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Film Scene: Week’s screenings bring both classic and new animation

 

Film Scene: Week’s screenings bring both classic and new animation

21 Jun 2017

If you live in the greater Savannah area and have not yet availed yourself of a trip out to Tybee Island’s beautifully restored single-screen movie house, there’s no time like the present.

Over the next few weeks, the intimate, 200-seat Tybee Post Theater offers a number of family-friendly motion pictures geared toward school-age children in search of some air-conditioned fun during their summer vacations. Need specifics? Well, on June 22 at both 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., the Post screens “Lion,” the award-winning 2016 live-action feature about a 5-year-old Indian boy who finds himself lost thousands of miles away from his home and family, and winds up being adopted by an Australian couple. A quarter-century later, he sets out to rediscover his lost relatives. “Lion” stars Dev Patel (HBO’s “The Newsroom”), Nicole Kidman (“Dead Calm”) and Rooney Mara (“Carol”), and was beloved by both critics and audiences alike.

Then, at 3 p.m. June 27, they’ll show “Moana,” Walt Disney Pictures’ Academy Award-nominated CGI blockbuster about the headstrong daughter of a Polynesian tribe on a quest to save her people from starvation. “Moana” boasts the voice talents of Dwayne “Easily a Better President” Johnson and Alan “Tucker and Dale vs Evil” Tudyk, and has to date grossed well over a half-billion dollars worldwide at the box office.

Later that evening, at 7 p.m., the Post hosts another of its ocean-related screenings presented in partnership with the good folks out at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. That program will include two separate titles: the hour-long “Savannah’s Famous Ships” (from locally based documentary filmmaker Michael Jordan) and “Three Miles from Safety: The Story of the USS Conestoga,” which runs less than 30 minutes and explains how the 95-year-old mystery of the shipwreck of the USS Conestoga was solved (and the wreck itself located). Attendees are encouraged to make a donation of $5 to Gray’s Reef, but no admission fee is required.

The next day, June 28, the Post once again shows author J.K. Rowling’s Oscar-winning, Harry Potter-related fantasy flick “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.), followed the next day by two screenings (3 p.m. and 7 p.m.) of the 2016 live-action remake of Disney’s “The Jungle Book,” an action-adventure based on the short stories of iconic author Rudyard Kipling. Tickets for all these Post Theater shows (other than the Gray’s Reef docs) are $7 for adults or $5 for kids 12 and younger.

Drum corps close-up

Heading back to Savannah, on June 22, the Regal Stadium 10 on the Southside presents a special, one-night-only high-def look at Drum Corps International’s 2017 Tour Premiere. It’s a live simulcast of the kickoff of this year’s junior drum and bugle corps competition, in which standout teams of marching musicians aged 21 and younger from across the U.S. and Canada go up against each other and display their intense concentration and complex rhythmic and percussive chops.

This marks the seventh year in a row that DCI has hosted this event since its inception in 1972, and that night’s program features six groups from Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Illinois and Texas. Expect some jaw-dropping musicality and syncopation. 8:30 p.m. showtime, with $16.05 admission (also screens at the Cinemark in Bluffton).

‘Peter Pan’ in high-def

That same night, downtown’s Lucas Theatre kicks off its just-announced slate of diverse summer programming with its first high-def presentation of a stage production by Great Britain’s National Theatre. “Peter Pan” is co-presented by Bristol, England’s Old Vic Theatre, and has received rave reviews. Expect inventive camerawork and crystal-clear sound for just $15 admission. One show only, at 7 p.m.

WWII doc

The next night, June 23, finds the Lucas working in tandem with the locally based National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force and Gulfstream Aerospace to offer a rare, big-screen showing of the riveting, hour-long Tom Hanks-produced WWII documentary from 2011, “He Has Seen War.” The film, originally seen on HBO, includes exclusive, candid interviews with surviving veterans of Easy Company and the 1st Marine Division. If you are not familiar with those groups, they were the American soldiers whose exploits and experiences formed the basis of the acclaimed TV miniseries “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific.” The movie’s writer and associate producer Donald Miller (a highly respected academic, historian and author) will be on hand to discuss the film with the audience. 8 p.m. showtime with free admission and a cash bar (doors open at 7 p.m.). For more details, see my feature article on this event elsewhere in this issue.

Disney matinee

Two days later on June 25, the Lucas kicks off its series of Walt Disney-themed Sunday matinees with a 3 p.m. showing of that fabled studio’s original, full-length animated adaptation of the story of “Cinderella.”

Released initially in 1950, the 12th full-length animated film from the Disney factory is a marvel of hand-drawn cel animation that continues to thrill and mesmerize audiences young and old to this day. Two years in the making, it was the first big hit for Disney after a short string of expensive flops that threatened to shutter their animation wing for good. Now considered one of the finest animated features ever made, it received three Oscar nominations. $8 admission.

A ‘Magnificent’ screening

The night before, June 24, SCAD’s Cinema Circle offers up a rare theatrical screening of 1960’s beloved action smash “The Magnificent Seven” at Trustees Theater. An Americanized remake of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s masterful 1950s action film “Seven Samurai” (which was shown at the Trustees last fall), this international hit spawned a few remakes and sequels of its own — including one last year starring Denzel “Carbon Copy” Washington. This 1960 version stars Steve McQueen (“Papillon”), Charles Bronson (“Death Wish”), Yul Brynner (“Westworld”), Eli Wallach, James Coburn (“Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid”) and Robert Vaughan (“C.H.U.D. II”). It recasts the original Japanese film as an American Western, and itself became an iconic example of that genre.

