Looking for some stocking stuffers for a movie lover? We've got some suggestions, both expensive and budget friendly, classy and trashy, serious and not so much.
Let's start with the samurai classic Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman box set released by the Criterion Collection.
The first 25 films in the series have been digitally restored (made between 1962 and 1973) and are presented here in a box set. Previous releases of the individual titles were often less than stellar visual quality with some problems with poor audio. Extras for the set include a 1978 documentary about series lead actor Shintaro Katsu, trailers for each of the films, a new interview with Asian-film critic Tony Rayns, new English subtitle translations and a book featuring essays, short stories and new illustrations.
At a list price of $224.95, this is among the most expensive choices on our list. Not to worry, Criterion Collection has a holiday price of $176.96 and Amazon is offering it for $139.99. At the Amazon price, the set shakes out to about $5.60 a film.
Too pricey? Opt for the single film Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman 1: Tale of Zatoichi, also released by Criterion for a much more modest $14.99 (that's the Amazon Instant Video version).
While we're looking at world cinema, the most exciting releases this year has been Martin Scoresese's World Cinema Project. A dual format, the set includes each film on DVD and Blu-ray.
A set of restored and rarely seen works from around the world, the release is the latest effort by the Project to conserve films from regions of the world that are ill equipped to support restoration.
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This set, made up of nine discs, features six films: A River Called Titas from Bangladesh/India, Trances from Morocco, Redes from Mexico, , Touki bouki from Senegal, Dry Summer from Turkey and The Housemaid from South Korea. Each film is a gem, and a milestone in its region's filmmaking. The set includes new filmmaker interviews and updated English subtitle translations.
The list price for the set is $124, but a recent check of Amazon shows a reduced price of less than $65. Worth the full price, the set is a bargain at $65.
If even at 50 percent off, the set is too expensive, there's a much cheaper option that should still satisfy a discerning cinephile: A River Called Titas on DVD, for less than $20. Sadly, the DVD has no extra content.
Looking for something a little more lighthearted? We suggest The World's End / Hot Fuzz / Shaun of the Dead Trilogy, multi-format including Blu-ray, Digital HD and UltraViolet. It's around $35 for the three disc set. The set includes several extras, including behind-the-scene featurettes.