12.20.2009 New York Times Digest

1. “The Flight Before Christmas”

“Holiday travel is never fun, and this year may even be worse.”

2. “At 94, She’s the Hot New Thing in Painting”

“After six decades of very private painting, Ms. Herrera sold her first artwork five years ago, at 89. Now, at a small ceremony in her honor, she was basking in the realization that her career had finally, undeniably, taken off.”

3. “Bowing to Body Clocks, NBA Teams Sleep In”

“The typical night game ends at about 10 p.m. By the time players shower, dress and speak with the news media, it is close to 11 p.m. They are usually famished, so everyone eats a late dinner. Even the most conservative players — those who do not frequent nightclubs — will not get to sleep until at least 2 a.m. If the team is traveling, players may not reach their hotel until 3 a.m. For a shoot-around or practice that starts at 10 a.m., players have to arrive as early as 9 a.m. to lift weights, receive treatment or be taped.”

4. “Amid Studio Product, Independents’ Resilience”

“The major studios have long been in the business of serving sludge to the world, but now the reek often spreads around the globe simultaneously with massive coordinated openings.”

5. “Long Shadows of an Economy and a War”

“Until forced to do otherwise, we would rather pruriently rubber-neck Tiger Woods’s misadventures than to confront real human tragedy. To this critic, truthfulness in films, no matter how painful, is preferable to sugar-coated reality paraded as art.”

6. “Homes Are Where You Find Them”

“When times are hard, people go to the movies to escape. Like most truisms, this sturdy kernel of Hollywood ideology turns out, on closer examination, not to be entirely true. The urge to escape is powerful, but it also has a way of subverting itself. We may flee to the multiplex or the Netflix queue hoping to escape troubles at home or out there in the world, but those troubles have a habit of following us on our adventures, popping up in our fantasies and haunting our bedtime stories.”

7. “Steal These Books”

“I asked Steve Bercu, BookPeople’s owner, what the most frequently stolen title was. ‘The Bible,’ he said, without pausing.”

8. “Stuffed”

“In a sense, the show can be read as a metaphor for an entire culture that has lost perspective on the relative importance of things and desperately needs help.”

9. “Art House”

“When I was younger, I was curious and amazed by Wilt Chamberlain’s bed that was covered in arctic wolf pelts. I figured if I could understand that combo of love, slaughter and fur, I’d know something.”

10. “Can Anybody Make a Movie for Women?”

“Part and parcel of that uniqueness is Meyers’s focus on making films that both feature and speak to middle-aged women, a demographic that studios traditionally ignore for fear of not bringing in the all-important opening-weekend numbers by which a movie’s position is assessed and its future success seemingly foretold. The simple truth is that any movie that is not aimed at 15-year-old boys, who come out in droves on Friday night for movies like Transformers, is seen as something of a risk. Movies like It’s Complicated unfold at the box office in a different pattern than movies that are skewed younger; their success is based more on long-range playability and word of mouth than on instant impact. Still, in a movie culture consumed by youth and its trappings — vampires, werewolves, stoners and superheroes — Meyers’s decision to pay attention to a part of the population that is often construed (and often construes itself) to be invisible stands out in bold relief. The fact that this decision has proved to be commercially shrewd says something about her instincts as a moviemaker but also says something about a previously unsatisfied hunger, composed of two parts daydream and one part hope, that is finally being addressed.”

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