If you read CraveOnline’s Film Channel, then you probably like movies. And if you like movies, you probably have a friend who is too. And if you have a friend, you probably have to get them a gift this holiday season. That’s where we come in. Here we present our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide for Film Lovers. Movies, books, soundtracks, novelties and more await you below. Gifts for all types, all budgets and all seasons.
The only “Must Own” soundtrack from 2011 comes from one of the best films of the year: Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. Whether you loved the film or never even heard of it, this collection of eclectic but moody tracks will become your new default driving mix, and features highlights like “Night Call” by Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx, “Under Your Spell” by Desire, “A Real Hero” by College feat. Electric Youth and “Tick of the Clock” by The Chromatics, along with a wonderful assortment of instrumental tracks from composer Cliff Martinez. Not just the best soundtrack of the year, but the best soundtrack in many years.
The Muppets is more of a musical than most of the advertising makes it out to be, and this collection of toe tapping tunes – many of them written by Flight of the Conchords star Brett McKenzie – makes us thankful that it was. “Life’s a Happy Song” seems destined to win Best Song at this year’s Academy Awards, but don’t forget the all-chicken rendition of Cee Lo Green’s “F**k You” and the barbershop quartet version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” both of which will keep you in joyous giggles for years to come. And yes, “Rainbow Connection” is on there as well. Can’t deny the classics.
For those of us who actually love musical scores as much as memorable ditties, we offer one of the best and most memorable soundtracks of the year: Michael Giacchino’s score for Super 8, which captures the wonder of childhood (and 1980’s sci-fi/fantasy films) with the characteristic aplomb we’ve come to expect from the composer of The Incredibles and Up. The film may not have been an instant classic, but the music sure was.
If you were alive in the 1980s, then you probably had a copy of the Footloose soundtrack somewhere in your tape deck. And with good cause! The original collection of tunes from Kenny Loggins, Deniece Williams, Quiet Riot and John Mellencamp is just as infectious today as it was fifteen years ago. If you or somebody you know only just discovered Footloose with the (surprisingly fun) remake, you owe it to them to get them the original soundtrack for the holidays.
Famed horror and comedy director John Landis brought you such movie classics as An American Werewolf in London, The Blues Brothers and The Three Amigos, all of which would make a great gift this season since they all boast lovely Blu-Ray editions. But he’s also written an excellent coffee table book called Monsters in the Movies, in which Landis and fellow horror luminaries like John Carpenter, Christopher Lee, David Cronenberg and Sam Raimi share their love of all the creatures who have come to define the genre. It’s rather light reading, but features a wealth of luscious reproductions of pictures from the Kobal Collection. This pick comes courtesy of Adam Jahnke from The Digital Bits.
Many of the Pixar movies have had a dedicated The Art of… book already, so if you know someone who already owns more than a handful, this might not be the best way to go. If, on the other hand, you know a Pixar fan who doesn’t own any of them, this is the gift for you. Or them. Whatever. It contains the complete, full color scripts for every single Pixar feature film and short to date. We shouldn’t have to elaborate much on that. Every single Pixar feature film and short to date. Just buy it already.
Leading martial arts historian Ric Meyers takes you on a fun and illuminating journey through the history of kung fu movies, still one of the most underappreciated film genres in the world. From whole chapters dedicated to Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan to thoughtful reflections on why Americans don’t understand what makes a martial arts movie so distinctive (it’s not just kicking people in the face, folks), Meyers has crafted a wonderfully readable, smart and informative tome for kung fu enthusiasts of all stripes. Whoever is lucky enough to get Films of Fury as a gift will find a fantastic rental recommendation on just about every page. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
An old collection of an old, old series of critiques, we’re recommending Cahiers du Cinema anyway because this sort of thing is a “Must Read” for anyone who cares about film. Cahiers du Cinema was, and is, one of the foremost film magazines in history. These were the folks who first declared that “Film Noir” was a genre, and that Citizen Kane was the greatest movie ever made, over a decade after the film became a footnote in the industry. The first collection includes writings from early Cahiers du Cinema contributors Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer and many others who eventually transitioned from celebrated film critics to some of the most celebrated directors in the medium.
