OGT Spotlight

OGT Spotlight

OGT Community Recommends: AN UNEXPECTED LOVE
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 06/18/2020

OGT Community Recommends: AN UNEXPECTED LOVE

This piece is part of a series of blog posts from OGT volunteers recommending films they love for you to watch from home. By Gerardo Chacon In An Unexpected Love, the Argentine writer and producer Juan Vera explores the obstacle of the monotony of married life with two iconic Argentine actors: Mercedes Morán and Ricardo Darín. It is the directorial premiere of Juan Vera in a film where the long dialogues and the excellent performances set the context for a couple's self-discovery journey. The protagonists of the film are a couple with 25 years of marriage who discover their loneliness when their son leaves the house. The drastic change in everyday life makes the protagonists begin to question their feelings for each other, originating a process of internal search. This is a film where the dialogues have the main role, both in the discussions between the protagonists, full of honesty and at the same time of precaution not to hurt the other, as well as the conversations of the main characters with their friends, in a more relaxed and confident environment. Some phrases from these dialogues will remain in the viewer's mind, whether for their depth, for their humor, or simply for their aesthetics. An Unexpected Love is a film with the splendid performances to which Mercedes Morán and Ricardo Darín have accustomed us, and which can be framed within the style that is both dramatic and fun for Argentine intimist cinema. A film worth watching and enjoying with attention.   In Spanish En “El amor menos pensado”, el guionista y productor argentino Juan Vera explora el obstáculo de la monotonía de la vida matrimonial de la mano de dos icónicos actores argentinos: Mercedes Morán y Ricardo Darín. Es el estreno como director de Juan Vera en una película donde los largos diálogos y las excelentes actuaciones marcan el contexto de una jornada de autodescubrimiento de una pareja. Los protagonistas de la película son una pareja con 25 años de matrimonio que descubre su soledad cuando su hijo se va de la casa. El cambio drástico en la cotidianidad hace que los protagonistas comiencen a cuestionar los sentimientos que tienen el uno por el otro, originando un proceso de búsqueda interna.  Esta es una película en donde los diálogos constituyen el eje principal, tanto en las discusiones entre los protagonistas, llenas de honestidad y a la vez de precaución para no herir al otro, como las conversaciones de los personajes principales con sus amigos, en un ambiente más relajado y seguro. Algunas frases de estos diálogos quedarán en la mente del espectador, ya sean por su profundidad,  por su humor, o simplemente por su esteticidad.  “El amor menos pensado” es una película con las actuaciones desbordantes a las que Mercedes Morán y Ricardo Darín nos han acostumbrado, y que  se puede enmarcar dentro del estilo a la vez dramático y divertido del cine intimista argentino. Una película que vale la pena ver y disfrutar con atención. Find where to watch.
ABOUT GERARDO Photo of Gerardo ChaconGerardo’s idea of a good movie is something that makes you think. Although his latino background drives him towards hispanic films, he is also a fan of classic Hollywood movies, independent film, and science fiction. Gerardo loves to notice the cultural differences influenced by time and location that can be witnessed in the films of the world.
OGT Community Recommends: THE BIRDS
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 06/16/2020

OGT Community Recommends: THE BIRDS

This piece is part of a series of blog posts from OGT volunteers recommending films they love for you to watch from home. By Christine Wells As a good will gesture during the COVID-19 Quarantine, my broadband service provider gave customers several weeks of free channels. Translation…I got to view some channels that I am not subscribed to. I saw films that I loved but had not seen in years, like The Station Agent, and Benny & Joon. I also saw Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, which I had not seen since childhood.  It took me right back to my first viewing. As I recall, it was a little scary for a 6-year-old; especially during the walk home from the theater. My older sister continuously pointed out all the birds gathered on the telephone wires above us, and the ones staring down from roof tops, and the ones hopping around on the ground. Boy-oh-boy, was that a long walk home!  That experience was a nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s trademark ability to capture, and scare his audience without today’s high definition, special effects, and gore. Although it was not so scary this time around, it was definitely just as enjoyable. Find out where to watch The Birds.
ABOUT CHRISTINE As a kid children’s classics like Mary Poppins were the norm. As a teen, going to the movies consisted of a group of friends viewing horror flicks (if it did not make us jump, squirm, or scream in terror, it was considered a dud). As a young adult, movie going evolved into a more personal experience. It became a means to view the world through various lenses.  Lenses that presented points of view that differed from my own. I also enjoy books, music, and animals. Dogs are my favorite animal, followed by Alpacas (not llamas), and more recently Ferrets have been added to the list (not sure about all Ferrets, but loved the ones I met while volunteering with “Echoes Of Nature”).
OGT Community Recommends: CASABLANCA
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 06/12/2020

OGT Community Recommends: CASABLANCA

This piece is part of a series of blog posts from OGT volunteers recommending films they love for you to watch from home. By Stacia Woycheck From an early age, I’ve loved relics from decades before me. My mother’s love of antiques may have fueled it. Don’t get me wrong—I can appreciate an old vase, but I’d much rather watch a film filled with vintage stars. While my tween peers were watching the film version of Annie, I was watching Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, The African Queen, The Maltese Falcon...you can see where this is going. After watching Casablanca (1942), it became my favorite. I fell in love with Humphrey Bogart—an unlikely paramour for an eleven year old, but what can I say?  The film was slated for OGT’s April Monday Matinee. Sadly it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. I watched the movie again anyway. It all came rushing back and I remembered why the younger version of myself became hooked. WIth its film noir style, it has a mystique—the perfect medley of romance, history and intrigue. The film is chock full of clever lines, both dramatic and witty. The dialogue is intoxicating. It creates a quick pace, building tension and cultivating the characters' entanglements. Here’s a glimpse into why Casablanca remains my favorite classic film.   “Round up the Usual Suspects” The film takes place during World War II in the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca, Morocco. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is a curmudgeonly expatriate who runs Rick’s Cafe Americain, a bar and gambling paradise. The story kicks off as two Germans are murdered on a train heading for Casablanca. Rick’s place becomes a magnet for French Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains), German Major Strausser (Conrad Veidt), and their cronies. Among the Cafe’s other regulars are refugees looking for ways to escape to the United States. Now, a murderer (Peter Lorre) is headed to Casablanca with coveted swag: travel visas.    “What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?” Add to this, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a fugitive resistance leader, and Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), his wife, show up at the cafe. To say, it opens a can of worms is an understatement. We learn that Rick’s cynical disposition is a by-product of his lost love, Ilsa Lund. Yes! The same Ilsa that has just entered his club with her husband. Ilsa and Rick had a tryst in Paris and fell in love. They planned to leave the city before the imminent German invasion, but Rick was stood-up at the train station. Ouch.    “You know what I want to hear. … You played it for her, you can play it for me!” The musical score is captivating. In a memorable scene at the cafe, the music steps up to depict an impromptu war. There is a duel of anthems. German Captain Strauss leads his officers in a sing along of “Die Wacht am Rhein.” Not to be shown up, Laszlo cues the band to play “La Marseillaise.” Before the band plays, they look to Rick for approval. His nod is all the foreshadowing we need to realize his alliance. Rick and Ilsa’s love song, “As Time Goes By” conjures up bittersweet memories. It is a scene stealer. Sam (Dooley Wilson), the piano player at Rick's, plays the tune at the request of Ilsa. The sweet melody rocks Rick’s emotions as Sam had been instructed to never play the song again. Later in an empty club, Rick finds solace in a French 75. In a move to test his wounds, he famously commands Sam to play the song. Although he plays it “again,” that word is never part of the famous quote.   “Kiss Me, kiss me as if it were the last time” The soft lens of the camera captures Bergman’s lovesick eyes in each scene. Even if you're a pragmatist in the area of romance, it’s hard not to be caught up in the “abandoned at the train station” affair of Rick and Ilsa. Bogart plays the jilted lover turned relationship-phobe perfectly. Until Ilsa reappears in Casablanca and all the emotions rush back like a tidal wave.  Rick reveals his empathetic side, producing the “letters of transit”. In his famous trench coat and fedora on the misty airport runway, he makes the ultimate sacrifice for love. When Ilsa realizes she will be leaving with Victor and not Rick, a tearful plea ensues. Ain’t love grand? This leads into the most iconic two minutes of film. Bogart’s lines in this final scene are prolific—and live on nearly eighty years later. The highlights: “If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” “We’ll always have Paris.”  ”Where I’m going you can’t follow. What I’m going to be doing you can’t be any part of.”  “The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”  And, wait for it... ”Here’s looking at you, kid.”  If you haven’t watched it, now’s the perfect time. Trust me, it’ll be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It was for me. Find out where you can view the film.
ABOUT STACIA Stacia’s love of old movies began as a child, when her mother would take her to the matinee to see classics like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, and The African Queen. She fast became a Humphrey Bogart and Old Hollywood fan. Her favorite class as an undergraduate student was Film Appreciation. She loves the charm of the Old Greenbelt Theater and volunteers to spread the word. She loves to spend time with her husband, play with her dog, and travel (when she isn’t traveling, she is planning her next trip).  
OGT Community Recommends: OTHER MUSIC
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 06/09/2020

