Let’s get right down to it, dear readers. There’s no shortage of alternative cinema events taking place in and around Savannah over the next week. Looking to wind down after the St. Patrick’s Day insanity with a movie or a high-definition film of a live stage drama from jolly Old England? Your most notable for the next seven days are as follows:
As I mentioned in last week’s Film Scene, on March 22, the Regal Stadium 10 multiplex behind the Savannah Mall presents a one-night-only high-def digital stream of the British National Theatre Company’s brand-new stage production of Shakespeare’s classic dramatic tragedy “Julius Caesar.” This timeless tale of government corruption, assassination and civil unrest is set in ancient Rome, yet somehow seems particularly timely in today’s supercharged political climate. Recognizable film and TV talents pepper the impressive cast, including Ben Wishaw (who played James Bond’s gadget-guy “Q” in the past two films in that beloved espionage franchise) and David Morrissey (who disturbed millions of viewers as the bloodthirsty, amoral “Governor” on zombie apocalypse soap opera “The Walking Dead”).
This is your chance to get up close and personal with one of the finest stage companies of the modern era, and, at just $23.54 per ticket for that 7:30 p.m. show, it’s a steal, right? Well, not so fast. It turns out that exactly five days later, on March 27, the exact same digital stream will be shown in downtown’s beautiful historic Lucas Theatre, and they’re only charging $15 for that 7 p.m. event. Better still, if you’re active duty military or a senior citizen, you’ll only pay $10, and if you are under 15 years of age or have a student ID to any school, you’ll get in for just $5. It really doesn’t get much better than that, folks.
Dragons and daisies
Now, speaking of special digital streaming events at the Regal Stadium 10, at 12:55 p.m. March 24, see the premiere of the new family-oriented animated feature “Ice Dragon — Legend of the Blue Daisies.” This G-rated musical-fantasy is the tale of a young girl and boy who have a fairly contentious relationship that must be overlooked if they are to save their world from something called an Ice Dragon. (That just can’t be a good thing, right?) To that end, they must harness the power of magical blue flowers. I mean, of course, right?
This film was made in Canada, and while it’s not technically an example of anime, it is an example of a Westernized take on anime-esque artwork and themes. There will be an encore screening at the Regal Stadium 10 at 6:30 p.m. March 26. Ticket prices for this and all other events mentioned in this week’s column can be found in the accompanying sidebar listings.
‘Connect’ with Cameron
On March 24 at the same venue, the recently released inspirational program “Kirk Cameron: CONNECT” will be shown at 7 p.m. It’s designed to provide parents and their young children with a methodology for dealing with the dangers of social media, from an evangelical Christian perspective, and is hosted by Cameron, a former child actor who has since become an outspoken figurehead of the ultra-conservative religious right.
Now a few paragraphs back, I mentioned the difference between “Ice Dragon’s” take on vaguely anime-style illustration and plotting and that of actual Japanese anime. Well, it doesn’t get much more acclaimed and legit than the visionary work of Oscar-winning animation director Hayao Miyazaki, whose famed Studio Ghibli is responsible for a handful of bona fide all-time classics of the genre (such as “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Princess Mononoke”).
On March 25, the Regal Stadium 10 kicks off a three-day special 10th anniversary celebration of “Ponyo,” the tale of a “goldfish princess” who metamorphoses into a human after developing a crush on a 5-year-old boy. This beautifully made and delightfully constructed comedy-fantasy won Animation of the Year, Best Direction, Best Original Story and Best Art Direction at the Tokyo Anime Awards, and was nominated for almost two dozen other major international awards at a number of festivals across the globe.
Both the original Japanese language version of the film (with English subtitles) and the English dubbed version (starring the voice talent of Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson and Matt Damon, among others) will be shown over this three-day engagement. The 12:55 p.m. show March 25 and the 7 p.m. show March 28 will be shown in spoken English, while the 7 p.m. show March 26 will be subtitled, for those who want to enjoy the original Japanese language track.
And, while we’re discussing the offerings at the Regal Stadium 10, let’s not forget that one local proponent of the discipline of homeopathy has organized a one-show-only public screening of a provocative new 70-minute documentary on that oft-maligned form of natural medicine at that very venue.
“Just One Drop” is the name of the independently produced and distributed film, which was released a few months ago in a very limited fashion and has yet to earn many critical reviews. It will screen at 7:30 p.m. March 29. This showing was organized through the online service known as Gathr.com, and as of press time, there were only 29 seats left available in this 80-seat auditorium. Those interested in attending are encouraged to reserve their seat in advance at gathr.us/screening/22788.
