In last week’s column, I mentioned the fabled Seven Golden Needles, which can be used to bestow upon their human pincushion either ultimate physical prowess or an immediate, excruciating demise. This prowess/demise according to a purportedly ancient legend that was probably made up specifically to serve as a plot device in the cornball script to the forgotten 1970s mystical action flick “Golden Needles.”
This week, movie lovers have Five Golden Screenings to choose from at four different independent or alternative cinema venues. Each one is quite different, and together they provide a wide variety of big-screen fare. Which, if any, speak to you, dear readers, is anyone’s guess. But hopefully, you’ll each find something listed below to support with your attendance. As always, admission info can be found in the accompanying sidebar listings.
At the Mars
We begin on Feb. 14 in Springfield, the Mars Theatre presents a four-day run of the recently released dramedy “The Upside,” which stars Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart as quite a mismatched pair. Cranston plays a fictionalized version of a real-life billionaire who became a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair and Hart plays a fictionalized version of the recently paroled convict who takes a job caring for said moneybags. This remake of a 2011 French film has drawn mixed reviews, but almost everyone seems to praise the onscreen chemistry between these two talented lead actors. It screens at 7 p.m. Feb. 14-16, with a 3 p.m. matinee Feb. 17.
The following week, the Mars brings in the CGI-animated smash “How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World,” which stands as the final film in a trilogy based on a series of immensely popular kids’ fantasy novels by Cressida Cowell about the friendship which develops between a young teen Viking and a powerful winged serpent. Each of the previous entries in this film series has been quite successful at the box office, and this latest installment is no exception. It was released just a little over a month ago and has already grossed almost $150 million worldwide. Listen closely and you can discern the voice talent of Cate Blanchett, Jay Baruchel, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera and F. Murray Abraham. Showtimes at 7 p.m. on Feb. 21–23, plus Feb. 28 and March 1–2.
Heading into Savannah’s midtown area, on the afternoon of Feb. 17, community film organization CinemaSavannah once more brings in a unique big-screen program: a two-hour compilation of acclaimed short films from around the world, all of which are nominated for this year’s upcoming Academy Awards. This way-cool anthology is playing in a small number of theaters around the country just a few weeks before the 2019 Oscars ceremony on Feb. 24. Until recently, it was virtually impossible for folks outside of the movie industry or who did not live in Los Angeles, New York City or another major metropolitan areas to see a public screening of any of these short subjects. So, this unusual opportunity is not to be missed.
Expect shorts ranging from a mere seven minutes up to 40 minutes in length, in the categories of documentary, live-action and animation from the USA, Canada, Ireland, China and Spain. The vast majority of these films will not be seen anywhere else in our market and may be extremely difficult to find online after this brief theatrical run. The venue for this presentation is the auditorium of the Jewish Educational Alliance building. Showtime is 4 p.m., with the box office opening at 3:30 p.m. Don’t forget that all of CinemaSavannah’s events are cash only.
Tybee Post Theater
Moving out to the beach, Tybee Island’s historic, restored Post Theater presents one of last year’s most popular and critically acclaimed dramas, the latest remake of the Hollywood classic “A Star is Born.” It is directed by and stars Bradley Cooper as a drug and alcohol-addicted yet massively successful country-rock bandleader who finds inspiration and a sense of self-reflection through his romantic and motivational relationship with a young, inexperienced female singer-songwriter (played by Lady Gaga). An extremely impressive directorial debut, it boasts compelling performances, including a small but extremely believable turn from raunchy standup comic Andrew “Dice” Clay and a standout supporting role from veteran character actor and leading man Sam Elliot. It has ambitious cinematography and staged musical performances. It has received a whopping eight nominations at this year’s Oscars, including Best Picture. So, if you wanted to see it on the big screen, but kept putting that off, now’s a great chance to both catch it as its filmmakers intended and support one of the most unique cinemas in the area just before the Academy Awards are handed out. Showtime 7 p.m. Feb. 20-23, with a 3 p.m. matinee Feb. 22.
