Saturday, September 6, 2008

Birthday Gifts Help My Collection Grow

I celebrated my 47th birthday awhile back. Being an easy-going, practical minded guy, I just told all my prospective relative gift givers to "make mine Criterion." I even went so far as to make out a list of DVDs according to each person's taste, taking into account the message, tone or era of the movie and how it fit their personalities.

So here's what I got:

The Samurai Trilogy, three discs telling the story of Musashi Miyamoto. Supposedly the "Japanese Gone With The Wind," it's a big sprawling epic filmed in color around the same time (early-to-mid 50s) that Kurosawa was filming Seven Samurai. That box-set was from my kids.

Spartacus, the Kirk Douglas swords-and-sandals extravaganza directed by Stanley Kubrick and known for generating some controversies at the time as it was the first Hollywood production to ignore the blacklist that had been created during the height of McCarthy's anti-communist hysteria. That's from my mom.

Julie got me two Ingmar Bergman films: The Magic Flute and Fanny & Alexander. I hadn't given her a list, just told her to get whatever she thought I'd like and she went with Bergman. Nice choice! The Magic Flute is a filmed opera, featuring staging supposed to be nearly identical to what Mozart's masterpiece had at its debut way back however many years ago. With Fanny & Alexander, she bought the two-disc theatrical release, which is great and one I look forward to watching, but I also knew of a five-disc set that had the expanded television series with an additional two hours of material as well as the movie version. So I told Julie I would exchange that and she was fine with it so I traded it in for Bergman's Smiles of a Summer's Night, a charming sex comedy set at the turn of the 19th-20th century.

From my sister, I got a Barnes and Noble gift card. I guess she just didn't feel like picking one out from the titles I listed for her and her husband Ed to get me: Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones at Altamont documentary), Robinson Crusoe on Mars (mid-60s sci fi classic), Ran (a late-period Kurosawa samurai blockbuster) or The Tin Drum (one of my favorite movies from when I was a teenager, about a child in Nazi Germany who wills his body to stop growing as an act of protest against the madness and savagery of the adult society he sees around him.) Too bad, but it worked out fine because I can get a better deal with my gift card anyway since I have the membership discount. So I used my card to get the five-disc Fanny & Alexander! And bought Robinson Crusoe on Mars for myself. :o)