The House

Toy Story 3

"Matt Zoller Seitz's series of 10 video essays isn't just a countdown of the year's greatest scenes, though it is that. It also zeroes in on the DNA of movies—the shots and cuts, lines of dialogue and music cues that illustrate a film's personality and style—to show just what makes them so riveting." Click here for a link to the series.

Over at, the year's most memorable critical dust-ups.

A heavily edited version of Gurinder Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham was broadcast on North Korean TV this week, a first for a Western film.

In Review Online's composite year-end lists—film and music—are now up. Kudos for acknowledging Four Tet, guys, but what's up with the Robyn diss?

A photo montage of stars we lost in 2010.

Here's a cool alternate top 10 list, by The Faster Times's Jonathan Kiefer, I can get behind.

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TAGS: bend it like beckham, geraldine doyle,, in review online, jonathan kiefer, matt zoller seitz, north korea, polar bears, rosie the riveter, salon, the faster times

Brooklyn Snow

New York City streets remain an absolute nightmare and the New York Post is reporting that "selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts."

Peter Bogdanovich loves D.W. Griffith's Broken Blossoms.

Anthony Kaufman (possibly even some other people at IFC, as the "we" in the article's title would lead us to believe) predicts the greatness of a bunch of 2011 movies. (Does he/they feel Terrence Malick's Tree of Life will suck?)

Dana Stevens was wowed by what 2010 had to offer.

Former IFC Entertainment executive Courtney Ott has been named director of marketing and PR for the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Yahoo! selects the best long-form media writing of 2010 and the winner is Chris Jones's February piece on Roger Ebert for Esquire.

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 and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: anthony kaufman, broken blossoms, chris jones, courtney ott, d.w. griffith, dana stevens, esquire, film society of lincoln center, ifc, peter bogdanovich, roger ebert, slate

A Christmas Carol

At long last, BBC America has bowed to the reality of the internet and broadcast the Doctor Who Christmas special within hours of its UK premiere. It's particularly fortunate that as many viewers as possible got to see this episode at the correct time of year, rather than weeks or months later, as "A Christmas Carol" is definitely the most Christmassy of all the Christmas specials so far. Previous specials have seen various trappings of Christmas given a Doctor Who twist (killer Christmas trees, robot Santas, and so on), but this is the first time the Christmas episode draws inspiration from one of the classic works of Christmas literature. Despite the title, though, this is not simply an adaptation of the famous original; such a thing would make no sense, since we already know that Charles Dickens exists in the Doctor's universe ("The Unquiet Dead"). Instead, writer Steven Moffat neatly engineers a situation where the Doctor deliberately chooses to act in a way that follows the basic structure of A Christmas Carol—just with time-travel, rather than ghosts.

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TAGS: a christmas carol, arthur darvill, charles dickens, danny horn, doctor who, karen gillan, katherine jenkins, laurence belcher, matt smith, michael gambon, michael pickwoad, recap, steven moffat, toby haynes


Here's a list many of us have been waiting for: Reverse Shot's Top 10 of 2010. The contributors this year were Matt Connolly, Michael Koresky, Benjamin Mercer, Adam Nayman, Jeff Reichert, Justin Stewart, Andrew Tracy, Elbert Ventura, Chris Wisniewski, and Genevieve Yue.

In Review Online has published a number of year-end lists by their contributors: Sam C. Mac (film and music); Luke Gorham (film); Jordon Cronk (music); Chris Nowling (music); A.A. Dowd (film); Kathie Smith and Cronk (home movies).

There's an angry ex-nerd over at Wired and he wants geek culture to wake up.

George Clooney should play Bono in a U2 biopic.

This is kind of old but still worth pondering: Did Usher rip off Homer Simpson?

What do scars say about male and female characters?

