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Holiday Gift Guide

 

 

Written by Sara Michelle Fetters, Mitchell Hattaway, Dennis Crane

 



 

 

The Seven Samurai

(save and buy from Amazon)

 

The ultimate Japanese action epic from heralded master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, The Seven Samurai is a movie whose fame speaks for itself. Inspired by Hollywood Western icon John Ford, Kurosawa’s massive feudal adventure broke the mold and rewrote the rulebook for what an action film can be. Criterion’s stunning Blu-ray presentation of the film is one of the most remarkable of 2010; picture and sound quality a revelation, while the vast amount of special features border on perfection. For fans of Japanese cinema and for anyone out there who appreciate damn good movies.

 

-Sara Michelle

 

[ Seven Samurai Blu-ray Review ]

 

 


 

A Prophet

(save and buy from Amazon)

 

Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet (Un Prophète) is a journey through crime, punishment and power that hits like a hammer and sticks to your gut like glue. The story of Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim), a 19-year-old sentenced to six years inside a French prison, it is a transformative saga of one young man’s rise to prominence from inside the penal system that simply doesn’t get old no matter how many times you watch it. Audiard makes nary a false move, and by the time it’s all over and done with you sit there aghast at what it just was that you’ve had the pleasure to witness.

 

-Sara Michelle

 

[ A Prophet Blu-ray Review ]

 

 


 

The White Ribbon

(save and buy from Amazon)

 

Michael Haneke’s eerie and unsettling The White Ribbon is an unforgettable marvel. It arguably should have won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, this examination of a small northern German village just a short time before the onset of WWI chilled me to the very marrow, the director’s depiction of the rise of national socialism inside this small close-knit community one for the time capsule. Sony’s Blu-ray is a treasure, the black and white images popping off the screen in mesmerizing fashion. Not for all tastes, true, but for fans of complex international cinema this is the type of gift they’ll treasure for years to come.

 

-Sara Michelle

 

 


 

Revanche

(save and buy from Amazon)

 

A wonderful portrait of strange life, it is both a tense and nuanced film set in Vienna, where ex-con Alex, working as as assistant at a brothel, falls for a Ukrainian hooker, and their desperate plan for escape is intersected with the lives of a rural cop and his seemingly content wife. Criterion's Blu-ray boasts an impeccable video transfer and insightful bonus materials, perfect reasons to recommend Revanche.

 

-Dennis

 

 


 

M

(save and buy from Amazon)

 

Arguably one of the most successful films to portray public hysteria while a serial killer is on the loose, commenting on social issues, and brooding with genuine suspense, M is a masterwork creation from director Fritz Lang (Metropolis). Criterion Collection packs this Blu-ray to the max with wonderful and insightful extras and an incredible hi-def picture.

 

M makes the perfect gift this holiday season for those craving a slice of classic cinema. Make sure to thank the person who puts it in front of you.

 

-Dennis

 

 


 

I Am Love

(save and buy from Amazon)

 

A sweeping and operatic Italian drama featuring a performance by star Tilda Swinton that sets the screen ablaze, director Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love is a fiery tale of family, parenthood, infidelity, love and lust. It is a Faustian descent into tragedy and chaos, sweeping viewers on at a kinetic pace that equal parts fascinates and mesmerizes. Not for every taste, but for lovers of lush Italian romanticism told with cinematic flourish this Blu-ray release from the folks at Magnolia is an intoxicating brew that has me drunk on its effervescent delights.

 

-Sara Michelle

 

[ I Am Love Blu-ray Review ]

 

 


 

Everlasting Moments

(save and buy from Amazon)

 

Jan Troell's haunting Everlasting Moments is a film a person could become obsessive about. Based on the life and times of early twentieth century photographer Maria Larsson, this quiet, introspective drama is a luminous exercise in restraint that is entirely captivating from start to finish. Criterion’s presentation is fantastic, this Swedish import fast becoming one of my personal favorites, and my hope is that by sharing it with you in this guide some of you might consider picking it up as a gift for a loved one and then potentially discovering it yourself.

 

-Sara Michelle

 

 


 

The Baader Meinhof Complex

(save and buy from Amazon)

 

A film of kinetic energy and historical accuracy, The Baader Meinhof Complex tells the true story of a 1970s radical group pursued by the head of the German police force (Bruno Ganz). Led by Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu) and Ulrike Meinhof (Johanna Wokalek), the group aims to create a more human society but loses their humanity by employing terror and causing bloodshed in a fight against the new face of fascism, American imperialism supported by the German establishment. A two-disc Blu-ray set worthy of gift-giving.

 

-Dennis

 

 


 

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