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2012 - Holiday Gift Guide - Part III

December 15th, 2012

We are getting closer and closer to Christmas and we are getting to the crunch time for gift shopping. After checking out first run releases and franchise box sets in Part I and TV on DVD releases in Part II, this week we look at limited releases, classics, and foreign films. Some are pretty obvious choices, as we had a few limited releases that broke into the mainstream during their theatrical releases, but there are also a few more films that slipped beneath the radar the last time around. The biggest of these is...

For those who are looking forward to their Golden Years...
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: A group of elderly British people decide to move to India to spend their golden years in a retirement home there. However, there's a bit of culture clash they have to deal with. Okay, a lot of culture clash.
Pros: The acting talent on display in this movie is incredible. I wasn't able to get a screener to review, but from the reviews I've read, it looks and sounds very good on high definition.
Cons: Some critics complained that the film was a little sappy and that the actors had to rise above the simplistic script. Also, there are not a lot of extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray.

For those who want to spend time with a younger generation...
Moonrise Kingdom - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack
Description: Two young kids, Suzy and Sam, fall in love and decide to run away together. Suzy's family, and the collection of weirdos that populate the island they live on, start a manhunt to find them.
Pros: I think it is Wes Anderson's best movie in his career, and that's saying a lot. The writing is quirky, but has real emotional heart, and the two young leads are fantastic, especially considering this is their first film.
Cons: There were not enough extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray. Also, it is definitely a Wes Anderson movie and if you don't like his style, you won't like this movie.

For those who want to see more veterans actors at the top of their game...
Arbitrage - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: Richard Gere plays a hedge fund manager who is married to Susan Sarandon. He's rich and successful and at the beginning of the film he's at his 60th birthday party with his family. However, under the surface, his life is beginning to crumble. He lost a huge amount of money on a gamble and he's trying to cover that up long enough to sell the company. That's just one of many things that he's done that will catch up with him if he is not careful.
Pros: The film earned excellent reviews and even picked up a Golden Globe nomination. The extras on the DVD are good for a limited release.
Cons: I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, but it does only cost $17, so even if there are no additional extras, it's not a bad deal. Also, it doesn't come out till the 21st, so it would have to be a bit of a last minute purchase.

For those who want to go back to the young actors...
Beasts of the Southern Wild - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: A young girl living in poverty in New Orleans deals with a massive storm, an abusive and ill father, and the impending invasion by ancient Aurochs.
Pros: The film earned excellent reviews, especially for the young Quenzhane Wallis and it has picked up four Independent Spirit Awards. There is a good selection extras on the DVD and the Blu-ray.
Cons: There's a good selection, but not a great selection.

For those waiting for the NHL lockout to end...
Goon - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack
Description: Sean William Scott plays a bouncer and black sheep in a very intellectual family. He has never really fitted in, but when he gets into a fight at a hockey game, he impresses the coach of the local team enough to get a tryout, even though he can't skate.
Pros: Easily the best hockey film since Slap Shot and arguably the best hockey film of all time. There are plenty of extras on the DVD and the Blu-ray.
Cons: Depending on how well someone is dealing with the NHL Lockout, this might be like pouring salt in their wounds.

For those who don't remember K.D. Lang...
Chely Wright: Wish Me Away - Buy from Amazon
Description: Chely Wright is the first major country singer to come out as a lesbian (at least according to a lot of sources) and this documentary looks at her life and why she decided to come out of the closet and how she prepared.
Pros: The film earned unbelievably positive reviews and is worth seeing if you are a fan of LGBT documentaries in general, and especially if you are a fan of Chely Wright in particular. It is impressive how personal the film is.
Cons: What about k.d.lang? I keep reading how Chely Wright is the first major country singer to come out as a lesbian, but k.d.lang has been out of the closet for 20 years? Also, there's not a lot of extras on the DVD.

For those who like their musicians mellow...
Marley - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: A comprehensive look at the life, the music, and the philosophy of Bob Marley featuring tons of interviews with just about everyone associated with Bob Marley.
Pros: One of the best documentaries I've seen all year. Even if you are not a fan of reggae, this movie is worth checking out. Also, the extras are a lot better than most documentaries.
Cons: Because so little archival footage of Bob Marley has survived, there's not a lot of him in the movie, while almost all of the music is comprised of frustratingly short clips.

For those who having the munchies after the last documentary...
Jiro Dreams of Sushi - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: Jiro Ono is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, an unassuming sushi restaurant in the Tokyo subway system. The restaurant has earned three Michelin stars, which means it is worth traveling to the country just to eat there. It is the only sushi restaurant to earn a three-star rating. We learn about the person, and his family.
Pros: It is arguably the best documentary I've seen this year and the extras are a lot better than a lot of documentaries have.
Cons: It will make you crave sushi, which isn't exactly traditional Christmas food. Although you could plan ahead and get some sushi for dinner.

For those who like to be scared on Christmas...
The Innkeepers - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: A purportedly haunted inn, Yankee Pedlar Inn, is closing and the two clerks on duty, Sara Paxton and Pat Healy, decide this is their last chance to get real evidence of the haunting for their website, and they want more than just a door mysteriously opening or closing.
Pros: It's an atmospheric film than uses mood to generate tension and horror and does so in an excellent way. The DVD and the Blu-ray have two audio commentary tracks and a behind-the-scenes featurette, which is better than a lot of limited releases.
Cons: Some complained that it moves too slowly and that there's not enough here that is unique.

