Every week, the Criticwire Survey asks film and TV critics two questions. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?” can be found at the end of this post.) Send suggestions for future questions to sam at indiewire dot com.
Q: Tick-tock: Just a few days to finish your shopping. What should you get for the cinephiles on your list? And what are you picking up for yourself while you’re at it?
Josh Spiegel, Movie Mezzanine
It would be truly shameless of me to suggest that a fine gift to buy for the cinephile in your life is my book “Yesterday is Forever: Nostalgia and Pixar Animation Studios,” talking about Pixar’s balance of cutting-edge technology and storytelling that longs for the past. Truly, truly shameless.
Moving on: the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of “Mulholland Dr.” is, as they say, legitimately essential for anyone who likes to be terrified at the movies. I’d also be partial to saying that a fan of the “Die Hard” films might enjoy the recent series Blu-ray collection that arrives with a replica of Nakatomi Plaza. For myself, though I know it won’t happen, I’d ask of anyone buying me a gift this Christmas to give me the “Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki” Blu-ray set that came out last month; now that Studio Ghibli films are apparently a thing of the past, the time to celebrate these works of art in high-definition is right now.
Ethan Alter, Film Journal International, Yahoo Movies
Amazon’s exclusive “The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki” box set is the holiday present I’d most like to gift (and receive). Even if, like me, you already own most of the master animator’s 11 features to revisit on your own or with your kids, the appeal of having them all in one place — tricked out with a collectible booklet and illustrated disc book — is hard to resist.
Tina Hassannia, Movie Mezzanine, The Globe and Mail
Four Gift Ideas That Definitely Won’t Arrive by Christmas But That’s Okay:
1) a cuddly crochet Shaun the Sheep, to help you fall asleep at night
2) these “Inside Out” earrings to signify your mood to others without saying a word
3) a bobblehead of Nux’s Bird from “Mad Max: Fury Road,” because why the hell not
4) a “Magic Mike XXL”-themed light-switch cover for all your romantic lighting needs (dimmer switch and Channing Tatum unfortunately not included)
Kristy Puchko, Pajiba, Comic Book Resources
“The Art of ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.'” It’s a gorgeous coffee table book rich with behinds the scenes details, concept art, and set photography from the biggest, most beautiful movie of the year. It’s a no brainer.
Tomris Laffly, Movie Mezzanine, Film Journal International
Last minute gifts for a cinephile? Well, you can never go wrong with a Criterion gift certificate of any amount. Another wonderful gift (one that will keep on giving all year) would be signing him/her up for a membership at their local arthouse theater or cinematheque. For New Yorkers, I highly recommend The Film Society of Lincoln Center. Lastly, a Film Independent membership would make a great gift. Anyone who joins by January 15 can attend NY/LA screenings of Spirit Awards nominees and gets to vote in this year’s awards.
In terms of what I would like… If someone could be kind enough to renew my MoMA Film Plus membership, I will surely appreciate it. I have been good all year, I promise.
Gary M. Kramer, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News
As someone who likes to attend film festivals and support retrospectives I would gift a membership to Film Forum or the IFC Center or the Film Society of Lincoln Center, or a Hudson Pass for the Tribeca Film Festival.
And on that same note, I’d like to receive a badge for Telluride Film Festival, which has become one of my favorite fests. Although I am curious to attend the BAFICI in Buenos Aires, hint, hint.
Peter Howell, Toronto Star
A true cinephile (and geek) would lust for Taschen’s new “The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,'” which lists for $69.99, much more affordable than a limited special edition brought out earlier this year. Shaped like the monolith of the film’s mysterious object of fascination, the book is packed with images of the film at every stage of creation. There are photos of scenes deleted from the final print, and tantalizing glimpses of the alien creatures Kubrick initially wanted his astronauts to meet. An illustrated synopsis of the film fills in any blanks that even multiple viewers might have. The book even has the full instructions for the zero gravity toilet that a worried Dr. Heywood Floyd uses, although they’re spread across two pages and difficult to read — yet wasn’t that always the point? What I’d want my loved ones to pick up for me would be a Criterion Blu-ray version of “2001” that contains the aforementioned deleted scenes, but there’s no Criterion Blu- edition yet. Maybe there will be for Christmas 2018, a half century after the film’s release?
Adam Batty, Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second
It’s an easy choice for me this year, not least because I have just this week been gifted it myself by a family member. Edward Ross’ “Filmish” began life as a comic-book, and it’s recently been collected in a trade paperback. Using the medium of sequential art Ross guides his reader through the history and theories of cinema. Ross’ doesn’t tread lightly either; he goes into some serious territory that ought to satisfy even the stuffiest and most well-worn of cinephiles.
Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter, Sight & Sound
Given that I walked the ten miles dead from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City this April in order to visit the grave of Bela Lugosi, the answer has to be “Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles” by David L. Ulin. “In “Sidewalking,” Ulin offers a compelling inquiry into the evolving landscape of Los Angeles. Part personal narrative, part investigation of the city as both idea and environment, “Sidewalking” is many things: a discussion of Los Angeles as urban space, a history of the city’s built environment, a meditation on the author’s relationship to the city, and a rumination on the art of urban walking. Exploring Los Angeles through the soles of his feet, Ulin gets at the experience of its street life, drawing from urban theory, pop culture, and literature. For readers interested in the culture of Los Angeles, this book offers a pointed look beneath the surface in order to see, and engage with, the city on its own terms.”
Richard Brody, New Yorker
Tempting though it is to give cinephiles the same gift I’d have offered last year — a multi-zone player — the 2015 cornucopia of Region 1 DVD releases should keep my friends and me busy all through 2016, starting, of course, with the boxed set of Jacques Rivette’s “Out 1” (Carlotta) and continuing with Shirley Clarke’s “The Connection” (Milestone); Frank Tashlin’s “The Alphabet Murders” and Nicholas Ray’s “Wind Across the Everglades” (Warner Archive); Jean Renoir’s “A Day in the Country,” “Agnès Varda in California,” “Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas,” Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le Silence de la Mer,” and Satyajit Ray’s “Apu Trilogy” (all from Criterion), Spike Lee’s “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” (Anchor Bay); D. W. Griffith’s “Isn’t Life Wonderful” and Charlie Chaplin’s Essanay Comedies (Flicker Alley); Tim Sutton’s “Memphis,” Alain Resnais’s “Je T’Aime Je T’Aime,” and Jacques Rivette’s “Le Pont du Nord” (Kino Lorber), among many others. For those whose backs are stronger than mine, the sumptuously hefty “Charlie Chaplin Archives” (Taschen), which offers an unprecedentedly detailed view of Chaplin’s fanatical artistry and turbulent life. For portability, Patrick McGilligan’s “Young Orson,” which does the same for Welles’s fabulous and fertile first quarter-century. And for me? Just some chocolate to lure me to the kitchen for breaks while watching the disks in question — because the whole point of home video is the pause button.
John Keefer, 51 Deep
“The Apu Trilogy” on Blu-Ray would be nice…I even wrote a song about it:
Other than that um… “Hateful Eight” Roadshow tickets. But really, it’s all about love.
Jeff Berg, Las Cruces Bulletin, ABQ Free Press
My new book, published by a real publisher, “New Mexico Filmmaking,” or the new DVD of “Ride the Pink Horse,” or a pass to the 2016 Arthouse Convergence or the pass to Cannes that I just got an email about.
Jason Shawhan, The Nashville Scene, Interface 2037
You can’t go wrong with giving someone “Mad Max: Fury Road” alongside a copy of Ul de Rico’s “The Rainbow Goblins”, because game recognize game. As for me, because of big dreams and gluttonous tendencies, I’m hoping for the “Decline of Western Civilization” trilogy on blu-ray, the “Out 1” set Carlotta is putting out, and the 33-disc Stock Aitken Waterman singles box “Say I’m Your Number One.”
Justine Smith, Vague Visages
I’m a big proponent of giving and receiving books. Right now, just about any book from Critical Press would be an amazing holiday gift. The next best thing would be some kind of pass or gift certificate to the movies, preferably your local arthouse or similar establishment. Otherwise, a homemade gift is always cool — last year I made a family member a painting inspired by “Hannibal.”
