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Film Scene: From rom-coms to horror, something for everyone at the movies

  • ‘Asylum: House of Crazies’
  • ‘Glory’ aka ‘Slava’
  • ‘Paragraph 175’
 

Film Scene: From rom-coms to horror, something for everyone at the movies

18 Oct 2017

Those of you who regularly rush to devour the latest installment of Film Scene know that in last week’s column, I congratulated the Lucas Theatre on selling out that beautiful, balconied venue’s Southeastern premiere of the critically acclaimed and audience-adored European animated Vincent Van Gogh biopic “Loving Vincent.” Filling almost 1,200 seats for a relatively obscure arthouse flick devoid of big-name stars is no small feat, and that unexpected success resulted in a hastily arranged encore screening a few nights later.

Well, I am pleasantly stunned to report that second showing was a complete sell-out as well. That’s correct — more than 2,200 tickets were sold locally to this mesmerizing labor of love that seems a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination in the Best Animated Feature category. Our area’s audiences for “Loving Vincent” are the largest to date (by leaps and bounds) the picture has drawn here in the States, and I can only hope such a magnificent turnout bodes well for future first-run indie and foreign films at the Lucas.

Surreal ‘Suspiria’

Speaking of special, one-show-only engagements of big-deal arthouse releases, I’m thrilled to announce that a few weeks from now on Nov. 10, the Lucas plays host to a major fundraising event for the newly rebooted Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah.

That night, the PFS presents the new 4K digital restoration of legendary Italian writer-director Dario Argento’s 1977 masterpiece of surreal horror “Suspiria.” Considered one of the most intense and hauntingly beautiful thrillers ever made, this visually stunning new English-language print was painstakingly scanned and cleaned from the original 35mm camera negative and magnetic soundtracks. It contains the complete, uncut version of the movie, which has remained unseen since the first few weeks of its European theatrical release 40 years ago.

Advance tickets go on sale near the end of October, and hopefully, as this is one of a few U.S. screenings planned for the restored cut (supervised by the film’s own director of photography), it too will draw a sizable crowd to this historic movie palace.

While you’re waiting for the mighty “Suspiria” to arrive, there are plenty of great alternative cinema happenings going on around our neck of the woods, starting with 10 distinct offerings over the next seven days alone.

Diverse offerings

Fathom Events continues to present a variety of digital streaming programs at a few area multiplexes, including an Oct. 19 encore of the Christian-themed spiritual documentary “Steve McQueen: American Icon,” which focuses on the crisis of faith that iconic Hollywood leading man suffered late in his life, and the changes it reportedly brought about in his worldview. It screens at 7 p.m. that night at both the AMC Savannah 11 and the Regal Stadium 10 (both behind Savannah Mall). Ticket prices for all screenings in Film Scene can be found in the accompanying sidebar listings.

Christian-themed cinema programming has become something of a cottage industry, and the Protestant and Evangelical communities are a major audience demographic for Fathom. So, it’s no surprise that five nights later, on Oct. 24, they’ll offer an 8 p.m. viewing of “REVIVE US 2: A National Family Meeting.”

The follow-up to an incredibly successful big-screen discussion of political, racial, economic and faith-based issues which was released in 2016, this second installment is once again hosted by former teen star (and noted ultra-conservative fundamentalist) Kirk Cameron. It includes appearances by several conservative and right-wing authors, clergy, musicians and celebrities, including former presidential candidate (and self-proclaimed attempted murderer) Dr. Ben Carson. An encore screening takes place at the same venues at 7 p.m. Nov. 1.

And, on Oct. 25 at both the Regal Stadium 10 and the Cinemark in Bluffton, S.C., the RiffTrax crew — a group of comedy writers and actors who specialize in making fun of pre-existing films and TV shows — give the “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” treatment to the late, trailblazing writer-director George A. Romero’s 1968 zombie apocalypse classic “Night of the Living Dead.”

Expect a non-stop barrage of snarky wisecracks and witty asides bandied about just a hair louder than the original film’s own soundtrack. That’s the shtick with RiffTrax: they’re “riffing” ironically on the movie as it plays. In other words, if you don’t want your viewing experience to be interrupted with witty barbs, stay home and rent the film itself. However, if you appreciate inside humor, you’ll likely dig this encore presentation of a live simulcast initially broadcast a few years back. “Night of the Living Dead” runs just over 90 minutes, but this event is two hours in length, including the new bonus material. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

Lucas does Broadway, ballet

Shifting back to the Lucas Theatre, at 7 p.m. Oct. 19, their continuing series of Broadway HD programing features a one-night-only exclusive digital stream of “Present Laughter,” which serves as the long-awaited return to Broadway of Kevin Kline. Kline won the Best Actor Award at the 2017 Tonys for his lead role as a self-obsessed thespian in this over-the-top stage play that itself was Tony-nominated for Best Revival of a Play. This is your chance to see an acclaimed Broadway show up close, with exquisite audio-visual clarity, at a fraction of the price you’d pay for cheap seats in the back of the actual Broadway theater where it’s playing. Treat yourself.

Then, at 7 p.m. Oct. 22, the Lucas kicks off its new series of high-definition digital streams of major productions by the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet with a production of “Le Corsaire,” the beloved three-act ballet inspired by the epic, romantic poem by Lord Byron first staged in 1856. Considered one of the most lavish and exotic shows ever mounted by the Russian ballet company, this newly staged production is described as a truly “awe-inspiring” redux packed with amazing scenery and action and a rather huge cast of principals, soloists and corps de ballet. As a bonus, there will be a 20-minute “pre-show” including footage of Moscow, the Bolshoi Theatre and candid interviews with some featured dancers.

This same program will screen earlier in the day, at 12:55 p.m. at the Regal Stadium 10 and Bluffton’s Cinemark, but tickets at those corporate multiplexes cost almost $20, whereas the Lucas is only charging from $5 to $15 for the same event on an even bigger screen. That should make your choice of venue a no-brainer.

One night of ‘Glory’

On Oct. 20 at the S.P.A.C.E. Gallery, local film organization CinemaSavannah presents another area exclusive, a one-night-only engagement of the latest feature from Bulgarian filmmakers Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov.

“Glory” aka “Slava” was a smash on the international film fest circuit, earning top honors at the Boulder, Cleveland, Dublin, Edinburgh, Locarno and Hamptons festivals, among others. This “tragic dramedy” is about a meek and scrupulous Bulgarian railway worker who stumbles upon a pile of cash and turns it over to the authorities (yet somehow winds up scapegoated by corrupt officials). It has been praised far and wide for its “sharp execution,” “rough-hewn naturalism” and “sneaky breed of gallows humor.” Two shows, at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., in spoken Bulgarian with English subtitles. Cash only at the door.

The Bean goes international

There will be two different indie features shown at The Sentient Bean this upcoming week. At 7 p.m. Oct. 22 is a rare public viewing of “Secret Path,” an hour-long animated program made in 2016 for Canadian television. It is an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name by artist Jeff Lemire as well as the accompanying record album of songs by celebrated Canadian singer-songwriter and political activist Gord Downie (frontman of top-selling pop-rock band The Tragically Hip).

It tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a First Nations boy who in 1966 escaped from a government-run boarding school and subsequently died of hunger and exposure while trying to walk more than 370 miles back to his home on a Canadian Indian Reservation.

Three nights later at The Bean, the Psychotronic Film Society presents a rare public screening of one of the most entertaining horror anthologies ever made, the low-budget 1972 British-made “Asylum: House of Crazies,” starring Peter Cushing, Britt Ekland, Charlotte Rampling, Herbert Lom and Patrick Magee.

One of the finest films made by the long-defunct Amicus Productions (generally viewed as a bargain-basement knockoff of the better-known British horror movie studio Hammer Films), it features a script comprised of four short stories by famed mystery and thriller writer Robert Bloch (who also penned Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”), and takes place in a creepy sanitarium. The PFS will show the uncut European version of the film, which is rarely seen here in the U.S. 8 p.m. Oct. 25 showtime, with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the show.

Queer cinema series

Just a few nights before, on Oct. 22, the PFS partners with the Savannah LGBT Center, 1515 Bull St., and the newly formed “queer cinema series” The Look Back to screen the award-winning 2000 documentary “Paragraph 175.” The documentary paints a vivid and emotional portrait of homosexuals who were persecuted by the Nazi regime, through candid, moving interviews with some of the now-elderly gay men who survived that horrific experience.

Featuring previously unseen archival material and long-hidden personal photographs, “Paragraph 175” offers a vivid look at one of the least known and most disgraceful aspects of the Third Reich. Admission is free to this first in an ongoing series of important LGBT-centric feature films to be screened in the new community center’s meeting room; however, voluntary donations in any amount are encouraged to help defray operating costs. Seating is limited and begins at 6 p.m., with the film starting at 7 p.m.

Love triangle on Tybee

And finally, on Oct. 26, the Tybee Post Theater will present director Billy Wilder’s adorable 1954 romantic love-triangle comedy “Sabrina,” starring Audrey Hepburn and the great Francis X. Bushman, as part of that historic venue’s Girls’ Night Out series of romantic tearjerkers from days gone by.

The tale of a shy and awkward daughter (Hepburn) of a wealthy society family’s chauffer who finds herself attracting the amorous attention of said family’s two handsome sons (played by Humphrey Bogart and William Holden) was nominated for a whopping six Academy Awards, winning one. If you’ve never seen it before, catch it like this — on the big screen. It holds up amazingly well, even after more than 60 years. 7 p.m. showtime, with admission price including a glass of wine or beer (if you’re old enough).

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: “Steve McQueen: American Icon”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 19

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

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

What: Broadway HD: “Present Laughter”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 19

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $5-$15

Info: lucastheatre.com

What: “Glory” aka “Slava”

When: 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Oct. 20

Where: S.P.A.C.E. Gallery, 9 W. Henry St.

Cost: $8 (cash only)

Info: 912-651-6783

What: “Secret Path”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 22

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

Cost: TBD

Info: secretpath.ca

What: “Paragraph 175”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 22

Where: Savannah LGBT Center, 1515 Bull St.

Cost: Free, donations accepted

Info: savannahlgbtcenter.org

What: Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema: “Le Corsaire”

When/Where: 12:55 p.m. Oct. 22 at Regal Savannah Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee St., and Cinemark, 106 Buckwalter Pkwy., Bluffton, S.C.; and 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $19.26 at Regal/Cinemark; $5-$15 at Lucas

Info: fathomevents.com, lucastheatre.com

What: “REVIVE US 2: A National Family Meeting”

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 24; 7 p.m. Nov. 1

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

Cost: $13.38-$16.05

Info: fathomevents.com

What: RiffTrax Event: “Night of the Living Dead”

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25

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

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

What: “Asylum: House of Crazies”

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 25

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

Cost: $8

Info: instagram.com/pfssav

What: “Sabrina”

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 26

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $10

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

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