For quite some time now, the good folks at the historic Tybee Post Theater have been presenting a variety of well-known romantic and melodramatic feature films from decades past for special one-show-only screenings in their cozy, 200-seat, single-screen venue. The majority of these titles fall within two of the theater’s longest-running series: Date Night and Girl’s Night Out. More often than not, the Post includes a beverage of your choice with each ticket (everything from wine and beer for those of legal drinking age to soft drinks and bottled water for the younger set). It’s a chance to catch movies you have likely seen before on TV, but missed on the big screen during their original theatrical run.
The latest Date Night selection is March 29. It’s the 2003 romantic-comedy “Under the Tuscan Sun,” starring the Fabulous Stain herself, Diane Lane as a woman who impulsively buys a villa in the idyllic setting of Tuscany, Italy. The home is in need of repair, just like her love life (the impetus for this life-changing purchase and relocation is the character’s cheating husband). Adapted from a best-selling novel, it has earned a solid reputation as a feel-good flick that appeals to both men and women. Showtime is at 7 p.m., and admission price to this and all our other Film Scene selections are in the accompanying sidebar listings.
Heading out to the southside of Savannah, there are a few noteworthy examples of specialty digital programming taking place at the Regal Stadium 10 multiplex behind the Savannah Mall over the next seven days. First up is a locally organized screening of a recently released ultra-independent advocacy documentary on the somewhat controversial topic of homeopathic remedies. At just a few minutes over an hour in length, “Just One Drop” is a decidedly under-the-radar look at the medicinal use of naturally found or derived oils, herbs and substances — a practice that, despite its long history, continues to receive no small amount of ridicule in the Western realm of chemical-based health care.
This single screening was spearheaded by an area resident with a strong interest in homeopathic treatments and set up via the online site Gathr.com, which arranges to rent out cinemas across the U.S. for showings of films which would otherwise not play in that market. It’s fueled by advance ticket sales. In other words, if the organizer can’t convince enough people to make a reservation in advance to see the film they want to bring to town (meaning enough people to generate the funds required to pay both the film’s distributor and the venue for such an opportunity), the screening does not take place. But, if they hit that magic pre-sale number, it’s a go.
Well, this one has generated enough interest and money to happen, and as of press time there were still a few seats available for this 7:30 p.m. screening March 29. If you’d like to charge one or more, and thus help the organizer’s pet project, you can do so by heading to gathr.us/screening/22788.
Diet and disease
Speaking of digitally streaming screenings of health-related independent documentaries, a few days later on April 5 at the same venue, the new feature “Eating You Alive” will be shown. This two-hour doc is focused on what its creators describe as “Americans’ dysfunctional relationship with food.” It purports to use science to explain why sickness and disease are so rampant in our domestic society, and to outline a number of specific dietary changes viewers can make to improve their quality of life, as well as increase their own personal longevity.
Some of the well-known figures who appear in the film to discuss their own nutritional attitudes and practices include Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron (“The Abyss”), illusionist and activist Penn Jillette (Penn and Teller), actor Samuel L. Jackson (“Snakes on a Plane”), as well as a number of health care experts, such as Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard. The message of this film is said by some reviewers to be quite basic in its approach to avoiding processed food and focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables over meats, but perhaps that is the best and easiest model for promoting a healthier diet to the masses. Showtime is 7 p.m.
‘Best F(r)iends Pt. 1’
Shifting back a bit to March 30, fans of the ineptly made and head-scratchingly nonsensical 2003 cult film sensation “The Room” should be in a rapturous mood, as that is the day of the official world premiere of “Best F(r)iends Pt. 1,” the latest collaboration between “The Room’s” writer-director-star-mysterious goofball Tommy Wiseau and its handsome co-star Greg Sestero.
Sestero is the man who penned “The Disaster Artist,” the behind-the-scenes book on the making of that beloved “so-bad-it’s-good” cinematic fiasco that was recently adapted by actor-director James Franco into a critically praised dramatized feature of the same name. Now, 15 years after their first film, Sestero has convinced Wiseau to appear as his co-star in this dark comedy thriller. Hopes are running extremely high for this picture, as it was written by Sestero himself and directed by indie film up-and-comer Justin MacGregor. In other words, the logic-challenged and ego-driven Wiseau has no artistic control over the final product. He’s merely acting in it. Better still, his role was written expressly for him by Sestero and designed with Wiseau's infamous thespic limitations in mind.
So much footage was shot during production of this tale of two mismatched protagonists and their descent into paranoia after their unorthodox business partnership is challenged that the producer and director wound up splitting the film into two 90-minute halves, which will be shown in theaters a few months apart. So, think of this as a two-part mini-series or as a standalone film and its sequel, but either way, both parts must be seen to view the complete story.
This sounds like it has the potential to either be another cult sensation or — at the very least — a moderately intriguing low-budget indie designed to fatten the wallets of a couple of oddball actors who’ve given so much joy to so many people across the world without (one can only assume) receiving adequate compensation. Can’t make the 8 p.m. show on March 30? Pt. 1 will be shown again at the same venue at that same time April 2. This may be the only time you’ll have a chance to see it in a theater without hardcore fans in the audience heckling and throwing things …
Comedy of the sexes
Then, the very next day, March 31, at the Regal Stadium 10, the Metropolitan Opera’s respected series of high-definition digital streams of amazing performances from that esteemed opera company continues with Mozart’s classic two-act comedy of the sexes, “Così fan tutte,” commonly translated as “Women are like that.” First performed in Vienna in 1790, it's the tale of two military officers who hatch a wager in which they both attempt to seduce each other’s fiancées (while in disguise, of course).
This new production of the immensely popular work is helmed by Phelim McDermott, a veteran director on Broadway and in Great Britain. He previously staged “Così fan tutte” for England’s National Opera, and this staging for the Met was inspired by the carnival atmosphere of 1950s Coney Island. It will be shown in Italian with English subtitles at 12:55 p.m. March 31, and again at both 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. April 4.
And last, but not least, on April 4, the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah’s ongoing weekly series of underappreciated feature films from around the globe continues at The Sentient Bean. That night, the PFS pays posthumous tribute to the late, great screen and TV actor James Garner (“Murphy’s Romance,” “The Great Escape,” “The Notebook” and TV’s “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files”) just a few days shy of what would have been his 90th birthday.
A former Korean War veteran (he was awarded the Purple Heart for his service in that conflict as a rifleman), the Emmy Award-winning Garner earned a storied reputation in Hollywood as one of the kindest and most caring actors in that notoriously rough-edged town. He was known as a lifelong, devoted supporter of the Democratic Party, and in 1963 joined Martin Luther King Jr. in his famed March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. To celebrate his lengthy life and career, the PFS will present an early James Garner film that divided critics upon first release, but eventually presaged one of his most famous television roles.
The exact title of this neo-noir flick (which also features several notable character actors) remains a secret until its 8 p.m. showtime, but adventurous viewers and Garner fans are encouraged to take a chance, buy a ticket and be pleasantly surprised. As always, The Bean’s vegetarian menu will be available, as will craft beer and organic wine. Hope to see you there.
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.