Everyone’s got one that movie-freak friend or relative who’s able to hold court on everything from His Girl Friday (1940) to Next Friday (2000); dazzle the dinner table with obscure trivia and dead-on quotes; and is possessed of a memory that’s never met an unconquerable round of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." What to do when this human Internet Movie Database pops up on your holiday shopping list? Read on for suggestions to please the cinematic fanatic in your life.
Because eggnog and terror are two great tastes that taste great together, why not treat a film fan to a big-screen unspooling of Black Christmas (1974 original, obviously a true movie nerd would rather be choked by a candy cane than acknowledge the 2006 remake)? Thrillville’s Will the Thrill and Monica Tiki Goddess present the Bob Clark prank-caller classic at San Francisco’s Four Star (Dec. 3, with live music by Project Pimento) and San Jose’s Camera 3 Cinema (Dec. 10, with Rocket to Rio); visit www.thrillville.net for details.
Speaking of the Four Star, Lee Neighborhood Theatres (which also include the Marina and the Presidio) offer a variety of discount series tickets, gift certificates, and gift passes. You can also pick up an awesome Lee Neighborhood Theatres T-shirt ($8), with a design that reflects the mini-chain’s dedication to Asian cinema (learn more at www.lntsf.com). The Red Vic (www.redvicmoviehouse.com) offers a discount punch card which sure would come in handy in early 2010, when first-run theaters insist on showing nothing but kid flicks and stale Oscar bait.
But what if your favorite geek isn’t local? If you must select a gift from afar, you might want to enlist a trusted ally to spy on his or her movie collection to make sure you don’t duplicate anything. (Of course, most stores will let you return or exchange items, in case you buy the wrong version of the Special Collector’s Limited Edition Set for Drooling Fiends Only.) It’s always best to tailor your purchase to the person’s particular interests (hint for horror heads: Sony just released Fred Dekker’s director’s cut of 1986’s Night of the Creeps on DVD and Blu-Ray!), but there are definitely some good options if you can’t determine a favored genre, director, or actor to aim for.
If you just won the lottery, Essential Arthouse: 50 Years of Janus Films is available for a mere $650 at www.criterion.com. The set comes with a 240-page book and sparkling transfers of enough essentials to call this "film school in a box." Those on tighter budgets (i.e., anyone who didn’t just win the lottery) can pick up individual DVDs of everything in the set; titles include Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949), Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries (1957), Federico Fellini’s La Strada (1954), Fritz Lang’s M (1931), and Roman Polanski’s Knife in the Water (1962).
More fodder for fans of the classics: Blu-Ray and DVD versions of Victor Fleming’s 1939 Gone With the Wind (under $50 on www.amazon.com), which come wrapped in velvet boxes with more than eight hours of new extras (including a doc on 1939, a golden year that also saw the release of Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz) and attendant bells and whistles like a reproduction of the program from the film’s original release. For the film noir fan who has everything (hint: Columbia Pictures just released some nifty bundles of restored films, like 1953’s The Big Heat; Sony put out a sweet Sam Fuller set with seven of his films), check out Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler’s Imagined City (Charta Art Books), a moody book of photographs capturing gumshoe-friendly Los Angeles locations by Catherine "Daughter of Roger" Corman.