As I write this week’s installment of Film Scene, a mandatory evacuation of parts of Chatham County has been ordered due to Hurricane Dorian. So, there is a decent chance that some or all of the film events listed below may simply not be taking place as scheduled due to inclement weather, power outages, water damage, etc.
Here’s hoping we will once more be spared the worst possible destruction, and that most, if not all, of the alternative cinema happenings meant to take place over the next seven days will continue as planned. Consult social media and the venue’s own websites for up-to-date information, as well dosavannah.com. As always, admission info to each of our featured events can be found in the accompanying sidebar listings at the end of this column.
Irony of wind
First up, let’s look to Tybee Island, where the restored Tybee Post Theater has endured its fair share of storm damage during past hurricanes. Cross your fingers that this lovely, historic structure escapes relatively unscathed this time around. The plan is for the Post to screen director Victor Fleming’s adored, yet controversial, Civil War romantic drama “Gone with the Wind” on Sept. 5. That lengthy, multiple Oscar-winning 1939 epic is a perennial favorite here in the Deep South, despite the fact that it’s really not that great of a movie, to be perfectly honest. Still, its majestic sweep is meant to be seen on the big silver screen, and that’s exactly where the Post will be projecting it. Showtime is 7 p.m., and admission price includes a drink of your choice (hard or soft).
Heading out to the nearby Springfield, their similarly-sized historic Mars Theatre kicks off a four-day run of the new pooch-o-centric dramedy “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” starring Gary Cole, Milo Ventimiglia, Martin Donovan and Amanda Seyfried. This tear jerker about a widowed, aspiring Formula One race car driver who fights his in-laws for custody of his young daughter is based on a best-selling 2008 novel, and, get this, is narrated by the spirit of the driver’s quite elderly dog. That canine’s voice is portrayed by none other than Hulk Hogan.
No, wait. That’s not right. The voice of the dog comes courtesy of avant-garde filmmaker David Lynch. No, wait. That’s still not right. He’s voiced by none other than criminally underrated, genius standup comedian Emo Philips!
OK, it’s just Kevin “Sizzle Beach, U.S.A.” Costner. Sorry about that. Shows 7 p.m. Sept. 5-7, with a 3 p.m. matinee Sept. 8.
Dora goes exploring
A few nights later, the Mars presents the recently-released live-action kids’ adventure-comedy “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” which is based on the immensely popular “Dora the Explorer” series of books and associated TV series on the Nickelodeon cable network. This $49 million adaptation stars relative newcomer Isabela Moner as the young explorer Dora, and also features such established TV and film actors as Michael Peña, Eva Longoria and “Machete” himself, Danny Trejo. In the few weeks since it hit theaters, it has already grossed close to $80 million at the box office.
The plot concerns a husband-and-wife team of explorers who are raising two children during their extended search for a hidden Incan City deep in the Peruvian jungle. When their teenaged daughter Dora and her schoolmates are kidnapped by mercenaries who take them to Peru as leverage to force her parents to divulge the location of the fabled Incan City, which is believed to be filled with golden treasures. The plucky female explorer sets out to free herself and her friends and warn her family. What follows are all manner of daring, family-friendly travails and exploits.
The film has received generally positive marks from critics, and is drawing a broad audience of both Caucasian and Hispanic viewers. Moner in particular has been singled out for her notably nuanced and charismatic performance as the titular explorer. All in all, it seems a worthy choice for youngsters or those young at heart who enjoy an old-fashioned yarn with plenty of exotic outdoor scenery. Showtimes 7 p.m. Sept. 12-14, with a 3 p.m. matinee Sept. 15.
Sept. 6 finds local community film organization CinemaSavannah hosting another regional premiere of an acclaimed first-run feature at the city’s new Cultural Arts Center, located downtown on Montgomery St. in the shadow of the Savannah Civic Center. This time out it’s “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” the latest documentary on the life, career and legacy of the late, great African-American author and educator of the same name. She passed away just a few weeks ago at the age of 88 after collecting numerous international accolades for her work, including the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award, the Nobel Prize in Literature, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among others.
The author of such timeless, influential novels as “The Bluest Eye,” “Song of Solomon,” “Beloved,” and “Jazz,” she was cinematically profiled by the celebrated still photographer and documentary filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, whose prior docs include the Grammy-winning “Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart,” “Thinking XXX,” a portrait of adult film stars which aired on HBO, as well as a multi-part series of non-fiction films which capture the creative process of his large-format portrait photographic essays, including “The Black List,” The Latino List,” “The Out List,” “The Boomer List” and “The Trans List.”
“Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” made its debut at the 2019 Sundance Film Fest, and includes candid, previously unseen interviews with Morrison herself in which the author, a close friend of the filmmaker, opens up and reveals intimate tales from her own storied life, unguarded and directly into his unflinching camera, as well as those who knew her best, such as authors Fran Lebowitz and Walter Mosley and cultural icon Oprah Winfrey. This will likely be its only area engagement, and it screens once only, at 6:30 p.m.
PFS: Pinky violence
Last, but not least, on Sept. 11 at the Sentient Bean Coffeehouse, the Psychotronic Film Society’s long-running weekly series of underappreciated or downright obscure feature films from around the globe continues with a rare screening of the stylized, violent and somewhat sleazy Japanese “Pinky Violence” flick “Rica 2: Lonely Wanderer.”
This 1973 female-oriented action film is the sequel to the little-known 1972 gem “Rica: The Mixed-Blood Girl,” which the PFS screened a few months back to a roomful of adventurous viewers who responded with plenty of applause and laughter. A favorite of fans of Japan’s Pinky Violence genre, a type of trashy late-’60s and early ’70s action movie centered around tough yet sexy female Japanese juvenile delinquents. The “Rica” films are titillating blasts of wild and politically incorrect crime movies in which a teenage half-Japanese/half-American girl named Rica winds up leading an all-girl gang against other female gangs, as well as various male aggressors.
This installment stands alone and does not require the viewer to already be familiar with the first film in the trilogy. Rica has broken out of reform school only to find herself targeted by the bloodthirsty Japanese crime syndicate known as the Yakuza. Much like the first entry in this franchise — which is virtually unknown here in the USA — it’s basically nonstop, wall-to-wall action with more than a touch of absurdity. So if you prefer films that aren’t weighed down by a preponderance of backstory, and which rely on more skin than script, then this might be right up your rue, as esteemed British thespian Steven Toast might say.
The PFS screens the full, uncut widescreen version of the film, in its original spoken Japanese with English subtitles. For mature viewers only. Showtime 8 p.m., with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the show and a full, award-winning vegetarian dinner menu available.
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: “Gone with the Wind”
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 5
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave., Tybee Island
What: “The Art of Racing in the Rain”
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 5-7; 3 p.m. Sept. 8
Where: Mars Theatre, 106 S. Laurel St., Springfield
What: “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am”
When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 6
Where: Cultural Arts Center, 201 Montgomery St.
Cost: $10 (cash only)
What: “Rica 2: Lonely Wanderer”
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 11
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
What: “Dora and the Lost City of Gold”
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 12-14; 3 p.m. Sept. 15
Where: Mars Theatre, 106 S. Laurel St., Springfield