By Indiewire | Indiewire December 11, 2013 at 12:19PM
With the holidays just around the corner we've compiled a list of gifts best suited to our loyal Indiewire readers. Included are picks for the cinephile, TV lover, and techie. Happy shopping!
For the cinephile:
"The Wes Anderson Collection"
"The Wes Anderson Collection" by New York Magazine critic Matt Zoller Seitz is now in its 5th printing and it's easy to see why. The beautiful hardcover book is at once both whimsical (perfectly capturing the spirit of Anderson's films) and authoritative (it's the first in-depth overview of Anderson's oeuvre). Featuring previously unpublished photos, artwork and other Andersonian ephemera, the book provides lots of insider-y information about Anderson's films and his core group of actors as well as insight into his filmmaking process. Max Dalton's illustrations perfectly reflect the filmmaker's playful style, another reason this isn't just a book to read, but rather a book to explore. The only bad news? Amazon.com and other booksellers can't seem to keep it in stock it fast enough, so may have to go on a quest (worthy of an Anderson film?) to find a copy. (Harry N. Abrams, $40.00) (Buy HERE)
"John Cassavetes: Five Films" (Criterion Collection)
If you want to give the gift of indie film inspiration, look no further than The Criterion Collection's "John Cassavetes: Five Films." Sure, at just under $100 ($99.96), it's not cheap, but considering what you're getting for the money, it's a relative bargain. Trained as an actor, Cassavetes gave his actors the freedom to experiment and improvise and the result is electrifying. In these five films -- "Shadows," "Faces," "The Woman Under the Influence," "The Killing of A Chinese Bookie," and "Opening Night," Cassavetes' work spans from from intimate relationship drama to re-imagined film noir. As a bonus, along with the high-definition digital restorations of the five films -- all independent film classics -- you also get the documentary Charles Kiselyak's "A Constant Forge -- The Life and Art of John Cassavetes," featuring candid interviews with Cassavetes' collaborators and archival footage. Cassavetes aficionados will appreciate the alternate 18-minute opening sequence for "Faces," original trailers, as well as audio interviews with the director from the 1970s. (Buy HERE)
"Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses"
Entertainment Weekly film critic Chris Nashawaty's oral history of B-movie legend Roger Corman surveys some 60 years of wild and often daring genre films produced, directed and written by the unflappable DIY visionary in the words of massive community he helped foster. Corman proteges quoted in the book range from Francis Ford Coppola to Bruce Dern, Jonathan Demme, Peter Bogdonavich and Corman himself. Their responses are beautifully laid out in a large format coffee table volume littered with high resolution imagery featuring dozens of Corman posters featuring juicy titles like "Caged Heat" and "Galaxy of Terror." Despite the kitsch, however, "Crab Monsters" provides a serious, almost scholarly overview of Corman's value in the history of American independent cinema, as he helped shepherd along talents like Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson and many, many more. The result isn't just a celebration of the B-movie; it's a first-rate history of American movies that gleefully defied the system. (Buy HERE)
"Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide: The Modern Era"
Since 1969, film critic Leonard Maltin's annual movie guide provides one of the most comprehensive overviews of movie ratings in book form. Each year, the updated volume grows a little bit thicker, and that much more essential for any intense movie viewer's library. Maltin -- also an Indiewire blogger, of course -- and his team are masters at the art of the capsule review, boiling down analysis and recommendation to a handful of text and keenly selected star ratings, which is often more than enough to pique a reader’s interest, especially now that home viewing options are so dense. The latest edition contains a new introduction, a list of resources and more. (Buy HERE)
"Frances Ha" (Criterion Collection)
Sure, the film is available to stream on Netflix, but given it got the Criterion treatment, the DVD/Blu-ray of "Frances Ha" is a gift well worth giving. The beloved 2013 release from filmmaker Noah Baumbach features Greta Gerwig in her most appealing performance yet as the bumbling, free spirited titular protagonist, a character you can't help but love. The packed disc comes loaded with conversations between Baumbach and Peter Bogdanovich, Sarah Polley and Gerwig, Baumbach and the film's director of photography, plus best of all, a lovely booklet featuring an essay by playwright Annie Baker. (Buy HERE)
"Inside Llewyn Davis" Soundtrack
Produced by T Bone Burnett, the 60s folk inspired soundtrack to the Coens latest features almost a dozen original songs performed by the film's cast, which is led by Oscar Isaac as the titular character, a down-on-his-luck musician struggling to make it in the quickly evolving Greenwich Village music scene of the early 1960's. Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, and Stark Sands show up on the album to sing new material, alongside an eclectic array of tracks from classic musicians like Bob Dylan, Nancy Blake and Dave Van Ronk. A must have for any folk lover. (Buy HERE)
"Spring Breakers" 'Britney' Poster
While Harmony Korine's subversive and scandalous candy-colored blast of a new film "Spring Breakers" has been dividing audiences since going into wide release earlier this year (it's now available on DVD/Blu-ray), there's no denying the nutty brilliance of the sequence where James Franco, as Florida gangster Alien, takes to his outdoor piano to offer his sincere rendition of Britney Spears' ballad "Everytime," flanked by three teens gone wild (Ashely Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and Rachel Korine). That moment is captured beautifully in A24's poster for the film (that Indiewire premiered online), making for one of the must-have posters of the year. (Buy HERE)
Re-Imagined Movie Posters
Everybody loves movie posters. But instead of just buying the same old, there's loads of re-imagined posters for sale from some great graphic designers. Matt Owen and Matt Needle both have dozens of posters (not to mention t-shirts) for sale that take classic and contemporary film and television ads and give them a minimalist makeover. Like this fantastic poster for Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kindgom" or this one for Joel & Ethan Coen's "Raising Arizona."
