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Film Scene: Head to the cinema for Harry Potter, Cher, vampires and more

 

Film Scene: Head to the cinema for Harry Potter, Cher, vampires and more

31 Jan 2018

As we covered in last week’s Film Scene, the 2018 Savannah Jewish Film Festival continues through this Saturday evening, Feb. 3, so there is still time for readers to take in one or more of the most notable Jewish and/or Israeli-focused feature films released in the past year or so — all of which have never been shown publicly in our area and likely won’t be again.

All films are being shown in the auditorium of the Jewish Educational Alliance on Abercorn Street and are open to mature, respectful viewers of all ages. If you’d like more details on the festival and its history, check out my feature article in last week’s issue (you can find it online at our snazzy website, dosavannah.com), but here’s the lowdown on the three remaining titles in this terrific annual showcase of international cinema.

Jewish Film Fest details

Two different films screen Feb. 1. The matinee, at 1:30 p.m., is the brand-new documentary “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem,” which tells the true military tale of Israel’s 55th Paratrooper Brigade and its dangerous seizure of Israel’s historic city during the infamous Six-Day War. Filled with never-before-seen firsthand interviews (yay) and dramatized re-enactments (blech), it’s said to focus on the commitment and sacrifice of the Israeli troops involved in the mission. In spoken English.

That evening’s 7 p.m. feature, the 2016 Israeli-made romantic comedy “The Wedding Plan,” is the fictional story of an Orthodox Jewish bride whose husband-to-be backs out of their marriage the night before the wedding. However, rather than cancel the ceremony, she places her fate in God’s hands, and simply assumes the Lord will miraculously provide her with a suitable husband on insanely short notice. In Hebrew with English subtitles.

Then, on Feb. 3, the final film of this year’s festival will be shown at 8:15 p.m. It’s “The Women’s Balcony,” a sly dramedy from 2016 about a tense disagreement among female neighbors centering around a charismatic but divisive new rabbi. Nominated for five Israeli Academy Awards, it made it all the way to the No. 1 spot at the Israeli box office. In spoken Hebrew with English subtitles. There’s an optional closing night dessert reception preceding the screening at 7:30 p.m., which you can learn more about at savannahjea.org. Admission prices to all events listed in Film Scene can be found in the accompanying sidebar to this column.

A local favorite

A short drive away on Tybee Island, the beautifully restored historic single-screen auditorium known as the Tybee Post Theater has two special one-show-only screenings of popular mainstream Hollywood movies from decades past on tap over the next seven days or so.

First up, on Feb. 1 is the 1994 box office smash “Forrest Gump,” about a narcotics agent who is killed in the line of duty, but then returned to life as an android police officer and sent on a dangerous mission to rescue a beautiful female undercover agent who’s been kidnapped by an evil drug warlord in control of a mysterious blood-sucking humanoid creature that chases people by hopping like a huge, man-sized bunny rabbit.

Oh, wait. That’s not right. Sorry.

What is “Forrest Gump” about, again?

Well, you’ve seen “Zelig,” right? No? OK, then go see “Forrest Gump” on the big screen (in case you never did), and then go stream or rent “Zelig.” You’ll enjoy both films a little bit more if you do. Showtime is 7 p.m.

Cher on the island

Then, exactly a week later, on Feb. 8, the Tybee Post will offer up a revival of director Norman Jewison’s 1987 romantic comedy “Moonstruck,” starring Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello and yes, “The” Vincent Gardenia.

Boasting an original screenplay by John Patrick Shanley, who won the Tony Award for his play “Doubt: A Parable,” and also wrote and directed the criminally underrated feature “Joe Versus the Volcano,” it’s a fairly riotous — and occasionally absurd — NYC-based family comedy that drips with a finely honed take on ethnic humor. Alternating madcap and sweetly touching, it’s a throwback of sorts to the type of movies most studios won’t finance anymore, to the detriment of both the viewing public and working actors who love to sink their teeth into this sort of charming project.

At this 7 p.m. screening, as with “Forrest Gump,” admission to the Post includes your choice of a beverage (beer, wine, soft drinks) and a piece of chocolate.

‘Patton’ writ large

Looking back a few days to Feb. 2, the historic Lucas Theatre on the corner of Broughton and Abercorn streets kicks off a busy weekend. They’re showing three films over two days, all of which were specifically designed to be seen and enjoyed foremost on the big, big screen.

First up is the 1970 biopic “Patton,” starring the inimitable George C. Scott as the larger-than-life U.S. Army General George S. Patton, who, among other things, led our nation’s 3rd Army in France and Germany after 1944’s Allied invasion of the beaches at Normandy. A legitimately epic war film co-written by a fairly young Francis Ford Coppola, “Patton” took home a whopping seven Oscars, including Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Scott, despising the notion of competition among thespians, famously declined to accept the Oscar for Best Actor for his title role. If you’ve never seen this one in a theatrical environment, here’s a truly rare opportunity to do so. 7 p.m. showtime.

Magical weekends in February

Then, the next morning, on Feb. 3, the Lucas kicks off its ambitious series of “Harry Potter Weekends,” during which they will screen every single installment in the Harry Potter franchise for one show only over the course of three weekends in February. While tons of folks saw these movies in the theaters upon their initial release, scores more (especially younger viewers) have only come to be familiar with this sprawling, extremely entertaining series of fantasy-action films through small-screen viewing on disc or via streaming.

