Do Savannnah

Film Scene: Psychotronic Film Society honors indie horror pioneer Romero

 

Film Scene: Psychotronic Film Society honors indie horror pioneer Romero

04 Oct 2017

As I write this week’s Film Scene, news has just come across the wire that iconic singer-songwriter Tom Petty has died from an apparent cardiac arrest. Together with the senseless, brutal and massive country music fest massacre in Las Vegas and the passing of beloved TV game show host Monty “Let’s Make a Deal” Hall, it’s been a really dispiriting day for those of us who find inspiration and solace in music, art and popular culture.

For whatever my own words may be worth at a time like this, I encourage all readers to aggressively seek joy and creative enrichment in whatever forms they find most appealing. FBI Agent Dale Cooper once said, “Every day, once a day, surprise yourself with a little gift.” I suggest extending that notion to those around us, and making a point to do something unexpected and kind for at least one stranger every single day. A little bit goes a long way in days as dark as these.

Now, looking ahead to the next seven days of alternative cinema events in the greater Savannah area (which is what this column is all about, after all), there’s plenty of wonderful screenings on display for locals and visitors alike.

Van Gogh biopic

First up, on Oct. 5, the lovely Lucas Theatre’s newly launched Art House series of first-run independent and foreign films offers up a welcome treat for adventurous movie lovers: it’s a one-show-only regional premiere of “Loving Vincent,” the universally acclaimed experimental biopic of master oil painter Vincent Van Gogh.

What’s an “experimental biopic” you ask? Well, each of the more than 65,000 individual film frames that make up this feature-length motion picture is — get this — an actual oil painting, which was done by hand by one or more professional European fine art painters versed in Van Gogh’s own style. Then, those 65,000 still images were animated to create a vivid, moving image. The film’s storyline focuses on the doomed artist’s final days, and it’s said to be both artistically and technically groundbreaking while simultaneously incredibly moving for viewers of all ages. This is the award-winning film’s southeastern premiere and one heck of a cool “get” for Savannah. Try not to miss it. 7 p.m. showtime (admission prices for all titles can be found in the sidebar listings).

Ill-fated mission

Two nights later, on Oct. 7, the Lucas presents a rare big-screen viewing of actor-turned-director Ron Howard’s 1995 docudrama “Apollo 13,” about NASA’s ill-fated third moon mission. Nominated for an amazing nine Academy Awards (including Best Picture), it stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and the late Bill Paxton as the real-life U.S. astronauts who were forced to grapple with a severe malfunction during spaceflight that threatened not only the mission, but also their lives. Praised for its historical and scientific accuracy, “Apollo 13” is considered one of the best American motion pictures of its era. 7 p.m. showtime.

Anime and opera

There are a few special digital screenings taking place at area multiplexes over the next week courtesy of Fathom Events, and the first is a two-day engagement of “No Game No Life Zero,” a futuristic, Japanimated sci-fi action tale of war, chaos and androids. It will screen here in town at the AMC Savannah 11 and Regal Stadium 10 (both behind the Savannah Mall) and at the Cinemark in Bluffton, S.C. Bonus features at these blink-and-you-miss-it shows (there will be no wide release for this film here in the States) include special interview footage with the cast and crew. Oct. 5 screenings are in spoken Japanese (subtitled in English), while the Oct. 8 shows are dubbed in spoken English. Showtimes are 7 p.m. each night, with an additional 12:55 p.m. matinee at the Bluffton location only.

Fathom also presents the faith-based documentary (read: message movie) “Mully” on Oct. 5 at both the Regal Stadium 10 and Bluffton’s Cinemark. The true tale of a wealthy entrepreneur of the same name who raised himself on the dangerous and impoverished streets of Kenya after being abandoned at the age of 6, it follows his life story through to his current status as a philanthropist who is giving back to that nation’s orphan community. 7 p.m. showtime.

Next up is the Metropolitan Opera’s high-def live simulcast of Vincenzo Bellini’s 1831 work “Norma,” at both Savannah’s Regal Stadium 10 and Bluffton’s Cinemark. Carlo Rizzi conducts this production by Sir David McVicar, which stars Sondra Radvanovsky as the Druid priestess. Her rival, Adalgisa, is portrayed by Joyce DiDonato, and Pollione, Norma’s unfaithful lover, is portrayed by tenor Joseph Calleja. Considered one of the finest examples of the bel canto genre, this newly staged effort runs 3 ½ hours in length, and is performed in Italian, with English subtitles. If you miss the 12:55 p.m. simulcast on Oct. 7, you can always catch an encore screening at both 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11.

