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Film Scene: Specialty screenings include Grateful Dead concert movie, cult flicks, anime and more

 

Film Scene: Specialty screenings include Grateful Dead concert movie, cult flicks, anime and more

12 Apr 2017

If you missed this year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Picture, the stunning Iranian psychodrama “The Salesman,” in its one-night-only engagement this past Sunday evening, you missed a phenomenally gripping and well-crafted feature. Kudos to CinemaSavannah for facilitating that special screening.

Looking ahead to the next seven days or so, there’s a surfeit of noteworthy features for adventurous viewers in our area to choose from.

Local docs’ doc

April 13 finds “Love, Sweat & Tears” making what may be its last area appearance. This “unconventional documentary” on the unwanted effects of aging on women’s bodies and how said women can maintain an active, post-menopausal sexual life features two Savannah-based figures: Dr. Pamela Dee (who has parlayed her telegenic looks and medical background into a career as a sort of celebrity menopause expert on TV talk shows) and Dr. William Dascombe, as well as a small group of clergy, comedians and actresses, all offering their takes on the “taboo topic.” Advance tickets to this one-show-only 7:30 p.m. screening at the Regal Savannah Stadium 10 multiplex can be reserved at Gathr.com.

Speaking of specialty screenings at area multiplexes, we’ve got more than our fair share this week, including a new niche-oriented doc, an infamous cult movie, a classic rock concert film and the season premiere of a beloved British TV series.

Riffing on ‘Samurai Cop’

In another auditorium at the Regal 10 on the same night as the aforementioned guide to menopause is shown, the ridiculous 1991 low-budget action flick “Samurai Cop” receives a belated theatrical run (it was so crappy it never warranted a proper release, and instead went straight to video). However, this brazenly inept dud about a renegade Japanese gang who infiltrate Los Angeles’ cocaine distribution racket — prompting the LAPD to hire a so-called “Samurai Cop” who is trained in deadly martial arts yet passes for a generic police officer — could never attract such a high-profile nationwide engagement were it not for the imprimatur of RiffTrax.

That indie studio run by three veterans of the cult TV series “Mystery Science Theater 3000” adds its own snide “commentary tracks” to lackluster feature films, allowing the unseen hosts to crack wise in real-time at the expense of the actors and filmmakers onscreen. If you enjoy watching bad movies without constant interruption, their approach to humor is not for you. However, if you feel that a barrage of witty jabs and insults is a must for making crappy movies tolerable, then you’ll love the RiffTrax model. Their take on “Samurai Cop” was released several months ago on DVD and online, so if you can’t attend this big-screen event, you can still easily find and enjoy their efforts. 8 p.m. showtime, with $13.38 admission (encore presentation at the same time April 18).

The good Doctor

Next door to the Regal 10 (behind the Savannah Mall) is the Carmike Wynnsong 11 cinemas, on April 17 (and again April 19), they’ll offer a big-screen viewing of the Season 10 premiere of the BBC’s longtime time-travel sci-fi dramedy “Doctor Who,” which debuted in 1963. This will be the final season to star Peter Capaldi (“Paddington”) as the good Doctor (he’s the 12th actor to do so, in case you were curious). If you are already hep to “Doctor Who,” there’s nothing I need to say about this event. If you have no idea what the fuss is all about, there’s still nothing I need to say. Pick up on it. 7 p.m. showtime, with no ticket price announced as of press time.

Football fundraiser

Heading out to Springfield on the same night, the historic Mars Theatre presents a one-show-only booking of the 2016 indie football drama “Greater,” which dramatizes the bittersweet tale of Arkansas Razorbacks offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth, who famously joined the team as merely a walk-on player and wound up becoming an All-American before his tragic 1999 death in a car accident less than two weeks after being drafted for the team. The foundation that bears his name was established in the wake of his death and promotes his work ethic and Christian values to children with limited opportunities. Proceeds from this screening will benefit the Effingham County High School football program. 7 p.m. showtime with $7 admission.

A world debut

Two nights later, April 19, Fathom Events has another specialty event at the Regal Savannah 10. It’s the one-show-only world debut of the new documentary “BOSTON: An American Running Story.” Narrated by Matt Damon, it’s an in-depth look at the history of the oldest annual marathon run in existence — from its humble beginnings to the tragedy of the 2013 terrorist bombing and beyond. The film boasts an original score by multiple Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal (TV’s “House of Cards”). 7:30 p.m. showtime, with $16.05 tickets available in advance through FathomEvents.com, and at the door.

Gem of a crime movie

That same evening at The Sentient Bean, the Psychotronic Film Society’s ongoing weekly series of underappreciated feature films from around the globe (13 years and counting!) celebrates a criminally unknown gem of a crime movie: the 1975 docudrama “Murph The Surf.” Also known as “Live a Little, Steal a Lot,” it’s the (mostly) true story of a pair of handsome, athletic, surfing playboys who moonlight as jewel thieves preying on wealthy socialites. Together, they were responsible for what is perhaps the single biggest robbery of valuable jewels in history.

Known as the “Jewel Heist of the Century,” they stole the Star of India, Eagle Diamond and de Long Ruby, among other prizes, from the display cases of New York’s American Museum of Natural History. Robber Jack “Murph the Surf” Murphy is played by the imposing tough-guy actor Don Stroud (“Django Unchained”) and his partner is played by Stroud’s real-life buddy Robert Conrad (TV’s “The Wild Wild West”), two years before the duo would reteam for the infamous, violent, Filipino-made action flick “Sudden Death.” The cast for this refreshingly well-made and suspenseful film includes Donna Mills (“Knots Landing”) and Burt Young (the “Rocky” films). It was directed by Marvin Chomsky, who also helmed such unjustly forgotten pictures as “Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff” and “Mongo’s Back in Town.” Showtime is 8 p.m., with $8 admission and discounts on beer and wine during the film.

