I had heard of WIFT and thought of joining. I met the work requirements, but you also needed 2 current members' recommendations and I didn't know if I knew anyone (to search their membership list, you needed to be a member - catch 22). To RSVP to this movie, I ended up in their system as a "pending member" so figured I would look into joining again. The rules have changed, and you now need recs from people in the industry (not necessarily members), and I know lots. So I arranged with a few people to use their names and filled out the app. Someone called me and said how it was rare to see someone from the research end, and we talked about research ins and outs, and I was in. When I got access to the directory, sure enough, a former coworker is a member (and probably more people, but I was lazy and just searched on the name of our show).
"Agora" - Rachel Weisz is a mathematician/philosopher/astronomer and apparently the only woman in ancient Egypt (you barely see women even in crowd scenes), as Christianity takes hold over paganism. A lot of violence and nastiness happened in the name of religion. This was a MoMA Film Plus event, and afterward, Weisz was interviewed onstage by Alan Alda, who seems like a great guy. A Columbia astronomy prof happened to be in the audience to answer a question about a scientific issue in the film.
The above movies are still playing, and the rest are long gone:
"Alice in Wonderland" - also MoMA Film Plus, but at the DGA Theater. I've never even read the book, but have a general idea of the story. Visually stunning and I'm always happy to see Johnny Depp, but fantasy is not my favorite genre (I'm a nerd, but not THAT kind of nerd).
"The Young Victoria" (MoMA Film Plus) - Emily Blunt is the young, somewhat sheltered Victoria who meets Albert and prepares to rule England. I don't know much about British history, but this wasn't hard to follow.
"Invictus" (yet another MoMA Film Plus event) - As South Africa emerges from years of apartheid, its rugby team becomes a symbol of hope and unity. Morgan Freeman is a dynamite Nelson Mandela, but Matt Damon with a South African accent just sounded wrong. There was a LOT of rugby.
"Big Fish" - also at MoMA, part of the Tim Burton series. Unfortunately, I never got upstairs to see the art part of the exhibit. Albert Finney is a father who tells many outlandish stories, and his son wonders how much is true. Charming, as you'd expect from Burton. I ran into the T's there.
"Up in the Air" - also saw the T's at this SAG/WGA showing (thanks to neighbor J). They saw us on line waiting to get in, and we were chatting until the line police made them go to the back. Everyone did get in. Loved the movie, which really caught the impersonal airport/hotel feeling. George Clooney is so appealing I sympathized with his corporate downsizer over the people he was firing. Anna Kendrick's character was annoying, and why did her employers even consider her terrible idea to fire via video? Vera Farmiga's storyline was interesting, too.
"This Is It" - I was able to go to the NYC IMAX premiere. The emcee claimed it was the world IMAX premiere, but later research showed it screened elsewhere earlier. I sat in the top row. Since it was IMAX, the sound was booming, but not ridiculously loud. Michael Jackson was skinny, but did not look at all sickly. He came across not as a meek waif, but a consummate professional, fully in charge of the concert plans. The dancing was spectacular, the singing less so, but these were rehearsals not meant to be widely shown. I read that he might be lip syncing in the actual concerts, which would be disappointing. Here, he was definitely really singing at times (there were imperfections) and other times seemed to be dancing to a backup track (but these were rehearsals), so I'm not sure what was planned. I left feeling buoyed, and also sad at the loss of a great performer.
"Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall" - This was a TV documentary that screened at the Paley Center before airing on the History channel. It showed the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall (well, duh), and the many ways people tried to escape. There were some reenactments and CGI, but they didn't detract from the powerful story. A panel discussed the film afterward.
"Bach & Friends" - I don't think this well-made documentary on Bach is in general release, but there is a DVD. I was at the NY premiere at Symphony Space which was followed by a concert featuring people from the film (some big classical names). That's a LOT of Bach. I like Bach, but maybe it was a bit much. Especially poignant was John Bayless, who had a stroke since the film was made and now plays (brilliantly) with just the left hand.