Movies and music always make for a “reelin’ and rockin’” holiday, to borrow a phrase from Chuck Berry, and here are a few boxes of eye and ear candy sure to please most everyone on your gift list.
For lovers of R-rated, off-the-hook action, load up and cut loose with “Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection” (Blu-ray), which covers the first two decades of the tightly wound auteur’s hyperactive career from 1992’s cops-and-robbers roller coaster “Reservoir Dogs” to 2009’s wildly revisionist World War II epic “Inglourious Basterds.” Guaranteed to set the proper mood for the Christmas Day opening of Quentin Tarantino’s tribute to “spaghetti” Westerns, “Django Unchained.” ($120)
If they’re still hungry for heist action, there’s “The Town” Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray), a 2010 crime thriller about professional bank robbers living and working in the crowded confines of Charlestown, Mass., a Boston district purported to be the bank- and armored car-robbery capital of the nation. Co-written, directed by and starring Ben Affleck, this set is packed with a hardback book of production notes, photos and cast bios, decals, official-looking police mug shots, FBI investigation report and more, plus theatrical and director’s-cut versions of the movie, and one with an alternate ending. Apparently this film has some dedicated fans. ($50)
For fans of serious comic book movies — make that, movies based on critically respected graphic novels — “Watchmen” Ultimate Cut + Graphic Novel (Blu-ray) arrives in a four-disc set complete with the hardback book, the movie in hi-def, integrating the animated “Tales of the Black Freighter” into director Zack Snyder’s cut of the film, a disc that hands the fan more than two hours of bonus content, the theatrical version on DVD, and the entire novel in a 12-chapter motion comic. In this alternate 1985 world with its extremely flawed good guys and a lot of heavy-handed but heartfelt politics, we also get some of the greatest music of the last 40-plus years. Jackie Earle Haley is outstanding as Rorschach. Superheroes drink, smoke, cuss and have sex. Rated R. ($75)
For viewing more suitable to family audiences, there’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Parts 1 and 2: Ultimate Edition” (Blu-ray), a six-disc Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet combo pack presenting the last two chapters of the world’s No. 1 film franchise as a magical double feature. The package also contains more than six hours of special features and collectibles, including a 48-page booklet with exclusive photos of cast and crew, concept sketches, behind-the-scenes revelations, four limited-edition character cards, a lenticular card and bonus UltraViolet theatrical versions of the films. ($65)
“Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” (Blu-ray) contains 15 films from the portly prince of darkness, containing five of his greatest hits (“Rear Window,” “Vertigo,” “North by Northwest,” “Psycho” and “The Birds”), several that deserve more acclaim than they’ve received (“Shadow of a Doubt,” “Marnie”) and maybe one outright dud (“Torn Curtain”). Perhaps the scariest thing about this limited edition box set is the price. ($225)
On the small screen, sitcoms grew up in January 1971 when producer Norman Lear introduced us to Archie Bunker (the priceless Carroll O’Connor), a blatantly outspoken working class bigot who was the anti-Ward Cleaver that TV comedy so desperately needed. Here was a program that mirrored so much of what was wrong — and right — with America, and did it in hilarious and provocative fashion. Shout Factory has released “All in the Family: The Complete Series,” a 28-DVD box set containing the entire series, plus a 1979 three-part retrospective. Here’s a true cultural treasure and anyone who disagrees can stifle! ($200)
Break out the party hats for Led Zeppelin’s “Celebration Day.” Direct from its limited big-screen run, this 2007 reunion concert was a one-night-only event celebrating the life and industry achievements of Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records and one of Zeppelin’s great benefactors. It was filmed in London’s O2 Arena with Jason Bonham ably filling the big shoes of his late father, John, while Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones rip through gargantuan classics such as “Black Dog,” “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and “Misty Mountain Hop” like it was still nineteen seventysomething. Deluxe edition includes two CDs, the concert DVD and a bonus DVD of the band in rehearsals. ($30)
For the serious audiophile who still digs the warm sound of good old-fashioned grooves and has the turntable to prove it, there’s the limited-edition Beatles’ “Stereo Vinyl Remasters” box set, containing all 14 of the Fab Four’s official album releases, cut from last year’s digital remasters and complete with original album artwork and inserts — if it’s not too dear. You may have to “scrimp and save,” as the song goes. ($400)
Newly discovered performance footage of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll is just one of the goodies contained in “Elvis Presley: Prince From Another Planet” (the title is taken from a headline in The New York Times). This two-CD+DVD package captures two of Presley’s four sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden in June 1972. Originally released on vinyl LP that same month, this 40th anniversary edition is vastly expanded to include 47 tracks on two CDs, plus a DVD with a 20-minute documentary featuring Elvis’ June 9 news conference, footage from the June 9 evening show, the June 10 afternoon show, interviews with band members James Burton and Glen D. Hardin, and 20 minutes of footage shot by a fan with a hand-held camera and synced with newly mixed audio.
Liner notes are by Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, who reviewed one of the shows for Cavalier magazine. ($25)
Combining a rural South African Zulu style of music with his tartest songwriting chops, Paul Simon birthed a musical hybrid that made his sixth solo album one of the most acclaimed pop albums of the ’80s. It won him two Grammys and pulled a career out of a slump, and has since become a major and lasting influence on modern music. “Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition” celebrates this landmark work with two CDs and two DVDs that include the remastered album, the 1987 “African Concert” from Zimbabwe, the fascinating making-of documentary “Under African Skies,” replicas of Simon’s lyrics pad and the original “Graceland” poster, and an 80-page book of archival photos and interviews. Rhymin’ Simon never sounded better. ($115)
When the Rolling Stones convened in a recording studio for the first time in seven years to celebrate their 50th anniversary with some new music, they only managed to come up with two new songs, “Doom and Gloom” and “One More Shot,” and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had some writing assistance from Steve Jordan on the latter (hope that title isn’t signaling an end, although it is the last track on the album), but both rock as roughly and readily as the vintage stuff on “GRRR!,” the band’s umpteenth greatest hits album. The three-disc set is also the band’s most generous, offering a nice round 50 tracks, beginning with the band’s very first single release, a 1963 cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On.” Every radio release is here, and they haven’t aged a bit, even if the band members look a little rugged around the edges. Long may they continue to roll. ($25)
Heart’s beat is strong as ever, too, showing no signs of failing or breaking or slowing down. The band released their 16th studio album, “Fanatic,” in October, and a memoir, “Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock and Roll” in September. Apparently, all this activity inspired the Legacy label to release a career-spanning box set, “Strange Euphoria,” an excellent three-CD, one-DVD set that collects the hits, favorite deep album cuts, rarities, demos and live performances by the hardest-rocking women in the business, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, dating from their 1976 breakthrough “Dreamboat Annie” to 2010’s “Red Velvet Car,” which became their seventh Top 10 album. The DVD offers live performances videotaped circa February-March 1976 for KWSU-TV at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash.