Welcome to the Film School Rejects holiday gift guide for the movie-obsessed, the first of what will hopefully be an annual tradition. Cobbling together a list such as this one is a tricky proposition. Not every item featured will be suitable for your film freak friend or loved one. Each of us is a unique flower craving particular sunlight, but there should be something strange here for them no matter what genre is their jam.
I’ve broken the gift guide into four sections: Books, Tech, Toys, and Discs. Highlighting only 21 delights was darn difficult. This list expanded to an absurd length at one point as there are so many goodies out there right now. Thankfully, nearly every item below can propel you down three or four other collectible rabbit holes if the desire takes you.
Also, each category takes finances into account. Yes, I’ve included some absurdly expensive items — just in case I or you strike it rich one day — but I’ve mostly featured affordable items. No one should go broke when the gift-giving spirit strikes them.
The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey changes as you do. The film you saw in high school is not the film you saw in college, nor is it the film you will watch 10 years from today. As your context expands, this masterpiece takes shape around it. 2001 demands repeat investigation, and that’s why no matter what year a holiday gift guide comes out, you can probably find a new text probing the film.
The Making of Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey by Piers Bizony came out late last November, but like many things that occurred in our first pandemic year, it was seemingly missed by many film fans. Published to match 2001‘s widescreen format, Bizony’s book contains numerous onset (and offset) photographs as well as production paintings and concept designs taken straight from the Kubrick archives.
While it’s not as expensive as some Taschen products, at $80, it still costs a pretty penny. However, during this time of year, you can find it significantly cheaper through other sellers. And, it’s also worth pointing out that Taschen has recently published a miniature, but still quite thick, edition of their Stanley Kubrick Archives for $20, which you can also find much cheaper through other means.
Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron
We think of James Cameron as this ultra-techy filmmaker, but we forget that his genius first sprung from his pen and brush. Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron from Titan Books hits US shelves on December 14th, and it’s an absolute must-buy for anyone who’s watched Aliens or Terminator 2 more than once. The collection overflows with Cameron’s sketches, paintings, and design illustrations. But it also highlights older pieces, such as the work-for-hire illustrations he accomplished in his twenties as a means of Hollywood survival.
The forward is provided by fellow sketch diary junkie Guillermo del Toro, who champions Cameron’s skills on the page as much as those evident on the screen. Weighing nearly seven pounds and featuring thick glossy reproductions, Tech Noir will set you back $72.50.
Hang ‘Em High: 110 Years of Western Movie Posters
Want to understand cinema? Watch some Westerns. The cowboy picture is nearly as old as the art form, and it’s gone through some radical swings in execution and tone over the years. Hang ‘Em High: 110 Years of Western Movie Posters is another coffee table brick, but found within is not only a history lesson on where we’ve been in film, but also in how we market our movies.
Author Mark Fertig examines five-hundred posters, from Stagecoach to The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and Fantagraphics presents them on coarse, colorfully rich paper. As they did with their Film Noir 101 collection a few years back, the publisher has gone out of their way to restore the images to their sharpest quality and delivers them on tall, wide pages. This title will start shipping on December 7th and costs $75.
Squeak the Mouse
Cartoon violence. We love it. And nothing represents that glee better than Tom and Jerry cranked to 11 in Itchy and Scratchy. But here’s the deal: The Simpsons‘ Matt Groening would never have birthed his violent animated bloodbath without first reading the utterly demented Italian comic Squeak the Mouse. Cartoonist Massimo Mattioli’s repulsively grotesque strip about two warring opponents sinks into a depravity that would make John Waters blush. And now the wretchedly wonderful saga is back in book form from Fantagraphics.
Sadly, you’re going to have to wait a bit on this one. The new edition doesn’t arrive until February, but sometimes the best gifts are pre-orders. The full-color Squeak the Mouse hardcover goes for $29.99 and should not be purchased for just any Simpsons fan. This book is for the sickos. Tread carefully and watch out for Leatherface sneak-attacks (yes, Tobe Hooper’s chainsaw-wielding slasher does appear, and he might actually be the friendliest cameo).
The Folio Society: Spider-Man
Alrighty, this monster is an indulgence. The Folio Society is currently publishing several gargantuan volumes centered around classic Marvel heroes. Select the one that works best for your giftee.
Still, with Spider-Man: No Way Home on the horizon, this text right here is the beast to beat. It’s $125, so the person you’re gifting this behemoth to better be pretty gosh darn special. If they are indeed the bee’s knees, then they will cherish you forever when you drop this Spider-Man Folio under their tree.
Why? Well, on the surface, it doesn’t look that special. It’s a reprint collection, covering several obvious classics and a few not-so-obvious classics. Can’t you get your loved one a cheapo reprint with the same stuff, or better yet, a Marvel Unlimited subscription? Sure, absolutely.
However, this monster measures 10.5” x 7″ and reprints the contents in traditional four-colors. That’s the big selling point. No other Marvel production looks and feels the way old comics used to look and feel. When you buy Marvel reprints these days, the colors are blown out and painfully garish. When you purchase Spider–Man from the Folio Society, you also get a reproduction in the same four-color process of The Amazing Spider–Man #1. Unless you’ve got Nicolas Cage money, this is the closest you’ll ever get to owning the iconic comic. It’s a true facsimile, an expensive but cherished totem.