Streaming and digital releases have become such a huge part of life that fewer physical video items are being released.
However, there are still some great things out there in a physical format, and I will stubbornly cling to the idea that holiday gifts should be wrapped, so today I’m recommending five video gift ideas from a variety of sources and genre for you to ponder as gifts for the folks on your shopping list.
Tomorrow will be our last full day of specific gift ideas, while Thursday will be a big general suggestion.
But we’re still going, so let’s roll the video…
Making Mr. Right
Directed by Susan Seidelman
Starring Ann Magnuson and John Malkovich
Available autographed by Ann Magnuson from her webstore
This was a huge deal here in Charleston in 1987 when it was originally released. It was a major Hollywood studio release starring Charleston native, Ann Magnuson, along with then-rising-star John Malkovich, and on top of all that, Making Mr. Right is a really entertaining movie.
Directed by Susan Seidelman, who was fresh off of Desperately Seeking Susan and had previously directed the acclaimed cult movie, Smithereens, Making Mr. Right is a science fiction comedy, which if it were being marketed today, would be seen as a major statement about neurodiversity.
The studio blurb says…
What do you do when you ve fallen hard for a man who’s hard-wired? Ann Magnuson (Panic Room)and John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich) star in this fast, funny and precocious (L.A.Weekly) comedy from director Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan) and writers Floyd Byars and Laurie Frank.
Savvy and beautiful PR executive Frankie Stone (Magnuson) has her work cut out for her. Hired by a giant technology company to humanize their latest invention, an android-astronaut named Ulysses (Malkovich) she is shocked to discover that her new client embodies all the qualities she’s ever wanted in a man! When they begin to fall for one another, will their robotic romance blast into the stratosphere or blow a circuit and crash?
This is the 2023 restored Blu-Ray release of Making Mr. Right from Kino Lorber, signed by Ann. In addtion, there is a bonus gift, available only from Ann’s webstore: 3 postcards featuring French release poster art and a continuity Polaroid (from Ann’s personal collection) of Ann wearing the shoes Keith Haring customized especially for her.
Blu-Ray Extras :
- Brand New HD Master – From a 2K Scan of the 35mm Interpositve
- NEW Audio Commentary by Producer/Director Susan Seidelman and Star Ann Magnuson
- NEW Interview with Star Ann Magnuson
- NEW Interview with Director Susan Seidelman
- Theatrical Trailer (Newly Mastered in 2K)
This is a great gift for fans of science fiction, romantic comedy, or fans of Malkovich, Magnuson or Seidelman. Getting an autographed copy from one of the stars is pure gravy.
Guest House Paradiso
directed by: Adrian Edmondson
starring: Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Simon Pegg, Bill Nighy, Vincent Cassel, Kate Ashfield
Available from Vinegar Syndrome
I have to say “essentially” here because the names of the major characters have been changed to protect the guilty.
Rik Mayall and Ade Edmonson were the top comedy team to come out of Britain’s Comic Strip alternative scene in the 1980s. They co-starred as Rik and Vyvian on The Young Ones, and after several other projects, they starred in Bottom, which gave the characters new names (Richie Rich and Eddie Hitler), but was basically Rik and Vyvian fifteen years after college, forced to live together because nobody else could stand them. In 1999’s Guest House Paradiso, they pretty much play the same hilariously repugnant characters, but as hotel managers.
“Richie Twat and Eddie Elizabeth Ndingombaba proudly run the worst hotel in the world. With bills piling up and a myriad of issues coming to a head, it’s up to them to provide the perfect Guest House Paradiso experience to the Nice family during their stay… if only they stayed somewhere else. A weekend of nightmarish situations involving exotic lingerie, Italian movie stars, getting trapped in an oven, and more vomit than you can imagine await anyone foolish enough to stay at the Guest House Paradiso.”
Let’s go to the blurb:
This was the final collaboration between Adrian Edmondson and the late Rik Mayal (Drop Dead Fred, TV’s The Young Ones), co-founders of the anarchic ‘80s UK comedy troupe The Comic Strip, director Edmondson’s GUEST HOUSE PARADISO is bizarre, uncomfortable, non-stop hilarious, culminating in the greatest (and most voluminous) vomit gag in cinema history. Reprising their characters from the famed British sitcom Bottom Mayal and Edmondson are joined on-screen by Bill Nighy (Love Actually), Vincent Cassel (Black Swan, Irreversible), Kate Ashfield (Shaun of the Dead) and Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz, Star Trek) in one of his first movie roles, Vinegar Syndrome Labs offers the definitive home video release this unsung classic of British comedy, newly restored in 4K from its 35mm interpositive.
The bonus features:
- Newly scanned & restored in 4K from its 35mm interpositive
- “Paradiso Pegg” (12 min) – a brand new interview with actor Simon Pegg
- “The Making of Guest House Paradiso” (37 min) – an archival making-of featurette
- “From the Cutting Room Floor” (9 min) – a collection of outtakes
- Multiple original trailers
- Reversible sleeve artwork
- English SDH subtitles
Guest House Paradiso is the perfect gift for any fan of The Young Ones, Bottom, or (really good) British comedy.
