Sunday, February 22, 2015

AMC Best Picture Showcase 2015... the Wrap Up

Well… the lights are up, and the movies are over! I hope you all enjoyed Bad Shakespeare and his movie Ranger’s coverage of the AMC Best Picture Showcase 2015. It was a long night… it was a snowy night.. and it was apparently an icy night. The Georgetown AMC Shut down at 6:00, but we still managed to rock the night away in pure awesomeness, movies, good friends, and movies. Yes, I said that twice. We saw eight movies.

Also, a real quick shoutout to the crew running AMC Georgetown 14. It was an awesome event, and it was because they all spent time iced in with us. So, I guess in some ways they didn't have a choice. But they decorated and kept our spirits up, even as people started leaving because the ice was really hitting.

Speaking of ice, for those of you who aren’t in Washington, DC, AMC Georgetown is, as it mentions, is in Georgetown. But, it’s in a strange place in Georgetown where there’s an overpass, and the place itself is underneath this overpass. So, say, for instance, you’re standing out front waiting for the pizza, and the snowplow comes to plow the overpass. It pushes stuff to the lower area. Like where you’re standing… waiting for the pizza. Yeah. I got snow plowed. It was fun.

We all had a great time in this year in interaction with the staff. Maybe it was being snowed in. Maybe it was that they enjoyed the cookies. They certainly enjoyed the cookies, provided by Benedict Cumberbatch enthusiast Kim. They even gave most of the Rockin’ Movie Ranger prizes! First for Bad Shakespeare for tweeting. Then because we were bold enough to have pizza delivered. And because we’re just awesome people who sat up front and managed to enjoy things. Mysterious Jerome and I managed to eat plenty of cookies, which was important to maintaining the balance.

Also, we did something a little bit different this year by managing to get Papa Johns to deliver three pizzas for our group in the middle of an ice storm. Everyone else was gone, but we had our own little pizza party in between Selma and American Sniper

Now, for a write up of the films themselves! I posted mini-reviews on Bad Shakespeare twitter and Facebook Page, but here is what we thought.

Boyhood: This is the gimmick film that filmed every year for 12 years, a gimmick not seen since 56 years ago with the Up Documentary series, or with Coffee and Cigarettes. Basically that’s the movie. One year of a boy’s life. The problem most of the Rockin Rangers found was that it didn’t really tell a story, and it didn’t have anything to do with it’s title… boyhood. It starts at a random place in his life. Then it ends, randomly, when he meets his college roommate. Plus, the acting in some of the teenage years borders on “after school special” quality. Yes, this is a lot of people’s frontrunner, but it may take some more viewing to really appreciate, but our group really couldn’t figure out what it is that made this movie so special, beyond its… let’s face it, gimmick. Tell a story. Not a random assortment of scenes. 

The Theory of Everything: This is a really good movie, so I felt bad referring to it as Stephen Hawking: Origins. It was basically this, movie, telling the story of Stephen Hawking as he invents time, then doesn’t get knighted, and manages to have three kids. (Good for him.) But this was an amazing movie that got a lot of “the big things” right. The scenes of Steven slowly losing his motor skills is extremely heartbreaking, and is really juxtaposed where he stood up at the end in his imagination. There were a few scenes that I was convinced that I was actually watching Stephen Hawking. It was just an incredible film.

Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): This was the only spot where we had a real split in the ranks. Bad Shakespeare loved it (as I’ve mentioned) but it was too weird for the rockin’ rangers. For those of you who don’t know about it the 20 times I’ve talked about it, but Michael Keaton plays a guy who once placed a superhero who decides to put on a prestige piece and yadda yadda yadda… METATHEATER! They dug the central gimmick of the one shot, but also found it too weird, specially when you throw in all the superpowers maybe superpowers, never mind here’s Michael Keaton running around in his underwear. Wasn’t the worst movie we ended up seeing, but ultimately, they didn’t have the same unabashed love for it that Bad Shakespeare showed. Oh, well. Can’t win them all. 

Selma: This was a gripping look at the events in Selma, the Civil Rights movement, LBJ, George Wallace, MLK… this had it all. It pulled from the real FBI Transcripts that were kept on LK during this time. We all agreed on this one that this is an extremely powerful movie, but none of us were prepared for the moment when the movie switched from the fictional movie to the actual footage. It’s a powerful reminder of history… one that is way too recent for us to think about. 

After this was dinner time! This is when we had Papa John’s bring us food! Because we’re awesome.

American Sniper: Ok, so I went into American Sniper with a certain prejudice. Not really against the subject matter, but the attitude around it that says, “if you don’t like this movie, you hate America!” It’s a movie. Everyone has their opinions on it, and I hate anything that tells me that we have to “like” something to “be” something. For instance, I didn’t like Passion of the Christ. It didn’t make me non-Catholic… it meant that I didn’t like the movie. That being said, the Rockin’ Rangers kind of agreed that we didn’t enjoy this movie. This movie was about Chris Kyle, a Navy Seal Sniper who was killed by a veteran he was trying to help. There’s no doubting that he was a hero. He was a real hero that saved a lot of lives. He should be honored. We didn’t feel that this film really honored that. It took away from a lot of the teamwork that’s associated with being in the military… including Snipers, who typically use a spotter. But it also followed the “Poochy Rule” from the Simpsons, which meant that if Chris Kyle ever wasn’t on screen, everyone would be asking “where’s Chris?”. Plus, there’s that one scene, an extremely dramatic, well acted scene in which to characters are arguing while holding a baby. Chris’s newborn daughter, adding to his drama of going back to war. But… they didn’t get a real baby. They had a fake baby, and it was OBVIOUS. The theatre was laughing the entire time. It’s a multi-million dollar movie about a hero. Let’s pay a little extra to get an infant on set. 

To clarify before I’m attacked: Chris Kyle did a lot and is a hero. The movie wasn’t good, in my opinion. 

Intimidation Game: The first half hour was pretty much indistinguishable from a good episode of Sherlock in which Martin Freeman just hasn’t show up yet. The movie tells the story of Alan Turning, his hidden (or not so hidden) homosexuality, and the fact that he built the first real computer that powers what I’m writing this blog post on. Powerful performances from everyone involve, and a pretty good movie that jumps back and forth through time at his time in boarding school, and working for the government in trying to stop Nazi messages in World War 2. It’s sort of like a spy thriller, but with a lot of history.

Whiplash: It’s a movie about drums. Well, a drummer at a prestige school in New York and the semi-abusive… ok, abusive teacher that tries to make him better or drives him slowly mad depending on your outlook. Also features one of the great “fight scenes” in movie history at the end. Again, another agreement as this was a film that came out of nowhere, really, on our collective radars. Not just top notch performances, but extremely top notch performances from everyone involved. Plus, there was that special bonus that they put the drumming movie on at 1, so… yeah. That helped. No black and white family dramas then wondering why everyone is asleep. 

Grand Budapest Hotel: We all fell asleep during parts of this movie. It’s Wes Anderson, and it’s about a hotel and the people who run it. It’s also a story within a story, within a story. Most of us had seen it before, and we loved it, but knowing it’s Wes Anderson and a hotel is pretty much what you need to know about this. Really good.

As for what we think will win? Ah, we don’t know. We know what we liked… we know what we enjoyed. And we know what we want to see again.

So, the chapter closes on another successful AMC Best Picture Showcase, the 24 hour edition. Thanks to everyone who made it happen.  Bad Shakespeare and his Rockin Movie Rangers will come at you next year for more movie excitement. 

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