Psychotronic Film Society
If you’re looking to “roll them bones” a bit and take a chance on being pleasantly surprised, on Feb. 20 at the Sentient Bean Coffeehouse just south of Forsyth Park, the Psychotronic Film Society’s long-running Wednesday night series of overlooked, marginalized or underappreciated feature films from around the world continues with another of its trademark Mystery Screenings. The exact title of this beloved cult film will not be announced beforehand, so adventurous moviegoers are encouraged to show up, buy a ticket and be surprised.
I can tell you the following about that night’s selection: it was released almost 37 years ago to the day of this screening, and proved to be one of the biggest bombs of its internationally revered American director’s career. Most critics adored it upon initial release, but the ticket-buying public avoided it in droves. However, over the intervening decades, many viewers have changed their attitude towards the film, and it is now commonly regarded as an excellent, edgy and provocative motion picture that’s well ahead of its time.
A tense dramedy starring two bona fide legendary actors and one legendary comic, it’s equal parts suspenseful and drop-dead funny. Best of all, it’s still surprisingly unknown to many fairly knowledgeable film fans. The PFS will screen the fully-restored director’s edition of this misunderstood masterpiece. A full, award-winning vegetarian dinner menu is available, along with Fair Trade coffees and teas, plus organic wine and craft beer will be on special during the screening that starts at 8 p.m.
SCAD’s Cinema Circle
And finally, on Feb. 21 at Trustees Theater, SCAD’s Cinema Circle presents the latest in their current series “Silent Winter,” which focuses on extremely influential examples of standout features and short subjects from the glory days of the silent movie era. That night, the Cinema Circle will screen iconic writer-director-star Charlie Chaplin’s 1921 sensation “The Kid,” which marked his first-ever feature-length directorial credit.
A massive hit in its day, “The Kid” stars Chaplin as a nameless tramp who finds an abandoned baby and “adopts” it, illegally raising the boy into a life of petty crime and desperate living, yet always with a tremendous amount of love and affection. One of the very first motion pictures to combine drama and pathos with slapstick comedy, it proved something of a revelatory glimpse into the mindset of Chaplin, and turned his young, 5-year-old costar Jackie Coogan into the first-ever child superstar. (Coogan would go on to a long career in Hollywood, eventually gaining a second burst of fame for his role as Uncle Fester on the “Addams Family” TV series of the 1960s.)
The 4K restoration of Chaplin’s 53-minute 1972 “director’s cut” of the film will be shown (which features, among other things, an original soundtrack composed by the star himself), along with Chaplin’s 1917 short “The Immigrant,” a controversial yet well-respected 22-minute movie featuring his famous tramp character, which details the plight of a mischievous foreign immigrant during his travels by ship to the USA and his subsequent comedic exploits in this country. As with all Cinema Circle events, the program will be hosted by a SCAD Film and TV department faculty member. This time around its filmmaker Professor Michael Chaney, who will also moderate a post-show audience discussion on Chaplin’s influence and legacy, as well as that of these two specific motion pictures. Showtime 8 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: “The Upside”
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 14-16; 3 p.m. Feb. 17
Where: Mars Theatre, 106 S. Laurel St., Springfield
What: 2019 Oscar-Nominated Short Films
When: 4 p.m. Feb. 17
Where: Jewish Educational Alliance, 5111 Abercorn St.
Cost: $10 (cash only)
What: “A Star Is Born”
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 20-23; 3 p.m. Feb. 22
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave., Tybee Island
What: Mystery 1983 Cult Comedy
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 20
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
Host: Psychotronic Film Society
What: “How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World”
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 21-23, Feb. 28, March 1-2
Where: Mars Theatre, 106 S. Laurel St., Springfield
What: “The Kid”
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 21
Where: Trustees Theater, 213 E. Broughton St.
Cost: $8, $5 for seniors, students, military; free for SCAD card holders
Host: SCAD’s Cinema Circle