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A Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide for Cinephiles

A Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide for Cinephiles

Books: 

“Moments that Made the Movies” by David Thomson

San Francisco-based David Thomson, the film critic for The New Republic, has written more than 20 movie books, among them must-owns such as “The New Biographical Dictionary of Film,” “The Big Screen,” and “‘Have You Seen…?’: A Personal Introduction to 1000 Films.” 
The Brit transplant’s long experience with writing accessible, entertaining, idiosyncratic, erudite and enlightening movie books led him to the most delightful one of all: “Moments that Made the Movies.” Trust me. This is a keeper.

Read: David Thomson Recalls Moments that Made the Movies

It all came out of a conversation with Thomson’s editor at Thames & Hudson, Will Balliett, who told Thomson that he wanted to do an illustrated book with text, not just a coffee table book. Thomson tossed out a few ideas and then said: “You know, if you ever talk to anyone about the movies they love, sooner or later they think of moments. They can mean a lot of different things: five minutes or maybe longer, or a few seconds. But if they love a movie they hold on to these mementos, these little scenes. They can remember them when they have forgotten the plot of the film. They survive wonderfully because film has always loved the idea of special moments, where lives change, where a story clicks to together and you get the answer.”
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.

Thomson combines iconic movie moments–of the kind that Chuck Workman might include in his compilation shorts–from Scorsese and De Niro in a cab in “Taxi Driver,” Jack Nicholson vs. John Huston in “Chinatown,” Nicholson vs. the bartender in “The Shining,” and Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm in “When Harry Met Sally” to confronting a possible killer in “Zodiac,” the body floating in the pool in “Sunset Boulevard,” and Cary Grant running across corn fields pursued by a plane in “North by Northwest,” along with more arcane scenes and selections from his favorite foreign films. 

“Meryl Streep: Anatomy of an Actor” by Karina Longworth
Film critic Karina Longworth (whose podcast “You Must Remember This” is a must-listen) managed to nail Streep down in her book, “Meryl Streep: Anatomy of an Actor.” Longworth has moved from movie blogging in New York, to long-form criticism at the LA Weekly and Village Voice Media, to book author. Longworth’s third contribution to the Cahiers du Cinema/Phaidon series –the first was on Master of Cinema George Lucas, followed by an Anatomy of an Actor book on Al Pacino— takes a straightforward deep dive into ten iconic Meryl Streep characters, from the start of her career through her rich middle-age blossoming, accompanied by glossy color photos. Longworth argues that “serving up a corrective to the patriarchal version of history has been the major project of Streep’s acting career.” 

“Hope for Film” by Ted Hope
Ted Hope has led the exemplary indie producer’s life: from Good Machine through Ang Lee and Nicole Holofcener and Michel Gondry to his recent experiences at the San Francisco Film Society and Fandor, he has a sharp picture of the evolving film industry, which he shares in his new memoir “Hope for Film.” We talked about the book and the state of the industry here.

Shawn Levy’s DeNiro: A Life. 

Oregon film critic Shawn Levy has applied his experience writing about Paul Newman and the Rat Pack to the life of one of our greatest screen actors, Robert De Niro.  We know the performances in the films– from “Mean Streets” to “The Godfather Part II,” “Taxi Driver,” “The Deer Hunter,” and “Raging Bull”– but we don’t know what went on behind the scenes, working with the likes of Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Michael Cimino. 
De Niro is a private person who has never been revealing or articulate in interviews. Levy explores the many De Niros. How did the child of abstract painter Robert De Niro Sr. move from deep explorations of complex characters that earned him the respect of his peers to avoiding acting challenges in his later career as he chased the respect conferred by money as a restauranteur and businessman? Levy also covers De Niro’s relationships with the women in his life and close friends such as Scorsese, Coppola, Meryl Streep, Harvey Keitel, and Shelley Winters.

And yes, “The $11 Billion Year” by Anne Thompson
As some of you may have gleaned, this year I delivered my first book. “The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to the Oscars, an Inside Look at the Changing Hollywood System” was published by HarperCollins on March 4. I answer questions here.

More holiday gift picks from 2013 are here.

Indie streaming sites:

Fandor
For the pretty price of $7.50 a month, stream indies, foreign films, docs and classics, from the Werner Herzog oeuvre to new 2014 international favorites. Fandor’s rapidly growing slate is heaven, a must-have for any self-respecting cinephile.
SundanceNow Doc Club
Not sure what to get the doc film lover on your list? Doc Club continually offers great, curated programs of documentaries with guest curators like Ira Glass and TIFF documentary programmer Thom Powers. The service also offers members exclusive access to free movie tickets, film festivals, premieres and more. And, Doc Club streams on smartphones, tablets, TV and online. In terms of pricing: 3 months for $19.99, an exclusive gift subscript 6-month option for $34.99 or 1 year for $59.99.

Vyer Films
Vyer boasts a fab, well-curated catalogue of films fresh off the festival circuit that you can’t find anywhere else, along with earlier films that had little or no US distributions. Features are accompanied by behind-the-scenes extras, video essays, directors’ commentaries and more. Holiday gift subscriptions range from $24.99 and up.

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