1.The Auteurs' Notebook is in the midst of an extensive e-mail discussion entitled "Epilogue '08" (see excerpt below for description. Participants include Andrew Grant from New York, Harry Tuttle from Paris, Kevin B. Lee from New York, Edwin Mak from London, Nitesh Rohit from Delhi, and Alexis A. Tioseco from Manila. All entries can be found here. Keep checking back for updates.
["Epilogue '08 is the final chapter of the year 2008. An online roundtable looking back one last time on the past year in films, after 2008 came to a close and every year-end poll and commentary has been published. We have gathered here a panel of passionate film critics from around the world to feel the pulse of the cinephile life as it unfolded in half a dozen capital cities where cinema is lively and brewing. We get a chance to take a look at the global village of cinephilia, more than ever bound together by the communitarian feelings of the blogosphere and the communication between foreign film cultures, through films and also the international exchange allowed by film discourse in the English language. We decided to propose this interactive event to the readers of The Notebook, with the generous help of Daniel Kasman, because The Auteurs is a website representing the evolving face of online cinephilia, opened to the international market and dedicated to provide serious knowledge and quality taste to online audiences. The roundtable conversations will be published two-a-day beginning Monday, January 26. Please join our debate with your reactions, questions and comments."]
2. John Kenneth Muir calls our attention to Rich Handley's Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Unauthorized Chronology. More information on the book, with links to purchase, can be found here.
["So here comes intrepid author Rich Handley, a skillful writer who first discovered the Apes movies as I did in my youth: on the 4:30 pm Movie, Channel 7, out of NYC in the mid 1970s. You can tell from a reading of Handley's foreword and introduction that the detailed alternate future history presented by the Apes franchise has consumed him since he first starting watching the movies. I get it. The gaps. The inconsistencies. The brilliant connections. The subtle reflections. The unique repetitions. Handley has has worked out this obsession (an obsession, I share...) in his exhaustive new book, Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: a meticulous chronology of all the events featured in the Apes franchise. And Handley hasn't limited himself to the films, either. On the contrary, the author has incorporated a wide array of filmic and literary sources and compiled all of them into one, amazing, gigantor timeline. You'll find here references to the movies, the live action series, the cartoon series, and comic stories both published and unpublished. Even the derided Tim Burton re-imagination of 2001 is included. And Handley accounts for everything, down to the minutest detail, including the invention of the Internet and the ascent of bloggers in the early 1990s of the Apes universe. He doesn't miss a fact, a nuance, a connection, or even an inconsistency. When an inconsistency does arise (and there are plenty in the Apes universe), Handley does a good job of reconciling facts as he can, and explaining why he has selected the answer he has."]
3. One of the Sundance '09 entries I'm most interested in seeing is Oren Moverman's The Messenger. A few reports on the film: from Michael Ryan of Hammer to Nail; The Carpetbagger in the Times; and Peter Debruge in Variety.
["Ryan: I saw two Iraq war-themed films at this year's Sundance, Ross Katz's Taking Chance and Oren Moverman's The Messenger. Both were strangely similar in their plot and characters. Both films are about soldiers stationed at home who must deal with the casualties of war stateside. In Taking Chance, Kevin Bacon is a clench-jawed, highly decorated officer who volunteers to escort the body of a fallen soldier to his family in Montana as a way of dealing with his guilt over the level of his commitment to the war effort. In The Messenger, Ben Foster is Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery, a clenched jaw Iraq war vet, who is forced into joining Gulf War vet Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) in the task of notifying Next of Kin that their child or husband just died in the war. Taking Chance is a solemn, sober look at the pain of losing a loved one, but ultimately it is a comforting film that wants to wrap all of America into a big group hug. The Messenger directly confronts the rage, anger and fear of the Iraq war veteran in an honest, non-manipulative style, and in the end it provides no easy answers. Guess which one I preferred?"]
4. Via David Hudson at IFC Daily: J. Hoberman on Soderbergh's Che for The Virginia Quarterly Review.
["Since then, Soderbergh has tweaked his movie's first half in ways that soften its strangeness and blunt its intellectual edge. Most obviously, a number of mock cinéma vérité flash-forwards have been added to The Argentine, enabling the protagonist to address his Anglophone audience with a lightly accented English-language voiceover. Annotating the past with the "present" and tightening the movie's overall sound/image connections, these inserts do allow for another sort of dialectic, but their presence serves to subtly normalize Soderbergh's distancing strategy. (Or what was taken to be his strategy. "With all the subtitles, we thought it was Jean-Luc Godard," a colleague joked.) More crucial is Soderbergh's shortening of certain choreographed battle scenes and the omission of a five- or six-minute sequence concerning the trial of Lalo Sardiñas which served to demonstrate application of guerrilla justice.4"]
["Publicity is selling what you have: the film's stars and sometimes its director. Marketing, very often, is selling what you don't have; it's the art of the tease. A première lets the marketing and publicity teams join in a final effort to "eventize" a film, to move it to the top of the nation's long to-do list. Many premières feel slack and dutiful, but this one had the fizz of a genuine event. Lionsgate, which, together with "W." 's other investors, spent about three hundred thousand dollars on the début—three times its usual outlay—later reckoned that coverage on "Entertainment Tonight" and "Access Hollywood" and in dozens of other outlets was worth more than a million dollars in advertising."]
Quote of the Day: Jonathan Lapper, responding to Jim Emerson's recent Dark Knight postings. UPDATE: Jim responds to the response here.
"The Dark Knight posts keep bothering me. Why? I've made it clear that I didn't like the movie very much so why should I care, especially since the posts are concerned with "exposing" the movie's flaws? And yet, the posts bother me. As a budding filmmaker myself, a photographer and the husband of a successful painter I have my own ideas of what makes art work and how one should judge it. And I can't get away from the nagging feeling that you don't judge a painting stroke by stroke but as a whole. If I focus on the over sized hands and arms of the reader in Edward Hopper's Chair Car, I lose not only the feel of the whole work, but the point of art as well."
Clip of the Day: A pitch-perfect parody of a favorite WTF infomercial. (Hattip: Jason Bellamy)
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to email@example.com and to converse in the comments section.