Well, after last week’s unusually slow schedule of alternative cinema events here in the greater Savannah area, the next seven days sees an increase in the frequency of both screenings of non-traditional fare as well as standard-issue screenings at non-traditional venues.
First up, we have four specialty events taking place at multiplexes out on the Southside. These all come courtesy of Fathom Events, which distributes high-definition digital content to a wide network of affiliated theaters.
On Sept. 6 and 10, the AMC Savannah 11 (which for ages before its parent company’s acquisition by AMC was known by its original name: the Carmike Wynnsong) marks the 20th anniversary of the initial theatrical release of the rather infamous, underappreciated Japanese anime horror feature “Perfect Blue.” Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Satoshi Kon (the man behind the later anime feature “Paprika,” which was infinitely more celebrated in the mainstream), it’s the twisted tale of a promising TV actress and model who believes she is being stalked by a sadistic murderer.
Don’t let the fact that this is an animated film fool you: it’s filled with graphic nudity, violent sequences and language, and is definitely geared toward adults. It’s also rarely seen on the big screen in the USA, so if intense anime is your bag, you will not want to miss this newly remastered digital print of the uncut version. The Sept. 6 screening will be shown in the original spoken Japanese with English subtitles, while the Sept. 10 encore presentation will be dubbed into English. Both start at 7 p.m. on their respective nights. Admission prices to all the events listed in this column can be found in the accompanying sidebar.
TMC's 'The Sound of Music'
A few nights later, on Sept. 9 and 12, the Regal Stadium 10 (right next door to the AMC Savannah 11, behind the Savannah Mall) screens the cable station Turner Classic Movies’ augmented version of the 1965 film version of the hit Broadway musical “The Sound of Music,” starring Julie Andrews (“S.O.B.”) and Christopher Plummer (“Stella Starcrash”). Directed by Robert Wise (“The Haunting,” “The Curse of the Cat People,” “West Side Story,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still”), this tale of a young lady who abandons an Austrian convent to serve as governess to the seven children of a widowed naval officer is very loosely based on a true story, and is set against the backdrop of Hitler’s rise to power. It features songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, including “Edelweiss,” “My Favorite Things” and, of course, “Do-Re-Mi.”
Immensely popular at the box office, its profits were credited with saving 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy, and for a short period of time, it actually bested “Gone with the Wind” as the highest-grossing motion picture of all time. It was also nominated for a stunning 10 Oscars, winning five. At almost three hours, it’s an epic in more ways than one, and something of a rite of passage for fans of movie musicals. TCM host Ben Mankiewicz adds about 12 minutes’ worth of educational commentary on the film before it begins. Showtimes at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day.
Moses at massive scale
Then, on Sept.13, the Regal Stadium 10 kicks off a three-day engagement of Fathom’s newest entry into the burgeoning cottage industry of Christian-oriented programming. “MOSES” (all caps) is a professionally filmed, 130-minute live stage production of the world-famous Sight and Sound Theatres, which tells the story of the titular biblical figure in what the producers describe as “jaw-dropping scale” with “massive sets, spectacular special effects and live animals.”
Filmed before a live audience at either the company’s main, 2,000-capacity venue in Lancaster, Pa., or at their duplicate facility in Branson, Mo., (it’s not clear where this particular performance took place), this show was produced on a massive, 300-foot stage. It was originally mounted in 2014, but recently relaunched, running from 2016-17. As a bonus, viewers of this filmed presentation will also be treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the history of this organization, which launched in 1976 to create Bible-themed multimedia shows, featuring live actors in their productions starting in 1987.
As far as whether or not God himself approves of Sight and Sound’s dramatized interpretations of his accomplishments, it may be worth noting that in 1997, their original theater caught fire, destroying the entire facility and most of their costumes and sets — along with all their live animals. So, yeah. There’s that. Showtimes are 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13 and 20, plus a 12:55 p.m. matinee Sept. 15.
'Rematch of the year'
And finally, on Sept. 15, Fathom presents a live four-hour championship boxing simulcast at the Regal Stadium 10. Billed as “Canelo vs GGG 2,” the main event on this card is “the rematch of the year” — Mexican fighter Canelo Álvarez and Kazakhstani Gennady Golovkin battling in Las Vegas for the World Middleweight Title. Both boxers have had numerous controversial issues in their recent pasts, with Álvarez being temporarily suspended from fighting for testing positive for a banned chemical substance and Golovkin being stripped of his International Boxing Federation title due to flouting their rules. The entire event gets underway at 8 p.m.
'Midnight' at the Post
Heading out to Tybee Island, the historic Tybee Post Theater will screen the local favorite “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” for two nights only, Sept. 6 and 7. Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring John Cusack (“Tapeheads), Geoffrey Lewis (Juliette’s dad) and Jerry Spence (“The Queen of Everything”), this 1997 film is an adaptation of the best-selling non-fiction true crime novel of the same name by John Berendt.