For the techie:
Google calls it a "dongle," but that sounds too silly, so we'll call it a thingamajig. Whatever you want to call it, Google Chromecast could be the answer to your loved one's quest to find an easy way to watch streaming video and listen to music -- everything from Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus Google Play Movies and Music, and Chrome -- on an HDTV. The three best things about Google Chromecast: 1) it's easy to use 2) it's small 3) it's cheap. At only $35, it's way cheaper than a Roku or an AppleTV. Also, unlike those devices, Google Chromecast enables you to watch internet TV shows via websites. Another big plus, you can watch your own videos (off your local or network drive) on your TV. Just plug the little sucker into your HDTV, connect to Wifi and send videos from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to your TV. (Buy HERE)
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
Looking to get a gorgeous shot but need to do so discreetly? Or need to carry a camera into a place that's not so accommodating to anything above a certain size or weight? Then the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is probably on your radar. But with a price tag of $995 and gorgeous footage, with the ability to shoot footage converted into high quality lossless compressed files, the Blackmagic is on the forefront of filmmaking on the go, in tight spaces, and in secret. (Buy HERE)
For the TV lover:
"Breaking Bad: The Complete Series"
Saying goodbye to Walter White, Jesse Pinkman and company hasn't been easy, but one way to dull the pain of farewell for the obsessive fan in your life might be via this box set of the complete series -- if you can find it. The 16-disc set sold out not long after it went on sale on November 26th, meaning that if you want to get hold of one of them, it'll probably cost you more than the already considerable $299.99 retail price. Packed in a barrel that's a replica of the one in which Walt packed his money, the set comes with 55 hours of special features, a new two-hour documentary about the show and a Los Pollos Hermanos apron -- but it's the prospect of the full series on beautiful Blu-ray that's really enticing, this being one of the most cinematic of television dramas in our current "Golden Age." Fortunately, even those who can't track down the collector's set can pick up the individual seasons on Blu-ray to cobble together their own complete collection -- it may not come with an apron, but it's still one hell of a show. (Buy HERE)
"Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: The Complete Series"
When this cult favorite soap opera parody first aired from 1976-1977, it was in syndicated markets -- producer Norman Lear (of "All in the Family" and "Good Times") had to sell the show to independent stations, as the broadcast networks were too leery of the subject matter. Walking the line between a straightforward example of its genre and a bizarre, nearly Lynchian enterprise, "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" starred Louise Lasser as the pigtailed housewife of the title, so zoned out on TV and Reader's Digest she's more concerned about the waxy buildup on her floor than the murder of the family across the street in the first episode. The series provided a dark commentary on how a daily barrage of commercials and media shaped its main character, but it's also just very funny, particularly in the cast of Mary Kay Place's would-be country singer Loretta Haggers. Shout! Factory's box set of the long-unavailable series was released on December 3rd and has a list price of $249.95, but for that you can the full 325 episodes on 38 discs -- plenty of bang for your buck. (Buy HERE)
"Difficult Men"/"The Revolution Was Televised"
How did we get to this point in which television as a medium is now justifiably being taken as seriously as film? A pair of recent books, one released this summer and the other late last year, chronicle the rise of our age of artistically ambitious small screen work, and make a great twofer for your favorite TV lover. Brett Martin's "Difficult Men" focuses on the influential cable dramas of the late '90s and 2000s, from "The Sopranos" to "The Shield" and "Mad Men," shows with dark, morally complicated (to say the least) protagonists who challenged preconceptions about the types of characters audiences wanted to watch. Television critic Alan Sepinwall's book "The Revolution Was Televised," which has been republished by Touchstone after an initial self-published run, covers a few of the same shows, but takes a broader (and less strictly masculine) look at the idea of quality TV, including programs like "Lost," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "24" and "Battlestar Galactica." The book pulls from interviews with the Davids Chase, Simon and Milch, as well as Damon Lindelof, Vince Gilligan and more. (Buy "Difficult Men" HERE; Buy "The Revolution Was Televised" HERE)
(Paula Bernstein, Peter Knegt, Eric Kohn, Bryce Renninger, Nigel Smith and Alison Willmore contributed to this story.)