I wish someone had done this in Brooklyn:

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 and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: bono, george clooney, homer simpson, in review online, reverse shot, sudan, usher, wired

Cry of Jazz

Twenty-five films have been named to the National Film Registry, among them The Empire Strikes Back, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Exorcist, Make Way for Tomorrow, and Cry of Jazz.

Amnesty International has gotten involved in protesting the 6-year prison sentence given to Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof.

Yahoo picks the best and worst movie posters of 2010. That Jackass 3D poster ain't bad, and the Inception one isn't that grand, but the rest of the designations are spot-on.

Over at The New York Times, Stanley Fish discusses narrative and the grace of God on the occasion of having seen Joel and Ethan Coen's fine True Grit.

Fish's colleague A.O. Scott looks back at Richard Linklater's Waking Life.

David Thomson at The New Republic prefers Peter Weir's new film The Way Back to David Fincher's The Social Network.

Gamespot names the sweet Red Dead Redemption the best game of 2010, disappointing Mario lovers everywhere.

Adam Zanzie in defense of Saving Private Ryan.

The TSA sucks, but you knew that already.

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 and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: a.o. scott, adam zanzie, amnesty international, david thomson, gamespot, jafar panahi, mohammad rasoulof, national film registry, red dead redemption, saving private ryan, stanley fish, the new republic, the new york times, the way back, true grit, tsa

Jon Stewart

Did the bill pledging federal funds for the health care of 9/11 responders become law in the waning hours of the 111th Congress only because a comedian took it up as a personal cause?

Why Karina Longworth quit Facebook.

The middle has swallowed up the ends, ya'll. A.O. Scott scruitinizes Hollywood's class warfare.

Frank Rich on the death of Disneyland Dream filmmaker Robbins Barstow.

Rick James protégée Teena Marie, one of the few successful white performers of R&B, passed away yesterday at the age of 54. Her most famous song, "Ooo La La La," was sampled by the Fugees on their breakout single "Fu-Gee-La," but it was her superior "Behind the Groove" that made Slant's 100 Greatest Dance Songs list back in 2006. Her last album was Congo Square.

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 and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: 911, a.o. scott, behind the groove, disneyland dream, facebook, frank rich, fu-gee-la, fugees, jon stewart, karina longworth, ooo la la la, rick james, robbins barstow, slant magazine, teena marie, the new york times

The Marriage ArtistNo characteristic of the third-generation Holocaust novel is more readily distinctive than the well-these-seem-disparate-oh-wait-they-are-meaningfully-intersecting-storylines! structure (though, to be fair, typographical flourishes are a very close second). Think Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated. Think Nicole Krauss's The History of Love. Where second-generation works—those written by the children of survivors—like Art Spiegleman's Maus worked through the trauma of the Holocaust by acknowledging its separateness from the experience of their authors, third-generation representations insist on reincorporating that history into the experience of the present, which otherwise threatens to slip into meaninglessness—insignificance apparently worse than chaos and horror and destruction.

Andrew Winer's The Marriage Artist, the latest example of the proliferating genre, tells two traversing stories. The first of these involves Daniel Lichtmann, a New York art critic, whose wife Aleksandra suddenly and inexplicably commits suicide alongside Benjamin Wind, a young Native American sculptor who had been much championed by Daniel. Forced into examining a life he had preferred to understand as rather unremarkable, Daniel endlessly considers and reconsiders his relationship with Aleksandra, a photographer who had dedicated herself to documenting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "Jews and Arabs who had been wounded, handicapped, and otherwise adversely affected by suicide bombings," and whose "Russian-Jewishness…insubordinate wit…protean nature, the way she wore her burdens with either naked vulnerability or hard-bitten frankness that could be confused for callousness" first attract Daniel to her only to inevitably keep them sundered. What, Daniel wonders, drove her to Benjamin? What destroyed them? And what did Wind's ecstatic final show—three gallery chambers filled with "life-size figures paired off and joined by the holding of hands…each pair…sprayed in the air as if by some centrifugal force…in various states of ascendance"—have to do with both?