OGT Community Recommends: OTHER MUSIC

This is the first piece in a series of blog posts from OGT volunteers recommending films they love for you to watch from home. By Deborah Sorensen This celebratory 2019 documentary chronicles the rise and fall of Other Music, an independent record store in New York City, founded in 1995. Produced by married co-directors/producers Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller (a former Other Music employee), the film documents OM’s final days in 2016 and demonstrates the diminutive shop’s outsized importance within the world of indie, global, experimental, and generally off-the-beaten-path music. Other Music is available in the Old Greenbelt Theatre’s virtual screening room until June 11th. As the first post I’ve shared with this blog, I’m happy to highlight a film that delivered more than expected. Music documentaries can really run the gamut, from concert films to biopics, and many can feel like vanity projects or fan-focused products. Thankfully, Other Music includes not only good music but also captures many of the intangibles that create and sustain communities everywhere—shared space, shared knowledge, and shared experience over time. Not far from Washington Square Park, OM’s brick-and-mortar shop stood on the edge of Manhattan’s East Village, between New York University and The Cooper Union, a school of art and engineering. The area known as the East Village was the creation of real estate developers in the early 20th century, looking to rebrand an area north of Lower East Side tenements. By mid-century, however, the East Village was firmly established as a countercultural refuge, providing a home over the years for beatniks, hippies, punks, and even the romanticized bohemians of the musical Rent. When Other Music arrived in the 1990s, however, the area’s reputation (and costs) had been in transition for at least a decade, thanks to another wave of gentrification reshaping much of Manhattan. Art studios were giving way to renovated lofts and luxury condos, and the decision of the store’s co-founders to open their shop directly across from a massive, four-level, outpost of Tower Records might have seemed defiant if not delusional. Instead, OM enriched the area’s cultural ecosystem—countering the volume of product offered by Tower with the incredible depth of knowledge offered by its eclectic, and esoterically-inclined staff. That is, at least, until the internet and streaming services decimated traditional business models, taking physical stores along with them. Other Music can easily be seen as simply a love-letter to underground and independent music from the last two decades. It is chock-full of rare recordings of in-store performances and contemporary interviews with musicians who credit Other Music with giving their bands’ a much-needed, and valued, spotlight early in their careers—such as Animal Collective, The National, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Vampire Weekend. And music fans would probably find gems like these satisfying enough, but Basu and Hatch-Miller have created something more meaningful. By quietly observing the final days of the store, and reflecting upon the store as a space for creative expression, they managed to capture the store’s unique role as a community anchor and celebrate OM’s owners and employees as the film’s real music heroes. Keep watching: 
A Message from Friends of Greenbelt Theatre: Black Lives Matter
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 06/05/2020

A Message from Friends of Greenbelt Theatre: Black Lives Matter

We, the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre, believe in the power of film to generate understanding and empathy, community and—most importantly—conversation. We believe film is a powerful tool: one that can help us look at our past to understand our current context, one that can illuminate the everyday abuses of racism, and one that can educate our community on the ways we can move forward toward a better, more equitable future.

As we stand and strongly say to our community that Black Lives Matter, we do it using the tool we always use to create conversation and community: film. What follows is FGT’s recommended viewing list. We have shown many of these films at our cinema, and we will continue to showcase films by Black creators.

This selection is by no means comprehensive, but we offer it as a place to start for those in our community looking to educate themselves and listen to Black voices in film.

First, we have partnered with Magnolia Pictures to re-release three documentaries: I Am Not Your Negro, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, and Whose Streets?These films are available not for rent, but for purchase so you can watch, review, and learn for as long as you like. Second, Warner Brothers has made the film Just Mercy free through Amazon Video. We showed this at the theater, and recommend you take advantage of this free opportunity to view the film (whether for the first time or for a refresh viewing).
Documentaries
  • 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix

  • Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 (Goran Olsson) — Currently FREE on Amazon Video

  • Crime and Punishment  (Stephen Maing) — Hulu

  • King In The Wilderness (Peter Kunhardt)  — Kanopy (free with library card) and HBO (various platforms)

  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (Stanley Nelson Jr.) — Amazon Prime and Hoopla (free with library card)

  • What You Gonna Do When the World’s On Fire (Roberto Minervi) — Kanopy (free with library card)

Narrative Films/TV Shows

  • American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix

  • Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu) — available to rent

  • Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix

  • Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee) — available to rent

  • Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Roku (free with ads)

  • Get Out (Jordan Peele) - available to rent

  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu

  • Insecure (Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore) — HBO

  • Mudbound (Dee Rees) — Netflix

  • See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix

  • Selma (Ava DuVernay) — FX Now and for rent

  • Talk to Me (Kasi Lemmons) — Starz

  • The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Cinemax, Direct TV or rent through Fandango

  • When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix

The function of freedom is to free someone else - Toni Morrison
“Only one is a wanderer. Two together are going somewhere.”
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 04/29/2020

“Only one is a wanderer. Two together are going somewhere.”

By OGT Blog Squad Volunteer, Stacia Woycheck Hello, Old Greenbelt Theatre fans! I’m back after the hectic four-week crash course called, “Moving your job online ASAP”. In our current “stay at home” status, like you, I’m catching up on all of the things I “didn’t have time” to do before (minus the housekeeping), that’s still going undone!  I have to be honest, before I started blogging for OGT, I only knew Alfred Hitchcock from my sneaky escapades of childhood—when I stayed up past my bedtime to watch “ Alfred Hitchcock Presents”. After a few Hitchcock films though, I have a new appreciation for his skillful use of the camera, music and settings. Without further adieu, good evening, ladies and gentleman. I present—Vertigo. This weekend I dove into the Hitchcock classic, the 1958 film Vertigo. It is a vibrant color film that takes your attention hostage for just a touch over two hours. Jimmy Stewart stars as John “Scottie” Ferguson, a retired detective, who as a result of a traumatic crime chase across the roofs of San Francisco, suffers from acrophobia. Galvin Elster (Tom Helmore) is an old college friend who talks Scottie into coming out of retirement to follow his wife, Madeleine. Madeleine, played by the striking Kim Novak, in her husband’s opinion, has been exhibiting concerning behavior—he suspects she is in danger. Although Scottie is uncertain, he agrees and is hired to follow Madeleine. I’m a sucker for film settings that allow me to connect to another place and time. Hitchcock uses 1950s San Francisco to build yet another character in this film. As he begins his pursuit of Madeleine, the scenes are shot with the viewer in the passenger seat—riding along with Scottie as he careens down the steep streets with panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay. We follow Madeleine to Podesta Baldocchi, a flower shop, and the McKittrick Hotel, where she vanishes into thin air. The most mysterious location of all was shot in the Legion Hall at the Fine Arts Museum. In this scene, Madeleine stares unwavering at a portrait of a beautiful woman titled, Portrait of Carlotta. Our chase of Madeliene continues on to a cemetery where she pays respects to the grave holder, Carlotta Valdes. Who is Carlotta Valdes? And why is Madeleine entranced by her? We continue to follow Madeleine to Fort Point and as we gain a magical view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Madeleine desperately throws herself into the water. Luckily, Scottie is not as phased by the bridge as we are—he heroically dives in to save her. The next day, Scottie follows her and now the two have a connection. They spend the day at Muir Woods where we are picnicking with the sequoias. They visit Cypress Point where we drive with them along the beautiful coastline.  As Madeleine and Scottie’s admiration for each other grows, they end up at Mission San Juan Bautista where Madeleine races to climb the bell tower.  As Scottie runs after her, the dolly effect is used, a technique where the zoom lens moves toward the subject as the camera angle moves away.  This technique, originated in Vertigo, produces an effect allowing the viewer to experience Scottie’s disorienting vertigo. Frozen ascending the bell tower, he is paralyzed—unable to save her. This time Madeleine's journey abruptly ends.  Hitchcock is a mix master using music to accentuate tension and create suspense in his films. The music paired with the bell tower climb moves to a riveting and shocking crescendo.  Scottie is now tortured by Madeleine’s suicide. Cinematically, his depression and guilt is portrayed brilliantly in a sequence of images, colors and music spinning wildly on the screen. You can feel, see and hear his emotional angst.  Will he recover? The plot thickens after Scottie is released from a mental ward and becomes obsessed with “everything Madeleine”. As he retraces all of the San Francisco sights she visited, he stumbles upon Judy Barton, a Madeleine Elster look-alike. Or is she?  For an additional challenge, try to spot Hitchcock as he makes his traditional cameo. You never know where he’ll turn up. Since you’ve got the time (and who wants to clean the house?), watch Vertigo and then tune in to OGT’s Flick of the Week film discussion on Sunday, May 3 at 2:00 pm. Trust me, it will keep you on the edge of your couch. **STAFF NOTE: Stacia will be leading the film discussion on Sunday, May 3, along with fellow OGT volunteer and Hitchcock fan, Tammy Hurley.
ABOUT STACIA Stacia’s love of old movies began as a child, when her mother would take her to the matinee to see classics like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, and The African Queen. She fast became a Humphrey Bogart and Old Hollywood fan. Her favorite class as an undergraduate student was Film Appreciation. She loves the charm of the Old Greenbelt Theater and volunteers to spread the word. She loves to spend time with her husband, play with her dog, and travel (when she isn’t traveling, she is planning her next trip).
OGT Closure due to COVID-19
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 03/13/2020

OGT Closure due to COVID-19

Dear members and patrons,

Since the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre reopened the Old Greenbelt Theatre on May 1, 2015, we have prided ourselves on never going a day without showing a movie. We’ve been there through snow days, every Federal holiday, a major renovation, and all the quiet normal days in between. It’s not some sort of stunt to keep a streak going, it’s because we love what we do and are committed to being here as a resource for the community.

