In case you missed last week’s installment of Film Scene, I’m pleased to report that after an extended hiatus (due to some remodeling and renovation), the historic Mars Theatre in nearby Springfield is once more showing both first-run and older motion pictures.
That single-screen venue is in what can best be described as a tiny community of less than 3,000, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Savannah, in Effingham County. It was restored a few years back and, in addition to digitally projected films, it now also hosts live musical performances by regional and national country, blues, gospel and bluegrass acts, as well as the occasional stage play. Starting May 24, this lovely and intimate venue (it holds a little over 200 folks) will screen “Avengers: Infinity War,” the new box-office smash in the continuing saga of the Marvel Superhero Universe.
You can expect plenty of explosions, fisticuffs, frenetic editing and wanton acts of oversized violence and destruction, along with some snarky quips and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it character development. If you’ve never taken a leisurely drive to this unique venue, maybe now’s the time? It runs from May 24-26, May 31 and June 1-2. Showtime each night is 7 p.m. You can find ticket prices for this and all of our other featured Film Scene events in the accompanying sidebar listings.
Now for some cinematic whiplash.
It would be hard to imagine a film as diametrically different from the “Avengers” franchise as last year’s “Loveless,” the latest release from acclaimed Russian art house director Andrey Zvyagintsev (“The Return,” “Elena,” “Leviathan”).
A domestic tragedy revolving around the search by estranged parents for their young, missing child, this intense, small-scale feature has been called the filmmaker’s “most encompassing indictment of Russian society” by the Christian Science Monitor. It will screen for one show only May 27 at the Jewish Educational Alliance, courtesy of CinemaSavannah.
“Loveless” took home the Jury Prize for Best Film at the 2017 Cannes Film Fest. It was also named Best Foreign Film by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, France’s César Awards and the Munich International Film Fest. Described as “masterfully bleak,” it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at our own Oscars, but lost to “A Fantastic Woman,” which was recently screened by CinemaSavannah as well. Because this English-subtitled film runs just a hair over two hours, start time will be 3:30 p.m. (doors open at 3 p.m.), and don’t forget that all CinemaSavannah screenings are cash only.
'A Chance in the World'
A few nights later, on May 30, at the Regal Stadium 10 behind the Savannah Mall and at the Cinemark multiplex in nearby Bluffton, S.C., Fathom Events presents a one-night-only theatrical release of “A Chance in the World — A Celebration of Hope,” which is based on an award-winning book of the same name. It is being marketed as the true story of a young boy who is both mentally and physically abused by his foster parents and siblings from the age of 5 to the age of 16. Apparently, the assistance of a kind and caring high school teacher (played by the gifted but oft-troubled actor Tom Sizemore) leads the young man to a healthier life.
Following the movie, viewers can stay and watch a live panel discussion from New York City’s Paley Center, which is being simulcast to all the participating cinemas. It features the real-life inspiration for the film, as well as experts and advocates of adoption and foster care.
I’d tell you more about this film if I could, but as with most of Fathom’s specialty premieres, not a single critic has been allowed to see the film in advance of its opening night, so there is literally zero information available on this feature, other than the promotional materials from the movie’s producers and distributor. Be aware that often means a film is flawed beyond repair and they are hoping to sell plenty of tickets before word gets out that it’s a dud. One positive note: the boy’s abusive father is played by none other than the highly underrated Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs. Don’t know him by name? That’s Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington from the 1970s TV sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter!” Showtime at both venues is 8 p.m.
Andy Irons documentary
The next night at the same two theaters, Fathom will stream the new sports documentary “Andy Irons: Kissed by God,” which profiles the highs and lows of three-time world champion surfer Irons, who died at the age of 32 from complications due in large part to mixing powerful opioids with street drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine.
Known as the “pride of Hawaii,” the athlete battled bi-polar disorder and multiple drug addictions throughout his short, eventful life. The purpose of this film is to serve as a both a warning to the millions of everyday people living with mental illness and/or prescription drug addiction and as an inspiration for them to seek counseling and get clean and sober. After the doc, a Q&A with the filmmakers, Irons’ family and friends, and an opioid addiction expert will be screened. Showtime 7 p.m.
Heading downtown May 30, the Psychotronic Film Society’s weekly, award-winning series of underappreciated and/or marginalized movies at The Sentient Bean continues with its third installment of something they call the “FPS.” That stands for “Failed Pilot Society,” those few nights a year when the organization hosts a mystery screening of lost or merely forgotten pilot episodes of network or cable TV series that were either never subsequently made or were quickly canceled, never making it to syndication, and essentially vanishing from public view.
On these FPS nights, the exact titles of the pilots being shown are not revealed publicly in advance. In other words, no one knows just what will appear on screen until it does. It could be one lengthy made-for-TV movie meant to launch a weekly hour-long action, sci-fi, mystery or drama series. Or, it could be two or more half-hour pilots for sitcoms or game shows. The pilots in question could be terrific, in which case it’s a real loss they were never greenlit. Or, they could be laughably misguided or terribly made, in which case it’s a chance to stare in amazement at a bullet dodged by the viewing public.
Either way, it’s highly unlikely most folks will have even heard of these programs, let alone have seen them before. Adventurous viewers are encouraged to take a chance, buy a ticket and prepare to be pleasantly surprised. Showtime is 8 p.m. with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the program, and a full vegetarian menu available.
‘The Long, Hot Summer’
And finally, the beautiful Tybee Post Theater’s “Girls’ Night Out” series of classic romantic-themed motion pictures continues May 31 with a terrific choice: director Martin Ritt’s steamy 1958 drama “The Long, Hot Summer,” starring Orson Welles, Joanne Woodward, Richard Anderson,and Paul Newman.
Newman won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Fest for his portrayal of an ambitious, handsome vagabond who ingratiates himself with the hard-fisted patriarch of a small Mississippi town. He soon finds himself being prodded into a relationship with the old man’s daughter, much to the chagrin of the patriarch’s son, who can easily envision himself being shoved aside as the object of his father’s affections (and inheritance).
Based on subject matter from three different written works by Southern literary giant (and Nobel Prize winner) William Faulkner, “The Long, Hot Summer” also owes a huge stylistic debt to Mississippi-born playwright Tennessee Williams, as that writer’s characterizations of the dynamics of Deep Southern families hangs heavy on the dialogue and machinations of Ritt’s finished film.
As is always the case with the Post’s Girls Night Out series, admission includes your choice of beverage (beer, wine or soft drinks). Or you can opt to purchase a special $35 ticket in advance, which includes admission to the film, that free drink, plus a three-course fixed-menu meal beforehand at 80 East Gastropub a few blocks away from the venue. See the theater’s website for details. Showtime 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 the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah.