The 10 Movies I Plan to See This Week

One thing I absolutely love about my job is the free movies. I don’t have to be discriminating in my choices. I don’t have to toil over whether I actually want to see something or not. I just go see it and that’s it.

This week, I’m only working 1 1/2 days because of the holiday and some vacation, so I figured it was as good a time as any to get caught up on some movies. As I started to look at the list of stuff that was in the, “Yeah, I’ll see that…” category, it’s pretty long.

So here’s what I’m going to attempt to see before I come back to work next Monday:

UPDATE: just found out Woody Allen’s latest, To Rome With Love, arrives in KC tomorrow, so we’re adding that one too.

And I also plan to eat a lot. Should be an amazing vacation. It’s a good thing when the company you work for gives you something that you want to do on your vacation. Are there any movies I’m missing?

Best Picture Showcase – Weekend 2

So, it’s one of my favorite weekends of the year — Oscar Weekend. And that means that we also finished up the Best Picture Showcase at AMC today.

First things first, a disclaimer: I am recently employed by AMC and have to state that these opinions are my own.

Last weekend, we had Avatar, Up in the Air, Precious, The Blind Side and Inglorious Basterds. (If you want to read about weekend 1 of the Best Picture Showcase, you can revisit my previous post.)

So to complete the 10 Best Picture Nominees today, the lineup was:

As we did last weekend, we arrived late since we’d seen (and own) Disney Pixar’s brilliant UP.

So technically our day was supposed to start with A Serious Man, but we actually kicked it off with the movie I was most looking forward to today: An Education.

I really loved An Education. Carey Mulligan is just unbelievably charming and complex in a terrific coming-of-age story penned by one of my favourite (with added ‘u’ because he’s British) authors, Nick Hornby. Filled with great performances from Peter Saarsgard, Alfred Molina, Emma Thompson and that dude who is supposed to marry Amanda Seyfried in Mamma Mia!, all are eclipsed by Mulligan, who just brings so much wonderful charm to Jenny, the main character. The story is one we’ve heard before, but I just really connected with this story and thought to myself, “It’s too bad that nobody has a clue about this flick.”

Next flick up was The Hurt Locker, many critics’ pick to win the coveted Best Picture Oscar. I guess I just didn’t see the same movie because to me, it did NOT live up to the hype. It was a decent enough movie, but it really reminded me a lot of Jarhead (hat tip to Alli, who helped me remember the name of that movie). It’s a decent movie, but I really didn’t like it as much as I wanted to for whatever reason. Anthony Mackie was really the saving grace here.

A Serious Man was one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time. I have never really liked the Coen brothers, but have tolerated them. This flick was just incomprehensible. And I wasn’t alone in this assessment. Nearly everyone in our theatre felt the same way, wondering how it’s possible that this horrible, make-you-want-to-blow-your-brains-out-depressing movie could have a chance as the Best Picture of the year. Absolutely hated it.

My feelings on A Serious Man may have helped me to hate District 9 considerably less. I got a text from my brother telling me that he guaranteed I would hate it. Well, Jake, you were wrong. I didn’t hate it. It was unbelievably ambitious, but we’ve come to expect that from Peter Jackson. The beginning of the flick was a bit disjointed, but once it, *ahem*, takes its “turn”, it becomes a lot more entertaining. For those of you that have seen District 9, I have a question for you: did you think that the story had some parallels with Avatar? Alli brought that up after the movie and I had to chuckle because it’s not terribly far off.

So, after 2 weekends, Alli and I tackled 8 out of the 10 Best Picture nominees, having seen the other two multiple times. The Best Picture Showcase experience is such a blast (and I’m not just saying that because I work for AMC) if you love the movies. I happen to love the movies.

So my final rankings of all 10 films (my opinion, based upon how much I actually liked the films…I realize that I have no ability to judge these films based on anything else but my own personal opinion):

  1. Avatar
  2. Up
  3. An Education
  4. Up in the Air
  5. The Hurt Locker
  6. Inglorious Basterds
  7. District 9
  8. The Blind Side
  9. Precious Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
  10. A Serious Man

I realize that putting The Blind Side as high as I did leaves me open for ridicule. But I really didn’t like Precious or A Serious Man. AT ALL. As far as what is going to win? I think it is a two-horse race between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. I’m giving the edge to Avatar right now. But The Hurt Locker has a ton of momentum. We’ll have to see…

So what were your thoughts? What do you think will take the Oscar for Best Picture Sunday night?

Best Picture Showcase – Weekend 1

Since the Academy upped the number of Best Picture nominees for this year’s Oscars from 5 to 10, the Best Picture Showcase format at AMC had to change. While 5 select cities (New York, Chicago, LA, Washington D.C. and Toronto) will have 24-hour marathons, Kansas City hosted two venues, including my home theatre, Studio 30, which sold more Best Picture Showcase tickets than any other city in America.

The lineup for the first weekend was:

Since Alli’s been sick (and we’ve seen it twice), we decided to cut out on seeing Avatar again and showed up about 15 minutes prior to Up in the Air. We settled into our seats (which we purchased ourselves…I went as a fan, not as a Community Manager) and enjoyed the day.

Mostly.

The experience of the Best Picture Showcase is a blast for movie lovers like us, but one thing you can never avoid is the gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable movie. This year, that movie was Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire.

Brutal. Just utterly brutal. Stereotype-filled to the brim. Good performances from Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe, but they are certainly a type. Their performances reminded me of something I heard Matt Damon say once that it’s easy to win an Oscar, you just have to pick the right role (I think it was Damon…I can’t find a link to the quote, but I’m pretty sure it was Damon when he was on Inside the Actor’s Studio).