Blu Ray and DVD
direct by RENÉ LALOUX
Available from Criterion
This classic French animated feature is probably familiar to anybody who had HBO between 1976 and 1980. They showed Fantastic Planet as often as they showed Beastmaster ten years later. In this case, Fantastic Planet is an excellent movie that people vividly remember fifty years later.
Nothing else has ever looked or felt like director René Laloux’s animated marvel Fantastic Planet, a politically minded and visually inventive work of science fiction. The film is set on a distant planet called Ygam, where enslaved humans (Oms) are the playthings of giant blue native inhabitants (Draags).
After Terr, kept as a pet since infancy, escapes from his gigantic child captor, he is swept up by a band of radical fellow Oms who are resisting the Draags’ oppression and violence. With its eerie, coolly surreal animation by Roland Topor; brilliant psychedelic jazz score by Alain Goraguer; and wondrous creatures and landscapes, this Cannes-awarded 1973 counterculture classic is a perennially compelling statement against conformity and violence.
This edition has a ton of extras:
- New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Alternate English-language soundtrack (familiar to HBO viewers)
- Les temps morts (1965) and Les escargots (1966), two early short films by director René Laloux and illustrator Roland Topor
- Laloux sauvage, a 2009 documentary on Laloux
- Episode of the French television program Italiques from 1974 about Topor’s work
- Interview with Topor from 1973
- New English subtitle translation
- PLUS: An essay by critic Michael Brooke
Fantastic Planet is a great gift for fans of surreal adult animation, wild psychedelic imagery or socially-mind science fiction analogies.
directed by John A. Alonzo
starring Michael Brandon, Eileen Brennan, Alex Karras, Cleavon Little, Martin Mull and Cassie Yates.
Available from Grindhouse Video
Here’s the official synopsis:
The airwaves crackle with the delectable sound of smooth rock in FM, a riotous comedy about the heady world of late-70s US radio. Michael Brandon (Four Flies on Grey Velvet) stars as Jeff Dugan, the ultra-cool program director at Q-SKY Radio, LA’s number one rock station. Dugan encourages a free-wheeling culture at work, employing an array of eccentric DJ personalities: Mother (Eileen Brennan, Private Benjamin), a husky, world-weary ex-hippie; Eric Swan (Martin Mull, Clue), a mad-cap romantic looking for love, and The Prince of Darkness (Cleavon Little, Blazing Saddles), a cool cat who keeps the night-time airwaves alive.
But when the station’s future is thrown in to jeopardy by corporate bosses looking to cash-in, the Q-SKY troupe are forced to batten down the hatches and turn up the volume – will a fully-fledged rock ‘n’ roll rebellion save the day? Legendary cinematographer John A. Alonzo (Chinatown, Scarface) directs this slickly-produced rock film, which combines hilarious studio hijinks with epic footage of Linda Ronstadt and Jimmy Buffett in concert. FM also boasts an incredible platinum-selling soundtrack featuring a pantheon of AOR greats including Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, Eagles and Tom Petty (who also cameos). Now, High Fidelity meets High Definition as FM debuts on blu-ray with a selection of exciting new extras.
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements
Uncompressed stereo 2.0 PCM audio soundtrack
Mono 1.0 music and effects track
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
No Static at All, a newly filmed interview with Michael Brandon, the star of FM
Radio Chaos, a newly filmed interview with Ezra Sacks, the writer of FM
The Spirit of Radio, a newly filmed video appreciation of the era of FM radio and the FM soundtrack by the film and music critic Glenn Kenny
Extensive gallery of original stills, promotional images and soundtrack sleeves
FM is a great gift idea for fans of 1970s AOR rock, or “Yacht Rock,” and it looks great.
Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons The Complete Series
by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson
Available from Shout Factory
In the year 2068, Earth’s greatest defense team, Spectrum, is tasked with fighting a cosmic battle against an ancient race from the planet Mars: the sinister Mysterons. Possessing the ability to recreate the exact likeness of any object or person they destroy, the evil aliens set their sights on Spectrum’s number one agent- the intrepid Captain Scarlet. But when their initial attack on Scarlet fails, the Mysterons discover they have awoken what will be their most dangerous enemy. Obtaining the Mysterons’ special power of retro-metabolism, Captain Scarlet has been rendered virtually invulnerable…and completely unstoppable in his quest to protect the Earth from any attack.
Produced by the immortal Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds, Space: 1999, Stingray) and featuring his famous SUPERMARIONATION technique, all thirty-two episodes of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons are here in one convenient package, providing you 100% of your daily recommended allowance of sci-fi and cult classic television. Join the fight to save the Earth with Captain Scarlet.
There aren’t any bonus features (reportedly those are being held for a future Blu Ray release), but this is a great way to relive what was my favorite of the Anderson’s bizarre puppet adventure series.