The locally based organization CinemaSavannah has arranged for another one-show-only booking of a recent, universally praised foreign film March 25 at the Jewish Education Alliance building on Abercorn Street.
It’s first-time Hungarian director Maysaloun Hamoud's “In Between,” an Israeli-French co-production about a trio of Palestinian women living in Tel Aviv who struggle to maintain their ethnic identities while embracing the modern Middle Eastern world. “In Between” was the No. 1 movie of 2017 at the Israeli box office, and this will be your only chance to catch it on the big screen in our area. In spoken Hebrew and Arabic, with English subtitles. Showtime is 4 p.m., and please remember that CinemaSavannah events are cash only at the door.
At 7 p.m. that same night, Savannah’s LGBT Center, 1515 Bull St., hosts the latest installment of a new series known as “The Look Back.” This ongoing showcase of edgy, queer-oriented cinema from around the world is a collaboration between The House of Gunt’s Max Arnzen and yours truly. The goal is to provide a chance for locals and visitors alike to view respected and sometimes obscure examples of feature narrative films and documentaries that spotlight the full range of LGBTQ experiences — and to do so in an intimate environment that is welcoming to all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
All of these screenings are free and open to the public, and there are even free concessions, as well. I will note, though, that voluntary donations in any amount are certainly accepted and appreciated. So, if you come and enjoy yourself, please do consider throwing a few dollars in the jar to help us cover the costs of licensing these films and buying the snacks!
This month’s selection is famed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s controversial 1983 melodrama “Dark Habits,” which caused quite a stir when it premiered at the Venice Film Fest. It seems many devout Catholics in the crowd took great exception to this slyly humorous tale of a cabaret singer who, after her boyfriend dies of a drug overdose, hides from the police inside a bizarre convent of non-traditional nuns, each of whom represents a different sin. A transitional film for the director, it remains one of his least-known efforts here in the U.S., yet it helped to cement his international reputation as a fearless auteur unafraid of mocking the status quo. Showtime is 7 p.m.
Celebrate a long career
On March 28, a few blocks north at The Sentient Bean, the Psychotronic Film Society’s ongoing weekly series of overlooked and underappreciated films continues with a birthday tribute to the late, great British character actor (and occasional leading man) Peter Vaughan, whose face should be instantly recognizable to most any fan of British film or TV from the 1940s through the late 2010s, even if his name is not.
Vaughan may be best known here in the States for his role as Maester Aemon on several seasons of HBO’s massive hit “Game of Thrones,” on which he worked well into his 90s before passing away in December 2016. In celebration of Vaughan’s lengthy career and unique charms, the PFS will show an ultra-obscure black and white 1964 whodunit in which Vaughan carries the picture and steals the show. “Smokescreen” is a low-budget mystery that finds Vaughan playing an obsessively frugal insurance investigator who becomes convinced that the apparent suicide of a man is in fact an attempt to fake his own death in order to defraud his life insurance company. Both clever and legitimately humorous, it should appeal to fans of such beloved American TV mystery series as “Columbo” and “Monk.”
Notably, two well-respected film historians named “Smokescreen” as one of the 15 best British “B-movies” made during WWII and 1970; however, it has never been released in theaters or on home video here in the U.S.. This is a rare opportunity to see this humble — yet truly engaging — English film on the big screen. Showtime 8 p.m., with discounts on organic wine and craft beer during the show, as well as a full menu of award-winning vegetarian cuisine and Fair Trade coffees and teas.
'Under the Tuscan Sun'
And finally, the historic Tybee Post Theater offers another in its ongoing series of "Date Night" features geared toward folks who enjoy their flicks a bit on the romantic side. On March 29, they’ll show the 2003 rom-com “Under the Tuscan Sun,” starring Diane Lane as a California-based author who buys a rundown villa in beautiful, captivating Tuscany on a whim after her philandering husband files for divorce.
Based on the New York Times’ No. 1 bestseller of the same name, it received positive reviews upon its initial release and is something of a crowd-pleaser. Admission is $10 to this 7 p.m. screening and includes your choice of a beverage (wine, beer or soft drinks). For an extra $25, you can make an online reservation in advance for dinner beforehand at a well-liked restaurant just a short walk from the venue.
See? I told you there were a lot of options this week.
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 the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.