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SE&L's Last Minute Gift Suggestions

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Sunday, Dec 23, 2007


Can’t find the right gift for the cinephile in your life? Wondering what to get the film fan who has every…DVD ever made? Perhaps procrastination has put you in the precarious position of having to cater, last minute, to your resident movie maven. Of course, the biggest problem is not when to give, but what. Every year, it’s the same old gift giving grind. Well, have no fear. Even as the clock is ticking down and the stores are shuttering their doors, SE&L can help solve your mad dash dilemma. Within the 12 suggestions offered, covering three distinct mediums (books/DVDs/CDs) our crack research staff has uncovered unusual, unique, and enticing items to put under your celluloid leaning loved one’s X-mas tree. They’re guaranteed to make one’s pre-present days seem merry and bright. Let’s begin with the printed page:


BOOKS


My Boring Ass Life by Kevin Smith


Kevin Smith likes to talk. He’s the king of yak. As a matter of fact, even when he’s not giving guest lectures, chatting it up on satellite radio, or routinely contributing to his own noted podcast, the Clerks creator still moves words. And here’s proof - a year’s worth of blog journals by someone who feels minutia makes the man. Want to know his bowel regularity, or the unusual occlusions on his skin? It’s all here. Want some backstage insight into the indie filmmaking process? That’s accounted for as well. In fact, there’s not much missing from this all encompassing, thoroughly engrossing diary.

 


Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch


Ever wonder how much of an effect TM - or Transcendental Meditation - has had on the American auteur? This slim but substantive book on the subject will finally fill in the blanks. Lynch is not ashamed of his relationship to the controversial ‘70s movement, and when you read about the way he uses the fugue state as a means of opening up important artistic and mental portals, the results seem rock solid. As with any book on the subject, there is a nonsensical New Age quality that tends to undermine the thesis. Still, this is a key insight into a very complex man’s mind.



Diaries 1969 - 1979: The Python Years by Michael Palin


Sudden stardom. Movie set ennui. Tensions between group members. Minor bits of scandal! It’s all here in Palin’s exhaustive personal journals. While he’s not out to write the greatest entertainment adventure of all time, he is witness to the rebirth of sketch comedy as modern audiences would come to love it, and his place in Python allows him access the camps of both the inspired geniuses (Jones, Idle) and the moody madmen (Cleese, Chapman). There are also some fascinating personal tidbits, including information on dating, relationships, married life, and kids. While avoiding the controversial and the catty, Palin produces a definitive companion piece to Python’s remarkable rise.



To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios by Karen Paik


They didn’t start out as an animation studio. Instead, they were tech geeks giving computer graphics a massive software makeover. Every cartoon they created, in turn, was just a means of testing out a new set of codes. That many became artform classics stands as the truly remarkable element. From their very first experiments in the format to the genre defining gems like Toy Story and The Incredibles, it’s all here - and as usual, the backstory is frequently more dramatic and defining than what’s up there on the screen. As a testament to the tenacity and talent of this group, this book is brilliant.

 



DVDs
The Poisonous Seductress Trilogy


Brandishing a sword, a battered body, and a vendetta the size of Mt. Fuji on her frail little frame, the character of Ohyaku/Okatsu starred in a trio of films in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s which more or less started the whole Pinky Violence/Female Delinquent genre in Japan. And it’s no wonder - these amazing movies (especially the first two in the series, Female Demon Ohyaku and Quick Draw Okatsu) are period piece epics as feminist wish fulfillment. Shockingly violent and disturbingly misogynistic, these otherwise formulaic films are saved by the undeniable star power of Junko Miyazono. She’s a true iconic badass.



