In our weekly roundup of all the noteworthy alternative cinema events taking place over the next seven days in and around Savannah, it’s rare that we include listings for two different venues which are both showing the same classic film. However, that is the case in this installment.

Yellow brick roads

On May 2 and 3 at 7 p.m. each night, the historic Mars Theatre in the nearby Springfield will present the bona fide legendary popcorn movie “The Wizard of Oz” in celebration of the 80th anniversary of its release. It’s hard to imagine much of anything needs to be said in order to promote the value in seeing the digitally restored version of this surreal 1939 gem of a family-oriented fantasy film.

However, allow me to posit that if you grew up watching this in a dull broadcast TV print on an old 13-inch CRT television set, as I did (hey, at least it was a Trinitron!) then very little can prepare you for the majestic practicality of the set design and the vibrancy of the color palette on display in this darker-than-you-may-remember adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s children’s novel. Eighty years later, it is still a marvel of a movie that burrows deep into your psyche and won’t really ever let go. Don’t miss this opportunity to see it as its filmmakers originally intended. Plus, it’s only $5 to get in!

By the way: if you’d rather not drive 30 to 40 minutes to Springfield, or you are already busy on May 2 and 3, the Tybee Island’s Post Theater will also screen the restored version of “The Wizard of Oz” at 7 p.m. May 9 in their 200-seat historic venue just a short walk from the beach. $10 admission to that one-show-only event.

 

For the faithful

That same night, May 9, the Mars Theatre kicks off a four-day engagement of the brand-new family drama “Breakthrough,” starring Chrissy Metz (of TV’s “This Is Us”), Topher Grace (“That ‘70s Show”), Mike Colter (“Luke Cage”) and Sam Trammell (“True Blood”). Based on a true story of a young boy who fell into a frozen Missouri lake and fought for his life, it’s been praised by critics as perhaps one of the best faith-based theatrical features in recent years. However, to be blunt, that isn’t saying much ­— as that increasingly popular subgenre of tearjerkers are often comically heavy-handed and melodramatic by their very nature.

Many reviewers have noted that the entire film comes across as very preachy and sermonizing to anyone not already versed in, and faithful to, the particular brand of Evangelical Christianity that lies at the root of this entire story, and that those folks may well feel excluded from the proceedings. However, for those who subscribe to the belief system espoused in the movie, “Breakthrough” is comfort food of the highest order. Showtimes at 7 p.m. May 9 to 11, with a 3 p.m. matinee May 12.

 

Earth’s heroine

Heading towards midtown, on May 5, local film organization CinemaSavannah has booked the exclusive area engagement of yet another estimable first-run foreign film at the Jewish Educational Alliance’s auditorium. This time around, they will present the just-released Icelandic drama “A Woman at War.” Australia’s ABC radio said it is a “rich, offbeat, intricate drama with splashes of comedy,” about a seemingly boring, middle-aged woman who leads a double life. Secretly, she is a passionate and antagonistic environmental activist who engages in everything from small acts of vandalism to major feats of dangerous sabotage against her country’s aluminum industry in fierce pursuit of her pro-nature goals.

The film is described as a “breathless” and “absurdist” look at the boundaries of personal responsibility in this modern age where corporations rape and pillage our Earth’s natural resources, frequently with the impunity that only money and power can buy. A smash hit at established European film festivals, it swept Iceland’s 2019 Edda Awards (their equivalent to our Oscars), where it won every single category it was nominated in — all 10 of them! Impressive, huh? This will be its only area screening, so if top-quality foreign films are your bag, don’t miss this one. Showtime 4 p.m.

 

PFS: Spying on the park

And finally, moving towards downtown, our last two Film Scene events take place just a short walk from each other, by the southern end of Forsyth Park.

First up, on May 8 at the Sentient Bean Coffeehouse, the Psychotronic Film Society’s long-running and award-winning weekly series of overlooked or marginalized feature films from around the world continues with an intimate showing of the little-known 1968 European spy thriller “A Dandy in Aspic,” starring Laurence Harvey (“The Manchurian Candidate”), Mia Farrow (“Hannah and her Sisters”) and Tom Courtenay (“Doctor Zhivago”). Unlike the majority of Euro-spy films from this time period, “A Dandy in Aspic” is definitely not a James Bond knockoff. Instead, it’s a dark, moody and rather bleak look at the grim world of international espionage that’s much more similar to the works of noted British author John le Carré.

Shot in the U.K. as well as Berlin, Germany, it’s packed with swanky, mod locations, clothes and visuals, but the heart of the film is a tale of a British secret-agent who is tasked by his government to ferret out and assassinate an infamous Russian spy they have never caught before. Unbeknownst to his employers, the British operative is a double-agent and he himself is the Russian spy they seek! Rarely seen in public or even mentioned in print, this forgotten gem is a favorite of hardcore spy-film devotees. The PFS will screen a beautifully restored widescreen print. Showtime 8 p.m. with a full vegetarian menu and discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the show.

 

Local filmmakers

Lastly, a block or so farther up Bull St. from the Bean at White Whale Craft Ales, they’ll hold a “Love Stories Film Fest” on May 9. This event finds local filmmakers submitting original, romance-themed short subjects of less than 15 minutes in length, all of which will be screened in one long block on an indoor wall of this small craft beer shop and bar near the intersection of Bull and Henry.

This is the second conceptually-themed short film festival this independent local business has hosted in the last few months, and its definitely a casual, DIY affair. However, it’s also an opportunity to avail oneself of the diverse range of creative filmmaking talent which surrounds us here in the Coastal Empire. And to drink esoteric beers while doing so. Showtime 7 p.m. with no admission price listed.

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 Wizard of Oz”

When: 7 p.m. May 2, 3

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

Cost: $5

Info: marstheatre.com

 

What: “A Woman at War”

When: 4 p.m. May 5

Where: Jewish Educational Alliance, 5111 Abercorn St.

Cost: $10 (cash only)

 

What: “A Dandy in Aspic”

When: 8 p.m. May 8

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

Cost: $8

Info: instagram.com/pfssav

 

What: “The Wizard of Oz”

When: 7 p.m. May 9

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

Cost: $10

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

 

What: “Breakthrough”

When: 7 p.m. May 9-11; 3 p.m. May 12

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

Cost: $7

Info: marstheatre.com

 

What: “Love Stories Film Fest”

When: 7 p.m. May 9

Were: White Whale Craft Ales, 1207 Bull St.

Cost: TBA

Info: Facebook.com/WhiteWhaleCraftAles