Today we will close our doors for the first time for the same reasons: we take our role in the community seriously and cannot run the risk of being a site of transmission.

Starting today (Friday, March 13), the Old Greenbelt Theatre will be closed. We will work closely with the City of Greenbelt to monitor the situation and decide on a reopening date. All special events - where possible - will be rescheduled. And, of course, if you have bought tickets for an event that is now postponed, we will honor those tickets at the future show. If you've already purchased a ticket for an event, you will receive an email.

However, we also know that at a time like this community connection remains as important as ever. We are working on plans to continue our programming in a way that will allow you to still participate with film and film education from the safety and comfort of your home. Please keep an eye out for our weekly Tuesday email for instructions on how to participate. We’ll have a little something for everyone, and we hope it makes these days of stress and anxiety easier to cope with and just a bit brighter.

During our closure, we will also be working on a plan for reopening safely, as the landscape of movie-going may change for a while even after we can open our doors again.

This will be a difficult time for us as a staff - as Executive Director I am responsible for a staff of 10 - and for that reason closing the theater was not an easy decision to make, but it is clearly the right one at this time. As I said in the beginning, we love what we do, and that has not changed. Keep an eye out for virtual programming coming from us soon. We hope to break the tedium of self-isolation and continue to serve as a valued community resource.

Thank you for your understanding and support. We hope you all stay safe and well. We look forward to seeing you at the movies before too long.

Take Care, Caitlin

Caitlin McGrath Executive Director Friends of Greenbelt Theatre
TOP HAT: “Every Once in a While I Suddenly Find Myself Dancing”
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 02/24/2020

TOP HAT: “Every Once in a While I Suddenly Find Myself Dancing”

By Stacia Woycheck When I write my blog posts for the Monday Matinees, I typically rent the movie on Amazon Prime (mostly), watch it once, then write. Depending on the flick, sometimes I watch it twice. The March Matinee, Top Hat, is a “two-view” film for me. Although we haven’t had much cause for the winter blues here in Maryland, it’s been a rough season for me personally, so if you are looking for a pick-me- up, Top Hat will do the trick. It will turn any day into a “lovely day (to get caught in the rain)”. The film stars Fred Astaire (as Jerry Travers) and Ginger Rogers (as Dale Tremont) and the supporting cast of Edward Everett Horton (as Horace Hardwick), Helen Broderick (as Marge Hardwick) and Erik Rhodes (as Alberto Beddini). It’s a wonderful screwball musical comedy with a lively mistaken identity plot. If you pay close attention, you’ll spot a young Lucille Ball as the flower clerk. She delivers only two lines, but you gotta love Lucy. Nominated for four Oscars, the 1935 flick is charmingly funny and features upbeat “sing along” tunes by Irving Berlin including “No Strings“, “Isn’t This a Lovely Day”, and the iconic “Cheek to Cheek.” The music and choreography are worthy billings in the film as they claim the third and fourth star of the film alongside Astaire and Rogers. It is hard not to join in on the melodies, regardless of your singing prowess. Astaire refers to his dancing as his “affliction” and this film will pull you out of your seat forcing you to demonstrate your own “affliction” as well. The movie opens with a room full of men sitting in silence in the London Thackeray Club. When Fred Astaire exits the room, he stops and breaks the silence with an assertive tap dance stomp and the film is off and running. It never slows down until the 101st minute when “The End” appears centered on the black screen. Jerry is an American dancer who travels to London to star in a show being produced by Horace Hardwick. In a stroke of fate, he meets Dale at his hotel and falls desperately in love with her.  In a typical, boy chases girl plot he proceeds to try to win her over. Of course, there’s a twist. There’s no spoiler here. You will have to see it for yourself when you head to the Old Greenbelt Theater. The light hearted plot and charming cast deliver witty lines and wonderful dancing and singing while traversing through London and Venice. Beyond the winning duo of Astaire and Rogers and the perfect choreography to Berlin’s energized melodies, there is Erik Rhodes who plays Alberto Beddini. Beddini is an Italian fashion designer who is competing for Dale’s affections. He creates an Italian caricature while his witty lines feature marvelous malapropisms like “Why not face the musicians now?” and “I am very displeased to meet you.” Sorry Fred and Ginger, Rhodes gets a “Stacia award” for this film.  Grab your top hat and coat and tap down to the Old Greenbelt Theater to see this one. Top Hat is a wonderful shot of dopamine dressed up as a 1935 celluloid classic. It will be playing Monday, March 2 at 1:00 pm. This blog post is dedicated to my Dad, who’s dancing his way through heaven.  
ABOUT STACIA Stacia’s love of old movies began as a child, when her mother would take her to the matinee to see classics like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, and The African Queen. She fast became a Humphrey Bogart and Old Hollywood fan. Her favorite class as an undergraduate student was Film Appreciation. She loves the charm of the Old Greenbelt Theater and volunteers to spread the word. She loves to spend time with her husband, play with her dog, and travel (when she isn’t traveling, she is planning her next trip).
ASK CAITLIN: How do you pick the movies?
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 02/17/2020

ASK CAITLIN: How do you pick the movies?

By Caitlin McGrath, Executive Director of Friends of Greenbelt Theatre Choosing the films we play is one of the most fun *and* most challenging parts of being Executive Director. Fun because I get to think about what our community might like to see, and challenging because beyond that much of it is out of my control. Over the past five years I’ve learned how fickle the movie business can be. There are lots of companies (studios) that have lots of products (we call them movies) to choose from. They want to sell as many of their products as possible, and make as much money from those products for as long as possible.  The model of business these studios are most familiar with is the multiplex, where the studio can dictate easily favorable terms. For example, when the latest Avengers or Star Wars movie hits your local 12-theater multiplex, most likely the terms from the studio are: “You’ll play this until we say it’s done;” and the multiplex replies: “No problem.” They proceed to sell you overpriced popcorn, candy and soda. When the film comes out, they play it on three screens. When tickets slump, they reduce to two, then to one. (Then to the little one in the corner nobody likes.) Unless you’re completely new to us (and if you are: Welcome! Come see a movie soon!), you’re well aware that we do not have 12 screens. For most of our nonprofit existence, we’ve had just the one. Here’s why the studio’s model works against an independent cinema like us:
  1. The multiplexes are usually part of a major company that has hundreds of screens all over the country, so not only can they promise to keep the film as long as the studio wants, they’re doing it hundreds of times around the country. 
  2. We can’t possibly promise to keep a film for as long as the studios want in order to book it opening weekend. 
Now, you savvy filmgoer, you’re thinking, “But wait, you don’t show Avengers movies anyway! This clearly doesn’t apply to you.” Sadly this holds true for the arthouse films we show as well. For example, we really wanted to bring you the Tom Hanks’ Mr. Rogers biopic Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood for Thanksgiving, but the studio insisted we guarantee to keep it for five weeks. We knew that wouldn’t work—even keeping a movie for three weeks can be a stretch for our audiences. (We’re sometimes facing mutiny if we stretch into two weeks for our diehard fans who come see a movie with us every weekend on opening day). So we just had to wait.  It’s also a game of “If not now, when?” We faced that quandary just this past month. We really wanted to open 1917 on January 17th, with guest speakers, and then have Just Mercy the following week, also with guest speakers. But the studio wanted us to open Just Mercy on the 17th as well—and if we declined we were unsure if it would ever be available to us again. This meant we had to decide which of these two excellent films had to open in the Pop-up. In the end we decided to open Just Mercy in the Pop-up and 1917 in the Auditorium, and then flip them beginning January 24th so we could still have two weeks of guest speakers—something we know many people enjoy.   “What about that niche film I really want to see and you still haven’t brought?”  I promise, we hear you, and we’re trying. Especially during Oscars season, it’s hard to turn down the bigger films for smaller films. And for particularly niche films, we often don’t feel confident enough in audience turn-out to book them for a full week. So those we try to book as one-off events. But let me tell you, those one-off events are a different kettle of fish.  For our weekly films, we pay a percentage of ticket sales back to the studio (between 35 and 55%, usually). For events where we only screen the film once, we pay a flat fee—usually around $350—to show it just that one time! And for new movies, you can’t even book a one-off screening until they’ve finished their circuit of weekly showings around the country. So while we wish we could bring in every film that is requested, as you can imagine, those costs start to add up. One of the great things we do to continue bringing in these more off-the-beaten-track films is to find sponsors who cover the cost of bringing the film in for a special event. And anyone can be a sponsor! Usually it’s businesses (sometimes we partner with other nonprofits to bring the movie in as a community event) but individuals are always welcome to sponsor—and have done so many times over the years. Have an anniversary coming up? Show your special someone’s  favorite film! Same for birthdays! Love slapstick? Put on a show of Abbott and Costello! We welcome all suggestions and would be happy to talk to you about what film you’d like to see on the big screen. The amazing thing is, you’re not just getting to see your favorite film, you’re ensuring that OGT’s programing remains robust, diverse, and engaging. A true win-win. We know that when you ask when we expect to get a film, and you get a vague answer from us that it can be frustrating. Believe me, we understand! We wish we could give better answers. And having a second screen will make this game a little easier for us to play...bringing in films earlier, bringing in more films, bringing in more niche films. Until our Screening Room is finished, know that we’re hard at work trying to bring you the incredible programming you’ve come to expect of us, and that we welcome your input as we do so.   Until next time, see you at the movies! -Caitlin     .  
Hollywood & the Academy Achieve Record Diversity – Yet #OscarsSoWhite Remains Relevant As Ever
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 02/10/2020

