Do Savannnah

Film Scene: ‘Alien’ trio, ‘Doctor Who’ and more light up big screens

 

Film Scene: ‘Alien’ trio, ‘Doctor Who’ and more light up big screens

23 Aug 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since this past Monday’s heavy cloud cover prevented most everyone who was anywhere remotely near the greater Savannah area from witnessing even the tiniest amount of the solar eclipse, I can only assume that most — if not all — loyal Film Scene readers still have 100 percent of their retinas intact. That’s a good thing, as the next seven days provide ample opportunities to indulge oneself with all manner of specialty cinema events around these parts.

Shall we begin, then?

Tybee ‘Holiday’

As mentioned in last week’s column, the nice folks out at Tybee Island’s lovely, restored single-screen Tybee Post Theater have made a habit of presenting special engagements of classic Hollywood motion pictures (usually for one night or even one show only). On Aug. 24, they’ll show the beloved 1953 romantic comedy “Roman Holiday,” starring Gregory Peck (“Inherit the Wind,” “Gentleman’s Agreement”) and Audrey Hepburn (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “My Fair Lady”) as a mismatched couple (she’s a crown princess and he’s an American reporter) who meet and have a very brief (yet memorable) dalliance in Rome.

Directed by the legendary William Wyler (who also helmed “Wuthering Heights,” “The Little Foxes,” “Ben-Hur” and “Funny Lady,” among other notable titles), the film is an uplifting, if bittersweet, ride — much of which takes place on a vintage Italian Vespa motorscooter. It earned Hepburn an Oscar for Best Actress and famed costume designer Edith Head an Oscar for her contributions to the film as well. Look for the late, great Eddie Albert (the immortal “Mr. Douglas” on TV’s “Green Acres”) in a supporting role.

If you’ve never seen this slightly dated yet still refreshing popcorn flick, now’s your chance. 7 p.m. showtime, and admission includes a free glass of wine (if you’re old enough) and a package of tissues in the event you are overcome with emotion. As always, admission prices for all screenings mentioned in Film Scene can be found in the individual sidebar listings for each event.

RiffTrax takes on ‘Doctor Who’

Just a half-hour later that same night, the Regal Stadium 10 multiplex behind the Savannah Mall and the Cinemark in Bluffton both present an encore digital streaming event from the folks at RiffTrax that should have audience members struggling to catch their breath from laughter.

Much like “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the recently rebooted TV series where the core of the RiffTrax team got their start, this screening of the 90-minute made-for-BBC sci-fi feature film “Doctor Who: The Five Doctors” (originally broadcast on public television both here and in the U.K. in the fall of 1983) adds an unexpected element. Namely, snarky comedians making snarky comments over the original dialogue of the film itself.

The time travel-based “Doctor Who” series has run for decades in Great Britain, and over that time has engendered a devoted and exceedingly faithful fan following worldwide. This film, which was designed as a 20th anniversary tribute to the series, features appearances by many of the different actors who had portrayed the quirky Doctor throughout the show up till that point. It’s also packed with inside jokes and references to characters and moments from the run of that series that might only be appreciated by diehard fans. This selection is a bit unusual for the RiffTrax folks, as they usually lampoon older, even campier sci-fi and horror flicks. However, there is plenty of humor inherent in all the Doctor Who sagas, which may just make this a darn near perfect storm of nerd.

‘Alien’ trio

Now, “Doctor Who” is where it’s at for a lot of folks who dig fantastical fiction. But for others, the “Alien” franchise is their go-to when it comes to long-running, action-packed space sagas. It’s hard to deny that the first two installments of this series of futuristic sci-fi/horror blockbusters stand heads and tails (see what I did there?) over most other similarly themed feature films of their era. However, whether hardcore aficionados wish to admit it or not (and they likely do, late at night, heads tucked under their covers where no one can hear), virtually all the sequels, prequels and spinoffs of the original, 1979’s “Alien,” well, suck.

I know, I know, some of you may love the fourth official film in the series, 1997’s abysmal “Alien Resurrection,” and some others may even have enjoyed the recently made pseudo-prequels “Prometheus” and “Alien: Covenant,” which saw original filmmaker Ridley Scott (“Blade Runner,” “Black Hawk Down,” “Thelma and Louise”) returning to the fold after decades away from one of his most famous creations. However, even those last two installments, which Scott himself directed, were convoluted mishmashes that leaned heavily on visual and even plot-point callbacks to the earlier pictures in the series — a form of expensive, glossy, science-fiction comfort food for relatively nondiscerning fans eager to relive past glories on the big screen.

And the less said about the misguided and ham-fisted cash grab that is the “Alien vs. Predator” franchise, the better.

Still, the original “Alien,” which turned actress Sigourney Weaver into a tough-as-nails feminist icon through her portrayal of Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley, who is forced to battle a monstrous and vicious extraterrestrial creature in the deep space of the year 2122, is a masterpiece of dimly lit, visually stunning, high-tension horror.

Based in great part (though controversially uncredited as such) on the low-budget 1958 black-and-white sci-fi thriller “It! The Terror from Beyond Space,” it features a phenomenally naturalistic cast, including such underappreciated character actors as Yaphet Kotto (TV’s “Homicide: Life on the Street”), Veronica Cartwright (Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” the 1979 remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”), Harry Dean Stanton (Bob Dylan’s surreal arthouse gem “Renaldo and Clara,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Wild at Heart”), Tom Skerritt (“Top Gun,” TV’s “Picket Fences”) and the late John Hurt (“The Elephant Man,” “Dogville”), as well as a mold-breaking creature design from the revered, now-deceased Swiss painter and sculptor of macabre, bio-mechanical imagery, H.R. Giger.

1986’s “Aliens,” directed with gusto by James Cameron (“Titanic,” “The Abyss”) switched gears, moving away from the dark and grim claustrophobia of the initial entry and instead leaning toward a more bombastic, militaristic action vibe. It accomplished that most difficult of tasks: to reference a landmark film directly and respectfully, while upping the ante and delivering a sequel that stands wholly on its own, yet fits in nicely with its antecedent. 1992’s “Alien 3” does not come close to the caliber of either of the first films in most any respect, yet it’s still an ambitious, visually sumptuous piece of moviemaking that marked the feature film directorial debut of none other than David Fincher, who’d later go on to make such impressive and unforgettable films as “Seven,” “Fight Club” and “The Game.”

Beginning on Aug. 25, the Lucas Theatre will screen each of these first three installments of the “Alien” franchise in their proper order, for one show only. The first hits the screen at 7 p.m. that night, with the second and third entries in the series shown the following day, Aug. 26, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

If you have never seen any or all of these on a huge screen in the confines of a dark theater before, then you have not truly experienced them as they were meant to be seen and heard. I cross my fingers and hope with all my might that the crowds who come out to attend these rare public viewings will be quiet and respectful of others during these events, as the first three “Alien” motion pictures are films of great nuance and atmosphere. When viewed in silence, they can create truly wonderful moments of angst and excitement. When interrupted by talking, heckling, texting or cell phone use, they are rendered essentially impotent.

‘Castle in the Sky’

On Aug. 27, the day after the original “Alien” trilogy wraps up, the Cinemark in nearby Bluffton, S.C., offers up a rare U.S. theatrical engagement of the 1986 Japanese anime classic “Castle in the Sky,” from Tokyo’s beloved and critically acclaimed Studio Ghibli (the same creative team responsible for such classic hand-animated films as “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” Directed by the revered Hayao Miyazaki, “Castle in the Sky” is an award-winning adventure tale about a young girl’s search for a mysterious floating island, and a supreme source of power and wealth that is rumored to exist there.

It marks the first feature film made and released under the Studio Ghibli banner, and the English-dubbed version (which will be shown at 12:55 p.m. Aug. 27 and again at 7 p.m. Aug. 30) boasts the voice talents of Anna Paquin, Mark Hamill and Mandy Patinkin, among others. At 7 p.m. Aug. 28, Cinemark will screen the film in its original spoken Japanese, with English subtitles. As a bonus feature at all three screenings, a selection of anime shorts will be shown as well.

‘The Resurrection of Gavin Stone’

Out in Springfield, just a short drive from downtown Savannah, the historic Mars Theatre hosts a special one-show-only engagement of the newly released, independently financed feature film “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” at 3 p.m. Aug. 27. It’s a Christian-themed dramedy about a former child star who is sentenced to community service after a violent hotel room meltdown, and winds up pretending to be a Christian to nab the lead role of Jesus in a megachurch stage play (so as to impress the show’s female director).

As one might imagine, along the way, he learns there is much more to life than just the mortal excesses of liberal ol’ Hollyweird. This film is getting great reviews from Christian websites and pastors, while mainstream (meaning non-religious) critics are panning it mercilessly as a painfully unfunny message movie that would only appeal to the devout. There is a growing cottage industry of inspirational films aimed at the Protestant church crowd, and this one reportedly attempts to bridge the gap between traditional fare and Christian entertainment more than most, which is a tough needle to thread, for sure.

Tribute to Elliot Gould

And finally, on Aug. 30, the Psychotronic Film Society’s ongoing weekly series of underappreciated and overlooked feature films from around the world continues at The Sentient Bean. That night, the PFS salutes Oscar-nominated leading man and character actor Elliot Gould (otherwise known as the ex-Mr. Barbara Streisand) on the occasion of his 79th birthday.

Gould, who came to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s through such films as “Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice,” “MASH,” “The Long Goodbye” and “California Split” (the last three directed by Robert Altman), maintains a solid career through to this day, playing memorable and key roles in TV series like “Friends” (he played Ross’ dad), “Ray Donovan” and “Doubt,” and such features as the “Ocean’s Trilogy” (in which he played Reuben Tishkoff).

The exact title of this early, forgotten feature of Gould’s will remain a closely guarded secret until showtime, but it can be said that it’s a little-known, adventurous indie film whose young producer later became one of the most respected and successful directors in Hollywood. Folks are encouraged to take a chance, buy a ticket and be pleasantly surprised by a very odd and entertaining movie they likely never knew existed. Showtime is 8 p.m., with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the show.

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.

IF YOU GO

What: “Roman Holiday”

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 24

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $10, includes glass of wine

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

What: “RiffTrax Live — Doctor Who: The Five Doctors”

When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24

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

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

What: “Alien”

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 25

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $8 adults; $5 military/seniors/kids younger than 15; free with SCAD ID

Info: lucastheatre.com

What: “Aliens”

When: 3 p.m., August 26

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $8 adults; $5 military/seniors/kids younger than 15; free with SCAD ID

Info: lucastheatre.com

What: “Alien 3”

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 26

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $8 adults; $5 military/seniors/kids younger than 15; free with SCAD ID

Info: lucastheatre.com

What: “Castle in the Sky”

When: 12:55 p.m. Aug. 27; 7 p.m. Aug. 28 and 30

Where: Cinemark, 106 Buckwalter Pkwy., Bluffton, S.C.

Cost: $12.50

Info: fathomevents.com

What: “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone”

When: 3 p.m. Aug. 27

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

Cost: $5

Info: marstheatre.com

What: Elliot Gould Birthday Salute

When: 8 p.m. Aug. 30

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

Cost: $8

Info: instagram.com/pfssav

Sections: 
Top