This curious tome flew under our radar when it was released earlier this year, but was suggested by reader, Geekscape.net contributor and host of the wonderful Saint Mort Show, Matthew Kelly. Have you ever been in a galaxy far, far away and accidentally offended a Wookiee? This handy manual, featuring a sound module recorded by Chewbacca himself, will teach you the correct pronunciation of many important and useful phrases in the Wookiee language. Just like you’ve always wanted.
“If you hate 3D so much, why don’t you just see it in 2D?” Well, that’s just not always feasible. Some of us are critics, and have to see whatever version the studios want to present to us, but more often the 3D version is the only one playing in your local theater, or you’re out with a group of friends who all want to see a 3D movie despite your objections. Well, for the low, low price of $8.99, you can buy glasses from ThinkGeek that convert 3D images back to simple, satisfying 2D. They’ll work in any theater using RealD 3D Technology, which is most of them. A great gag gift? Maybe. Or maybe they’ll just enjoy it.
By now just about everyone has converted to HD televisions, but if you know someone who’s getting a big new LED screen this season, they may not know that they’ll need HDMI cables to get the full high-definition experience. There’s an even better chance that they don’t know how little they cost. High end retailers sell HDMI cables for up to $100, but you’ll find that even the briefest internet search will bring up deals for less than $10. Sometimes much less than $10. Save you and you’re loved ones as much as 90% by getting the cheap ones as stocking stuffers. We assure you, there’s no difference. Just make sure that if they’re getting a 3D television – for some reason – you get them a cable that’s labeled “1.4.”
We’re not done with the Star Wars merchandise yet, and maybe we never will be, but if the tie-ins were all as clever as this nifty little ice cube tray we’d probably never complain. Yes, you can now make ice cubes in the shape of Han Solo, frozen in carbonite. Not much else to say about it. You either know a Star Wars geek who needs these now or you’ve already moved on to the rest of our holiday wish list.
I recently took a trip to Universal Studios Florida and spent most of my time in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a beautiful recreation of many of the film series’ most memorable locales. The best part was all the fabulous and spot-on replicas you could buy. Some of these items are only available in the park itself – like genuine butter beer and a spectacular recreation of Lucius Malfoy’s cane – but many of the equally impressive, and surprisingly affordable, items can be ordered online, including stunning replica wands from all the series’ major characters, like Harry, Hermione, Ron, Snape, Luna, Sirius, Voldeort, Dumbledore and many, many more, all for about $30. There’s a lot of craftsmanship involved in this pieces, which are not intended for playground use since they will break if you drop them. But they’re a “Must Have” for any Harry Potter fans on your list.
If you already got your film fanatic friend the soundtrack to Drive, but really want to knock their socks off (or get in their pants), there’s only one way to go: Ryan Gosling’s scorpion jacket from the film. Steady Clothing has put together a limited run of the jacket, complete with shiny finish and an ostentatious gold scorpion on the back. Odds are your friend will never look as good in this gaudy 1980s-inspired little number as Gosling did, but the odds are even better that they won’t give a crap.
This is for Los Angeles residents only, but if you do happen to reside in Southern California and love movies, you owe it to yourself – or your best friend – to get a membership at the Cinefamily. Located at The Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax, this non-profit organization presents classy Antonioni retrospectives along with special events like the recent (and first-ever) Adventures of Pete & Pete reunion, the 9-to-5 Dolly Parton movie marathon and regular Friday Night Frights! A tax-deductible donation grants you free access to as many shows as you can fit in during a membership period (anywhere from three months to a year, depending on how much you want to spend), bonus tickets for guests, free parking and popcorn at every show.
NEXT: Screw the trinkets, what about all the DVDs and Blu-Rays out there?!
We’ve got a lot of stuff to cover here, so we’re going to split it into easy-to-follow groups: Films for Everyone, Films for Snobs and Films for Total Geeks.
