The House

By Matt Zoller Seitz"We had faces!"

So said Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), the faded silent film star in Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd., praising the art form that she believed had declined in the wake of spoken words. Entranced as I am by Ms. Desmond's fervor, I must respectfully disagree: yes, they had faces then, but we have faces now. And some of them are extraordinary.

Therefore, I'm calling for a Close-Up Blog-a-thon to run Oct. 12-21. Your piece could be as simple as a series of frame grabs with captions, or a short analysis of a single close-up in a particular movie or television episode, past or current. Or it could be an essay about a certain performer's mastery of (or failure to master) the close-up. Or it could fixate on a director or cinematographer who is especially adept at pushing in to capture emotion.

Alternately, if you're feeling contrarian, you could write about a memorable close-up that does not show a human face. (I can already picture Jim Emerson calling up a favorite still of a certain gangster's battered fedora.) As long as the piece has something to do with the art of the close-up, it qualifies as a Close-Up Blog-a-thon entry. Dealer's choice all the way.

The House Next Door will link to all participating blogs throughout the dates listed above. If you don't have a blog but would like to contribute a piece, e-mail me your topic at, then send me the piece as a Word document by October 17 and we'll publish it here.

Me? I'm writing about The Limey. Or perhaps I am simply remembering a memory of having written about The Limey.

All right, then. Would somebody out there like to quote Norma's exit line, or are you going to make me do it?

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