Both the film and book are widely considered to have helped boost tourism to our area since their respective releases, although the movie version is alternately dismissed and/or reviled by most longtime area residents, who resent the extreme liberties taken by Clint’s hand-selected screenwriter (who jettisoned most of the true aspects of the legitimately bewitching story to make room for trite, fabricated scenes more fitting of an episode of the ridiculous 1970s TV series “Marcus Welby, M.D.”). I suppose I fall in that camp.
However, I also recall that when the movie’s lead actor Kevin Spacey (who really goes out on a dramatic limb to play an older gay guy who takes violent advantage of a younger man) was invited on the “Tonight Show” the day before the film’s theatrical release, he actually refused to discuss “Midnight” on the air at all, which led me to believe he, too, knew it was junk.
Regardless, a lot of folks around these parts enjoy this movie, as it gives them a chance to see their hometown on the big screen. So, if that’s where you’re coming from, by all means, go and have a good time. Just know that having Clint and his cohorts screw this up and then phone it in for a quick paycheck resulted in a huge lost opportunity for all concerned (including our entire area). 7 p.m. showtimes each night.
The original 'Falcon'
Moving downtown to Forsyth Park, on Sept. 12, the Psychotronic Film Society’s long-running Wednesday night series of underappreciated or downright obscure feature films from around the globe continues at The Sentient Bean. That night, they’ll show the B&W film noir gem “The Maltese Falcon.”
You’re probably saying to yourself, “That’s not obscure at all. Why is the PFS showing ‘The Maltese Falcon?’” Well, what if I told you that 1941’s “The Maltese Falcon,” starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Peter Lorre, was actually the THIRD film version of Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 novel of the same name? That’s right. Most folks have no idea that barely a year after its initial publication, and a full 10 years before Bogart appeared as detective Sam Spade, the handsome Ricardo Cortez played that role alongside Bebe Daniels. This original version is notably more lighthearted than the ’41 remake; however, in many respects, the two films are almost identical.
And yet, this original film still adheres much more closely to the book itself. That’s at least partly because at the time of its production, Hollywood’s notoriously restrictive Hays Code had yet to go into effect. That act of “self-censorship” found the trade group now known as the Motion Picture Association of America voluntarily banning a variety of controversial subject matter from their films in an effort to avoid government intrusion and oversight of the movie business. As a result, the 1931 “Falcon” includes references to homosexuality, stripping and other “tawdry” aspects of Hammett’s tale that would be sanitized or ignored altogether by the time Bogart stepped into Spade’s shoes.
The 1941 version became such a worldwide hit that this original film was kept locked in a vault and out of circulation for decades, lest it somehow compete with or be confused with Bogie’s remake. However, enough time has gone by now that it can be appreciated for what it is: a very well-made crime film that gets the whole “noir” vibe — a full decade before most critics and viewers would even think that terminology applies to American films. The PFS will screen a full, uncut print of this forgotten gem, with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the screening. 8 p.m. showtime.
Dog days of summer
And, last but not least, the historic Mars Theatre in nearby Springfield launches a three-day engagement of the new comedy “Dog Days” on Sept. 13. Directed by Ken Marino (best known as a key member of MTV’s early ‘90s sketch-comedy TV series “The State,” which also featured “Dog Days” actor Thomas Lennon (“Reno: 911,” “The Odd Couple”). The film focuses on the intersecting lives of a variety of Los Angelenos who are brought into contact with each other through their respective dogs. Dog therapists, dog walkers, dog adopters … they’re all represented in this enthusiastically charming indie film that is drawing mixed reviews, yet proving to be a sentimental fave among dog owners. (There’s a shock, huh?)
The ensemble human cast includes Vanessa Hudgens (“High School Musical”), Eva Longoria (“Desperate Housewives”), Nina Dobrev (“The Vampire Diaries”) and the wonderful Finn Wolfhard of “Stranger Things” fame (seriously, how could a guy with that name not be in a movie about dogs?), plus a few handfuls of relentlessly cute dogs. Some of you are already charging tickets, aren’t you? The film screens at 7 p.m. Sept. 13 and 14, and 3 p.m. Sept. 16.
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: “Perfect Blue”
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 6 and 10
Where: AMC Savannah 11 (formerly Carmike Wynnsong)
What: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 6 and 7
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.
What: “The Sound of Music”
When: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sept. 9 and 12
Where: Regal Stadium 10 and Cinemark (Bluffton)
What: “The Maltese Falcon" (original 1931 version)
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 12
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13 and Sept. 20; 12:55 p.m. Sept. 15
Where: Regal Stadium 10 and Cinemark (Bluffton)
What: “Dog Days”
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 13 and Sept. 14; 3 p.m. Sept. 16
Where: Mars Theatre, 106 S. Laurel St., Springfield
What: “Canelo vs GGG 2”
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 15
Where: Regal Stadium 10