Gifts Worth a Watch

December is a wonderful but stressful month. Besides the weather turning cold (eventually), a busy social calendar, and dealing with holiday visitors, you are also obligated to buy thoughtful presents for people you don’t really know all that well — from that weird co-worker to the annoying nephew.

The-Sound-Of-Music thumb
Published December 16, 2012 5:00 AM
4 min read

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The-Sound-Of-Music thumbDecember is a wonderful but stressful month. Besides the weather turning cold (eventually), a busy social calendar, and dealing with holiday visitors, you are also obligated to buy thoughtful presents for people you don’t really know all that well — from that weird co-worker to the annoying nephew.

 

By Noah Gittell

 

December is a wonderful but stressful month. Besides the weather turning cold (eventually), a busy social calendar, and dealing with holiday visitors, you are also obligated to buy thoughtful presents for people you don’t really know all that well — from that weird co-worker to the annoying nephew.

 

Here are some quick ideas for holiday gifts, even for people you only know a single thing about.

 

Mood147 box 348x490For the Cinephile

 

You simply cannot go wrong with a Criterion Collection DVD. Starting in 1984 with laserdiscs of “Citizen Kane” and “King Kong,” Criterion has released hundreds of “important classic and contemporary films” with re-mastered sound and picture and the best bonus features available. These releases cost more than an average DVD – they typically run from $30 to $40 – but for a film lover, there is no better gift.

 

Just in time for the holidays, Criterion is releasing new special editions of David Fincher’s psychedelic thriller “The Game,” Wong Kar-Wai’s dreamy “In the Mood for Love,” and Roman Polanski’s supernatural horror flick, “Rosemary’s Baby.” If you are shopping for a cinephile, however, just remember the name: you know it’s a classic if Criterion is releasing it.

 

 

 

 

the-dark-knight-trilogy1For the Fanboy

 

Opinions on “The Dark Knight Rises” were sharply divided when the film was released last July, but now you have the opportunity to consider the latest Batman movie in its proper context. Comic book fans and foreign policy experts alike will find something to enjoy in “The Dark Knight Trilogy,” a Blu-Ray collection of all three films.

 

When taken as a whole, Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman films remains impressive both as a work of entertainment and as a reflection of American ambivalence towards the War on Terror. Themes of order and chaos hang heavily over the proceedings, and of course the late Heath Ledger’s Joker steals the show.

 

The-Sound-Of-MusicFor the Christmas Traditionalist

 

One of the great mysteries of film and television is why “The Sound of Music” is always aired on or near Christmas. It’s not a Christmas movie; there are religious overtones to the film, but it is set during the summer. Regardless, you will want to watch this classic on a high-quality DVD instead of television. This special 45th anniversary edition was released in 2010, but now is a particularly good time to remember just how good it is. NBC is planning a live broadcast of the great musical in late 2013 – and country star Carrie Underwood has been cast in the lead. Since her only acting experiences are a one-off appearance in CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother” and a small part in the forgotten 2011 film, “Soul Surfer,” skepticism is understandable.

 

Before Underwood and the network suits sully your childhood Christmas memories, throw in this DVD and remind yourself of the sparkling chemistry between Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

 

Downton-AbbeyFor the Anglophile

 

I’m going to make this short: I haven’t seen “Downton Abbey,” but I hear it is pretty awesome. If you are like me, you may be better off just watching an episode or two on Netflix, but for the show’s many fans, the “Downton Abbey Seasons 1 & 2 Limited Edition Set” might just be the perfect gift. It contains the UK (read: longer) version of every episode of the series so far, plus bonus features that examine the authenticity of the show’s costumes, set design, and dialogue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

mel-brooks setFor the Class Clown

 

Mel Brooks is a comedy legend with a long and storied career. While he is probably best known for his movies – the stretch of filmmaking that included “The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “Blazing Saddles” may be the best decade in any comedian’s career – Brooks began his career in television, and he never left the medium for long.

 

“The Incredible Mel Brooks,” a new six-disc DVD box set, attempts to encapsulate Brooks on the tube. It includes his appearances with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” classic sketches from “Your Show of Shows,” guest appearances on TV shows in the ’90s, and long interviews with the man himself. The set even comes with a CD that showcases the genius of Brooks the songwriter – nearly 40 years later, “Springtime for Hitler” remains hilarious.

 

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