Kyle Turner, Uproxx, Movie Mezzanine
I’d probably pick up something like the Criterion Collection edition of “Mulholland Drive” for someone, a gift subscription to MUBI, “Mad Men Carousel” by Matt Zoller Seitz, “Tangerine” on Blu-ray, this gorgeous “‘Frances Ha” coffee table book. Of course, it all depends on the person. I try to tailor my gifts to the person (e.g., my friend really liked “Crimson Peak,” so I got him Guillermo Del Toro’s “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Blackwood’s Guide to Dangerous Fairies”). There’s a cool set of James Bond Hot Wheels, Boyd McDonald’s “Cruising the Movies: A Sexual Guide to Oldies on TV,” “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?” on Blu-ray, “Hannibal: Season 3” on Blu-ray, or just an Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. I’m pretty easy to please.
Anne-Katrin Titze, Eye For Film
“David Lynch: The Man From Another Place” by Dennis Lim is a critical biography filled with insight and transcending nuggets that will make you appreciate Lynch from another angle. Three extraordinary books in conjunction with 2015 museum exhibitions: “Anton Corbijn: Hollands Deep,” from the exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. The major retrospective included Corbijn’s photographs from over four decades; “4 REAL & TRUE 2 Wim Wenders Landscapes. Photographs,” published on the occasion of the exhibition at the Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf; “China: Through the Looking Glass”, a comprehensive catalogue in conjunction with the exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, curated by Andrew Bolton with Wong Kar-Wai as artistic director. And for the stylish cinephile looking forward to the upcoming program “Jane and Charlotte Forever” in 2016 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, check out Charlotte Gainsbourg’s collaboration with Current/Elliott. Her denim jackets are particularly good gift ideas.
Marc V. Ciafardini, Go See Talk, The Film Stage
Less of a plug, and more like a heads up to the other like-minded music fans out there, my last-minute gift idea is a one-two punch of audio awesomeness. First, the acoustic aficionados at La-La Land Records, who time and again release some of the best expanded film scores out there, are offering the 25th anniversary of the holiday home invasion classic “Home Alone.” You can’t go wrong with John Williams, and this release would even make The Wet Bandits happy.
Second, I highly recommend Le Matos’ soundtrack to “Turbo Kid.” A cavalcade of sweet syth tracks that would make Vangelis and Air proud, “Turbo Kid” is the best thing to happen to modern electronic film scores since “Tron: Legacy” and “Oblivion.” While the DeathWaltz vinyl release is sold out *sad trombone* it is worth whatever price flippers are selling it for. Scour the Wasteland to get your copy. You won’t regret it.
Merry Christmas, ya filthy film score fans!!
Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit
I’d say it’s probably a safe bet to get something “Star Wars” related. Personally, I’ve been getting myself a bunch of the old books on the various spaceships in the “Star Wars” universe that I loved as a kid. On the flip side, the one thing I’d love that I won’t be buying for myself is the phone controlled BB-8. Love that little droid, but it’s not cheap. Still, so cool.
Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat, One Perfect Shot
I think my loved ones already know that they can get me anything related to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and I’m going to be very happy. As for what I’d give to other cinephiles on my gift-giving list, I’d have to start with the gift of indie coolness. Alex Ross Perry’s “Queen of Earth” hits DVD this week, and it’s one of the most fascinating and engaging films of 2015. Elisabeth Moss gives a brilliant lead performance as a young woman having an emotional breakdown. The fact that she’s not even on the awards season radar is a crime. For fun, I’d probably also include one or two of the amazing Vinyl Idolz figures that Funko has out, which includes a line of “Young Frankenstein” characters. And finally, just because I’m a bit of a wiseguy, I’d probably toss in a copy of the “Jem and the Holograms” soundtrack for friends on my “naughty” list this year. They know who they are.
Q: What is the best movie in theaters?
A: “Carol”/“Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens” (tie)
Other movies receiving multiple votes: “Brooklyn,” “Son of Saul”