Chances are, you have at least one movie obsessive on your gift list. You know the type. Whenever you plan a movie outing, she’ll only go if it’s showing at Nitehawk. His cat’s name is Roger (after Ebert). When everyone on your Facebook feed was rooting for the Mets he declared “I’m #teambunzo.” (What does that even mean?) Don’t bother asking the cinephile on your list for clarification on The Gift they’d like the best. They’ll just think you’re asking them to choose between the Sam Raimi and the Joel Edgerton films by that name. Instead, simply rely on the recommendations from these local experts we have rounded up for you. And if you can’t find them on the 25th to give them their gift? Don’t worry, we know where they’ll be. Seeing the new Tarantino film at the closest theater showing it in 70mm.
Ryan Edgington – programmer at Videology
Prater Violet by Christopher Isherwood ($14 from your local bookstore)
A quasi-fictional version of Christopher Isherwood is the screenwriter of an English melodrama set in Vienna with a quasi-fictional version of Ernst Lubitsch directing his script. Their facile Viennese melodrama is reflected against Hitler annexing the actual Vienna. Enormous fun until it isn’t. At 127 pages, you could read it in a day.
A hat with “movies” written on it ($25 from Movies Brand)
Quentin Tarantino is trying to resurrect the movies with 70mm but all he really needs is a navy blue baseball cap with the word “movies” on it. Keep movies alive!
Trilogy of Life Criterion box set ($63.96 from Criterion)
I asked my Mom to buy me this Pasolini boxset for Christmas. I haven’t actually seen these yet.
Red Vines Twists Original Red Licorice Candy 64 oz ($16.95 from Target)
Red Vines are my favorite movie candy but theaters in New York always have Twizzlers. Buy this tub of Red Vines and sneak them in.
Aaron Hillis – Film critic, and owner of Video Free Brooklyn
The Rock Box ($75.96 Blu-ray, from Criterion)
Physical media is not dead, and neither is rock ‘n’ roll. For quality-conscious film buffs who have made the inexpensive upgrade to Blu-ray, the Criterion Collection’s holiday exclusive wraps up four of their hippest, most seminal musical extravaganzas. Rock out with the Rolling Stones in Gimme Shelter; the Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night; Jimi, Janis and Otis in Monterey Pop; and those scooter-riding mods as they clash with the motorcycle rockers in the Who’s Quadrophenia.
Tangerine ($20.99 Blu-ray, $19.49 DVD, from Magnolia Pictures)
The least interesting detail about Sean Baker’s wildly irreverent comedy is that it was stunningly filmed on an iPhone 5. Far more thrilling, however, is that it stars two trans women (the laugh-out-loud funny Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, both nominated for Indie Spirit Awards) on a chase through the streets of Los Angeles to find a cheating pimp boyfriend. It’s one of the year’s best films, as subversive as it is humane.
Stations of the Elevated ($27.99 DVD, from Oscilloscope Laboratories)
German-born filmmaker Manfred Kirchheimer’s vibrant 1981 time capsule of the NYC landscape—specifically its subway cars, back when they were covered in the beautiful blight of graffiti tags—is as kinetic and significant as its better-known hip-hop cousin, Style Wars. With no narration except for the skronking bop of a Charles Mingus score, this hauntingly evocative portrait finally comes to DVD in a limited edition of 500 copies, including an awesome bonus disc of Kirchheimer’s early New York Films.
Je t’aime, je t’aime ($20.97 Blu-ray, $17.47 DVD, from Kino Lorber)
For sci-fi fans who want their hearts and minds challenged, not just their force awakened, this poetically cryptic 1968 romance from the late French New Wave master Alain Resnais (Last Year at Marienbad) is a fantasy masterpiece about memory, existence, and storytelling itself. Claude Rich stars as a suicidal man who agrees to a time-travel experiment that scrambles him forward, back, and perhaps simultaneously to various moments in his life, a surreal journey that helped inspire Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Josh Johnson – Director, Rewind This!
Decline of Western Civilization Box Set ($24.99 from Amazon)
This release marks the first time Penelope Spheeris’ landmark sub-culture documentaries have been available on home video since the VHS era, and this is the first time the third film in the series has been available at all. Alternately hilarious and heartbreaking, these films belong on every film lovers shelf.
Videoland by Daniel Herbert ($29.95 from your local bookstore)
Trips to the video store shaped my understanding of movies and inspired me to seek out unusual films I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. This fabulous book by Daniel Herbert explores the significance of the mom and pop video operation from a sociological perspective.
Seventeen ($14.99 from Amazon)
The most insightful portrait of teenage life ever captured on celluloid. We often look to documentaries to develop a greater understanding of the world and ourselves. This film creates an intimacy with its subjects that is truly unparalleled. A underseen classic, finally made commercially available in 2015 thanks to Icarus Films.
For Keeps: 30 Years At the Movies by Pauline Kael ($12 from Amazon)
Pauline Kael had the ability to write about cinema with humor, warmth, and a strong personal perspective. This collection of reviews will allow any film fan to appreciate their favorite films even more by seeing them through Kael’s eyes.
Previously: Check out Brooklyn’s best chefs talking about the best gifts for foodies, Brooklyn’s funniest comedians on gifts for comedy nerds, Brooklyn’s brightest booksmiths on the best gifts for book worms, Brooklyn’s best bikers on gifts for your your cyclist pal, Brooklyn’s most fashionable folks on gifts for your fashionista friends and Brooklyn music experts on gifts for your audiophile friend