If you haven’t started your holiday shopping, well, good luck to you and all who sail with you. But if you’re looking for a few eleventh hour gifts for that fussy cinephile in your life, TOH! has some great ideas, from books to boxed sets, if you’re in a pinch.
Books for Film Lovers:
1. “Moments That Made the Movies” by David Thomson (Amazon)
The book’s 70 moments over 100 years are assembled in chronological order, from Eadweard Muybridge’s 1887 “One Woman Standing, Another Sitting and Crossing Legs” to the Coens’ 2008 “Burn After Reading,” with sets of well-designed screen grabs–as opposed to staged publicity stills. (Our TOH! interview with Thomson here.)
2. “The Wes Anderson Collection” by Matt Zoller Seitz (Amazon)
NY Mag and RogerEbert.com scribe Matt Zoller Seitz has lovingly compiled this visual compendium to the films of Wes Anderson, doubling as insightful criticism and coffee table picture book.
3. “Roman Polanski: A Retrospective” by James Greenberg (Amazon)
James Greenberg’s picture-packed coffee table book covers all of Polanski’s movies as well as his career as an actor. Part of a series of glossy filmmaker retrospectives, “Roman Polanski” is the only book of its kind the filmmaker has ever participated in.
(Our TOH! interview with Greenberg here.)
4. “Dennis Hopper: On the Road” by Jose Lebrero Stals (Amazon)
This fab photo coffee table book traces the meanderings of Dennis Hopper as a photographer of the 1960s American cultural landscape.
5. “A Life of Barbara Stanwyck” by Victoria Wilson (our TOH! review)
This detailed biography centers on the Hollywood legend’s life and career between 1907 to 1940, a short period that omits many of her great films to come. But the focus allows a deep exploration of both Stanwyck’s inner life and her screen presence.
Writer and film programmer Janisse delicately folds an autobiography of her own dark past into this “Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films,” from Catherine Deneuve in “Repulsion” to Charlotte Gainsbourg in “Antichrist” and many more of your favorite damaged women onscreen. It’s a radically beautifully book so unputdownable it will never hit the coffee table.
7. “The Making of the Wizard of Oz” by Aljean Harmetz (Amazon)
Veteran New York Times correspondent and author Harmetz (and TOH frequent contributor) has revised this must-own movie book in concert with the 75th Anniversary of the 1939 classic MGM musical, which was rereleased in 3-D this year. Shirley Temple almost played Dorothy and Buddy Ebson the Tin Man. Three directors took the helm. Margaret Hamilton arrived three days before the film started shooting and the song “Somewhere Under the Rainbow” almost didn’t make the final cut. There’s also a new Warner Bros. “The Wizard of Oz” five-disc Collector’s Edition with 3-D, Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film.
8. “New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut” by B. Ruby Rich (Amazon)
Folks with any interest in the LGBT cinema should quickly put this book by this Bay Area critic, journalist and scholar at the top of their reading list. Twenty-one years after she coined the phrase “new queer cinema,” Rich deepens the work she started with this anthology on the topic. Here’s the first chapter.
You also can’t go wrong with any of these NYT-bestselling movie tie-ins: “12 Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup, “Philomena” by Martin Sixsmith, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, “Labor Day” by Joyce Maynard, “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson, or “The Butler: A Witness to History” by Wil Haygood. Contemporary classics like Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi “Ender’s Game,“ which is far more enjoyable than the movie, are always a treasure under any tree. And YA fans can gear up for the upcoming screen adaptation of “Divergent” with author Veronica Roth’s dystopian trilogy.
Must-Own New Criterion Releases:
1. Three Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman
Criterion has released a beautiful new box set featuring Rossellini’s Italian neorealist melodramas “Stromboli,” “Europe ’51” and “Journey to Italy,” a must-own for classic film fans and a veritable steal for the price. TOH’s Matt Brennan reviewed the release here.
2. John Cassavetes: Five Films
Though available on DVD for some time, Criterion has finally made this Cassavetes omnibus featuring “Shadows,” “Faces,” “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie,” “Opening Night” and “A Woman Under the Influence” available on sterling Blu-ray. The release features copious extras and insight into the seminal indie auteur’s craft, and the close relationships he had with his actors.
3. La Notte
Criterion presents a gorgeous, crystal-clear 4K transfer of this Antonioni classic starring Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau. Supplementing the disc is a sharp essay by New Yorker critic Richard Brody. TOH’s Ryan Lattanzio reviews the release here.
Robert Altman’s groundbreaking ensemble musical “Nashville” gets the Blu-ray treatment from Criterion and is a must-own for New Hollywood and country music fans. Matt Brennan’s essay on the film’s pop cultural influence here.