1. "Out in All That Dark." Jim Emerson on the visual language of No Country for Old Men, and the words that critics use to describe it.
["Doors, ducts, drains, holes. Take these portals, passages, barriers, hiding places, out of the movie and it's about 20 minutes long. They're all about revealing evidence or disposing of it. What is behind the door? What does one see—from either side—when the door opens? One of the movie's signature shots is the Searchers-like figure silhouetted in the doorway, the outsider on the threshold between civilization (in the form of trailer or motel) and wilderness. Chigurh blows the deadbolt locks out of doors to get them open, using a slaughterhouse implement that leaves holes (in human heads, too) but no telltale shell or bullet behind. When Sheriff Bell returns to the scene of a crime and decides to face the incomprehensible, air sucks through a blown lock as if it were a puncture in the wall of hell. The Coens have always been plumbing experts, and here they use it exceptionally effectively. Cool, white porcelain fixtures contrast with swollen, bloody wounds. Flesh hurts."]
["Pervez Musharraf was sworn in as Pakistan's civilian president today after doing what opposition leaders in his country and the Bush administration have been asking him to do for some time—resign as army chief. The move has helped clear the way for elections early next year. But those elections will be neither free nor fair unless Mr. Musharraf does much more to restore the rule of law, and repair the damage he's done to Pakistan's civil society and constitution."]
["Among the festival's lineup of 64 narrative and documentary films in competition, there are 29 features from first-time directors in a diversity of voices and perspectives calling to mind that of the blogosphere. Organizers say the festival could provide a much-needed vitamin shot of surprise—if not necessarily of lucre—to an independent movie sector bummed out by largely dismal box office results this year. 'There's something of a malaise in the independent arena right now,' said Geoffrey Gilmore, the longtime director of the festival, which runs from Jan. 17 to 27 in Park City, Utah. 'Maybe audiences are finding films that they're exhausted by, or perhaps they find them too familiar—too much playing toward a sense of expectations. This is a festival that, regardless of where these films go in the broader marketplace, there's a lot of films that you'd walk out of and go up to somebody and you'd want to tell them about.' That vitality came from the most unexpected places, he said. Sundance, both a pre-eminent showcase for American cinema and a freewheeling bazaar for movie executives, tries to cope with the annual deluge of films by tracking scores of potential submissions throughout the year. But more than half of the 2008 lineup emerged 'from the pile,' Mr. Gilmore said, meaning without the benefit of advance buzz from the festival's network of talent and sales agents, established filmmakers and other scouts."]
["The Democratic Party pulled the plug today on a CBS presidential candidate debate set to be held in Los Angeles on Dec. 10, citing the possibility of a strike by CBS News employees. 'Due to the uncertainty created by the ongoing labor dispute between CBS and the Writers Guild of America, the DNC has canceled the December 10th debate in Los Angeles,' Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney said in a statement. 'There are no plans to reschedule.'"]
["Rickles is 81 now. He walks a little slower, the paunch is more considerable, and his head seems permanently tilted down. But it's not the stoop of an old man; it's surely the biological result of years of scanning the first few rows of the Stardust for ready-and-willing targets. Everything about the awesomely funny legend is still vigorous and laser-quick, as John Landis' unshowy documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project makes quite clear, from snippets of recent Las Vegas performances—where hoary World War II–era stereotypes still elicit gales of laughter—to the sit-down interview segments in which he recounts how he got into comedy, the Vegas heyday years playing the infamous Sahara lounge, and how he wooed his wife, Barbara ('Quit yelling,' she'd say to him on their first date). It's essential viewing not only for fans of Rickles, but for all aficionados of the history of standup."]
Quote of the Day: "One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion."—Simone de Beauvoir
Photograph by Robert Bresson
Image of the Day (click to enlarge): Eva Marie Saint, from a circa 1953 publicity photo.
Clip of the Day: Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and the Carter family at San Quentin. The man in black appears at the 3:40 mark. The audience reaction shots are as compelling as the performances.
_____________________________________________________ "Links for the Day": Each morning, the House editors post a series of weblinks that we think will spark discussion. Comments encouraged.