Not everyone may consider this to be good news, but there’s no denying that Christmas is right around the corner. My constant reminder comes in the form of my son Grant, whose job it is every morning to change the little wooden blocks that count down the days before I have to go into debt to keep the illusion of Santa Clause alive. While there’s no denying that the holiday can become an expensive proposition, I’m of the mind that if you are going to spend money, you should get your money’s worth. To that end, I have compiled an initial list of five sure-fire gifts for the film fan on your list, with more suggestions to come as other products hit the store. Some are affordable; some are pricy. It’s up to you to determine just how much Christmas cheer you want to dispense.
Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection
While I was initially skeptical about the Blu-Ray format, I have since come around to how sumptuous the images are that this method produces. Some critics have said that you haven’t really seen a movie unless you’ve seen it on Blu-Ray and this is never more evident than with this box set, which contains 14 of Hitchcock’s best. While you may have seen Psycho and Vertigo many times before, you’ll be shocked by the details you’ll pick up with the versions of these films and others in this set. To be sure, the films included here are not all classics (Torn Curtain?), but this set is a must-have for any home video collection. Universal Home Video. $299.98.
Clint Eastwood: Master Filmmaker at Work by Michael Goldman
While Clint Eastwood made his mark by appearing in front of the camera, he’s also carved out an impressive body of work from behind it. This gorgeous book examines the 32 films he’s made as a director with insightful commentary by Michael Goldman of Variety and contains one stunning photograph after another from behind-the-scenes as well as stills from the various movies. Without question, Eastwood’s reputation is well known, but seeing all the films represented in one book so handsomely brings home the breadth of his work and the beauty as well. With a preface by Morgan Freeman and an introduction by Steven Spielberg. Abrams Books. $40.
Steven Spielberg: A Retrospective by Richard Schickel
Without question, Steven Spielberg is the most successful director of modern times, what with his films raking in billions of dollars internationally. To be sure, he does have his bad habits and he’s far from invulnerable where making bad movies are concerned. (I don’t care what it’s supporters say, 1941 is a stinker.) This book is much like the book on Clint Eastwood described above and it succeeds in a similar manner as it perfectly encapsulates the director’s career, giving equal time to his triumphs and turkeys. Schickel, the former film critic for Time magazine, provides expert analysis of Spielberg’s work, while the pictures included will have you eager to take a look at his films once more. Sterling Books. $35.
While I haven’t been a fan of all of his work, there’s no denying that the work of Quentin Tarantino has had a ripple effect on the world of modern film that’s still being felt today. This box set includes eight of his films, including the seminal Pulp Fiction, the underrated and often forgotten Jackie Brown and True Romance, with the late Tony Scott directing a Tarantino script. The collection comes with five hours of extra features that include a great Q & A session with the director, Pam Grier and Robert Forester discussing Jackie Brown. To be sure, Tarantino is not everyone’s cup of coffee but for fans of his, this is a must. Lionsgate/Miramax Home Video. $119.99.
Universal 100th Anniversary Collection
It’s been called the greatest box set of films ever assembled and it may very well have the content to lay claim to the title. Featuring 25 films, ranging from All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) to Despicable Me (2010), this collection is an eclectic overview of the studio’s rich history. Horror classics (Dracula – 1931), blockbusters (Jurassic Park - 1993), grand adventures (Jaws – 1975) and social dramas (To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 – Do the Right Thing 1989) are just a few of the genres touched on in this massive collection. Yes, it is pricey but the number of films as well as the many classic cartoons and shorts make it more than worth it. Universal Home Video. $349.98.