Hollywood & the Academy Achieve Record Diversity – Yet #OscarsSoWhite Remains Relevant As Ever

By OGT Blog Squad Volunteer Arrabi Nandakumar When April Reign, former attorney and current writer/DC-based activist first tweeted “#OscarsSoWhite” in 2016, it sparked a social movement as the hashtag spread through Twitter and news outlets, and led to mass boycotts of the 2016 Oscars. This spurred the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the organization behind the Oscars, to announce in 2016 that it would take measures by which it hoped to double the number of women and minority members by 2020. Today, there are over 8,000 members of the Academy, with 32% being women and 16% being nonwhite. While this squarely achieved the goal set in 2016 by AMPAS to double their women and nonwhite members by 2020, it hardly amounts to parity or relative representation. In a banner year for representation in film, 31 of the 100 top-grossing films of 2019 cast a person of color in a starring or co-starring role, and women and girls starred or co-starred in 43 of the 100 top-grossing films, a 13-year high. A number of notable films released in 2019 were helmed by women (and women of color). This data would appear to point to improved opportunity and recognition for women and people of color at the 2020 Oscars.  So why did the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag resurface following the announcement of the 2020 Oscar nominations? Out of 20 lead and supporting actor nominees, Cynthia Ervio was the only person of color to receive a nomination for her starring role in Harriet. Of the five nominees for Best Director, none were women. In the 92-year history of the Oscars, women have only been nominated for Best Director five times. This year did see the first woman-directed film ever nominated for Best Picture: Little Women by Greta Gerwig.  As for the demographics of AMPAS, which votes for the winners of each category, it is 68% male, 84% white, and (as of 2012) the median age of the members was 62 years old. Following the goals set in 2016, the median age of the AMPAS invitee class members has been about 50, which lowers the AMPAS membership median age a bit, but not by much (and membership does not expire). Further compounding the problem, AMPAS members are not required to view all performances before they vote. In light of the 2020 Golden Globes only nominating male directors for awards, as well as the British Acting Film Awards (BAFTAs) only nominating white actors and male directors, the 2020 Oscars could claim they are merely following the lead of other highly-publicized awards shows. But there’s much more AMPAS could be doing to address their diversity gap. Audience favorites may suggest where the Academy could be putting its attention. Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, has earned a glowing 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as 6 NAACP Image Award nominations. Harriet was nominated for two Oscars, two Golden Globes, and one Screen Actors Guild award, but more telling, it earned a 97% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. With as much popularity among audiences as these films have, why are they not receiving similar attention from the Oscars and other major awards? With an increasingly diverse field of films to pick from, the Oscars seem to have taken a step backwards. Despite the diversity improvement numbers they have achieved on paper, the 2020 Oscar nominations prove that AMPAS still has a long way to go until #OscarsSoWhite is retired. Until then, the strides in diversity and representation in Hollywood, films, and AMPAS members are a testament to the power of grassroots social movements—from hashtags, to boycotts, to organizational policy enactment.   A NOTE FROM CAITLIN: While Old Greenbelt Theatre can't do anything to change the composition of AMPAS, we do our best to show films that will be of interest to everyone in our diverse Prince George's County community. You can help too! First and foremost by supporting films with diverse casts, filmmakers, and production teams. Box office returns dictate who gets hired and what projects get picked up, and you as an audience member can vote with your dollars. Also, we invite you to suggest movies to us that you feel may be overlooked. We’re committed to doing our part to drive gender and racial parity in filmmaking.
Photo of Arrabi Arrabi Nandakumar is a student at the University of Baltimore, pursuing a Master's in Integrated Design, and holds a Bachelor's in English from the University of Maryland. She loves the thriving arts scenes in both Baltimore and the DC metro area, and hopes to work towards a career in communications. When she isn't reading, writing, or keeping a look out for local artists, she enjoys roller derby, improv, and gushing at every dog she encounters.
1917: Review by a WWI Historian
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 02/04/2020

1917: Review by a WWI Historian

By OGT Blog Squad Volunteer Nicole Hudgins With inspiration from his grandfather, director Sam Mendes has created an innovative “one shot” World War I adventure in the buzz-worthy film 1917. Faced with cut telephone lines as the consequence of a German retreat, a British general (Colin Firth) recruits two soldiers to deliver a vital message to another sector, to stop an attack which would (in these new circumstances) result in mass British casualties.  As a matter of interest, one of the soldiers—the main character in the adventure—is played by George MacKay. He played the eldest son of the Cash family in Captain Fantastic (2016), one of my favorite movies of all time, which I believe all film-lovers should see. The single-shot filming technique in 1917 maintains tension and non-stop action.  The camera literally follows the two soldiers with no “cut” between scenes to put the audience in a different locale.  By my reckoning, there was just one hard “cut” midway in the movie, emphasized by a few seconds of a screen blackout. Anyone paying attention to the First-World-War era uniforms, trench design (or lack thereof), and weapons will be well-pleased.  Mendes lovingly recreated the atmosphere of the Western Front (although the film was mainly shot in England rather than France). We even get to see a short “dog fight” in the air. Short performances by Firth, as well as Andrew Scott (of Fleabag and Sherlock fame) are a delight. As an historian of World War I, a few details were striking to me.  I was overjoyed that Mendes and his writers included a lengthy scene about the plight of a woman stuck in the zone of operations.  My book about depictions of French women during WWI, free to read online courtesy of St. Andrews University here, makes the point that the areas of destruction on the Western Front had been people’s homes and farms.  These included women’s homes, businesses, and places of worship, from which they were displaced, often permanently, as refugees.  Remember, women at the time could neither vote nor hold office. From start to finish, what the war did was to destroy the momentum French women had been building to gain recognition of those rights.  I argued that this was no coincidence. The inclusion of this scene drives this real-life, under-represented experience to light in a beautiful way. Based on my readings and hours in the archives of WWI photography, two things in the film struck me as unlikely if not impossible.  First, throughout the entire film, the two British soldiers (in France) never encounter a French soldier. That would have been unlikely, since although the French and British did cover differing zones of operations, they nevertheless overlapped and, by 1917, they were closely collaborating on operations.  Americans, by the way, were months away from arriving in Europe, having just declared war in April.   Note:  Stop reading here to avoid a spoiler! The second odd incident took place when a German aviator crash-landed in flames right by the two British soldiers.  They go to the plane in order to drag the aviator out and save his life, one of them running to search for water. In repayment, the German stabs and kills one of his rescuers.  Now, I’m not saying this would have been impossible—certainly there was a lot of bitterness between the Central and Allied powers’ populations. But, it struck me as unlikely that the half-dead German would have done that, especially in 1917, when army groups throughout the Western Front were (understandably) mutinying against high command, who were essentially wasting their lives, limbs, and brain health.  Are you looking for other World War I movies to watch?  There are a few interesting ones I could recommend, although 1917 is the most entertaining one I’ve seen in a long time.
Nicole Hudgins is an associate professor of history at the University of Baltimore (UB), and the author of two books on the history of photography:  Hold Still, Madame:  Wartime Gender and the Photography of Women during the Great War, and The Gender of Photography: How Masculine and Feminine Values Shaped the Values of Nineteenth Century Photography.  She has lived in Greenbelt for fourteen years, and adores the Old Greenbelt Theatre.  Follow Nicole on Instagram at drnhudgins.
The Old Greenbelt Theatre goes Beyond the Screen!
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 02/04/2020

The Old Greenbelt Theatre goes Beyond the Screen!

