Best Picture Showcase 2011

After previous years visiting the day long movie feast that is the AMC Best Picture Showcase, we have been pretty worn out. Sitting through 5 movies is not a chore, but the day sometimes semmed to drag on an there were long awkward periods when not much moved quickly. Yesterday however was different. The staff seemed to be engaged with the group in the theater, the break for lunch/dinner was just the right length of time and the movies were all relatively brisk. We did not have any three hour epics of slow moving Englishmen, or Blue Aliens. Instead most of the movies were 2 hours or less. I also think that the scheduling helped. The toughest movie to get through was not the last movie of the day but the second. It was sandwiched between two comedies that helped alleviate much of the grim scenario of the middle movie.

We were invited to participate in trivia contests during every break. The staff sometimes was a little under prepared in asking the questions but they were good natured and let the audience provide answers and comments along the way. Once again we won more than our share of the trivia prizes so from a personal perspective it was nicely satisfying. Best of all, as we were leaving after the last movie, we were all thanked for coming with a nice commemorative poster of the event. The personal contact at the end of the long day and a treat to go with it left my group refreshed rather than weary.

I thought the promo trailer was great and they played it before each movie so we were all reminded why we were there together. It was a lot less tiresome than the repetitive word jumbles and quote trivia on the slides. It make the experience feel unique for our group although I’m sure it is playing in other AMC theaters as well.

Toy Story 3

Again it was a delight. I am am sentimentalist and movies like this are designed to appeal to me. There are adults out there who may believe that an animated film is make for children. They are wrong, children may love an animated film, but anyone with imagination and heart could not fail to love a movie like this. As I said in my end of the year posting, this was not my favorite animated film of the year. That does not mean it is unworthy, it simply means that my taste was influenced by the new as well as the familiar.

127 Hours

A harrowing story told really well. There is of course a scene that,everyone who knows the real story the movie is based on,is dreading. I forgot the one element of the scene that bothered me so much the first time, and it got to me again. Amanda had to turn away while Aaron our hero makes his escape, Anne watched it through her hands and scarf. The incident that got her the most though was not gruesome but heart-wrenching, when a bottle of water was spilled, Anne reacted with a involuntary arm movement that smacked me in the arm, I may have a bruise, but it is a badge that shows how much we got involved in the man’s story.

The Kids Are All Right

This was the only movie that played yesterday that I had not seen. It was very funny at times and all the actors were really solid. I think Mark Ruffalo has reached the point where it is clear that he has the goods. This felt like a small movie and one that was actually personal. Most films like this don’t get released in theaters anymore, they are made for premium cable channels and shown to broad audiences, but the reaction doesn’t get shared like it does in a movie theater. It was not the filmmaker’s skills that draw attention to this piece, but the actor’s craft and the screenwriter’s creativity.

True Grit

I have a separate post on this in the December pages of the blog, and my opinion has not changed. This is a solid western, with excellent performances and some grim story telling. The tone is different than the John Wayne movie of 1969, but the story is the same and the dialogue often feels as if it was verbatim, but here it is more elaborately arcane and successful. The mild differences strengthen the movie in many cases but there are some elements that are less satisfying, including the tag ending of the movie that feels like a punch in the chops after all we have gone through.

The Fighter

I don’t know if there will ever be a Mixed Martial Arts movie that will have the drama of a good boxing film. MMA may be the wave of the future, but boxing seems to carry so much more substance to it that there is not any comparison. Of course there was a good wrestling movie two years ago, so maybe it will happen. This film is a showcase for acting talent in almost every scene. If Christian Bale fails to win the supporting actor award, I will wonder why for the rest of my days. This was a fitting way to end the day and leave us wanting more.

next week we will get more with five other films. I have not seen Black swan or Winter’s Bone yet, so I think i have a lot to look forward to. Plus we will get the two top contenders for the best picture award, The Social Network and The King’s Speech. Look for us to update live next week between the movies.