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Film Scene: Plan for many great indie, obscure screenings in the new year

  • “The Perfume of the Lady in Black”
  • “Chinatown”
 

Film Scene: Plan for many great indie, obscure screenings in the new year

28 Dec 2016

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This column marks the final Film Scene of 2016, and being that it covers the final week of the year, it’s not entirely surprising there are very few notable alternative cinema events taking place in the greater Savannah area over the next seven days.

Clearly, all the local film enthusiasts and public venues that routinely organize such mishegoss are too overwhelmed with holiday parties and last-minute shopping to put forth the efforts needed to plan and execute such labor-intensive events.

Either that, or they simply know from past experience the vast majority of potential audience members will be so wrapped up in their own year-end family, friend and work responsibilities that the odds of drawing a sizable crowd to a one-off movie screening are slim to none.

This means, to the best of my knowledge at press time, there is only one such happening taking place within the next week, and it comes courtesy of the Psychotronic Film Society, the long-running, ultra-indie cinema celebration organization I have run for the past 13 years. Luckily, it’s a doozy: a bona fide minor classic of Euro-horror that is essentially unknown here in the States.

On Jan. 4 at The Sentient Bean, the PFS offers up a rare public showing of little-known Italian writer and director Francesco Barilli’s extremely obscure 1974 shocker “Il profumo della signora in nero,” otherwise known by its English title, “The Perfume of the Lady in Black.” The film stars American actress Mimsy Farmer — something of a proto-“scream queen” — as an industrial scientist living in Italy who is tormented by hallucinations pertaining to her mother’s suicide.

Nominally thought of by most folks as a “giallo” (the Italian word for the color yellow, which has been employed for decades as shorthand for a particular type of violent, perplexing murder mysteries that gained prominence from the mid-’60s through the early ’80s), “The Perfume of the Lady in Black” is, in reality, a more densely layered effort than most gialli. Its head-scratcher of a script is filled with numerous red herrings that will keep most viewers guessing right up until the last frame. It also benefits from some flat-out hauntingly beautiful cinematography, which is aided by lush locations, inventive lighting design and an evocative, early orchestral score by esteemed, Oscar-winning composer Nicola Piovani (“Life Is Beautiful”).

Clearly influenced by the seminal suspense films of “Italy’s Hitchcock” Dario Argento (the visual maestro behind such cult classics as “Suspiria,” “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage” and “Profondo Rosso”), as well as Nicolas Roeg’s benchmark of psychological terror “Don’t Look Now” and Roman Polanski’s occult thriller “Rosemary’s Baby,” this unfairly overlooked sleeper is highly recommended to anyone who likes their horror films heavy on atmosphere and light on exposition. The PFS will screen the completely uncut widescreen version in spoken English. 8 p.m. showtime, with $7 admission for mature viewers.

Since there’s not much else going on in the local Film Scene this week, now is a great time to preview several of the terrific motion picture events taking place in the greater Savannah area next month. While there is still plenty of time for additional shows to be announced, January 2017 is already shaping up to be a tremendous time to be an adventurous moviegoer in our neck of the woods.

Let’s start with Springfield’s Mars Theatre. That recently restored historic venue has begun to offer monthly, one-show-only screenings of classic Hollywood motion pictures. Jan. 9 finds a screening of 1962’s beloved, Oscar-nominated Western “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Showtime will be 7 p.m., with $7 admission.

The area’s other smallish, restored historic venue, the Tybee Post Theater, continues its own ongoing revivals of classic Hollywood titles with two signature series. “Date Night Noir” features dark, crime-centric melodramas from past eras, with admission price including a glass of wine (if you’re old enough) and a “kiss,” which we can only assume is the kind made of chocolate. On Jan. 12, they’ll screen Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning, hard-boiled California detective yarn “Chinatown,” starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. Then, on Jan. 26, the Tybee Post’s “Girls Night Out” series of tearjerkers continues with George Cukor’s 1940 rom-com “The Philadelphia Story,” starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart. Admission to that series is $10 as well, and includes a glass of wine plus a small pack of Kleenex (you know, for the weeping and stuff). Showtime both nights is 7 p.m.

Jan. 11 finds the PFS hosting its second annual David Bowie Memorial Tribute at The Sentient Bean. Almost a year to the day after his untimely death from cancer, they’ll screen one of the late, great musician and actor’s least-known (but most enjoyable) feature films. The exact title remains a secret until the 8 p.m. showtime, but it can be said it’s a charming, American-made film that has unfortunately been unavailable in the U.S. for decades, despite boasting a terrific ensemble cast. Admission is $8.

