1. "Saddam Hussein executed." Photo by Iraqi TV/AP.
["Saddam Hussein was executed at dawn today following his conviction by an Iraqi court for crimes against humanity. The death sentence was carried out at a former military intelligence headquarters in a Shia district of Baghdad at 6am local time (3am GMT). One of those who witnessed the hanging, Sami al-Askari, an adviser to the Iraqi prime minister, said Saddam struggled when he was taken from his cell in a US military prison but was composed in his last moments. He expressed no remorse."]
2. "Another jump in ick meter." LA Times writer Geoff Boucher on the disquieting poster for Hostel Part II.
["Take your kids to the theater next week to see the barnyard fable Charlotte's Web and you might find yourself confronted in the lobby by a jolting new poster that is pure slaughterhouse—and the latest example of pop culture looking more and more like an autopsy photo."]
3. "Moments out of time." At MSN News, film critics Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy revive their popular yearly feature, which they used to publish at Film Comment.
["A Prairie Home Companion: As Robert Altman's last set is dismantled around him, Guy Noir (Kevin Kline) noodles on a grand piano adorned by F. Scott Fitzgerald's fedora'd bust: "Gather thee rosebuds while you may..."]
4. "Random bullet-point firing." Green Cine Daily editor David Hudson on what he considers the more significant developments in movies and criticism during 2006.
["I'll stray from the meta in a bit, but 2006 was a year in which critics - professed, self-professed or neither - did a lot of fretting about the state of film criticism. In the mainstream media, the story crested twice: in May, when anyone who could tap a keyboard demolished The Da Vinci Code and yet the unwashed masses flooded theaters to see it anyway; and again a month later, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. What's more, the masses rubbed salt in the wounds by making both DVDs mega-sellers. They wanted to see it again! And again! And they still don't care what you think about that, either. The wounds were hurting. Papers were letting name critics go. There was an ugly shake-up at the Voice. Overall, and taking into account all the obvious exceptions, the printed press, undergoing a long hard squeeze, has tended towards streamlining arts coverage budgets by running essentially outsourced consumer reports rather than actual criticism written from a local point of view for a local readership. The alarms went off this year when it finally sank in that this downsizing would inevitably take some of the stalwarts of what used to be the alternative press down as well. But all in all, I'm not as worried as others seem to be. As I've argued here before, good writers and good readers will find each other, and if there's some sort of perceivable value going on where they do, economics will catch up. Yes, it'll be rough going for a while, maybe even a long while. But I remain optimistic that it'll be easier to find good writing and to get good writing read than it was before the advent of the new media that have put this long hard squeeze on the old."
5. "Centennial Tributses: Carol Reed." Edward Copeland celebrates what would have been the 100th birthday of the director of The Third Man, The Fallen Idol, Odd Man Out, Oliver! and many other features.
["In the [Peter] Bogdanovich intro on the Criterion DVD of The Third Man he repeats the oft-told Orson Welles line that no great film performance was ever given in color. While I disagree with that statement, I can't help but wonder if it applies specifically to Reed as a filmmaker. Though I haven't seen all of his films—and his filmography is surprisingly slim when compared with someone such as Otto Preminger—it certainly is true that no film he made in color comes close to matching the greatest of his black-and-white efforts."]
"Links for the Day": Each morning, the House editors post a series of weblinks that we think will spark discussion. Comments encouraged.