Dear Friends, At this time last year, we were facing a lot of uncertainty. With independent cinemas closing permanently all across the country and with our theater facing a four month renovation of our only screening space, we really weren't sure how we'd keep our organization going. We explored all kinds of avenues to continue our operations, and in the end, we were presented with an incredible opportunity: we leased the storefront next door to the theater. To weather our renovation, we installed a temporary Pop-up cinema, but we knew the future of this historic cinema was on the line. We could take this opportunity to not only get through our renovation, but grow the Old Greenbelt Theatre into a two-screen cinema, ensuring OGT's long-term survival. In November of 2019, the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre publicly launched our Beyond the Screen Initiative, aiming to raise $250,000 to fund the buildout of a permanent Screening Room and Media Arts Literacy Lab at 125 Centerway. We are delighted to announce that we have met our goal thanks to the generous support of many in our community. Now that we have secured the funds to build this secondary screening space and a one-of-a-kind Media Arts Literacy Lab, we're moving straight on to the construction period. This marks an exciting new phase in the life of the Old Greenbelt Theatre, and we want to be clear with our community about what comes next. Read on to learn more.
What’s the buildout timeline? We are working with our architect, Harry Ross from Field Craft Studios, to create a final timeline for the buildout. Tentatively we plan to close the Pop-up in mid-February. The contractor has told us that they believe it will be roughly a 10-week buildout, but as our renovation last summer taught us, no construction timeline is certain until the job's done. We hope to have the Screening Room finished sometime in June, and plan to do a soft open as early in the year as we are able. Programming for the Media Arts Literacy Lab will come later in the year. What are the plans for the Screening Room? Our Screening Room will feature the state-of-the-art projection and sound you’ve already experienced in the Pop-up, but with sound-proofed walls and other features to ensure there is no light or sound leakage; this will ensure an excellent audio and visual experience. The screen will get bigger, and we will install true theater seats (set on risers) to make the viewing experience considerably more comfortable than the Pop-up. We’re confident that when the buildout is complete you’ll love our Screening Room as much as you love our Main Auditorium. What are the plans for the Media Arts Literacy Lab (The Lab)? When the buildout is complete, we’re going to spend the rest of the summer getting comfortable with operations on two screens. In the fall, we will offer a sampler of the curriculum we’re considering for The Lab space. You can come in, try a few classes, and tell us what you think! This will help inform the development of a more robust education program in 2021. The Lab will feature varied programming for kids, teens, and adults; from one-off workshops to multi-week classes. How else can I help? If you’d like to be more involved as we take FGT's mission to the next level, here are some options:
  1. Become a member. Becoming a member helps show us that you believe in the value of a nonprofit, arthouse cinema.
  2. Donate to our Beyond the Screen Initiative. While we've raised the funds to begin construction next door, we need additional support to begin building our educational programming.
  3. Spread the word. This spring, we will be sending volunteers to fairs and festivals all over Prince George’s County to educate the larger community about OGT's many offerings. This will require a lot of folks excited about our mission. Fill out our volunteer application here.
  4. Tell us what classes you're interested in! Complete this three-question form to help us design our fall sample course offerings in The Lab.
Thank you for being a member of the Old Greenbelt Theatre at this exciting time of growth and change. See you at the movies, Caitlin McGrath Founder & Executive Director Friends of Greenbelt Theatre
Architectural Vision: The Screening Room
Architectural Vision: The Lab
Little Women: A Review
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 12/31/2019

Little Women: A Review

By Ephram Oliver, 15-year-old grandchild of Greenbelter and Member Stephanie Zirkin. The first thing I did after the credits rolled during Little Women was mouth "wow." I love movies directed by women about women, and Greta Gerwig seems to be the master of exploring the complexities of the female spirit, portraying their strength as well as their weakness, their kind hearts and their bitter souls. We see all of these sisters tearing each other apart one moment and nurturing each other the next.  The film is based on a 19th-century novel written by Louisa May Alcott, which was very ahead of its time for teaching young girls they could be more than just the person their husband was married to, and whether it be stemming from the source material or from Gerwig's screenplay, the movie expertly dodges the "I'm not like other girls" cliche with the character of Jo March in favor of a more realistic depiction of a principled woman who does not want to be tied down but also does not want to be lonely for the rest of her life. She's selfish at times, desperately trying to keep her sisters around forever and convincing them that the path they're on is one of misery. She wants to take the road less traveled, but it's a tumultuous journey at that.  One of the film's other creative choices is the decision to take a metatextual angle. It's no secret that Little Women is a largely autobiographical account of Alcott's life, and Gerwig brings that to the forefront, as Jo is finding herself having to compromise her artistic vision in order to appease the majority of American society at the time. As someone who wants to make a career out of telling stories of their own, I found myself deeply inspired by the depiction of the creative process here and satisfied by the sequence showing how people used to bind books back in the day.  The last thing we have to talk about is the decision to not have the film take place in chronological order but, rather, flip back and forth between two parallel timelines. I respect if you found this choice to be confusing, but at a certain point, I just stopped looking at the logistics of it all and just let it all wash over me. The fluidity of time gives it this dreamlike quality. It feels like a stream of consciousness from Jo as she chooses to map out this story however she feels. Whatever speaks to her first. It allows moments to not be locked down in a certain place or time but just lets it float out there in the universe, never to be forgotten.  It's an indescribable feeling walking out of the theater out into the real world after having experienced this picture. This film felt so warm to me. It's constantly lit with light, warm colors, only replacing it with dark, cold colors in moments of deep sorrow and loss.  This feels like the kind of movie I can watch over and over for years on end, never having lost the experience, and I feel like it's going to be that film for a lot of people. I rarely say this, but it genuinely feels like the movie for everyone: teenage girls who have the hots for Timothee Chalamet and older women who remember reading the book as a young girl. I haven't felt this way about a movie this decade since La La Land in 2016, and it's probably going to be a while before I feel that same way again. Greta Gerwig is a goddess among mortals, and I adore this special movie of hers with all of my heart.
Twentieth Century: “They are the only true actors we have left.”
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 12/31/2019

Twentieth Century: “They are the only true actors we have left.”

By Stacia Woycheck, OGT Blog Squad Volunteer Start the year off right at the first Monday Matinee of 2019, Twentieth Century, on Monday, January 6th. The 1934 film stars John Barrymore as Oscar Jaffe—an overbearing, down on  his luck director—and Carole Lombard, as Mildred Plotka turned Lily Garland—Jaffe’s protege who strikes it rich as an actress. The two embark on a comedic trip filled with fast paced witty banter on the express train from Chicago to New York, the 20th Century. The film was directed by Howard Hawks, a screenwriter, director and producer who found success in a wide range of film genres. He became known for the “Hawksian Woman,” characters that portray women as dominant, strong and assertive. A progressive shift from the woman as an ornament and clear nod to the budding of feminism.  The 1934 film is considered to have been released “pre-code,” a reference to the Hays Code—the motion picture industry censorship codes. While the code was adopted in 1930, it was enforced loosely. Pre-code films allowed for some sexual innuendo, promiscuity, infidelity and other lifestyles and constructs considered to be risque. The film has several obvious scenes that support the pre-code designation showing Carole Lombard in revealing lingerie, while another scene shows the volatile Jaffe lashing out, calling a character an ass. Barrymore delivers a perfectly histrionic comedic portrayal of Oscar Jaffe, a controlling, slightly obsessive, zany Broadway director. At the time of filming, Carole Lombard had spent a decade making films, but this film marked a turning point in the 22-year-old’s career. Her performance was spot-on in her first comedy and her roles in this genre continued to make her a Hollywood star. She and Barrymore demonstrated an infectious chemistry in their scenes on their adventurous journey from Chicago to New York. The banter is the perfect screwball sketch with fast-paced, witty verbal sparring. Lombard’s character evolves from Jaffe’s manipulated, fledgling protege into a fierce-tongued, confident opponent who he desperately needs to keep his fledgling career afloat. Give yourself a new year’s treat at the January Monday Matinee, Twentieth Century. It will not disappoint!  
ABOUT STACIA Stacia’s love of old movies began as a child, when her mother would take her to the matinee to see classics like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, and The African Queen. She fast became a Humphrey Bogart and Old Hollywood fan. Her favorite class as an undergraduate student was Film Appreciation. She loves the charm of the Old Greenbelt Theater and volunteers to spread the word. She loves to spend time with her husband, play with her dog, and travel (when she isn’t traveling, she is planning her next trip).
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 12/12/2019