This screening was originally scheduled for last October, but was canceled due to inclement weather. It’s a great chance to enjoy a wonderful ensemble cast of Hollywood legends as they portray American gunmen hired by Mexican farmers to protect their village from an infamous gang of roving bandits. As always, the Cinema Circle offers informative post-show discussions moderated by the art school’s faculty and area film historians. Showtime is 7 p.m., with $8 admission ($5 for students/military/seniors) or free with valid SCAD ID.

Two for Tuesdays

Then, on June 27 at the tiny town of Springfield’s historic Mars Theatre (just a short drive from Savannah), their Two for Tuesdays summer series of low-priced, kid-friendly movies continues with a one-day-only engagement of the 2005 animated comedy-adventure “Madagascar,” starring the voice talents of Ben Stiller (“Your Friends and Neighbors”), Chris Rock (“Top Five”) and David Schwimmer (“Duane Hopwood”). It’s the hijinks-heavy tale of four animals from the New York Central Zoo who escape captivity and wind up in the title country, deep in the Indian Ocean. Shows at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with $2 admission for all.

Soap opera from hell

And finally, on June 28 at The Sentient Bean, the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah continues its ongoing Wednesday night series of underappreciated or downright obscure cinematic oddities with an unexpected public showing of 1988’s insanely rare, straight-to-video horror-comedy “Satan Place: A Soap Opera from Hell.” Never shown theatrically, and never released on DVD anywhere in the world, this bargain-basement production was only available on VHS tape for a short time before falling out of print, and is known only to diehard collectors of forgotten films.

Shot and edited using home video equipment on what looks like a budget of less than $2,000, it’s clearly a Z-Grade knockoff of such popular (and influential) ‘80s shockers as George A. Romero and Stephen King’s comic book-inspired collaboration “Creepshow” and David Cronenberg’s rumination on the insidiousness of television culture “Videodrome.”

Shades of Edward D. Wood’s no-budget misfires can certainly be felt in “Satan Place,” yet while its crude technical limitations and amateurish quality (virtually everyone involved, from the director and producer to the composer and all of the actors, appear to have never made a film before or since) will leave most viewers alternately chuckling or groaning, there is no denying the charm and heartfelt DIY spirit that shines through all of this bizarre, 67-minute hoot. Showtime is 8 p.m., with $6 admission and discounts on organic wine and craft beer during the show.

That’s it for this week’s Film Scene. 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

Legend has it that actor Yul Brynner actually developed the idea for a U.S. remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samurai” in tandem with his friend, actor Anthony Quinn, with the notion that they would both co-headline the picture. However, after Brynner and Quinn’s friendship ended, Brynner shopped the project by himself and wound up being sued by Quinn, who felt he had been unceremoniously squeezed out of the deal. Brynner emerged victorious in the court case, due to a lack of written proof by Quinn of the pair’s supposed oral agreement.

At the time “Cinderella” was released, Walt Disney Pictures had not had a major hit for several years, and many perceived the financing of “Cinderella” as a huge risk. Had the movie been a flop, it might have irreparably damaged the viability of the entire studio. Luckily for Walt, it was a tremendous success — the money it made at the box office allowed the company to establish its own distribution company, launch Disney-branded TV production and even break ground on the original Disneyland theme park in California.

Oddly enough, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is currently the highest-grossing of all the Harry Potter-related films in Russia, where it earned just $16.7 million.

IF YOU GO

What: “Lion”

When: 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 22

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $7 adults, $5 kids 12 and younger

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

What: National Theatre Live presents “Peter Pan”

When: 7 p.m. June 22

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $15

Info: lucastheatre.com

What: “Drum Corps at the Cinema: 2017 DCI Tour Premiere”

When: 8:30 p.m. June 22

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

Cost: $16.05

Info: fathomevents.com

What: “He Has Seen War”

When: 8 p.m. June 23

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: Free

Info: lucastheatre.com

What: “The Magnificent Seven”

When: 7 p.m. June 24

Where: Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.

Cost: $8; free with SCAD ID

Info: trusteestheater.com

What: “Walt Disney’s Cinderella”

When: 3 p.m. June 25

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $8

Info: lucastheatre.com

What: “Madagascar”

When: 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. June 27

Where: Mars Theatre, 106 S. Laurel St., Springfield

Cost: $2

Info: marstheatre.com

What: “Moana”

When: 3 p.m. June 27

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $7 adults, $5 kids 12 and younger

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

What: Gray’s Reef Marine Sanctuary presents Maritime Week (“USS Conestoga,” “Savannah’s Famous Ships”)

When: 7 p.m. June 27

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $5 suggested donation

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

What: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

When: 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 28

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $7 adults, $5 kids 12 and younger

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

What: “Satan Place — A Soap Opera From Hell”

When: 8 p.m. June 28

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

Cost: $6

Info: instagram.com/pfssav

What: “The Jungle Book”

When: 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 29

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $7 adults, $5 kids 12 and younger

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

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