Anyone who did not avail themselves of the chance to see writer-director Lawrence Kasdan’s terrific 1981 neo-noir “Body Heat” on the big screen at the Tybee Post last week really missed out.
It had been years since I had seen that low-budget sleeper, and I’d forgotten just how taut and finely honed a romantic thriller it is. The performances of the entire cast are nearly pitch-perfect (especially a young, dark-haired Ted Danson in his small but pivotal role as a duplicitous, debonair district attorney), and Kathleen Turner’s take on her breakout role as a conniving, vivacious femme fatale is the stuff Hollywood careers are made of.
Kudos again to the Post for showcasing that picture for a one-night-only revival. As I’m fond of saying in this column, that intimate, homegrown 200-seat restored single-screen venue is one of our area’s most underappreciated gems, and a great place to catch movies as well as concerts and stand-up comedy. It’s well worth the drive if you live off the island. Pick up on it.
Up next at the Post
The Tybee Post’s next cinematic presentation takes place Aug. 23. It’s the recently released, moderately successful romantic dramedy “Book Club,” starring Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton and Mary Steenburgen (Mrs. Ted Danson) as a quartet of female friends grappling with divorce, dating, unhappy marriage and the death of a spouse. However, once they are introduced to the simple-minded “50 Shades of Grey” trash novels, they find themselves inspired to make some risqué decisions with mature male acquaintances (played by Craig T. Nelson, Andy Garcia and “The” Don Johnson) that lead them into some awkwardly humorous situations.
Most folks will either love or hate this movie’s premise and its approach to mawkish comedy. However, if films like these are what it takes to get more talented, underutilized middle-aged (and older) actresses back on the big screen in major studio pictures, then by all means, more power to ‘em. Showtime is 7 p.m., and admission includes your choice of a drink (hard or soft). Ticket pricing for this and all Film Scene events can be found in the accompanying sidebar listings.
The King is back
Moving out to the Southside of Savannah, Aug. 16 and 20 find the Regal Stadium 10 multiplex hosting a special theatrical engagement of Elvis Presley’s beloved 50-year-old network TV concert known as “The ’68 Comeback Special.” This nearly 90-minute performance appears to be totally live, but in reality, The King was singing live vocals to specially recorded backing tracks that are being mimed onstage by the very same musicians who cut the tunes in the studio. However, the illusion is nearly seamless, and as this took place years before Elvis’ calamitous fall into extreme drug and alcohol abuse, he’s in terrific form — intensely charismatic and riveting to watch.
This TV special jumpstarted his musical and touring career after it nearly ground to a halt due to his manipulative manager’s insistence that Presley concentrate on starring in and sleepwalking through laughably mediocre motion pictures, and in hindsight, its importance in his life has only resulted in an increased sense of timelessness concerning the entire proceedings. Bonus material added to this nationwide release includes an exclusive interview with the director and producer of the special, who offer their candid recollections of the circumstances surrounding the taping. 7:30 p.m. showtime on both nights at Regal and at the Cinemark in nearby Bluffton, S.C.
This is only the first of two different Elvis-related events taking place this week, but more on that later ...
Talking to God
On Aug. 20-22 at the same two venues, Fathom Events presents the theatrical premiere of “An Interview with God,” the latest in an ever-growing swath of fictional features aimed squarely at the Protestant Christian demographic. As with most of these pictures, they are released theatrically for just a few days as special events, and kept away from established movie critics in advance (which is never a good sign). Methodically targeted directly to church groups as opposed to advertised to general audiences, these pictures are often made on the (relative) cheap, and are almost assured to turn an instant profit off of believers. Depending on one’s own spiritual bent, some may find this commercial approach heartfelt and savvy while others may find it crass and shallow.
Either way, if this is the first you are even hearing of this tale of a journalist who returns to the States after covering the war in Afghanistan conflicted, traumatized and grappling with faith in his Christian beliefs but offered an opportunity to interview a man who claims to be God (played by the Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated David Strathairn), that likely means you don’t attend a Fundamentalist or Evangelical house of worship. It will screen at 7 p.m. each of those three nights, followed immediately by some sort of onscreen discussion of the “thought-provoking themes” present in the film. If you catch it, let me know how it is, will ya?
Riffing on 'Krull'
The last specialty program taking place over the next seven days at the Regal Stadium 10 is a live simulcast of the RiffTrax crew’s snarky send-up of British director Peter Yates (“Bullitt,” “Mother, Jugs & Speed,” “Year of the Comet”) 1983 sci-fi fantasy flop “Krull,” which has something to do with kings and queens, princes and princesses, warring alien races that travel the universe in spaceships, a cyclops, flying horses and other generic, derivative supernatural and fairy tale tropes. Let’s be honest here: this film makes virtually no sense whatsoever, and seems cobbled together out of half-baked ideas and half-remembered scenes from earlier, unrelated films and books. However, the visual effects were quite ambitious for their time, and if you look closely enough, you can catch a young Liam Neeson in one of his earliest supporting roles.
The RiffTrax voice actors, most of whom got their start on the pioneering cult cable TV series “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” will, in the style of that series, poke fun at the film’s copious flaws by offering forth a non-stop barrage of audience-aimed wisecracks, putdowns and raunchy double-entendres over the movie’s own soundtrack. It’s a form of snide, post-modern entertainment that has a certain visceral appeal, and is worth taking in at least once — even if it does not seem like your cup of tea. If it is, you are probably already a devotee of both “MST3K” and RiffTrax, and looking forward to this roast of one of the more embarrassingly ludicrous attempts at creating an epic fantasy realm onscreen.