And finally, Fathom presents an encore presentation on Oct. 10 of the new Christian-oriented documentary “Steve McQueen: American Icon,”about the religious beliefs of the legendary Hollywood leading man (“Bullitt,” “Papillon”). It’s hosted by celebrity pastor Greg Laurie, and based around a candid interview with McQueen’s widow. It also screens in Bluffton, S.C., at the Cinemark. It screens at 7 p.m. at both the Regal Stadium 10 and the AMC Savannah 11.

Tribute to Romero

The Sentient Bean has two notable screenings coming up between now and the next issue of Do Savannah. The first takes place at 8 p.m. Oct. 6 and is sponsored by two different organizations: Equal Exchange and the Perennial Plate. The short film, “Women in Coffee,” runs just under 13 minutes, and offers a portrait of the female leaders in the Equal Exchange coffee supply chain, who oversee and facilitate the harvesting, production and — ultimately — the brewing of fair-trade organic coffee beans, “from seed to cup.” The Sentient Bean proudly serves such sustainably and compassionately sourced beans, and one can only assume there will be an accompanying discussion of the ethical and financial importance of such a supply chain after this free screening. Showtime is 8 p.m.

The second movie event at The Bean occurs on Oct. 11, as part of the Psychotronic Film Society’s regular, weekly Wednesday night series of underappreciated cinema. It’s a rescheduled screening which had been canceled a few weeks back due to the PFS’ audio-visual gear being stolen in a robbery. The official online fundraiser to replace the gear is still underway, and halfway to its goal (to learn more or to contribute, check out gofundme.com/save-the-psychotronic-film-society).

Currently using borrowed equipment, the quirky, DIY organization (which I run, full disclosure) pays tribute this week to the recently deceased indie filmmaking pioneer George A. Romero (“Night of the Living Dead,” “Creepshow,” TV’s “Tales from the Darkside”), who died July 16 after a short battle with lung cancer.

Romero set himself apart from virtually every other horror film auteur by imbuing his motion pictures with copious amounts of social and political commentary — often at the expense of attracting mainstream viewers. The exact title of the Romero film to be screened remains a secret until showtime (folks are encouraged to take a chance, buy a ticket and be pleasantly surprised), but it’s one of his best, yet least-discussed, features, and one that deserves wider appreciation. The PFS will show the uncensored, unrated director’s cut, which was never seen in theaters, but is exactly as Romero intended. Showtime 8 p.m., with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the film.

Hot rods at the Post

And last, but not least, on Oct. 12, the Tybee Post Theater offers up director George Lucas’ out-of-left-field pre-“Star Wars” hit “American Graffiti.”

Produced by none other than Francis Ford Coppola and co-written by Lucas based on his own personal experiences as a hot rod car enthusiast coming of age in Modesto, Calif., in the early ‘60s, “American Graffiti” greatly helped to establish the careers of most of its main cast members (including Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat and Candy Clark).

Created for less than $1 million, it has to date grossed more than $200 million, making it one of the most profitable films ever released. Echoes of this film can be seen in Richard Linklater’s 1993 cult favorite “Dazed & Confused,” as well as in the mid-’70s TV sitcoms “Happy Days” and its spin-off, “Laverne & Shirley.” Showtime is 7 p.m., with admission including a complimentary glass of wine and a piece of chocolate.

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: “No Game No Life Zero”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 5 and Oct. 8; 12:55 p.m. Oct. 8 (Cinemark only)

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

Cost: $10.50-$13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

What: “Loving Vincent”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 5

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $10

Info: lucastheatre.com

What: “Mully”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 5

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

Cost: $14.98

Info: fathomevents.com

What: “Women in Coffee”

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 6

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

Cost: Free

Info: sentientbean.com

What: The Met Live in HD: “Norma”

When: 12:55 p.m. Oct. 7; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11

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

Cost: $21.40-$25.68

Info: fathomevents.com

What: “Apollo 13”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 7

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $8

Info: lucastheatre.com

What: “Steve McQueen: American Icon”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 10

Where: AMC Savannah 11, 1150 Shawnee St.; Regal Savannah Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee St.

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

What: George A. Romero Memorial Tribute

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 11

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

Cost: $10

Info: instagram.com/pfssav

What: “American Graffiti”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 12

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $10, includes glass of wine and chocolate

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

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