- Courtesy of ohnotheydidn't (via Nathaniel at The Film Experience): David Lynch's headshots of eight actresses for French Elle. I'd rob a bank for Beatrice Dalle any day.
- I'm not much of a TV fan, and I don't buy the popular notion that television is surpassing film in quality at all. I saw five great movies last year and many more very good ones, but I can't think of more than a handful of shows I'd gladly watch. That said, I must admit that in recent weeks I've been totally immersed in two shows: Lost, which just finished its third season on a tremendous high note, and The Sopranos, about to end its final and richest season. Both shows are expanding the possibilities of television as a narrative medium in a way that only a few (The Prisoner and Twin Peaks come to mind) have.
In the case of Lost, the writers have begun to reveal the secrets of the mysterious island where the survivors of Flight 815 are stranded, seemingly for some as-yet-unknown purpose. Wednesday's finale included a twist that not only deepens the show's tantalizing sci-fi premise, it also expands the narrative possibilities of the show exponentially - it's an ongoing story that is also, brilliantly, about the shifting nature of storytelling itself. In the same way, despite much gloomy foreshadowing, I have absolutely no idea how The Sopranos will end. The story of a boss who is "basically a good person" even if he sometimes kills people (James Gandolfini as Tony is as good as any screen performance this decade), the show gives equal measure to the mechanics of genre and the arbitrariness of real life - a mafioso is as likely to die in a sudden car accident as with a hail of bullets. It's as philosophical as it is visceral, and ranks with the best mob movies.
Both shows also break from television convention in exciting ways, allowing for flawed, complex characters and deliberatly avoiding obvious payoffs. Best of all, they're well-shot - witness one Lost character's genuinely poignant aquatic send-off, or the glimmer of sunlight on the horizon echoing season five's surreal "alternate universe" subplot as Tony exclaims "I get it!" In a medium designed to placate its viewers (witness Heroes' triumph over Lost in the ratings), it's bracing to discover real ambiguity. In this and many ways, both shows are truly (dare I say it?) cinematic.
- RIP, Charles Nelson Reilly. I'll always remember him as Lort in A Troll in Central Park.
- Jack's survey of music cues in the films of Martin Scorsese.
- Finally, just in time for the holiday, here's the first look at the most important release of 2008: