Greetings again, fellow film fanatics. I'm happy to say the next seven days are another banner week for Savannah-area cinemaniacs, with no less than five noteworthy screenings taking place for your edification and enjoyment.
First up is the Sept. 18 installment of Occupy Savannah Movie Night, which finds the local branch of this far-flung community activism coalition offering another left-of-center political documentary at The Sentient Bean. Once more, their choice is meant to offer an alternative perspective to the mainstream newsmedia's take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The latest edition of the Palestine Information Project's well-known program "Palestine For Beginners" is co-presented by the Savannah Peace Coalition. It's described as a fast-paced, informative guide to the roots of this ongoing battle, which profiles important historical and current events related to the struggle as well as the key participants and motivations behind the violent and dispiriting crisis. Showtime is at 7 p.m., with free admission.
The following night, Sept. 19 on beautiful Tybee Island, the long-vacant, historic Tybee Post Theater (said to be increasingly closer to opening its doors once again) launches what it hopes will be another ongoing series of outdoor film screenings near the beach, much like they've offered in previous years. As with those prior efforts, proceeds from tickets and concessions sales will benefit the expensive restoration of that much-needed multi-purpose showcase venue.
They're kicking things off with a feature that some will view as a "no-brainer," but others may feel is in somewhat questionable taste: Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster "Jaws."
Sure, it's one of the largest-grossing films in movie history, and a can't-fail crowd favorite. In fact, it's a great choice for most any repertory cinema series. However, I'd be lying if I didn't say it seems somehow inappropriate for this particular event.
I mean, they're showing a film about a bloodthirsty shark that preys on helpless swimmers off the beach of a small, charming, seaside tourist town that's saddled with - shall we say - less than progressive city leadership. And they're doing it on Tybee Island? A small, charming seaside tourist town that's saddled with - shall we say - less than progressive city leadership. Not to mention a stretch of beach so beset with underwater predators its local nickname is "Shark Alley."
Isn't that an awful lot like holding a fundraiser to reopen a long-shuttered summer camp in the mountains, and of all the movies available, choosing to show "Friday the 13th?"
Maybe it's just me.
Dig: Tybee Post Theater is one of the coolest area causes to support, and seeing any well-regarded movie on the lawn of the Tybee Lighthouse while enjoying freshly popped "movie popcorn," beer, wine and soft drinks in your very own lawnchair (or on a blanket you brought from home) is a wonderful way to spend an evening. So drag the whole crew down there and do your darndest to keep from forever connecting the carnage you'll witness onscreen to the very shore just a few hundred feet from your ever-so-delectable arms and legs. Gates open at 7 p.m. with an 8 p.m. showtime. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids younger than 12. In case of rain, there will be no refunds, but the film will be rescheduled for Sunday, Sept. 21.
At exactly the same time folks will be gathering to watch "Jaws," the already-restored Lucas Theatre will screen the sadly underrated 2006 fantasy film "The Fall," starring Lee Pace ("The Hobbit," "Guardians of the Galaxy"). Directed by visionary Indian-American filmmaker Tarsem Singh (an award-winning director of commercials and music videos, including R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion"), it's based on an obscure 1981 Bulgarian film and took more than four years to make. It includes footage Tarsem shot (on his own dime) in more than 20 countries, including India, Indonesia, Italy, France, Spain, Namibia and China.
These extravagant methods - along with a haunting and dreamlike story - imbue the film with a sense of wonder that is hard to quantify, and makes the story of an injured stuntman recovering from a fall in a 1915-era L.A. hospital much more akin to a fairy tale. While some critics panned the film for being sluggish and confusing, the late Roger Ebert wrote: "You might want to see it for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it." I'd have to agree. 7 p.m. showtime, $8 admission ($5 for students/military/seniors). Half-price beer and popcorn from 6-6:30 p.m.
The very next night, the Lucas continues its weekend of visually dazzling, hypnotically mind-bending movies with director Michel Gondry's gloriously non-linear 2004 sci-fi rom-com "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Written by Charlie Kaufman (the film took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) and starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Adams and David Cross, it's that rare crossover cult film: It grossed more than $73 million worldwide.
The plot is so convoluted and filled with flights of whimsical, ingenuitive fancy that it defies easy description in a space this tight. So let's just say that if you've enjoyed Kaufman's other works (he wrote or co-wrote "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation" and directed "Synecdoche, New York"), you'll know what you're in for. If you haven't, you should see it anyway, as it's wonderfully perplexing. Showtime and pricing is the same as "The Fall."
And finally, next Wednesday, Sept. 24 at The Sentient Bean, the Psychotronic Film Society pays tribute to legendary comedienne and actress Lily Tomlin on the occasion of her 76th birthday with a Mystery Screening of one of her least-known but most infamous performances.
Intentionally swept under the rug by all concerned with this epic cinematic misfire, it's been essentially "lost" since it was shooed out of theaters as quickly as possible. Never released on home video in any format (not even VHS), the rumors are that Tomlin and the other embarrassed stars involved made the studio which owns the rights promise it will never again be commercially available in the U.S. Regardless, the PFS has doggedly tracked down a fully uncut, widescreen print of this "so-bad-it's-great" classic of unintentional camp. So don't miss what will likely be your only chance to see it ever on a (somewhat) big screen.
The exact title won't be revealed till showtime. Organic wine and craft beer will be on special during the film, which only seems appropriate, as the entire cast and crew must have been soused when they made it. 8 p.m. showtime, $7 admission.
Until next week, see you at the movies. And don't forget to turn off that cell phone.
Jim Reed directs Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah. Read more at www.filmsavannah.com.