Hopefully those of you who follow Film Scene on a weekly basis took my advice and caught at least one screening during the recent, three-day installment of the annual Mountainfilm on Tour Savannah film fest at Trustees Theater.

I was lucky enough to catch two of those screenings myself, and they were both thrilling, inspiring and, at times, mesmerizing showcases for some of the most accomplished documentary filmmakers working around the globe today.

It’s heartening to see how many corporations, businesses and individuals in our community have come together to help sponsor this very worthwhile undertaking, which seems to get a little bigger each year — this was the Tellruide Mountainfilm Fest’s 10th stop in our city. If you missed, it, they’ll be around again at this time next year with another batch of recently made short subjects and feature films, so, as Tom Waits says, “keep that diamond in your mind.”

Last chance

Now, speaking of eagerly awaited annual world cinema showcases, the 2019 Savannah Jewish Film Festival continues with its final three movies taking place during these next seven days. If you did not catch my feature article on this extremely entertaining and provocative happening in last week’s issue of Do Savannah, it’s easily available on our website at dosavannah.com. So, click on over there when you have a chance for tons of information on just what’s so special about this event. The Jewish Education Alliance auditorium is hosting the feature-length motion pictures, which are either directly or indirectly concerned with Judaic or Israeli culture.

By the time this column hits the web and the streets, you’ll still have time to catch the following movies at that comfortable venue on Abercorn Street, just north of DeRenne Avenue: “Challah Rising in the Desert: The Jews of New Mexico” screens at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 31. It’s a documentary look at the little-known, 400-year history of that state’s uniquely Southwestern Jewish community. At 7 p.m. the same day, watch the local premiere of the highly-praised German historical drama “The Invisibles,” which fictionalizes the true and suspenseful story of approximately 1,700 Jews. In the thick of World War II, as the Nazi regime purged Jewish citizens from Germany, imprisoning or killing them, these Jews altered their looks and behavior to hide “in plain sight” in the capital city of Berlin. Finally, at 8:15 p.m. Feb. 2, the JEA will screen “The Boy Downstairs,” a romantic dramedy about a female Jewish millennial who accidentally becomes a close neighbor to her ex-boyfriend.

As always, admission info for these and all our other Film Scene titles can be found in the accompanying sidebar listings.

 

That one Vice

In the nearby city of Springfield, the Mars Theatre offers up a three-night engagement of the controversial black comedy “Vice,” starting Jan. 31.

The latest effort from Oscar-nominated writer and director Adam McKay (“The Big Short”), this snide and savvy nontraditional biopic of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, starring Academy Award-winner Christian Bale as Cheney, has won critical raves from all corners. Although some rabid neo-conservatives may be infuriated at the sight of one of their heroes being mercilessly mocked. Regardless of your political persuasion, Bale’s performance is said to be spectacular, and he recently won Best Actor at the Golden Globe Awards for his efforts. Showtimes at 7 p.m. Jan.31 and Feb. 1, plus 3 p.m. Feb. 3.

 

Gambling kid

Heading downtown to the Sentient Bean Coffeehouse on the southern end of Forsyth Park, the Psychotronic Film Society’s long-running and award-winning Wednesday night series of overlooked, underappreciated or just plain oddball feature films continues Feb. 6 with a rare public screening of the 1981 picture “On the Right Track.” The film stands as the very first theatrical motion picture ever made by the late iconic child TV star Gary Coleman, who rocketed to fame in the late-1970s playing wisecracking orphan Arnold Jackson on the smash NBC sitcom “Different Strokes.”

Coleman was just 14 when he starred in this extremely wholesome and good-natured comedy as a homeless boy living illegally in a Chicago railway station and supporting himself by giving shoeshines. When it turns out the young entrepreneur has a strange knack for picking winning racehorses, every gambler in the city is jockeying to get a tip from the very kid they should be tipping themselves. Shown briefly in theaters, it found a home on cable TV where it was shown incessantly from 1983 untill around 1986 when its cornball cheese factor started to make even the most good-natured viewers cringe.

It has since lapsed into almost total obscurity, but stands as an example of the kind of goofy, family-oriented movies with a heavy-handed moral message that simply aren’t made much anymore. The supporting cast includes the late, great character actor Norman Fell (Mr. Roper on TV’s “Three’s Company”) and Maureen Stapleton (Edith Bunker on TV’s “All in the Family”)! Coleman passed away in 2010 at the age of 42, and the PFS’s screening takes place just a couple of days shy of what would have been the actor’s 51st birthday. Showtime 8 p.m.

 

Date night

And finally, as if an entire Jewish Film Fest weren’t enough for you, on Feb. 7, the Tybee Post Theater will screen Steven Spielberg’s universally praised dramatic WWII biopic from 1993, “Schindler’s List.” It stars Liam Neeson as the real-life figure Oskar Schindler, whose efforts to secretly aid persecuted Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland earned Neeson the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role — one of seven Oscars awarded the film.

A gripping, tense picture that packs an emotional gut punch, “Schindler’s List” was shot in glorious black and white by Janusz Kaminski. A celebrated Polish filmmaker in his own right, Kaminski has been cinematographer on eight different Oscar contenders for Best Picture, and who if I am not mistaken has been behind the camera for every Spielberg film since this one. It seemed a little odd to me that this title was selected as part of the Post’s “Date Night” series, which would seem to imply movies with a strong romantic element as opposed to those centered around dark and grim content. However, once I realized that this year’s Date Night films are all drawn from the American Film Institute’s list of the Top Ten Films in each of 10 different cinematic genres, it made more sense.

So, if you want to catch several classic motion pictures that bona fide film academics feel are exemplary, keep track of this intimate, 200-capacity venue’s upcoming offerings throughout the year. Showtime is 7 p.m.

 

Until next week, 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: “Challah Rising in the Desert: The Jews of New Mexico”

When: 1:30 p.m. Jan. 31

Where: Jewish Education Alliance, 5111 Abercorn St.

Cost: $12 per film (discount for JEA members)

Info: savannahjea.org/film-schedule

 

What: “The Invisibles"

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 31

Where: Jewish Education Alliance, 5111 Abercorn St.

Cost: $12 per film (discount for JEA members)

Info: savannahjea.org/film-schedule

 

What: “Vice”

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 31, Feb. 1; 3 p.m. Feb. 3

Where: Mars Theatre, 106 S. Laurel St. Springfield

Cost: $6

Info: marstheatre.com

 

What: “The Boy Downstairs”

When: 8:15 p.m. Feb. 2

Where: Jewish Education Alliance, 5111 Abercorn St.

Cost: $12 per film (discount for JEA members)

Info: savannahjea.org/film-schedule

 

What: “On the Right Track”

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 6

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

Cost: $7

Info: instagram.com/pfssav

 

What: “Schindler’s List”

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 7

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave. Tybee Island

Cost: $10

Info: tybeeposttheater.org