Knight at HOME at the Movies
Holiday DVD Gift Guide 2009
This year Black Friday, the traditional jumping off point for the annual holiday shopping madness was just the beginning
of sales on just about everything including DVDs (both “regular” DVDs and the new, supposedly improved Blu-Ray formats
- I still ain't convinced the leap is worth it). For movie fans of all stripes, especially those of a queer bent, this will prove
to be an incentive to stock up on a slew of new titles and perhaps even buy a few as gifts should the spirit of the season
truly arrive. A few suggestions from my own shopping list (unless noted, these titles are already in stores or will arrive on
12/8) in this DVD roundup. Enjoy!
Tis the Season:
Three holiday themed movies worth adding to the collection: Make the Yuletide Gay, though a tad on the thin side, is one of the few
queer themed holiday movies that hasn’t made me want to toss my eggnog, Criterion’s release of A Christmas Tale, the superb
2008 drama starring Catherine Deneuve about the holiday gathering of a dysfunctional French family and Remember the Night, the
nearly forgotten 1940 holiday gem with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray from writer Preston Sturges and gay director Mitchell
Leisen is finally getting a release via the new DVD on Demand program thanks to TCM and Universal (and no one tell my husband
who has had this on his wish list for decades). More on these titles in our holiday DVD roundup shortly.
The joint TCM/Universal DVD on Demand program has also just given us the Universal Cult Horror Collection, a nifty set of five horror
programmers with stars Lionel Atwill, George Zucco and others (and look for a set of early Cary Grant films in early January with more
titles appearing quarterly). MGM is getting in on the DVD on Demand action beginning on 12/15 with several recent titles including
the black comedy Welcome to Woop Woop (with hunky Jonathan Schaech in the lead), the offbeat Jessica Lange dramedy Far North,
the magical Dreamchild with Coral Browne, Candice Bergen in Mary McCarthy’s The Group from 1967 and two other early titles, 1962’s
Two for the Seesaw with Shirley MacLaine and Robert Mitchum and my favorite title in the set, 1956’s Trapeze with Burt Lancaster and
Tony Curtis fighting over Gina Lollobrigida.
Universal also recently released the three-disc Claudette Colbert Collection which includes six hidden gems (there’s not a dud in the
bunch) of one of Hollywood’s unsung (and rumored Sapphic) classic stars. And Warner Home Video has superb new additions (in
both DVD and Blu Ray formats) celebrating the 70th anniversary of Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz as well as a 50th
anniversary edition of North By Northwest – all with hours of extras including feature length documentaries, etc. in sparkling new
digitally improved formats.
Recently In Theatres:
Bruno, the latest from shock character comedian Sacha Baron-Cohen which includes a batch of deleted scenes and other extras is at
the top of my comedies list. Though I’m less sure about the aging frat boy comedy The Hangover (not releasing until 12/15), I am
sure that its dreamy star Bradley Cooper makes it a must have. Julie & Julia, the delightful dual biopic of blogger Julie Powell and
legendary French chef Julia Child with a star turn by Meryl Streep and a delightful performance by Amy Adams in the title roles is first
on my partner’s wish list, next to mine for 500 Days of Summer, the witty romantic comedy with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey
Deschanel, one of the year’s best films. It arrives on 12/22 just in time to stick under the tree – as does Mike Judge’s very funny
comedy Extract with Justin Bateman which hopefully will find a larger audience on DVD than it did in theatres.
I have several blockbuster action fans on my list so I’m picking up several of last summer’s biggest hits, now hitting stores – Star
Trek for my best friend (a dedicated Trekkie for 30 years), Terminator Salvation for that cousin on my list who has a thing for
Christian Bale, Public Enemies for myself and anyone else who wants a large dose of Johnny Depp until Alice in Wonderland arrives
this spring (and maybe Dark Shadows in 2011?) and Inglorious Basterds for that friend (and you know who you are) with the twisted
sense of humor (it arrives on 12/15). My partner’s son-in-law wants the Watchman Ultimate Box Set and though I thought
everything about it (except Billy Crudup’s blue penis) was a waste of time, his wish is my command. My two favorite blockbusters
from last summer are going into my collection: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the two-disc edition with all the behind the
scenes features) and District Nine (which squeaks under the Christmas giving wire with a 12/22 release date).
Earth, the stunning documentary from Disney won’t break the bank and Water Life, a fascinating six part documentary (available in a
3-disc Blu Ray version) from Anamorphic is a great companion set. I’m also a big fan of the trend – started by several of the indie
distributors – of releasing DVDs in recycled packaging – a trend that hopefully will spread to the majors.
One of my favorite film categories. Valentino: The Last Emperor, the documentary of Valentino’s last couture collection and life with
his partner Giammetti from out filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer is a MUST and has three deleted sequences (including a half hour look at
the lavish lifestyle) that are worth the price alone. I’m also highly recommending Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday, which
is being released as part of a series dedicated to masters of American jazz. The clip jammed film, which originally aired on A&E in
1994, contains both fascinating, rarely seen archival performance and interview footage but on camera interviews with many Holiday
contemporaries. And here’s another shout out for Every Little Step, the making of A Chorus Line which follows the history of the
groundbreaking musical as its revival is being cast. One of the most entertaining films – documentary or otherwise – of the year.
There’s plenty out there just for Our People (most of it in the romance or sex comedy department) starting with Zeitgeist’s wonderful
documentary Chris & Don: A Love Story and Ang Lee’s underrated dramedy Taking Woodstock (arriving on 12/15). Several other
interesting LGBT themed titles: Hollywood Je T’aime, a sexy romantic comedy with Chad Allen and French hottie Eric Debets (from
Wolfe Video), the rough and tumble Shank and Redwoods, a gay romance (both from TLA), Ghosted, a lesbian romantic mystery
from First Run Features and Lucky Bastard, a sexy drama from Breaking Glass. And don’t forget to pick up Eating Out: All You Can
Eat from Artiztical to get your holiday quota of hunky near naked studs tossed in with the comedy.
There’s more queer themed material (lots of it) when my list veers toward the small screen starting with the sixth and final season of
The L Word, the latest seasons of Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters (each featuring gay characters),
Showtime’s season three of The Tudors with queer fave Johnathan Rhys-Myers in the title role lands on 12/15 and of course, the
Judy Garland Show (in multiple editions - Vol. 2 pictured above) is a must for any self respecting show tune queen. Then,just after
the holidays (on 12/29) comes Glee, Vol. One: Road to Sectionals which includes the first 13 episodes of the hit Fox dramedy –
something to use one of your gift cards on!
Happy holiday shopping to one and all.
|These and many more titles make for great holiday gift giving for others - or yourself!