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TAGS: andrew winer, art spiegelman, everything is illuminated, henry holt and company, maus, nicole krauss, safran foer, the history of love, the marriage artist

Keep Her Where She Belongs

According to, the top 48 ads that would never be allowed today.

The "don't ask don't tell" repeal is now official, but what does it mean for the legions of gays ousted from the military hoping to return?

Karina Longworth's Top 10 of the year, with context.

Please sign the petition to free Jafar Panahi.

Steven Soderbergh to retire from making movies?

Future Oscar-winner Christian Bale to star in new Zhang Yimou.

And some TRON-related humor:

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 and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: christian bale, don't ask don't tell, jafar panahi, karina longworth, steven soderbergh, tron, zhang yimou

Coming Up in This Column: The King's Speech, Tangled, Get Him to the Greek, In Love and War, but first…

Happy HolidaysFan Mail: Well, I spoke too soon, didn't I when I said the prospects of a "lively discussion" of the Hero's Journey "sort of fizzled." I am sorry it developed into a hissing contest between David Ehrenstein and "Juicer 243," but they both made some good points first. As you know, I am more in tune with David's view of the HJ than Juicer's. Juicer seems to think it can apply to any movie, but he picked the three I mentioned that might fit, while ignoring the longer list of ones where the HJ does not seem to apply. Juicer seemed to assume that the writers of Citizen Kane (1941), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and Fellini's 8 ½ (1963) were all students of the HJ, but none of them probably had ever heard of it. They were simply trying to make the most entertaining films they could. They succeeded, of course.

Juicer is also upset that I used the term "doctrinaire" about the HJ and uses the three films mentioned above as showing how creative the writers can be while seeming to fit their work into the pattern. The problem I have with a lot of screenwriting advice is that it is given and, worse, accepted as doctrine. Having taught screenwriting for forty years, I cannot tell you the number of students I have had that insisted they had to follow either the HJ, or Syd Field's structure, or some other system. If the HJ helps you (and I was just talking this past week to a former student of mine who felt she learned a lot from Christopher Vogler's book about it), then fine, but let's not assume that is the only way to go.

While David and I agree about the HJ, we obviously disagree on Morocco (1930). He quotes the Fritz Lang line about how a screenplay is writing and a movie is pictures, as in, "Moving pictures they call them." Well, yeah, but they need something more than just pretty pictures that move. If it were enough that you have beautiful pictures nicely cut together, Ryan's Daughter (1970) would be the best movie of all time, hands down.

"Torontomovieguy" says he finds the column entertaining, "but I can't say I better understand a damn thing about screenwriting because of it." I suspect he is looking for the kind of truths the gurus like Field and Campbell et al provide, as in "The First Plot Point Should Be Between Pages 25 and 27." This homey don't do that. My approach is to see what we can tease out about screenwriting from watching films. So my tendency, as Juicer discovered, is not the Great Truths category but in looking at scripts and films with subtlety and nuance. I do agree with Toronto that the column, as all criticism is, is subjective. Guilty as charged on that one.

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TAGS: get him to the greek, in love and war, tangled, the king's speech, understanding screenwriting

Village Voice Film Poll

Guess what film topped this year's Village Voice film poll?

More lists: TONY film critics David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf, and Keith Uhlich share their best and worst films of the year, and Sight & Sound gives us the dish on the year's best DVDs.

Larry David is feeling pretty, pretty good now that those Bush tax cuts have been extended.

David Bordwell on the sentencing of Jafar Panahi and the beauty of the director's films.

The montage-averse should steer away from this one. For The L Magazine, Matt Zoller Seitz compresses an entire year's worth of movies into 11 minutes.

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 and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: david bordwell, david fear, george w. bush, jafar panahi, joshua rothkopf, keith uhlich, larry david, matt zoller seitz, sight & sound, the l magazine, the village voice, time out new york

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