FILMS FOR EVERYONE:
Jurassic Park is finally out on Blu-Ray and it’s brought The Lost World and Jurassic Park III along for the ride. Get all three films in dazzling high-definition with a host of special features, including “Making Of” features and more. Want to splurge? Get them the Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy Gift Set, which includes a great statue of the Tyrannosaur breaking through the iconic front gate.
As you already know if you read the site, all the Harry Potter movies are going out of print at the end of the year. Yes, even the new one that just came out this month. While you’ll probably be able to find used copies pretty easily in the months to come, this may be your last chance to get a good deal on the complete set of the Harry Potter movies on Blu-Ray. Don’t miss it.
Did your loved ones balk at the price tag for the new Blu-Ray editions of The Lord of the Rings? Well, that’s what the holidays are all about. Snap up this set on Black Friday to get the best deal possible on the mammoth, super-long cuts of everyone’s favorite fantasy trilogy, with an incredible 15 discs of feature films, special features and who the hell knows what else in tow.
If you’re a human being, you probably know a Star Wars fan. If they’re still diehard about George Lucas’s sci-fi saga, they’ve probably already bought this set. But if they’ve lost hope, new or otherwise, for these films there’s a good chance that they didn’t pick it up on sheer principle. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate the hell out of it as a gift. Nine discs, tons of archival and new special features including deleted scenes and crazy Easter eggs like the first appearance of Boba Fett in the Star Wars Christmas Special. Yes, really.
A damned handsome remaster of Brian DePalma’s cult classic Scarface, complete with almost all the old special features and a new, very entertaining visual commentary track. Buy it for the wannabe gangster in your life and watch them say “hello” to their new little friend. Highly recommended, especially because it includes the classic original film (on DVD only, but hey, beggars can't be choosers).
Not everyone was a fan of TRON Legacy, but after some careful consideration we decided to offer our support. It’s an odd film, a little too thoughtful perhaps (and CGI Jeff Bridges just looks weird), but filled with wonderful ideas and sumptuous visuals that deserve to be seen on Blu-Ray. Get your sci-fi friends the set that includes the original TRON, which has also be lavishly restored, or – if money is no object – get them the five-disc combo set that includes a sweet-looking identity disc.
FILMS FOR SNOBS:
You can find Citizen Kane on Blu-Ray just about anywhere, and it’s a “Must Own” for any kind of film snob. It’s a gorgeous new transfer and includes The Battle Over Citizen Kane and RKO 281 to boot. But the Amazon exclusive version also includes – for the first time on DVD – The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles’ second, famously incomplete film. Oh, it plays perfectly well, but the was drastically cut by the studio without Welles’ participation. If they don’t already have it, this belongs on your holiday gift-giving list for the filmlover in your life.
If you haven’t heard of it, you just aren’t as big a film snob as you thought you were. Aki Kaurismaki, the Finnish director of Academy Award-nominee The Man Without a Past, had his biggest international hit with Leningrad Cowboys Go America, a film about a Siberian folk band who goes on a cross-country road trip through America, learning about rock and roll on their way to a gig in Mexico. Try to think of it like The Blues Brothers meets Wes Anderson and you’re well on your way to appreciating just what a wonderful film it is. Unavailable on DVD for literally ever until this year, this boxed set includes the original film,the sequel Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses and their concert documentary Total Balalaika Show. For the film enthusiast who thinks they have everything. They don’t.
If the film lover on your list is worth their salt, they probably already own The Complete Metropolis released by Kino last year. They may not own the GiorgioMoroder version that just came out though. This psychedelic fever dream was the brainchild of music producer Giorgio Moroder, best known for his soundtracks to Scarface and Top Gun. In 1984, Moroder released this version of Fritz Lang’s silent sci-fi classic with new music by Freddie Mercury, Pat Benatar and a host of other contemporary pop stars. The result was as controversial as it was mesmerizing. Long unavailable on DVD, Kino has now released the Morder version on Blu-Ray and we are spectacularly glad they did.
Start snapping: the Sharks are finally taking on the Jets in high-definition. One of the most beloved musicals of all time finally hit Blu-Ray this year in a handsome 3-Disc set including tons of special features, song-specific commentary from Stephen Sondheim himself, and a load of schwag. If you haven’t seen it, what’s wrong with you? Get it for a friend and then strategically “borrow” it until you’re satisfied. It might be a while.