As far as the other movies go…

The Blind Side was a nice movie. I’m not convinced that Sandra Bullock would win Best Actress any other year but this one. It’s certainly her best performance since Crash, but is it Oscar-worthy? I don’t know. I can certainly see why people love that movie. It’s inspirational. It’s about our national past-time, football. But The Blind Side is definitely one of the movies that benefited from the expansion to 10 Best Picture nominees. That being said, the kid that plays SJ is hilarious.

Inglorious Basterds was what I expected. Tarantino certainly has a style that can be appealing to some. But the typography nerd in me was annoyed by the opening credits where he managed to stuff at least four different typefaces in, which is a big design no-no. Christoph Waltz was absolutely brilliant as Hans Landa and deserves every single bit of acclaim that he’s received. The story itself…*shrug*. There were people who’ve said that Inglorious Basterds is Tarantino’s best work so far. I respectfully disagree…and not just because of the typography.

On second viewing, Up in the Air was my favorite film we saw. Jason Reitman, like Tarantino, also has a very specific directorial style. But where Tarantino’s style has seemingly remained the same, Reitman’s is evolving into something fantastic. The shots he captures of Ryan Bingham’s America are really beautiful and the performances from leads — Clooney, Kendrick and Farmiga — are all terrific, with Anna Kendrick (who we’ve really only known as Jessica from the Twilight movies before now) really doing an amazing job as Clooney’s young understudy Natalie.

Just a quick comment on the Best Picture Showcase itself. Now that I work for AMC as a Community Manager, it was an interesting experience. I didn’t attend as an employee, but a fan of the movies, just like most everyone else in the theatre. And for people who love the movies, the Best Picture Showcase is an amazing time. I’m looking forward to finishing it up next weekend, with:

I’m most looking forward to seeing An Education and The Hurt Locker. An Education was written by one of my favorite authors, Nick Hornby, while The Hurt Locker…well, I’m anxious to see what all the hype is about.

Closing a Door

Today, February 19th marks my final day of employment at Cerner Corporation. I’ve spent just under a year here as a member of the Online Marketing team. Like I blogged previously, I am leaving the company to take what is in many ways a dream job for me: Community Manager at AMC. I’ve received an outpouring of support from my wife, my family, close friends, my church, the readers of this blog, my followers on Twitter and my friends on Facebook. Even the people that I work with at Cerner have been amazingly supportive (despite now having a rather large awesomeness void to fill) and they know how well-suited I am for this position and how much I’m looking forward to it.

All told, I’m really overwhelmed by the support that people have given me.

And as easy of a decision it may have seemed from the outside, you should know that I struggled at times. See, despite what everyone says, Cerner is a really good place to work. I wasn’t really actively searching for this position. In a lot of ways, it found me. But when your dream job comes knocking, you open the freaking door.

Unfortunately, that meant that I had to close a door at Cerner. During a time of uncertainty last year, I was given an amazing opportunity to join a great team at an industry-leading company that is poised to have a huge next several years. And not only that, but I got to do work that I was proud of, that I was good at, and that I enjoyed:

  • I worked on the team that launched uCern, Cerner’s collaboration platform for its clients and partners.
  • I led the social media efforts for the company during their annual health conference last October.
  • I helped write the best practices for all Cerner associates as they get engaged in new social, collaborative platforms and channels.
  • And most recently, I’ve been able to work on another large web initiative with some of my professional design and development idols, Happy Cog Studios.

It was that work that made my experience different than the one that had been described by all the friends I worked with at Perceptive Software that had left Cerner with a sour taste in their mouths. My experience was very positive. I worked with smart people on great projects and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s true that Cerner expects the best out of its associates, but that’s one of the keys to their success. Having an open mind when I was hired gave me the right expectation.

To all my Cerner friends, I salute you. You made going to work enjoyable and rewarding. To the Online Marketing team — Sara, Jake, David, Lance and Jason — keep crushing it. You guys have been a blast to work with. If it were any other position at any other company, I would not be leaving.

But as they say…”it is what it is…”

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You

I’ve had this thing to share with you that I haven’t been able to share and it’s been killing me.

Last year around this time, I was unemployed. In all honesty, I was very fortunate to only be out of work for about three months before joining Cerner in March of 2009. I didn’t get a big severance package when the company I worked for laid me off, so that unemployment came in handy for the few meager months. Those few months were actually pretty fun. I got to hang out with Alli and Dreyfuss a lot. Saw a lot of movies.

During that time, I got more and more active in the Social Media Club of Kansas City. It was through the SMCKC, Twitter and this blog that I got into touch with Justin Gardner, the social media guru at AMC. Justin got me into a preview of the then-new Fork & Screen concept at the Olathe AMC and last February (in fact, almost a year ago exactly), I got to attend AMC’s Best Picture Showcase.

Now if you’ve followed this blog or you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr or Facebook or if you know me in real life, you know that I’ve got a crazy passion for movies. I love the experience of going to the theatre. I love blockbusters, independent films, dramas, comedies, romances…pretty much everything but horror flicks.

For the past ten years, I’ve worked for a software company, a (now-defunct) financial services company, and a healthcare company. The next ten years (and hopefully many more after that) will be spent working for an entertainment company.

The Outside of the Olathe AMC

Yep. I’m leaving Cerner to go to work at AMC as their Community Manager.

That’s right. Me. AMC. Movies. Internet. AWESOMENESS.

It’s not every day that your dream job falls in your lap.

Working at Cerner for the past year has been a great experience. I’ve worked with an amazing team on some important projects. I have made some terrific friends along the way. The Marketing organization is full of talented individuals who have elevated me and made going to work enjoyable. I’m proud of what I accomplished over the past 11 months. I leave feeling good about what I’ve contributed and knowing that the projects I have worked on are in good hands.

But it’s show time.