A Holiday Card from O. G. Theatre

Dear Friend,

We’ve come to the season where we sit down and take stock of the year. And wowie, what a year I’ve had! Not to brag or anything, but I’m looking fabulous. Alright, alright...I’ll admit, I did get a bit of a facelift. I got a new roof, new HVAC, new draperies, new screen, new seats, and an upgraded sound system. Can’t blame a theater for wanting a bit of a spruce up after 81 years, now can you? But I have to say, I didn’t start the year quite so happy. I was looking forward to my new look, but I was really worried: How would the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre keep you entertained while I was out of commission for five whole months?! I know now, I needn’t have worried. They moved into the storefront next door, and gave me an amazing gift: a kid sister! We call her “Pop-up.” She’s small and kinda scrappy, but she did her very best to provide a great cinema experience to you while I was out of commission. Now, my Friends and I have a holiday surprise in mind for my baby sis, and we could sure use your help. We want to help our little Pop-up grow up to be a state-of-the-art Screening Room and  one-of-a-kind Media Arts Literacy Lab, but we need you! It’s a little project we’re calling the Beyond the Screen Initiative! With two screens, Pop-up and I can double the number of films and specialty series my Friends show. And in our Media Arts Literacy Lab, we’ll have classes for kids, teens, and adults covering things like film history and how to make your own films! I love that you come to see movies with me, but I can’t wait to be a place where everyone can come to learn and grow. My Friends and I need to raise $250,000 to make little Pop-up’s dreams come true. I’m happy to report that we’ve already raised $230,000 of that! Could you make a gift of support today to help us reach our goal by New Year’s Eve? My Friends have worked so hard turning me into a hub for film and community in Prince George’s County. Now they want to become leaders in educational programming...and I think, with your help, they can do it! By making your gift of $25, $50, or even $100 to the Beyond the Screen Initiative, you’re ensuring that I stay alive, vibrant, and sustainable for decades to come. *|FNAME|*, I always look forward to seeing you when you come to the movies, and I hope we can count on movie nights together for many more years. Will you secure my future with your donation right now? See you at the movies!

O.G. Theatre Special Representative Friends of Greenbelt Theatre


O. G. Theatre is an historic, arthouse cinema, born and raised in Greenbelt, Maryland. They enjoy watching movies with friends and eating freshly-popped popcorn. Their favorite films are Little Miss Broadway (1938) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). They got involved with the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre in 2015 and has admired FGT's work ever since. O. G. has no plans to retire anytime in the near future; they love what they do just too darn much.

OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 11/12/2019

GATe Curtain Call: Parasite Review

Greenbelt Access Television's Phoebe McFarb reviews Parasite, which runs in our Auditorium until Friday, November 15, when it moves to the Pop-up.
Parasite is a 2019 film directed by Bong Joon Ho, who is best known for his films Snowpiercer, The Host, and Okja. Each has a different culturally significant message that plays an important role in the unfolding of the stories. Okja is about the exploitation and mistreatment of animals. The Host is about environmental exploitation, and Snowpiercer is a story about the kind of structural inequalities that make low income people the most vulnerable. However, Parasite is undoubtedly Bong Joon Ho’s tour de force. It’s a social satire about individuals, rich and poor, who serve as fleshed out characters as well as metaphors. “Metaphor” is a word the film craftily pokes fun at through its overuse, with a character obsessed with the metaphorical implications of a stone said to bring wealth. But the real metaphor has to do with the way the characters are used to represent oppression and exploitation of the poor in a system designed for the rich. We can see this metaphor in the literal placement of the family dwellings—the poor families live in basements, below street level, whereas the rich live in a dwelling on an incline, which requires stairs to reach the main level. Some real Upstairs Downstairs vibes… Now before I get too deep into the metaphorical implications of the film, I’ll give you a brief synopsis of the plot. It follows an extremely poor family, all unemployed and trying to find work. The son, Ki-Woo, has a friend who asks him to take over as a tutor for a rich family while the friend studies abroad. Once Ki-Woo is hired, he and his family set a scheme in motion to trick the rich family into hiring each of them. Honestly, I don’t want to say any more on the way the story unfolds because only watching the film can do it justice. There is painstaking care to make the imagery as beautiful as it is telling and the acting is so well done that a character’s expression can give you all the context you need to understand their motivations. Or to be left purposefully unclear about them. Another thing I have yet to mention which deserves as much praise as everything else is the humor. The film is almost more dark comedy than anything else—and I mean it’s genuinely funny—but done in such a way that when the tone becomes serious, it doesn’t feel out of place. This film does not make it easy to pinpoint a genre, so if you are going in expecting anything? Stop it. I know the trailer gives people the impression that it will be more of a horror film, I thought that initially especially given the title, but if you don’t like horror films don’t count this out because there is nothing scary about it aside from the themes. So, as I mentioned, this is a social satire and it’s a commentary on economic inequality, similar to the Joker movie that just came out. However, this film does something interesting and different with its characters by portraying the rich as more ignorant than consciously immoral, and the poor as more deceitful than ignorant. And I don’t mean either of those in a negative sense. The poor families are clever and resourceful because they have to be, and the rich family is nice because they can be. The reversal of tropes served the plot by emphasizing the desperation of the poor families versus the easygoing convenience of being rich. In one scene, we see this visually manifest with the poor family having to literally wade through sewage water in their flooded house during a torrential downpour, while the rich family get to watch a nice little thunderstorm storm from the comfort of their home. Even with this juxtaposition between the families the film allows us to see the humanity of both and doesn’t need us to hate the rich family in order to understand the poor family’s growing resentment towards them. There are actually two poor families we meet whose views on the rich family have manifested in opposite directions. One towards cynicism and one towards respect, so that where there could be class solidarity, there is conflict between them instead. It’s a great commentary on the way lower classes are pitted against one another despite competing over a sliver of pie that is nowhere near enough for the amount of people who need it. I think the most interesting thing that has emerged from this film is how universal the theme is. Bong Joon Ho even expressed surprise in an interview saying “I tried to express a sentiment specific to Korean culture…all the responses from different audiences were pretty much the same. Essentially we all live in the same country, called capitalism,” I genuinely think this is the best film I’ve seen all year and I hope it is being seriously considered for Best Picture and not just Best Foreign Film. Not that I care what the Academy has to say about it! Just go see it already.
OGT’s Caitlin McGrath honored on Beltway Plaza Wall of Fame
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 11/05/2019

OGT’s Caitlin McGrath honored on Beltway Plaza Wall of Fame

Old Greenbelt Theatre's Dr. Caitlin McGrath was honored by the Beltway Plaza mall on Friday, October 18 as she was inducted into their Wall of Fame, which recognizes Greenbelt locals who are making a difference in the community. Greenbelt Access Television recapped the event in this 4 minute video.

The Apartment: Shut Up and Deal!
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 10/29/2019

The Apartment: Shut Up and Deal!

November’s Monday Matinee is the award winning film, The Apartment. The 1961 Oscar winner for Best Picture is chock full of young stars that you will certainly recognize. Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray create a powerhouse triad. Edie Adams (Miss Olsen) is thrown in for good measure. The film won an Academy Award in nine additional categories including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Cinematography.  Set in New York City, the film tells an “edgy for the time” tale of a young employee of a large insurance company, C.C. “Bud” Baxter (Lemmon), who works his way to the top through giving personal favors. No! Not what you’re thinking. He has a great apartment on West 60th Street just a few blocks from Central Park and it just so happens that it makes a perfect love nest for many of the top executives at the insurance company. He offers a vintage-style AirBnB option to his top executives as they canoodle with a myriad of women at the company. The film captures the essence of the Mad Men time period when “none the wiser” wives were at home and their successful men took the train into the city and stayed late to “entertain” their clients (or the secretaries from the office). C.C. Baxter isn’t your typical conniving ladder climber. He is a sweet gentleman who develops a mad crush on the elevator girl, Fran Kubelik (MacLaine). Unfortunately for Bud, Fran is drawn like a moth to a flame to the “married with children” top executive Jeff Sheldrake (MacMurray), who plays the perfect cad with zero empathy for the women he uses and tosses aside. In this role, MacMurray plays polar opposite of his previous movie roles and his iconic squeaky clean role in My Three Sons. But don’t worry, his secretary, the leopard-print-pillbox-hat-wearing Miss Olsen (Adams), gives him a taste of his own medicine. The film is categorized as a drama/comedy. I found it to be light on the comedy and heavy on the drama. It’s more sophisticated humor is skillfully woven into the dialogue. It is Shirley MacLaine who has the best delivery of the witty lines. My favorite line of Fran Kubelik, as she works the floor selection panel on her elevator, is “Just because I wear a uniform doesn’t mean I’m a girl scout.” Her character is unapologetically innocent yet wonderfully feisty and surprisingly naive and fragile. The depth of her character is best captured when Baxter returns to her a make-up compact with a broken mirror. Her reply, “yes, I know. I like it that way. Makes me look the way I feel.” I found the young Shirley MacLaine to be a captivating actress; she stole the movie from her male counterparts for me. The film’s director and screenwriter, Billy Wilder, is a legend in the film industry, earning the highest accolades in the industry. His directorial style supported his passion for writing and his gift as a storyteller. He received twenty-one Academy Award nominations and took the trophy home at six award shows. You may remember him from other hit films of yesteryear including Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard and Sabrina...just a sampling of his successful film-making career.  For a glimpse into life during the early 60’s, take a walk through the fabulous vintage New York City scenes and a peak at some mega stars in the summer of their careers, come out to see The Apartment for free at the Greenbelt Community Center on November 4 at 1:00 pm.
“The Old Ladies Get 12” in October’s Monday Matinee
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 09/24/2019

