shared the 1961 Oscar for Best Original Song for — yep, you guessed it — “Moon River,” while Mancini alone took home the Oscar for Best Original Score.

 

IF YOU GO

What: “The Fifth Element” 20th anniversary

When: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. May 17

Where: Regal Savannah Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee Ave.

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: The Met: Live in HD “Der Rosenkavalier”

When: 6:30 p.m. May 17

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

Cost: $25.68; $23.54 seniors; $19.56 children 11 and younger

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: “Gifted”

When: 7 p.m. May 18, 19, 20, 21; 3 p.m. May 20

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $7 or $5 for children

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

 

What: “Smokey and the Bandit” 40th anniversary

When: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. May 21 and 24

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

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem”

When: 7 p.m. May 23

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

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: Richard Harrison 81st Birthday Salute: “Fireback!”

When: 8 p.m. May 24

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

Cost: $7

Info: instagram.com/pfssav

 

What: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

When: 7 p.m. May 25

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $10, includes wine and Kleenex

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

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