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Front Page - Friday, December 12, 2014

Buying a gift for a film lover

The Critic's Corner

David Laprad

Instead of skewering “Horrible Bosses 2,” the only major new release this week, I’m going to offer up some well-timed advice. This time of year can be stressful as we try to balance parties, family time, the financial pinch, and the mentally taxing process of trying to figure out what to buy for the special people in our lives. I’m here to offer relief with regard to the last one – at least when it comes to film lovers.

We all know someone who’s passionate about movies. These are people who have seen nearly every new release (except “Horrible Bosses 2,” if they have any taste), can tell you which films are coming out and when, can list every other movie made by the director of a film they just saw, can quote every line from their favorite movies before they’re spoken (this is why my wife won’t watch “Raiders of the Lost Art” or “Ghostbusters” with me), can answer every movie-related question on “Jeopardy,” and can provide a film quote for any situation. (Example: After seeing “Horrible Bosses 2,” one might quote Jeremy Irons from the 2012 movie, “The Words”: “You can’t erase the past, no matter how much you want to.”)

If this person is on your gift list, don’t worry, fret, or stress eat holiday cookies; I have you covered. There is no easier person for whom to buy a present than someone who loves films. Simply put, you cannot go wrong by picking and choosing from the following suggestions. Some personalization will be required, but I’ll cover that as I go.

So, grab a cup of something warm, put on “It’s A Wonderful Life” in the background, and let’s get started.

Gift cards

I’ll get an easy one out of the way first. Gift cards might seem impersonal or a bit on the nose, but if the movie lover in your life has a favorite megaplex or enjoys purchasing tickets ahead of time, then a theater chain or a Fandango gift card will get them salivating like it’s Christmas dinner. Just don’t be cheap, because going to the movies isn’t. I’d start at 50 bucks and go up from there, depending on your budget. Next year is going to see the release of one blockbuster film after another (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Tomorrowland,” “Jurassic World,” “Terminator: Genisys,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Mission Impossible V” – to name just a few), and a gift card will allow them to make plans to see their most anticipate flick on opening night, load up on snacks, and possibly take you without worrying about a show being sold out, fretting over having the money to go, or stress eating stale holiday cookies.

Amazon Prime

gift membership

Two things that will get a film lover purring like Mae West in “I’m No Angel” include unlimited access and on demand viewing. When you love films, you can’t see enough of them, and they’re a great way to fill free time. Amazon Prime is an excellent option for people who enjoy dipping into a large library of content. Not only does Amazon offer an all-you-can-watch buffet, you can view films on a variety of devices, including laptops, tablets, and smart phones, wherever you have WiFi access. Pair a year-long membership with an Amazon Fire Stick – a gadget that plugs into your TV and allows you to stream Amazon digital media to your TV – and you’ll win a friend for life. Amazon Prime also offers free two-day shipping on DVDs and Blu-Rays. In a nutshell, a year-long membership to Amazon Prime allows you to give the film lover in your life thousands of movies instead of just one or two.

Speaking of DVDs

and Blu-Rays 

While streaming has its benefits, when I really love a film, I want to own a physical copy of it, complete with behind-the-scenes extras, making-of documentaries, and deleted scenes. This means buying the Blu-Ray or DVD. Chances are, your movie munching maniac has a new film or two he or she wouldn’t mind having for keeps, and has been dropping hints about which ones. Movie lovers are rarely silent about what they want, so keep your ear to the ground. I’ve been less than subtle about wanting the “Edge of Tomorrow” Blu-Ray, and will be disappointed if Santa doesn’t deliver.

Note: Film lovers are specific about what they want and rarely like alternatives. They won’t want “Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace” when they’ve been asking for the original trilogy, non-special edition “Star Wars” films.

If the recipient isn’t dropping any hints, here are some of the top-rated movies of 2014 that are out on DVD and Blu-Ray: “Snowpiercer”; “Frank”; “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “X-Men: Days of Future Past”; “A Most Wanted Man”; “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; “Venus in Fur”; “Guardians of the Galaxy; “Edge of Tomorrow”; and “The Wind Rises.”

A good book

I can’t speak for every cinephile, but I enjoy a good read, too, especially when I can learn more about my favorite movies. I’ll never forget being handed a copy of “Film Noir: The Making of Blade Runner,” a book I didn’t even knew existed. As a “Blade Runner” obsessive, I devoured it in a single day. If you want to do something similar for the movie lover in your life, especially those who enjoy classic cinema, buy them a copy of “George Lucas’s Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success.” At 975 pages, this massive tome profiles 300 films, and includes countless fascinating, little known tidbits about each one.

Beginning with the silent era and continuing through the present day, the book includes an overview of each decade, including the culture, innovations, and filmmakers of that time, and then profiles a number of films from that period. Also included are interesting sidebars, such as the section explaining the various widescreen formats (CinemaScope vs. VistaVision vs. Cinerama, for example), and profiles of Alfred Hitchcock, Walt Disney, and luminaries. As one Amazon customer says in his review, it’s a “glorious look at movies, movies, and more movies.”

Movie night

While film lovers might differ in terms of tastes, one thing we all have in common is a desire to share our enthusiasm with others. When I see a good movie, I’m able to use this column to encourage others to go, too, and I always look forward to telling my Facebook friends about a great new flick. With this in mind, I believe the best gift you can give a die-hard movie fan is an evening watching the movies he or she likes, and doing your best to smile and look interested as they list every other movie made by the director of the films you see, quote every line before its spoken, and offer enough analysis and trivia to fill an entire chapter for the 2020 edition of George Lucas’s book.

Of course, if they want to see “Horrible Bosses 2,” feel free to exchange movie night for a lump of coal.

David Laprad is the assistant editor of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact him at dlaprad@hamiltoncountyherald.com.