“The Old Ladies Get 12” in October’s Monday Matinee

By Stacia Woycheck, OGT Blog Squad Volunteer After a month off for Labor Day, Monday Matinees are back! This Monday, October 7th feature is the classic Arsenic and Old Lace starring the ever debonair Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane, directed by Frank Capra. Oddly, Arsenic and Old Lace struck me as a film I thought I had seen multiple times before. The title is so familiar, but upon a closer look I had never actually seen the film. It’s a quirky mystery film that is perfect for the month of Halloween. Cary Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, a writer and eternal bachelor who uses his single status as fodder for his fame and his prose that rallies against the institution of marriage. Ironically, the film begins with Mortimer in line for his marriage license with his fiance, Elaine Harper. After his vows, Mortimer returns to Brooklyn where his eccentric spinster aunts reside. He quickly realizes his sweet aunts have been up to some scandalous behavior inviting single men for marvelous dinners and to sip on their “to die for” cocktail of elderberry wine. As they so lovingly put it, “their special cocktail” helps men find peace. The comedic mystery takes a twist when Mortimer’s “bad seed” brother shows up at the house after escaping from the sanitorium. Jonathan, played by Raymond Kasey and the ever creepy, plastic surgeon, Dr. Einstein, played by Peter Lorre resurface to “tie up” some old business with Mortimer, the favorite nephew. This is a playfully hilarious old time mystery with a charming cast delivering perfectly timed one liners. Don’t miss this one as the perfect way to kick off the Halloween season and find out which of the Brewsters has the “lucky 13.” Arsenic and Old Lace will be playing in the Greenbelt Community Center on October 7 at 1:00pm.  
ABOUT STACIA Stacia’s love of old movies began as a child, when her mother would take her to the matinee to see classics like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, and The African Queen. She fast became a Humphrey Bogart and Old Hollywood fan. Her favorite class as an undergraduate student was Film Appreciation. She loves the charm of the Old Greenbelt Theater and volunteers to spread the word. She loves to spend time with her husband, play with her dog, and travel (when she isn’t traveling, she is planning her next trip).      
My Weird, Wonderful Experience at the Toronto International Film Festival
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 09/23/2019

My Weird, Wonderful Experience at the Toronto International Film Festival

30 movies in 8 days. 

This was the goal before I left - knowing that I could average four a day, with two more on the final morning before I dashed to the airport. To pull this off requires a lot of planning, hustling in and out of venues, and a long list of alternates, in case the carefully orchestrated first, second or third plan goes awry.  Photo of TIFF Schedule on Sept. 11, 2019The very first day I was thrown a curveball when I couldn’t get a ticket to what would have been the fourth film of the day. There was nothing else I needed to see, and a long gap before anything else I wanted to see, so I decided to give up and go back to the airbnb where I was staying.  I was a bit dismayed; on day one I was behind. Not a great feeling. Talking to my husband about it, I tried to figure out what I could have done differently. Perhaps I should have waited in the rush line, or gone to a film that started at 9pm. He reminded me that the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a marathon, not a sprint and I had seven more days to try to catch that film. Which I did! On day four. And - triumph of all triumphs - on the penultimate day, I saw five films, so I was back on track to hit my goal of 30.  Despite what you might think, TIFF isn’t the most glamorous experience. As an industry delegate, I have automatic access to all industry screenings, but having the *right* to see a film doesn’t guarantee a seat. Which means there’s a lot of waiting in lines to make sure you can get into the screening you want - usually 45 minutes to an hour before the posted showtime. This is the time when you wolf down food, check email, and make new friends in line while you discuss what you’ve seen and what you hope to see.  And then there’s the mad dashing from venue to venue when your screenings are scattered between different venues all over the city. Each theater for the major films holds between 500-800 people, so there’s always an incredible crush of people vying to get into these films, talking about the film they just saw, plotting how their going to make it to the next film.  It’s a very strange environment. A wonderful one, but very unlike my average work day. Every morning I’d pack my meals for the day and map out what I hoped I would get in to see, while also strategizing the plan B, C and D if I couldn’t get my first picks, and then head out around 7, not getting back until at least 12 hours later.  The real juggling comes at the ticket booth for the public tickets. My pass entitled me to free access to public tickets on the day, which means I had to be at the ticket booth when it opened at 8am every day to try to get into the major films at night, which were usually premieres. These were the screenings with the directors, stars, producers and writers in attendance for introductions and Q&As. These were highly-coveted tickets, each one a major event with lots of press and red carpet fanfare. These events added to the strange atmosphere. Celebrity culture doesn’t hold much fascination for me, but it is an odd experience to watch Jon Hamm or Luke Wilson walk by your seat after you’ve just watched them for two hours on the screen.  And then, of course, the main event is the films themselves. Most of the time when you see a film outside of the festival environment you have time to reflect, discuss, sleep on it, talk about it some more and then it lingers with you for a few days. Seeing 4 films a day doesn’t afford you that luxury. If you’re lucky you have those 45 minutes while you’re waiting to get into the next film, or dashing down the street to the next venue, to think about what you’ve just seen. On my busiest day (that 5-film day) I *ran* from Bad Education to Harriet to Waves without a moment between. Thankfully they were in the same venue, but the start time of one was minutes after the end of the previous, and I was lucky to squeeze into one of the last seats in the house. It was a whiplash of perspectives, emotions, tone, and subject matter. And then I watched two more films after that!  One of my least favorite parts of the festival is people telling you too much about a film before you’ve seen it, so no spoilers here; just a list of films, in the order I viewed them, and not ranked in any other way.TIFF Schedule Cover
  • A Hidden Life
  • Varda By Agnes
  • The Lighthouse
  • Radioactive
  • Pain and Glory
  • I Am Woman
  • Dads
  • Just Mercy
  • Hope Gap
  • Cunningham
  • The Capote Tapes
  • How to Build a Girl
  • Hustlers
  • Collective
  • Tammy’s Always Dying
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Knives Out
  • Ordinary Love
  • The Truth
  • Ford v. Ferrari
  • The Laundromat
  • This is  Not a Movie
  • Guest of Honour
  • Bad Education
  • Harriet
  • Waves
  • Burnt Orange Heresy
  • Lucy in the Sky
  • Motherless Brooklyn
  • Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
My job when I go is to focus on what films I think might be of interest to OGT’s audiences. What’s most likely to be nominated for an Academy Award or be noteworthy in some other way? As a cinema historian, there were dozens more I would have liked to see, but I was on a fact-finding mission for all of you, to discover the hidden gems and be able to make the best call on what you’d like to see come at our theater.  There were also many more that I wanted to see but couldn’t get tickets to, or couldn’t fit in the schedule so I was faced with some impossible choices. Over the next few months we’ll be bringing in many of these films, along with some of the ones I couldn’t manage to see.  I can’t wait to share them with you, and I promise not to ask you to watch four in one day...          
NEW PRODUCT: OGT now carries J. Elise Tea
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 08/06/2019

