Being an ahead-of-the-curve film buff can be awfully exhausting. Unless, of course, you're a member of Talk Cinema.
This national film series shows buzz-worthy movies (seven to twelve per season, by location) before they're released. The screenings are followed by discussions led by scholars, critics and filmmakers; think college film course meets industry premiere.
Past audiences have been among the first to see hits like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Young Victoria and Slumdog Millionaire, but there are also plenty of independent and foreign films that will probably never make it to your local multiplex.
Our favorite part might be the element of surprise: Selections aren't announced in advance, so when you arrive, you have no clue what you're sitting down to watch (and no opportunity to have your opinions tainted by internet research). It's a welcome bit of unpredictability for all of us over-planners.
In addition to the regular memberships ($96 to $175), Talk Cinema is offering $20 single-screening gift certificates. PureWow readers who buy five by December 19 can get two free (seven screenings for $100) by using the code TCWOW10 at checkout or by calling 1-800-551-9221.