There are too many classic, beautifully restored and special features-laden releases from the Criterion Collection to list here, but suffice it say, if your film snob friend doesn’t have it, they’d probably love it. Some of the more interesting Blu-Ray releases from Criterion this year included the long unavailable horror film Island of Lost Souls, Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing, Sidney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s incredible Three Colors trilogy. Just pick one and get ready to be hugged within an inch of your life.
FILMS FOR TOTAL GEEKS:
Destined to become a perennial Christmas classic, Jalmari Helander’s Rare Exports is a Christmas movie to end all Christmas movies. A Finnish boy believes that Santa Claus is actually a demon who has been unearthed from his underground tomb, and naturally he’s right. Getting his father to believe him is going to be the hard part. Blowing up Santa? That’s the fun part. Released on a beautiful Blu-Ray transfer from Oscilloscope, with a particularly fun bonus feature: Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, in all of its truly awful glory.
Some people might want this gift unironically, but the bulk of the folks who see it are going suffer from gaping mouths as they watch its unerringly dull story play out via unbearably stilted performances. But we’re not just recommending you get this for your film geek friends out of meanness: if you can find a DVD or Blu-Ray of Atlas Shrugged: Part One with a description on the back that reads “Ayn Rand’s timeless tale of courage and self-sacrifice?” Buy it immediately. That version has been recalled due to its flagrant misrepresentation of the actual plot and philosophies of the film, and may be worth quite a lot of money someday.
It’s actually been on DVD and Blu-Ray since last year, but this Thai action film is still so completely unknown that buying it for your film geek friends is still a safe bet. Power Kids is, and we’re not saying it lightly, the most flagrantly irresponsible children’s film ever made. The story is about a little boy who needs a heart transplant, but the only available donor heart is in a hospital that has just been taken over by terrorists. His martial arts-enthusiast pals have to rush behind police lines and take out the terrorists themselves. The choreography is spectacular, but mind-meltingly dangerous for child actors. There’s one scene where a kid is hanging out a skyscraper window, and his friends try to pull him to safety by lowering a noose around his neck. Really. Watch it in utter disbelief this Christmas.
We haven’t seen it, and now that we know what it’s about we’re not sure we want to, but that’s your decision to make. A Serbian just came out and it’s already one of the most controversial movies ever made. The film is about a former porn star who takes one last job that forces him to commit the vile atrocities ever conceived. Look it up for yourself if you must, but we’re trying to keep this list as “All Ages” as possible, at least while you're reading it. If any of your friends are into seriously screwed up cinema, then this is the only thing they really want for the holidays this year. And that’s creepy.
Not just for Harry Potter fans, folks. This Lifetime Original Movie (yes, you’re reading that correctly) is one of the most bizarrely enjoyable pieces of fan service we’ve ever seen. In addition to the usual fetishistic display of marital strife we’ve come to expect from a Lifetime movie, it boasts an absurd number of awkward references to the Harry Potter series, all in the name of foreshadowing. It is, therefore, the best drinking game of the year. Rowling has a lanky, redheaded slacker friend in high school? Drink! She calls him “ a weasely guy?” DRINK! Rowling types up the books while magical flowers grow around her? POUND THAT SUCKER! WOOOOOOOOO!!! Awesome weirdness, and splendid fun for all the Potter fans of the world who are 21 and over.
Technically it's a TV show, but it's a TV show that presented feature films, so we’re standing by it. Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a godsend for genre film geeks, presenting rare, usually atrocious sci-fi/horror films from throughout the century with biting commentary from a hapless man and his two robot buddies. The Gamera movies were a particular fan favorite series, and now they’re all available in a single boxed set from Shout! Factory. In addition to the actual episodes, these giant flying turtle movies from Japan come accompanied with new special features about the original film series as well as the episodes themselves, and five exclusive mini-posters by Steve Vance. No MST3K nut will be happy without this, so just get it for them already.
From all of us here at CraveOnline, we wish you good luck on Black Friday, and a very happy holiday weekend!
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