Holiday Gift Guide for Film Lovers

Here’s what to put on your holiday gift shopping list for the film lover in your life. Plus: rounding up what’s on the marquee around Milwaukee this week.

We’ve once again reached holiday gift-shopping crunch time, with only a few weeks to find the perfect item for family and friends, which inevitably becomes finding the perfect gift card closest to where you’re shopping on Dec. 23. To help you avoid such pitfalls when shopping for the film obsessive in your life, I’ve once again compiled a list (only checked it once, though, full disclosure) of items that would please any cinemaniac.


young orson

Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane by Patrick McGilligan

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I’ll have more to say about this next week when local author Patrick McGilligan stops by Boswell Books for a signing and discussion of his biography charting the early years and artistic successes of Kenosha-born Orson Welles (12/8 @ 7 p.m., to be exact), but this is an impressive volume that helps to deepen our understanding of one of the great filmmakers in cinema history as well as dispel rumors propagated by shoddy research in earlier volumes about Welles.


Slow Movies: Countering the Cinema of Action by Ira Jaffe

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My most frustrating moment as a moviegoer this year was during a screening of the fascinating movie Violet at the MFF, when an audience member felt the need to audibly make it known how bored they were by the measured and immersive approach the filmmakers were taking with their film. It got me thinking about how we’ve been trained to view storytelling and cinema as time passes and just how uncomfortable a so-called “slow movie” can make us feel when compared to the breakneck rhythms of modern movie watching. Luckily there’s a fantastic book out there that can far better articulate the power of movies concerned with the lack of propulsive movement than I ever could. It’s fantastically interesting stuff for the more devoted movie-watcher on your wish list.


comedian sees the worldA Comedian Sees the World by Charlie Chaplin, edited by Lisa Stein Haven

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Rounding out my book suggestions is this wonderful release of Charlie Chaplin’s series of essays (collected in book form in the US for the first time here) covering his time spent abroad between 1931 and 1932 promoting his latest picture. It marks the beginning of his career as a writer, and his experiences traveling the world helped inform his more political/socially conscious films that followed (such as The Great Dictator and Monsieur Verdoux). Well-written and an absolute necessity for those who adore The Little Tramp.



Iron Giant Sweater, $85


Last year I plugged Mondo’s sweater line that covered movies such as Fargo and Gremlins, and this year I’ll do the same for their recent release honoring Brad Bird’s animated movie masterpiece The Iron Giant. I can also speak as someone who owns a sweater of two from this company when saying that they are very well-crafted and worth the steeper price point.  The rare film nerd gift with practical life applications.

last exit to nowhere

Last Exit to Nowhere, Prices vary


Also worth checking out is the British clothing shop Last Exit to Nowhere who specialize in clothing items that are for the true film obsessive – instead of simply having a Jaws or Back to the Future shirt, Last Exit makes clothing based on obscure companies, organizations or references contained within those movies. If you’re looking for an article of clothing that would double as a secret handshake amongst nerds in the know, look no further.


mkefilmMilwaukee Film Gift Membership; Single membership starts @ $65/year, Dual starts @ $110


I will always heartily recommend a Milwaukee Film membership year-in and year-out to local movie fans. It’s a wonderful deal, granting you admission to a whole year’s worth of monthly screenings (which in the past have included Oscar-nominated fare like Silver Lining Playbook and Last Days in Vietnam alongside challenging fare like Upstream Color or the classic Night of the Hunter). It also grants you early access to tickets for the 2016 MFF and discounts on said purchases. And the higher level of membership you spring for, the fancier the perks (T-Shirts, DVDs, and extra tickets to member screenings!) so this is a holiday gift that will easily earn its price tag multiple times over.


Moviepass, $35/month


If the movie habits of those in your life border more on maniacal addiction as opposed to ‘occasional weekend matinee’ then Moviepass will easily win you gift of the year honors. A monthly fee allows you to see a movie in theaters every 24 hours – meaning the Star Wars nerd in your life could spend each day in January attending a screening of The Force Awakens and obsessively combing through the imagery for hints as to what comes next. And if you love going to the movies on a weekly (or bi-weekly) basis, this will easily pay for itself after a week or so of usage. Unfortunately, the local Landmark Theatres don’t participate in this program, but AMC Mayfair, Fox Bay Cinema Grill, and the majority of the local Marcus theatres all do, so you have plenty of options to choose from in selecting your theater location.

On the Marquee

  • Wednesday, December 2 & Thursday, December 3: The Armor of Light
    • 7 p.m. @ UWM Union Cinema ($5 gen. ad./FREE for students & members)
  • Wednesday, December 2: White Christmas
    • 7 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres
  • Wednesday, December 2: Christmas on the Screen  (A specially curated program of Christmas-themed musical numbers)
    • 7:30 p.m. @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/$5/free for seniors/students/museum members)
  • Thursday, December 4: Rifftrax Live! Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny
  • CRITIC’S CHOICE:Friday, December 4: Chi-Raq and Krampus open locally
    • Check local listings for showtimes/pricing
  • CRITIC’S CHOICE: Friday, December 4 through Sunday, December 6:  Entertainment and The Last Picture Show
    • 12/4: 7 & 9:30 p.m., 12/5: 9:30 p.m. & 7 p.m. and 12/6: 5 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. @ UWM Union Cinema ($5 gen. ad./FREE for students & members)
  • Sunday, December 6:  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
    • Noon @ Select local Marcus Theatres



Tom Fuchs is a Milwaukee-based film writer whose early love for cinema has grown into a happy obsession. He graduated with honors in Film Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has since focused on film criticism. He works closely with the Milwaukee Film Festival and has written reviews and ongoing columns for Milwaukee Magazine since 2012. In his free time, Tom enjoys spending time with his wife and dogs at home (watching movies), taking day trips to Chicago (to see movies), and reading books (about movies). You can follow him on Twitter @tjfuchs or email him at