For those like their horror a little more disturbing...
Bedevilled - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: A South Korean film by Chul-soo Jang. It is about a woman who visited her pen pal on a remote island and discovers her friend's life is a living hell. However, she's rather indifferent to the whole affair.
Pros: This is an intense movie that is sure to please fans of the genre. (It's a rape revenge film with a kick-to-the-gut ending.
Cons: This is an intense movie that is sure to turn off as many people as it entices. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray, but this is common for a foreign language import.

For those who like their foreign films a little more fun...
Painted Skin: The Resurrection - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: A fantasy adventure steeped in Chinese mythology. It involved a demon who was punished for falling in love with a mortal man and who is now trying to become human in order to escape her punishment. Meanwhile, the film also deals with a scarred princess and her former bodyguard, who love each other but due to their different social standings, the bodyguard has never allowed himself to show his emotions.
Pros: This is an incredible film that mixes adventure, romance, humor in a way that few films manage. It looks incredible and even if you don't understand the mythology, the story is engaging enough to draw you into the film.
Cons: There are not a lot of extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray, but again, this is common for a foreign language import.

For those who want their adventure, romance, humor from a little closer to home...
The Princess Bride - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
Description: The film begins with a grandfather coming over to read to his sick grandson. The book he reads features a kidnapped princess, a dangerous pirate, an evil prince, and more.
Pros: This film is widely considered a classic and with good reason. The 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray has plenty of extras and looks great.
Cons: This isn't the first time it has been released on Blu-ray.

For those who want to spend Christmas with their favorite director...
Francis Ford Coppola 5-Film Collection - Buy from Amazon
Description: Four or five films from Francis Ford Coppola. There's Apocalypse Now and Apocalypse Now Redux (I'm not sure you should count those as separate films.) There's also Tetro, The Conversation, and One from the Heart.
Pros: Most of these movies earned incredible reviews and they look as sound great on high definition. For the most part, there's plenty of extras to add value to the overall box set.
Cons: Only One from the Heart isn't a double-dip and it is by far the weakest film in the set.

For those who like their directors more old school...
Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
Description: A 15-disc box set containing 15 films from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.
Pros: There are several absolute classics in this box set, and even the weakest films are still worth checking out. There are also 15 hours of extras to go along with the collection of movies.
Cons: There are double-dips and not all of the films look and sound great on Blu-ray. Given the age of the films, this is understandable.

For those who like their directors even more old school...
Buster Keaton: The Ultimate Buster Keaton Collection - Buy from Amazon
Description: A 14-disc collection of all of the Buster Keaton releases Kino owns the rights to, including one that has never before been released on Blu-ray.
Pros: Buster Keaton is widely considered one of the greatest comedic directors of all time and Kino's releases have been strong.
Cons: All but one is a double-dip.

For those who looking for a classic, but of a monstrous variety...
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection - Buy from Amazon
Description: 8 movies featuring some of the most iconic movie monsters of all time from Dracula to Frankenstein to the Mummy and more.
Pros: These are classic movies in the truest sense of the word. The studio went all out remastering the films, so they look and sound fantastic, plus there's a ton of extras.
Cons: For some people, these movies are old-fashion, but not in a good way.

For those who like old-fashion horror movies with an added touch...
Elvira's Movie Macabre - Buy from Amazon: Bloody Madness or Mega Movie Marathon
Description: Elvira hosts a Movie Macabre and brings you some B-movie magic. Bloody Madness has four movies on two discs, including famous films like Manos, Hands of Fate and The Killer Shrews. Mega Movie Marathon has twelve films on six discs, including Night of the Living Dead, which is actually a good movie, but also B-movies like Eegah!, The Brain that Wouldn't Die, and others.
Pros: Each episode has bits with Elvira and her signature humor, which she's been using since the 1980s, plus there's pop-up bits that are new to the Movie Macabre line.
Cons: Obviously these DVDs will appeal to fans of B-movies, which is a niche market.

For those who are not worried about what Grandma might think...
Turn Me On, Dammit! - Buy from Amazon
Description: Helene Bergsholm stars as Alma, a 15-year old girl dealing with raging hormones.
Pros: The Teenage Sex Comedy is a genre to itself, but rarely are such films this good, and almost never are they from a girl's point of view.
Cons: This is not exactly a traditional Christmas film and you might get strange looks giving it as a gift.

For those who want a knock-down fight...
They Live - Buy-ray - Buy from Amazon
Description: An everyman, Roddy Piper, discovers that aliens are living among us and are using up Earth's natural resources and will leave a destroyed planet in their wake. He has to figure out who these aliens are and how to stop them.
Pros: One of John Carpenter's best films, but not one of his biggest hits. It has one of the best one-on-one hand-to-hand fights ever seen on film, or at least one of the longest. The Blu-ray is loaded with extras, especially for a film that failed to find an audience in theaters.
Cons: That fight goes on forever. Even if you are a fan of the movie, it goes on and on.

I've gone overboard, yet again, and there's plenty of films I didn't bring up, like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Bernie, Safety Not Guarenteed, and others. Maybe I will go into more details on those films in next week's installment, which I affectionately call the Panic List. It will include miscellaneous items (music, video games, etc.) and anything from the first three lists I missed.


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Filed under: The Princess Bride, They Live, Goon, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, Få meg på, for faen , Jiro Dreams of Sushi, The Innkeepers, Arbitrage, Marley, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Chely Wright: Wish Me Away, Hua Pi 2, Kim Bok-nam salinsageonui jeonmal, Buster Keaton, Richard Gere, Wes Anderson, John Carpenter, Francis Ford Coppola, Pat Healy, Alfred Hitchcock, k.d. lang, Bob Marley, Sara Paxton, Cassandra Peterson, Susan Sarandon, Seann William Scott, Helene Bergsholm, Roddy Piper, Jiro Ono, Quvenzhané Wallis, Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Chely Wright, Chul-soo Jang