Gift Guide: Next Stop, Wonderland

As an avowed last-minute shopper, I enjoy the bustle of the crowd and the smell of Cinnabon. But last-minute shopping sometimes ups anxiety, and before I know it, I'm dancing the Panda Express with Mrs. Fields at the mall.

So this year I decided to go digital and give the gifts of wonder and fantasy — respites from the daily grind with a twist of laughter and learning.

With the advent of 3D-capable, wifi-enabled, 70-inch television screens, big-screen multiplexes and overpriced popcorn are no longer attractive propositions. And 2013 is arguably the year that streaming movies and binge-watching reached their zenith.

Netflix gave us permission to watch multiple seasons of television series in one sitting ("couching"?). Hulu introduced Chinese and Australian soap operas and hard-to-find anime. Single-serving moviesTV shows and documentaries are a click away on iTunes and Amazon.

Streaming movies by and about Filipinos are still quite rare online but here are some worth sharing with the movie buffs and nostalgia-seekers on your list.

[Ed. note: Because of geographic licensing restrictions, links below point to the U.S. iTunes, Amazon and Netflix sites. You may need to use search on your country's versions of these sites. ]

 

Movies, Musicals & a TV Show

  Dont Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey (2012)

Dont Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey (2012)

Dont Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey (2012) is a feature length documentary about the iconic 80's band, Journey, and their new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, whom they discovered through YouTube.

GIFT THIS MOVIE

 
 Amigo (2011) Directed by John Sayles. Starring Chris Cooper, Rio Locsin, Joel Torre.

Amigo (2011) Directed by John Sayles. Starring Chris Cooper, Rio Locsin, Joel Torre.

Amigo (2011). Directed by John Sayles. Starring Chris Cooper, Rio Locsin, Joel Torre.

Caught in the murderous crossfire of the Philippine-American War, a village mayor comes under pressure from a tough-as-nails officer to help the Americans in their hunt for Filipino guerilla fighters.

GIFT THIS MOVIE

 
 True Grit (2010). Hailee Steinfeld (left) was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

True Grit (2010). Hailee Steinfeld (left) was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

True Grit (2010). Directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen. Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld. Steinfeld, whose mother is Filipino, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. 

Following the murder of her father by hired hand Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) sets out to capture the killer.

GIFT THIS MOVIE

 
 Mulan (2004). Starring Ming-Na, Eddie Murphy. Lea Salonga is the singing voice of Mulan.

Mulan (2004). Starring Ming-Na, Eddie Murphy. Lea Salonga is the singing voice of Mulan.

Mulan (2004). Starring Ming-Na, Eddie Murphy. Lea Salonga is the singing voice of Mulan. Disney’s 36th animated classic.

Clever Mulan proves her worth outside of her tradition-bound society when, disguised as “Ping,” she bravely takes her father’s place in the Imperial Army.

GIFT THIS MOVIE

 
 Les Miserables In Concert: 25th Anniversary Edition (2010). Tony® Award winner Lea Salonga stars as Fantine, the mother of Cosette.

Les Miserables In Concert: 25th Anniversary Edition (2010). Tony® Award winner Lea Salonga stars as Fantine, the mother of Cosette.

Les Miserables In Concert: 25th Anniversary Edition (2010).  Tony® Award winner Lea Salonga stars as Fantine, the mother of Cosette. (Bonus: If you prefer Lea Salonga as Eponine, you will have to get the 1995 Les Miserables: 10th Anniversary Dream Cast performance at Royal Albert Hall on DVD. But you can watch her performance at http://youtu.be/YYtI8gsXS8c.)

Honoring 25 years of the musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel about the struggle for redemption and revolution.

GIFT THIS MOVIE

 

Grimm (2011-  ) features Filipino American Reggie Lee (right) in a scene-stealing supporting role. (Source: browe14 at fanpop.com)

Grimm (2011-   ) is an American police procedural fantasy television drama series inspired by Grimms' Fairy Tales. The show features Filipino American Reggie Lee in a scene-stealing supporting role as Sergeant Wu. 

GIFT THIS TV SERIES

 

Netflix

Ultra movie buffs on your naughty-or-nice list deserve a Netflix membership. Netflix offers several gifiting options from 1 month to 12 months of membership.

Netflix is slowly adding more streaming movies by and about Filipinos and the Philippines. Here's a few of the highly-rated Filipino movies currently on Netflix:

 Graceland (2012) is New York Times Critics’ Pick.

Graceland (2012) is New York Times Critics’ Pick.

Graceland (2012). Directed by Ron Morales. Starring Arnold Reyes, Menggie Corarrubias. A New York Times Critics’ Pick.

A chauffeur becomes caught up in a nightmare after criminals accidentally abduct his daughter instead of the daughter of his corrupt politician boss.

 
 Crying Ladies (2003) was the Philippines' official entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Crying Ladies (2003) was the Philippines' official entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Crying Ladies (2003). Directed by Mark Meily. Starring Sharon Cuneta, Hilda Coronel. The Philippines' official entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. 

Charged with organizing his father's funeral, Wilson Chua (Eric Quizon) hires three professional mourners with plenty of problems and enough tears to flood Manila in this heartwarming comedy.

 
 “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” (1974) is one of three Lino Brocka films streaming on Netflix.

“Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” (1974) is one of three Lino Brocka films streaming on Netflix.

Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (1974). Directed by Lino Brocka. Starring Eddie Garcia, Lolita Rodriguez. A Lino Brocka classic. One of three Lino Brocka movies currently available for streaming on Netflix.

Junior has everything he could possibly want. But his extravagant lifestyle weighs heavily on him, so he reaches out to the village outcasts.

 

Tween Bonus!

The Vampire Diaries (2009-  ) stars Steven R. McQueen, a grandson of the actor Steve McQueen (yes, that Steve McQueen) and Filipina actress Neile Adams. 

Trapped in adolescent bodies, feuding vampire brothers Stefan and Damon vie for the affection of captivating teenager Elena. McQueen plays Elena's brother Jeremy.

The Vampire Diaries stars Steven R. McQueen (middle, back), a grandson of the actor Steve McQueen and Filipina actress Neile Adams. (Source: Rachel2209 at fanpop.com)

 

Did I miss your favorite movie or TV show? What streaming movies are available in your local digital stores? Sound off in the comments, and help fellow movie buffs discover more (streaming) movies by and about Filipinos.