Grateful Dead 4/20 screening

The next night there are three different cinema events occurring — each one likely geared toward vastly different audiences.

First up, at both the Regal Savannah 10 and the Cinemark in Bluffton is the 40th anniversary of the initial 1977 theatrical release of “The Grateful Dead Movie,” a 2 ½ hour concert film compiled from footage shot during the controversial jam-band’s legendary five-night run at San Francisco’s fabled Winterland Ballroom just before the group took a two-year break from live performances. Co-directed by the dead’s late, great guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia, it includes 12 songs plus a candid look at the band’s then-growing Deadhead fan movement. In addition to a restored version of the original movie, attendees to this “4/20” screening will be treated to a new, short documentary about another fabled Grateful Dead concert a few years after these Winterland gigs. 7 p.m. showtime, with $13.38 admission.

Tissues included for tearjerker

At the exact same time, out on Tybee Island, the historic Post Theater presents a one-show-only booking of renowned director Mike Mills’ (“Beginners”) 2016 Oscar-nominated dramedy “20th Century Women,” starring Annette Benning (“Mars Attacks”), Greta Gerwig (“Greenberg”), Billy Crudup (“Spotlight”) and Elle Fanning (“The Neon Demon”). Set in a California boarding house in the late 1970s, the film, which deals with those tumultuous cultural times and their impact on female characters (based openly upon writer-director Mills’ own mother and sister) has been described as a “love letter” to the strong women who raised him as a child. 7 p.m. showtime with $10 admission, which includes a glass of wine if you are old enough and a package of tissues, as this one’s a tearjerker.

Anime on the big screen

Finally, back downtown at Trustees Theater, the SCAD Cinema Circle screens its first-ever anime feature on the big screen — and it’s a bona fide classic of the art form. 1988’s “Akira” is a Japanese film revered as not only one of the greatest animated films ever made, but one of the finest sci-fi films as well. Set in a dystopian, cyberpunk vision of Toyo, circa 2019, it’s a visually stunning work of art adapted from a popular manga (comic book) series.

The film broke new ground in the realm of traditional cel animation through innovative and labor-intensive techniques that have resulted in its deserved landmark status among feature-length animated motion pictures. A chance to see this extremely influential work on the big screen (shown in the original spoken Japanese, with English subtitles, no less) is rare indeed. Look for more details on “Akira” in next week’s Film Scene, as well as news of the additional anime features the Cinema Circle will present in the upcoming weeks. Showtime is 8 p.m., with $8 admission ($6 for military and seniors or free with SCAD ID).

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

 

JIM’S NOTES

In 2015, a theatrically released sequel to 1991’s direct-to-video flop “Samurai Cop” was released. Its budget was raised through crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and it also features a dramatic appearance by noted cult film historian/documentarian/actor Mike Malloy, who has appeared twice here in town as a special guest at Psychotronic Film Society festivals.

The infamous Museum of Natural History jewel heist that forms the centerpiece of “Murph The Surf” aka “Live a Little, Steal a Lot” took place in 1964, but for the purposes of the film it seems to occur closer to the time of the movie’s 1975 release. This was likely done to save money by not having to use period clothing, cars and settings.

The original purpose of “The Grateful Dead Movie” was to serve as a substitute for the group’s live concerts while they were on a two-year-hiatus. However, the film took a full two years to edit and prepare for release, so by the time it hit theaters, the group was back on the road as well. Post-production on the film went so far over budget that it almost bankrupted the band and its record label. The members were forced to quickly record and release a handful of albums just to generate the funds required to pay back loans taken out to complete the movie.

 

IF YOU GO

What: “Love, Sweat & Tears”

When: 7:30 p.m. April 13

Where: Regal Savannah Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee Ave.

Cost: $12.70 in advance at gathr.us

Info: lovesweatandtearsfilm.com

 

What: RiffTrax presents “Samurai Cop”

When: 8 p.m. April 13 and April 18

Where: Regal Savannah Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee Ave., and Cinemark Bluffton, 106 Buckwalter Parkway, Bluffton, S.C.

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: “Doctor Who” season 10 premiere

When: 7 p.m. April 17 and April 19

Where: Carmike Wynnsong Savannah 11, 1150 Shawnee Ave.

Cost: TBA

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: “Greater”

When: 7 p.m. April 17

Where: Mars Theatre, 106 St. Laurel St., Springfield

Cost: $7

Info: marstheatre.com

 

What: “BOSTON: An American Running Story”

When: 7:30 p.m. April 19

Where: Regal Savannah Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee Ave.

Cost: $16.05

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: “Murph The Surf”

When: 8 p.m. April 19

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

Cost: $8

Info: instagram.com/pfssav

 

What: 40th anniversary of “The Grateful Dead Movie”

When: 7 p.m. April 20

Where: Regal Savannah Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee Ave., and Cinemark Bluffton, 106 Buckwalter Parkway, Bluffton, S.C.

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: “20th Century Women”

When: 7 p.m. April 20

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $10, includes wine and tissues

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

 

What: “Akira”

When: 8 p.m. April 20

Where: Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.

Cost: $8; $6 for seniors/military; free with SCAD ID

Info: trusteestheater.com

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