Shopping for cinéastes

“Buy us <i>Paul Blart: Mall Cop</i>, and we’ll slit your throat this year.”

“Buy us Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and we’ll slit your throat this year.”

We live in an age in which versions of the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine are available on the Internet weeks before it arrives in theaters. Who could possibly want, or need, a DVD for Christmas?

Why, the pretentious, annoying cinéaste friend/brother/brother-in-law/son/father/uncle/husband in your life, of course! You know, the one who visibly winces every time you mention the words “prequel,” “Ryan Reynolds,” or “Let’s watch Wedding Crashers again.”

If you’re just looking to impress the cinéaste in your life with an unfamiliar title, I would recommend the sumptuous Lola Montès for fans of epic romance; Coppola’s tragically discarded One From the Heart for musical freaks; the brilliant Pagnol adaptation Jean de Florette for the literary-minded; Luis Buñuel’s acidic The Exterminating Angel for head-trip disciples; Preston Sturges’ Christmas in July for classic-comedy lovers; the incredibly layered Mishima for biopic buffs; the original, London-set Night and the City for noir geeks; and Mizoguchi’s gut-wrenching Ugetsu for admirers of foreign films.

There are also some quality reissues out there: Costa-Gavras incendiary 1968 political thriller Z played at this year’s French Film Festival; the severely underrated Ernst Lubitsch comedy Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife shows up as part of a Claudette Colbert box set; Fritz Lang’s savage The Big Heat is included in a Columbia film noir collection; John Huston’s elegant swan song The Dead is receiving a rerelease; and for the money-is-no-object giftee, there’s a 25-film Akira Kurosawa box set retailing for more than $300, as well as a 50-movie, $650 Janus Films collection that offers an embarrassment of cinematic riches.

Finally, for the fledgling film fan who prefers movies made in the—shudder—21st century, you can’t go wrong with Quentin Tarantino’s film-mad Inglourious Basterds, the jet-black comedy of World’s Greatest Dad, or the 2-D/3-D collector’s edition of Coraline, my favorite film of 2009 so far.