NEW PRODUCT: OGT now carries J. Elise Tea

The Old Greenbelt Theatre is proud to feature concessions items from local businesses, and we are excited to announce that J. Elise Tea is joining the lineup, along with Zeke's Coffee, Baba's Brew, Dundalk Dan's Beef Jerky, and other local favorites. J. Elise Tea beverage company was founded in 2016 under the health and wellness company umbrella, Figure 8 Strategies, LLC by Ellarose Preston. Ellarose is a health and wellness advocate with a masters in nutrition and integrative health. Wholistic health and healing has always been a way of life for her and her family. We are excited to feature her healthy and delicious teas at our concessions stand. We invite you to get to know Ellarose and her teas better, so you know the full story behind her teas. Then give them a try next time you're at the Theater! Q: Who are you, and what should we know about your teas? A: I am Ellarose Preston, health and wellness advocate and TeaEO of J. Elise Tea. We produce artisanal bottled teas that are healthy and delicious. This is our third year of operation and we are in three retail locations so far. The company is named after my beloved aunt Jamila Elise, who passed on a few years ago. Our two current flavors are Heartea Hibiscus (sweet & unsweet), and Royaltea (white tea with lemon balm & pineapple). Q: What got you started making teas? A: I grew up making tea for refreshment and for healing. Naturally as I got older, this was something that stayed with me. Besides enjoying iced tea for social gatherings I have enjoyed the many healing properties of tea and herbal tea throughout my life. At a time when I was challenged by hypertension, hibiscus tea was one of the  things that helped me lower my blood pressure to a healthy range, along with other lifestyle changes. Q: What’s unique about your product? A: I would say the taste is unique. Many of the hibiscus beverages out right now are not as robust as mine. It is very flavorful. Additionally, the health qualities of my tea are very beneficial: heart healthy, packed with vitamin c, helps mood, keeps away cold and flu symptoms. Q: What will our patrons love about your tea? A: People love J. Elise Tea because of the delicious flavor and the health benefits. It’s a win-win situation. Your patrons will love it because it is very refreshing, all natural, and locally produced. Q: How long have you been in Greenbelt? A: I’ve lived in Greenbelt for about four years, but have been in this area for about 20 years since moving from my hometown of Detroit. (We at OGT want to point out J. Elise Tea is produced in the community kitchen over at the Greenbelt Community Center, so your tea comes fresh from just across a parking lot! Fresh, delicious, and helps reduce your carbon footprint!) Q: Why did you want to partner with OGT? A: I thought it would be a great opportunity to  work with a local community-based organization. I also think the patrons of OGT would match well with my company. Q: What’s your favorite movie? And does anyone drink tea in it?  A: Hmmm. My favorite movie is Sparkle and I don’t recall anyone drinking tea in that movie. ? Learn more about Ellarose and J. Elise Tea on their website.J. Elise Tea Logo
Jezebel Unites Two Classic Hollywood Greats
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 07/19/2019

Jezebel Unites Two Classic Hollywood Greats

Catch the last Monday Matinee of the summer as the OGT features the film Jezebel starring Henry Fonda and Bette Davis. The black and white romantic drama was released in 1938 by Warner Brothers and won five Oscars: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Picture, Best Cinematography, and Best Score. The film has some similarities to Gone With the Wind, being set in the south, featuring a sassy rebellious southern woman and a sought after financially-endowed, dashing leading man but it falls short of the epic status of  GWTW. In the sixth months I’ve been writing for the blog, I’ve written about both of the stars covering previous matinees. Earlier this year, I wrote about Bette Davis in Of Human Bondage (1934) where she went out on a limb to portray a very atypical role for a woman at the time. Due to Hollywood politics, she was snubbed for an Academy Award. Four years later, she plays Julie Marsden, a sassy, independent Southern belle who refuses to be anything but authentic and for better or worse it jeopardizes her engagement to a successful banker, Preston Dillard, played by ever debonair Henry Fonda. Hollywood lore has it that Bette Davis won this role as a consolation for losing the part of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. If it were a consolation, although she missed being associated with the magnitude of GWTW, she still won the prize, being awarded the 1938 Best Actress award for her performance. It was the second and last Oscar that Ms. Davis won although she had eight more nominations in her lifetime. Last month, I reviewed The Lady Eve which featured Henry Fonda as the leading man. Yet again in Jezebel Fonda plays the sought-after wealthy hunk. Fonda’s fifty-year acting career began on Broadway and he performed in over one hundred films. While Davis’s Oscar wins occurred early in her career, Fonda had two nominations, one in 1940 for The Grapes of Wrath and the second nomination in 1981 for On Golden Pond which resulted in a win for him at the age of 77, the oldest actor to be awarded an Oscar. Beat the heat and come out to the Greenbelt Community Center on Monday, August 5th at 1:00pm to watch these two Old Hollywood icons steam up the screen in Jezebel. More information here. Also note, there will be NOT be a Monday Matinee in September, as the venue in the Greenbelt Community Center will be inaccessible due to the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. Enjoy the festival, and we'll see you in October for Arsenic and Old Lace.
ABOUT STACIA Stacia’s love of old movies began as a child, when her mother would take her to the matinee to see classics like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, and The African Queen. She fast became a Humphrey Bogart and Old Hollywood fan. Her favorite class as an undergraduate student was Film Appreciation. She loves the charm of the Old Greenbelt Theater and volunteers to spread the word. She loves to spend time with her husband, play with her dog, and travel (when she isn’t traveling, she is planning her next trip).
OGT VIP Volunteer: Christine Wells!
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 07/16/2019

OGT VIP Volunteer: Christine Wells!

Every six months, OGT picks a VIP volunteer. This is someone who in the prior six months has proved an indispensable part of our volunteer team or who has stepped up in a big way for us. Photo of volunteer Christine Wells in front of the marqueeThis month, we chose Christine Wells as our VIP volunteer. During the lead-up to our big renovation and the opening of our Pop-up, Christine was volunteering with us on a near-weekly basis. Expired members may have heard her voice while she was making notification calls to make sure nobody missed our Pop-up Member Deal. She worked multiple tabling shifts at festivals and farmers markets to let patrons (and prospective patrons) know about the changes coming to OGT. And during our closure weekend, Christine is the only volunteer who supported every single event we held that weekend (the Goodbye Gala, the Rocky Horror Experience, and the Family Fun Day). The staff at OGT are so grateful for all the time she's given us over the past few months.

Now, get to know Christine!

Q: Why do you volunteer for OGT? A: I've always appreciated having OGT close by to see indie films not shown in the commercial theaters (my alternatives are theaters in DC and Annapolis). I love an actual 'Big Screen' as opposed to the smaller screens in the multiplex, and I love that it does not cost an arm and a leg to see a film.  I volunteer to keep these things going. Q: What do you like best about volunteering? A: I enjoy talking with the patrons, and potential patrons. I lean toward the shy side...this helps bring me out of my shell. Q: What is your favorite recent movie screened at OGT? A: My two favorite recent movies screened at OGT are Can You Ever Forgive Me? and A Star Is Born. Could you be our next star volunteer? Sign up here to volunteer with us!
Monday Matinee Preview: The Lady Eve (1941)
OGT Spotlight
By greenbelttheatre / 06/24/2019

Monday Matinee Preview: The Lady Eve (1941)

By Stacia Woycheck, OGT Blog Squad Volunteer The July Monday Matinee is The Lady Eve released in 1941, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. The comedy won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Story. It was named as a top ten films in 1941 and is considered one of the 500 greatest movies of all time.  One of the earliest of rom-coms, the film features a dashingly young Henry Fonda, playing Charles Pike, who has just returned to civilization after an expedition on the Amazon River. Not only is he an accomplished scientist, but he is the heir to a million dollar brewery. He finds himself on a cruise and the love interest of all the females. One particularly tricky single lady, Jean Harrson, played by Barbara Stanwyck, sets her sights on landing the wealthy bachelor. Jean is a seasoned con and her equally conning father, Colonel Harrington, played by Charles Coburn, devise a plan to reel Charles in. Jean’s plan works but her boundaries melt as the digger genuinely falls in love with the gold. Her plan is foiled. Charles, now endearingly nicknamed Hopsy, starts suspecting Jean is after his money and he dumps her. Not taking the rejection well, Jean plots her revenge. She reinvents herself as the Lady Eve Sidwich. When Charles sees Lady Eve and he is so mesmerized by her and her uncanny resemblance to Jean that he becomes a bumbling fool. Deciding it is not Jean, but falling for Lady Eve and all of her likeness of Jean, he courts her and they marry in a whirlwind. On a post wedding “tell-all” train ride, Lady Eve offers a transparent recount of her past husbands and lovers. Charles becomes increasingly distraught with Lady Eve’s conquests and falls perfectly into Jean’s plan for revenge and he jumps the train. With a pending divorce and potentially huge settlement for Jean and her con man father, true love conquers all, when Jean is no longer interested in the money and only wants to see Charles one last time! The Lady Eve is a cleverly written, well paced, witty film. Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda give compelling performances. It is a perfect summer film to start the week with! The film will be showing at the Greenbelt Community Center in the Ground Floor East Suite on July 1 at 1:00pm.
ABOUT STACIA Stacia’s love of old movies began as a child, when her mother would take her to the matinee to see classics like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, and The African Queen. She fast became a Humphrey Bogart and Old Hollywood fan. Her favorite class as an undergraduate student was Film Appreciation. She loves the charm of the Old Greenbelt Theater and volunteers to spread the word. She loves to spend time with her husband, play with her dog, and travel (when she isn’t traveling, she is planning her next trip).