Two nights later, at 7 p.m. Jan. 13, SCAD’s Cinema Circle returns to Trustees Theater with a Bowie tribute of its own: director Nicolas Roeg’s stunning 1976 sci-fi drama “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” As always, SCAD Cinema Studies Department faculty and grad students will moderate a post-show discussion of the film. They’ll do the same for the next entry into the ongoing series of influential features, Roeg’s aforementioned masterpiece “Don’t Look Now,” which stars Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie and was based on a Daphne du Maurier short story. That creepy horror flick will be shown at 8 p.m. Jan. 26 at Trustees. Admission to Cinema Circle events is free with valid SCAD ID, or $8 for the general public ($5 for students/seniors/military).

On Jan. 18, the PFS’ weekly series at The Bean continues with a 69th Birthday Salute to the award-winning genre filmmaker John Carpenter (“Halloween,” “The Fog,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” “Escape from New York” and many more). Which of that writer/director/composer’s efforts will they screen? Take a chance, buy a ticket and be pleasantly surprised. $7 admission, with an 8 p.m. showtime. The following Wednesday, Jan. 25, the PFS unveils one of the most laughably inane sword-and-sorcery films ever made: 1990’s low-budget fantasy howler “Time Barbarians,” starring the forgotten professional wrestler once known as “Malibu.” Showtime is 8 p.m., with $6 admission.

And, as if that were not enough, two popular annual film festivals will take place next month as well. First up is the 2017 Telluride MountainFilm on Tour Savannah, a three-day showcase of acclaimed short and feature-length films from around the world that aim to inspire and entertain, while educating viewers about the earth’s precious environments. This event runs from Jan. 19-21 at Trustees Theater. Full schedule and admission details can be found at mountainfilmsav.org.

That event will be followed by the 2017 Savannah Jewish Film Festival, which takes place at the Jewish Education Alliance building on Abercorn Street and runs from Jan. 25 through Feb. 4. It includes 10 recent documentaries and narrative films that focus on Jewish and/or Israeli culture, history and politics – many of which can be paired with a sit-down meal of ethnic delicacies. Full details and ticket info for this festival can be found at savannahjea.org.

Look for upcoming announcements in future columns on January screenings to be presented by the CinemaSavannah organization, as well as one final Psychotronic Film Night at Muse Arts Warehouse (Jan. 29) before that wonderful venue sadly closes its doors for good.

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 Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah. Email psychotronicfilms@hotmail.com.

IF YOU GO

What: “The Perfume of the Lady in Black”

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 4

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

Cost: $7, mature viewers

Info: sentientbean.com

What: “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 9

Where: Mars Theatre, 109 S. Laurel St., Springfield

Cost: $7

Info: marstheatre.com

What: David Bowie Memorial Tribute

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 11

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

Cost: $8

Info: sentientbean.com

What: “Chinatown”

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 12

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $10, includes glass of wine and a “kiss”

Info: tybeeposttheater.com

What: “The Man Who Fell to Earth”

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 13

Where: Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.

Cost: $8 or $5 for students/seniors/military; free with SCAD ID

Info: trusteestheater.com

What: John Carpenter Birthday Salute

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 18

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

Cost: $7

Info: sentientbean.com

What: “Time Barbarians”

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 25

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

Cost: $6

Info: sentientbean.com

What: “The Philadelphia Story”

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 26

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $10, includes glass of wine and tissues

Info: tybeeposttheater.com

What: “Don’t Look Now”

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 26

Where: Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.

Cost: $8 or $5 for students/seniors/military; free with SCAD ID

Info: trusteestheater.com

JIM’S NOTES

Francesco Barilli, the writer and director of “The Perfume of the Lady in Black,” was born and raised in the Italian city of Parma, which is famed for its cheese (you know, the kind you sprinkle on pizza) and its prosciutto ham (you know, the kind you sprinkle on pizza).

Mimsy Farmer, the American-born actress who stars in “The Perfume of the Lady in Black,” had previously played the female lead in Italian director Dario Argento’s infamously bizarre giallo film “Four Flies on Grey Velvet.” For the past few decades, she has worked behind the scenes in the European film biz as an art department sculptor. Her handiwork can be seen in such recent features as “Troy” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

If you are considering attending the screening of “The Perfume of the Lady in Black,” whatever you do, don’t research the film online! Virtually all reviews or synopses that can be found will instantly spoil several key plot points. It’s a mysterious and hypnotic film that is best seen without any prior knowledge of the storyline.

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