1. "300 Mixed Messages." In The Los Angeles Times, Carina Chocano tweaks director Zack Snyder and his collaborators for denying that their Spartan blockbuster has any political messages—a tactic she calls "the entertainment defense."
"Someday, maybe, the 'entertainment defense' will no longer hold water. But for now, we're slogging through the era of the completely implausible denial. Like many films that seem to riff on everything without stooping to make a point (which would be just so hopelessly earnest and dorky), 300 proudly claims to be about nothing. Or rather, like another type of purchased pleasure, it claims to be about anything you want it to be. As long as a movie is dumb and violent enough, it can quote whatever cultural allusion is handy, then deny that it did with impunity."
2. "A Race of Peeping Toms." Edward Copeland on Rear Window.
"Sometimes, offhand statements can hit you like a ton of bricks, as if something you've always held to be true suddenly is revealed not to be the universal fact you always believed. This happened in the past week or so as several people, whose opinions I respect, suddenly (and not all in the same place) expressed beliefs that Rear Window is one of Alfred Hitchcock's weakest efforts. I was shocked because I honestly don't ever remember anyone ever saying much against this film, which I consider a masterpiece and which has long held a spot on my all-time Top 10 list. In his great and legendary book of interviews with Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut said that Notorious and Rear Window were his two favorite Hitchcock movies. I re-watched Rear Window to see if I'd missed something and to bolster my case for this as my top Hitchcock achievement."
3. "Chabrol's Quietly Savage War on Complacency." By Michael Fox at GreenCine Daily.
"The murderously genteel Claude Chabrol has been compared to Alfred Hitchcock by so many critics, capsule biographers, trailer producers and pressbook writers that the label 'France's master of suspense' is forever stuck to his lapel. The seed was planted back in the '50s when Chabrol co-authored an early book on the then-undervalued British filmmaker with fellow Cahiers du Cinéma critic (and soon-to-be fellow Nouvelle Vague instigator) Eric Rohmer. The most obvious and superficial connection between Chabrol and Hitchcock is that, sooner or later, a corpse is almost certain to show up in both men's films. More substantially, both directors are obsessed with the moral rot under the deceptively thin veneer of middle-class ritual and routine."
4. "Coming to a Bad End." Jim Emerson's list of great movies that were damaged, even ruined, by their endings.
"More recently, Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds concluded with such a ridiculously upbeat happy-family ending (never mind that the world was pretty much destroyed) that it prompted hails of derisive laughter. (On the other hand, would it have been the mainstream blockbuster it was if it had ended in defeat and despair?) The movie sucked me in so deeply, that even when I started backing out of it (right about when things just miraculously—and arbitrarily—started turning around, about ten minutes from the end), I still believed the first 106 minutes of the movie, even if I rejected the last ten."
5. "Lyst: Cuse and Lindelof on Lost and Videogames." A previously unpublished bit from a 2006 interview of producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, by Time television critic James Poniewozik.
"Lindelof: We have a lot of gamers on the writing staff. They still game; Carlton and I don't have the luxury of time anymore. For me certainly, the big game-changer was Myst. There's a lot of that feeling in Lost. What made it so compelling was also what made it so challenging. No one told you what the rules were. You just had to walk around and explore these environments and gradually a story was told."
"Links for the Day": Each morning, the House editors post a series of weblinks that we think will spark discussion. Comments encouraged.