Now that Black Friday has come and gone and folks have to start making sane if vaguely desperate decisions what to get their friends and loved ones for the holidays, it seemed appropriate that Cinematical put together a list of a few items that might help cross a few names off your list. Scouring the last few months for suggestions, as well as carefully checking the slate of releases in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, we came up with ten suggestions that will make the space under your tree seem a little less empty, and should hopefully help their recipients' lives feel a little more full - of entertainment, at the very least.
In alphabetical order:
AK 100: 25 Films By Akira Kurosawa (Criterion, $399.00) – In addition to their always-outstanding single-serving output, Criterion has always put together some terrific collections, but this one may be the mother of all of them. Featuring 25 of Kurosawa's films, including four that have never before been released on DVD, the linen-bound set offers the ultimate cross section of the director's work, along with an illustrated book and notes by Kurosawa authorities on each of the titles. [This title is only on DVD]
Gone With the Wind 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition (Warner Home Video, $84.99) – Victor Fleming's 1939 classic arrived on Blu-ray last month, but rather than just releasing a slick and superficial double-dip, Warner Home Video gave the film the deluxe treatment. The movie itself looks glorious, boasting a shockingly thorough and beautiful restoration, while eight hours of bonus materials make sure that the film's legacy doesn't live up to its title. Meanwhile, deluxe packaging that includes a production art book, reproductions of the film's 1939 theatrical program, and a CD soundtrack sampler offer keepsakes for fans young and old.
Harry Potter Years 1-6 (Warner Home Video, Blu-ray $134.99, DVD $69.98) – Get your fill of J.K. Rowling's maturing magician with this deluxe box set. In addition to high-definition presentation of all six films, the set includes the majority of the bonus materials available on individual and previous sets, ensuring that your matriculation in the world of Harry Potter is as thorough as his.
Living Fireplace Vol. 2 (Screen Dreams, $12.95) Don't have a fireplace of your own? Pick up this pretty adorable alternative, a Blu-ray that offers a roaring fire or 21 other screenscapes to huddle around or marvel at during your next holiday shindig, Christmas Eve, or any other time of the year. With content totaling more than 120 minutes and images in 1080p high definition, this may not offer the most intellectual entertainment in our list, but it guarantees that your house will feel warmer and more homey in between watching the stuff that is.
The Mel Brooks Collection (Fox Home Entertainment, $139.99) – Brooks' best films are collected in one terrific set and captured in true high definition for the first time. Not only does the set feature titles like Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, History of the World Part I, and Spaceballs, it includes the bonus materials from their DVD iterations, as well as a collector's book created in conjunction with Brooks himself.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Warner Home Video, $49.99) – Chevy Chase's last great leading role returns to home video with this high-def release of Christmas Vacation, newly released in a collector's set with some holiday-themed extras. The movie itself features a commentary track, while the collectible tin it comes in includes a miniature replica of Clark Griswold's moosehead eggnog glass, as well as coasters with quotes from the movie, and just for good measure, "instant" snow powder.
The Prisoner: The Complete Series (A & E Home Video) – Satisfy your jones for science fiction mystery with this compete series set. Organizing the episodes according to air date (no doubt to initiate more debates about their actual chronology), the collection includes alternate cuts of certain episodes – all of which are presented in gorgeous high definition – along with featurettes and documentaries, ensuring that all of its mysteries are solved, and a few new ones are started up as well.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Walt Disney Home Entertainment, $39.99) – Disney's first, groundbreaking animated adaptation offers prefect presentation and enough extras to fulfill all of your grumpy relatives. The movie looks better than it has in decades thanks to a painstaking restoration, while interactive featurettes and documentaries go behind the scenes to show what it took to bring Snow White to life.
Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection (Paramount Home Entertainment, $139.99) – Now that you've run out on the day it was released and bought J.J. Abrams' installment, go back and see where he and his fellow filmmakers got their inspiration and influence for their franchise relaunch. Featuring the first six film in Trek's theatrical saga, as well as featurettes, interviews, and a Captain's Summit bringing Kirk, Spock, Picard and Riker together, this is a set that promises to boldly go where no fan has gone before.
Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut (Warner Home Video, $59.99) – Zack Snyder's terrific adaptation finally arrives on home video in a set that collects every angle and aspect of the source material. Not only does the Blu-ray feature Snyder's extended cut of the film, which features several scenes not shown in theaters, but it also assembles Tales of the Black Freighter, all 12 episodes of the Watchmen Motion Comic, and a glut of featurettes and interviews with cast and crew members, making this the most comprehensive – if not exhaustive – version of the film ever released.