Even the French have superheroes

Originally published at the Savannah Morning News.

JUDEX poster

JUDEX poster

For the past 10 years or so as I’ve been presenting underrated and overlooked films here in Savannah, I’ve run into many people who understandably assume I must adore all the movies I promote.

In a way, it only makes sense: Why would someone spend a great deal of time, money and energy to host public screenings of films if he’s not an avowed and ardent fan of them?

Well, the truth is that while I don’t believe I’ve ever shown a film I dislike, I often promote films I have no real affinity for.

My impetus was never to screen films I love, but merely to screen films I felt someone would love. Giving all sorts of folks the chance to stumble upon their next favorite movie was — and remains — the goal. It’s a pleasure to publicly showcase a forgotten film truly deserving of rediscovery. The act of researching — and then often tracking down rare copies of — these lost gems (and buried misfires) is what drives me.

Every so often, however, I do present films I greatly enjoy. I’ll do just that April 10 at the Sentient Bean Coffeehouse, when the Psychotronic Film Society screens a beautiful, uncut and restored version of the 1963 superhero fantasy “Judex” by French director Georges Franju, marking what would have been his 101st birthday.

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German auteur brings tale of fur trappers

Originally published at the Savannah Morning News.

Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog

In 1974, eccentric German motion picture director Werner Herzog made the challenging art-house sensation “The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser,” a feature that won three major awards at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival and was selected as Germany’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 48th Academy Awards.

Soon thereafter, a young Polish student and cinema enthusiast named Tomasz Warchol saw that film along with Herzog’s next picture, the 1976 period piece “Heart of Glass,” which the director made in a most unorthodox fashion — insisting virtually all his actors be under hypnosis while on camera and recite their lines while in a deep trance.

These two experimental dramas made a tremendous impression on Warchol, who understood them for what they were: formative works by one of the most unique and unmistakable filmmakers of our time.

“I remember clearly watching ‘Kaspar Hauser,’” Warchol recalls. “And ‘Heart of Glass’ was very original and somewhat hallucinatory. Even at that early, early stage, Herzog was a majorly original force in film. Especially through his work with (Klaus) Kinski, which made him quite a sensation in Europe.”

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Kirk and Spock in Mirror, Mirror

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy turning 82

Originally published at the Savannah Morning News.

This busier-than-usual week at the Bean kicks off March 24 with a Two-Night Double-Feature of Mystery Screenings paying tribute to iconic pop-culture heroes William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Both “Star Trek” veterans turn an enviable 82 years old within four days of each other, and as in years past, the PFS salutes their multifaceted careers by showing two ultra-obscure feature films — each of which stars one of these extremely underrated actors.

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Daisy Bates at Central High School

For Savannah St. Patrick’s Day recovery, head to the movies

Originally published at the Savannah Morning News

Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock

Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock

This is one of those overwhelming times in Savannah when excess is the norm, and one can’t escape the myriad entertainment options on display downtown.

Think I’m describing St. Patrick’s Day insanity?

Actually, it’s the crazy-packed schedule of indie film screenings over the next few weeks.

In the next 18 days, there are at least six noteworthy cinema events any self-respecting movie lover will want to consider attending, and the selection couldn’t be more diverse. This embarrassment of celluloid riches starts with a double whammy March 20.

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David Cronenberg directing A History of Violence

David Cronenberg leads off Savannah indie screenings to watch

Originally published at the Savannah Morning News

March 13 at The Sentient Bean, the PFS’ weekly series of quirky and overlooked movies pays tribute to iconic, edgy director David Cronenberg.

March 13 at The Sentient Bean, the PFS’ weekly series of quirky and overlooked movies pays tribute to iconic, edgy director David Cronenberg.

Greetings, and welcome to the first installment of Film Scene.

In the 10 years since I launched the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah, there’s been no small amount of growth in our area’s independent film options. I don’t mean the region’s film and TV production, which, despite the peaks and valleys inherent in that mercurial industry, continues to thrive. Rather, I’m speaking of the substantial increase in options locals and tourists alike have to see challenging, eclectic motion pictures in public.

For decades, adventurous Coastal Empire cineasts had to settle for whatever mainstream safe bets appeared at our corporate-owned multiplexes. But in the early 2000s, upstart organizations like Reel Savannah and the PFS threw caution to the wind, took matters into their own hands and applied a DIY approach — curating distinctly different (yet complementary) series of provocative, acclaimed features that would otherwise never play here.

Click here to read the full article.