The Other Cinema DVD Collection


They remain a ferociously independent distributor handling titles by underground artists (The Kuchar Brothers, Negativland) and wildly idiosyncratic films (documentaries about 8-tracks, short film collections about sex) that no other company would touch. The catalog contains such amazing motion picture artifacts as Tribulation 99, dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, and The Rainbow Man/John 3:16. Now you can own all 19 discs in the collection, giving you access to many unheralded gems and forgotten enigmas. Not every film here is a masterpiece, but the presentation argues for DVD’s ability to bring heretofore unknown efforts - many never receiving a legitimate release - to the masses.

 


Starlite Drive-In Cult Classics Collection: A Dusk to Dawn Marathon


The Pom Pom Girls…The Van…Hustler Sqaud…Wild Riders…Van Nuys Blvd…Little Laura & Big John…Madmen of Madoras (aka They Saved Hitler’s Brain)…The Devil’s Hand. Eight films…eight exploitation classics, throwbacks to a time when taking a date to the drive-in was more than just an excuse for premarital sex. Softcore sleaze, unhinged horror, and lots of brutality and violence were the trademarks of an era which saw passion pit playdates becoming the anti-arthouse of the post-modern era. Sure, the prints look pathetic, and the dated or just plain dumb dimensions of many of these films undermine their effectiveness, but this is the ‘70s baby - love it or leave it. 


The Godzilla Collection


Seven movies…seven slices of kaiju heaven. The Japanese love of big movie monsters begins and ends with this classic nuclear age icon, and thanks to the efforts of Sony and Classic Media, fans of the randy reptile have a chance to see him the way Toho Studios intended. Fully restored, complete with Asian audio tracks and loads of extras, you can experience the original Gojira, Godzilla Raids Again, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster, Invasion of Astro Monster, All Monsters Attack, and Terror of Mechagodzilla. With over 20 hours of building crushing, people smashing fun, it will truly be a green and RED holiday.



CDs
There Will Be Blood Soundtrack - Jonny Greenwood


As if we needed further proof that director Paul Thomas Anderson is a genius, he goes and hires Radiohead guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Greenwood to compose the score for his latest big screen epic. How a post-modern musician from one of England’s most experimental pop acts meshes with a turn of the century period piece on oil wildcatting is an exercise in harsh juxtaposition, but it works so well one hardly cares. Reminiscent of classical moments from 2001, spaghetti westerns, and other contemporary works, Greenwood uses sound as a supplement, bringing Anderson’s grandiose ideas back down to Earth. It’s a combination that’s magic to the ears.



Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story - John C. Reilly and Various Artists


The songs here are silly, suggestive, and quite scandalous. They’re also almost impossible to forget. Like a genre-jumping Spinal Tap, working within everything from pure pop to rockabilly, country and/or western, Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan’s sonic sketches were exaggerated and amplified by names such as Van Dyke Parks and Marshall Crenshaw, and the resulting earworms are sensational. They fit the storyline and structure of the film expertly, and when they need to be, they carry the plot points all by themselves. Both John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer do a bang up job vocally, showing that the best kind of satire is handled seriously, not sloppily.



The Kingdom: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Danny Elfman


While it doesn’t sound like a stretch - Elfman has been a staple of film soundtracks since the early ‘80s - the approach taken for this Peter Berg action film redefines the composer’s career. Influenced by the director and his love of the band Explosions in the Sky, Elfman used electronic minimalism, casually strummed electric guitar, and a far more ambient feel to the overall symphonics to bring depth and emotional weight to an otherwise straightforward good guy/bad guy shoot ‘em up. It’s a sound so stark, so ethereal, that one can’t imagine it comes from the same Goth groove mind.


Sunshine: Original Score - Underworld


If you can find it, consider yourself lucky. Ever since August, rumors have been circulating that the work done by this underground electronica group was involved in some complex rights issues (something about who could distribute their work internationally). As a result, the amazing aural vistas created for Danny Boyle’s brilliant sci-fi epic have become the Holy Grail for film score aficionados. There are bootleg versions on the web, as well as promised compilations from other regions. If you can locate a copy, it’s well worth the effort. This is one of the best speculative movie scores ever.

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