If you’re looking for a “magical” experience (see what I did there?) you likely can’t go wrong with catching any or all of these masterfully made popcorn flicks about whimsy, witchcraft, evil and puberty — not necessarily in that order. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” screens once, at 11 a.m., with its follow-up, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” following right after at 3 p.m.

Bolshoi Ballet

Then, on Feb. 4, both the Regal Stadium multiplex behind the Savannah Mall and Bluffton, S.C.’,s Cinemark multiplex will host digital streaming events from the archive of the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet. As with all the other big-screen documents of this esteemed (since 1776!) Russian ballet company’s productions shown theatrically, “The Lady of the Camellias” features extreme close-ups of the dancers in vivid, high-definition digital cinematography, as well as state-of-the-art audio. Some folks even prefer seeing their ballet in this format, rather than attending a live performance, where their vantage point might be less than ideal.

Choreographed by John Neumeier to a romantic piano score by Chopin, this story of doomed love in the city of Paris is based on the Alexander Dumas novel commonly known to English speakers as “Camille.” It stars the Prima Ballerina Svetlana Zakharova and Edvin Revazov, who’s the principal dancer in Neumeier’s own Hamburg Ballet. It was recorded live on stage in December 2015, and runs just over three hours in length. Showtime at both venues is 12:55 p.m.

Supernatural suspense

Heading over to the Southern end of Forsyth Park on Feb. 7, The Sentient Bean — a hub for lovers of vegetarian cuisine, fair trade coffees and teas and counterculture events and concerts of all kinds — is the location for the Psychotronic Film Society’s long-running Wednesday night series (15 years and counting) of underappreciated feature films from around the world. On that night, the PFS presents the unjustly overlooked British supernatural suspense drama “The Night My Number Came Up,” starring Sir Michael Redgrave (father of actors Vanessa, Corin and Lynn Redgrave).

The gripping black-and-white tale was based on a real-life incident in which a British military air marshal had a harrowing experience on a flight from Bangkok to Tokyo: the night before he is set to fly, he is told of a strange dream involving a plane on that same route crashing into the ocean, and he becomes convinced it is a premonition of his own death. Is the dream a foretelling of an accident to come, or is it all in the man’s mind? Famed film critic Leonard Maltin regards this minor gem as a “first-rate suspense film that will have you holding your breath.” It was nominated for four British Academy Awards (including Best Film), but has since lapsed into almost total obscurity. 8 p.m. showtime, with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the show.

Vampire legend

And last, but not least, the following night, Feb. 8, the SCAD Cinema Circle presents the intensely beautiful and quite frightening 2008 Swedish horror drama “Let the Right One In” at Trustees Theater. The film, which was almost chosen as Sweden’s submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, is an internationally praised thriller that won numerous major awards upon initial release, and offers a distinctly unique take on the classic vampire legend.

Set in the early 1980s in the city of Stockholm, it deals with a timid 12-year-old boy who struggles to befriend his new next-door neighbor: a pale, taciturn, tomboyish girl who seems to be around his same age. Then, some grisly and violent murders begin to occur in their icy, snow-covered suburb. You can see where this is going, right? Well, maybe you can, and maybe you can’t.

Directed by a filmmaker who had no working knowledge of either horror or vampire films, from a screenplay written by the author of the 2004 novel the film was based on, it’s a true anomaly in the oft-derivative vampire canon, and in actuality, it’s less about vampirism than it is about a young man’s search for love and a sense of identity. Although a completely superfluous American remake with an almost identical title came out in 2010, and as recently as April of this year there was talk of a U.S. TV series based on the original book and film, this initial Swedish feature stands on its own as a quiet and contemplative marvel of slow-burn terror and lovingly shot acts of graphic violence.

I’ll serve as host for this screening, and will be introducing the film as well as moderating a post-show audience discussion on the merits of the movie and its place in the long list of modern, progressive takes on vampire lore. It’s not every month (or year, for that matter) that a film of this sort is shown in Savannah in a venue of this sort — let alone paired with a live discussion — so please consider coming out and taking part in this somewhat unusual cinematic happening. As always with Cinema Circle events, tickets are inexpensive, and anyone with a valid SCAD ID gets in for free. In Swedish, with English subtitles. Showtime at 8 p.m.

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

IF YOU GO

What: Savannah Jewish Film Fest

When: Through Feb. 3

Where: Jewish Educational Alliance, 5111 Abercorn St.

Cost: $10 or $8 for members

Info: savannahjea.org

What: “Forrest Gump”

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 1

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $10

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

What: “Patton”

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 2

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $5-$8 or $2 with SCAD ID

Info: savannahboxoffice.com

What: “Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone”

When: 11 a.m. Feb. 3

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $5-$8 or $2 with SCAD ID

Info: savannahboxoffice.com

What: “Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets”

When: 3 p.m. Feb. 3

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $5-$8 or $2 with SCAD ID

Info: savannahboxoffice.com

What: Bolshoi Ballet “The Lady of the Camellias”

When: 12:55 p.m. Feb. 4

Where: Regal Stadium 10 and Cinemark Bluffton

Cost: $19.26

Info: fathomevents.com

What: “The Night My Number Came Up”

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 7

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

Cost: $8

Info: instagram.com/pfssav

What: “Moonstruck”

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 8

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $10

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

What: “Let the Right One In”

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 8

Where: Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.

Cost: $5-$8 or free with SCAD ID

Info: savannahboxoffice.com

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