I’m not ashamed to say that I had an original theatrical one-sheet poster of “Krull” on my bedroom wall from 1983 till the time I left home for college here in Savannah in 1986. Or wait, maybe I am. Either way, even though I don’t particularly dig the RiffTrax approach, I may have to make an exception for this digital simulcast of a guilty pleasure from my misspent youth. 8 p.m. showtime, with an encore matinee at 12:55 p.m. Aug. 25.
More 'Mamma Mia!'
For those in the Springfield area (or those who are up for a short road trip to patronize another small, independently operated historic single-screen venue), the restored Mars Theatre screens the newly released musical “comedy” known as “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” at 7 p.m. Aug. 16, 17 and 19. The sequel to the phenomenally successful “Mamma Mia,” this follow-up reunites many of the big-name stars of that first cringe-worthy attempt at ham-fistedly mashing up Swedish pop supergroup ABBA’s 1970s and 1980s saccharine radio hits with a threadbare “plot” about young love and familial shenanigans.
I’ll just say it: the trailer for this preposterously opportunistic and ill-conceived piece of dross gave me a stomachache and left me feeling extremely embarrassed for Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and, perhaps most of all, Sweden’s own Stellan Skarsgård. Listen, digging on ABBA makes perfect sense. I do it myself. But supporting this kind of celluloid abomination is nigh on indefensible. Don’t let that keep you from supporting the Mars, though. That place is rad, and the only reason they are showing “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is that an awful lot of folks will reliably queue up to see it like a healthy leg reacting to a rubber mallet to the knee. You know, good bidness.
Hepburn moves to Trustees
Aug. 17 finds the Lucas Theatre’s extremely well-received “Hitchcock or Hepburn” series of classic features continuing with a one-show-only revival of the 1964 Hollywood musical “My Fair Lady,” starring Audrey Hepburn as a simple Cockney flower girl in Edwardian London and Rex Harrison as the snobby phonetics professor who make a bet that he can rid the girl of her “lowly” accent and street grammar, thus making her presentable to the upper levels of British society. Considered one of the best American films ever made, it has remained a sentimental favorite for several generations, and won eight Oscars, including Best Actor (Harrison), Best Director (George Cukor) and Best Picture. Unlike the previous entries in this series, for reasons of scheduling this screening will take place around the corner from the Lucas at SCAD’s other restored vintage movie palace, Trustees Theater. 7 p.m. showtime.
Play within a play
The next night, Aug. 18, the Lucas presents a high-definition digital film of Britain’s National Theatre Company’s acclaimed live stage performance of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” a play based on the best-selling novel of the same name by author Mark Haddon. The fictional tale of a young boy whose behavior falls on the autism spectrum who investigates the killing of a neighbor’s dog was rethought for the stage as a play within a play, and beginning with its 2012 British premiere has received near universal acclaim from both critics and audiences alike. In fact, its original production won the most-ever Laurence Olivier Awards (for excellence in London’s professional theater world), including Best New Play.
As with all National Theatre Live digital broadcasts at the Lucas, this beautiful venue charges substantially less for tickets to these special events than is normally the case at any other area cinemas which may happen to host them. That means that even if you wind up paying for downtown parking to attend this show at the Lucas, it will still cost much less than if you caught it anywhere else around these parts — especially if you qualify for a student, military or senior discount.
The other Elvis
And, last but certainly not least, the Psychotronic Film Society’s ongoing Wednesday night series of underappreciated or downright obscure feature programming from around the globe continues Aug. 22 at The Sentient Bean with a salute to the esteemed, genre-crossing English singer-songwriter-actor Elvis Costello, on the occasion of his 64th birthday, which takes place just a few days later. Costello, who first came to international prominence in the late 1970s as one of the most idiosyncratic, aggressive (and undeniably Dylan-esque) tunesmiths to emerge from the punk and new-wave music scenes has since become an elder statesman of intelligent, nuanced songwriting and a legendarily magnetic and aggressive band frontman and solo act. He has also dabbled in acting on both the small and big screens and served as a well-regarded TV talk show host.
The exact title of this feature-length Costello film (which is rarely seen in public) remains a closely guarded secret until showtime. Will it be a musical concert movie, a dramatic film in which Costello plays a key role, a documentary on the musician himself, or something else entirely? Fans and curious viewers are encouraged to take a chance, buy a ticket and be pleasantly surprised. Full vegetarian dinner menu available, plus discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the film. 8 p.m. showtime, with rare Elvis Costello items raffled off beforehand.
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 the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah.
IF YOU GO
What: “Elvis ’68 Comeback Special”
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16 and 20
Where: Regal Stadium 10; Cinemark (Bluffton)
What: “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 16, 17, 19
Where: Mars Theatre, 106 S. Laurel St., Springfield
What: “My Fair Lady”
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 17
Where: Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.
What: National Theatre Live “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 18
Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.
What: “An Interview with God”
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 20-22
Where: Regal Stadium 10; Cinemark (Bluffton)
What: Elvis Costello Birthday Mystery Movie
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 22
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
What: “Book Club”
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 23
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.
What: “RiffTrax: Krull”
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 23 and 12:55 p.m. Aug. 25
Where: Regal Stadium 10