Monday, November 26 2012, 11:02 AM MST
Holiday Gift Guide 2012 Part 2: Drama
Picking out the perfect gift can be a daunting task. To make things a little easier on you I’ve compiled a list of recommended films that have come out in the past couple months. This section of the guide covers the Drama genre.
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (DVD and Blu-ray)
Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith lead who’s who of older British talent in this amusing romp about retirees who come to India expecting a luxurious experience but find their new residence isn’t exactly what it was advertised to be. “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is a charming film that thrives off of the performances of its amazing cast.
Chico & Rita (DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
The romance between a young jazz musician and a beautiful dancer in Cuba, 1948, provides the foundation of this beautiful and exotic animated film. “Chico & Rita” racked up a variety of European awards for Best Animated Film and was nominated for an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards. Like “Waltz with Bashir,” “Chico & Rita” is an intelligent and complex animated film made for adults that will appeal to anyone who loves art house cinema.
This Russian film about a woman who is forced to choose between her cold, but financially plush husband and the needs of her lazy and manipulative son. The script offers many surprises as it throws out the traditional formula by painting its characters as a complicated and realistically flawed.
The French Connection: Filmmakers Signature Collection (Blu-ray)
When William Friedkin’s celebrated drug-smuggling thriller made its Blu-ray debut it featured a radically different color scheme than its theatrical and previous home video releases. This re-release, as part of Fox’s Filmmaker Signature Collection, restores the film’s original look.
The Game (Blu-ray)
Director David Fincher’s psychological thriller about a man (Michael Douglas) caught on a dark and twisting adventure where truth and reality are blurred beyond recognition finally gets a proper DVD and Blu-ray release courtesy of the Criterion Collection. A restored transfer, lossless audio and bonus features that include an audio commentary with Fincher and his crew, an alternate ending and an hour’s worth behind the scenes footage make this release essential for fans of Fincher’s films.
In the Mood for Love (Blu-ray)
Wong Kar-wai’s brilliant masterpiece about two neighbors who discover that their spouses are having an affair with each other is a mesmerizing look at passion confined by fading moral codes. Set in Hong Kong, 1962, the movie is one of the most painfully beautiful films ever created. The cinematography, sound design and performances are all perfect.
Lawless (Blu-ray) [Release Date: 11/27]
Musician/screenwriter Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat reunite for this dark and visceral story about a family of successful bootleggers during Prohibition in the United States and a corrupt lawman who wants his cut of their profits. “Lawless” features a great cast that includes Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Guy Pearce. If you’re looking for a slice of US history with a hefty amount of brutality “Lawless” is your film.
Rashomon (DVD and Blu-ray)
Akira Kurosawa’s film about the murder of a woman is told via four distinct and contradictory perspectives. Considered by many to be among the greatest films ever made “Rashomon” sees its Blu-ray debut via the Criterion Collection. The film recently went through a digital restoration and while the results aren’t flawless they are a dramatic improvement over previous home video releases (and probably about as good as the film will ever look).
Ruby Sparks (DVD and Blu-ray)
“Ruby Sparks” is a romantic comedy about an author (Paul Dano) who discovers Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan), his fictional perfect girlfriend, cooking in his kitchen. It’s a fun and smart indie drama that will placate mainstream moviegoers as well as more finicky audiences that want more than a string of clichés leading to a happy ending.
Sunset Boulevard (Blu-ray)
Gloria Swanson’s unhinged performance as a faded silent movie is a wonderful dark satire on the allure of fame, fortune and all things Hollywood. This new Blu-ray release features a gorgeous transfer and a hefty amount of bonus features included a deleted scene, retrospective featurettes and an audio commentary from “Sunset Boulevard” expert Ed Sikov.
Titanic (DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo and 3D Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
James Cameron’s blockbuster makes its Blu-ray debut. Fans of the film will have little to nothing to complain about. The audio is strong, picture looks great (in 3D or 2D) and there are ample bonus features. You should also consider Cameron’s 3D Titanic documentary “Ghosts of the Abyss,” the Criterion Collection’s release of the 1958 classic “A Night to Remember” as well as HISTORY’s “Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved.”
Drama Box Sets
Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Blu-ray)
This collection contains 15 of Hitchcock’s films, primarily from his most successful Hollywood years, including “Psycho,” “The Birds,” “Vertigo,” “Rear Window” and “North by Northwest.” The visual quality of the films varies, but all the films look better than their DVD counterparts. If you’re a fan of the thriller genre, or simply classic cinema, this collection is a must own. Alternatively, if you’re looking for just a quick taste of Hitchcock’s brillance, you could pick up Warner Bros. excellent Blu-ray release of Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train.”