Neglected for the past few days, this blog needs a good deal of tlc over the coming days. On the way: a Postcard from Paris, comments on Schalcken the Painter and the Illuminations team’s top tens of the year. Here, however, is what will eventually be a bumper bunch of links to keep you engaged across these out-of-time days. First, a true treat from The British Library – the Mechanical Curator flickr collection of more than a million images identified from 19th century books, extracted and uploaded under a Creative Commons licence. Associated is the Twitter feed @MechCuratorBot which posts one of these images every hour (I’m bemused why it currently has only 142 followers). Curator Ben O’Steen (not a bot) has a blog post about the initiative, as does his BL colleague Luke McKernan. More coverage here from Generalising. The project is great in all sorts of ways, some of which will become clearer in 2014 – and is a kind of delightful Xmas present to us all. Across the jump, further links with seasonal thanks due to @Criterion, @henrymoorefdn and @KeygrameDaily.
• Rites of passage: a finely judged and super-smart video tribute from Catherine Grant to Joan Fontaine, star of Hitchcock’s Rebecca, who died this past week – her focus is on the liminal moments of the movie.
• Watch again! Look well! Look! (for Ozu): in a wonderful piece written for a new French collection of essays, Ozu à present, David Bordwell continues his life-long affair with the films of the Japanese master.
• Ealing on air, part 3: Sheldon Hall with more of his fascinating account of how Ealing feature films made their way to British television, from Network’s blog.
• When we were here – the 1990s in film: Masha Tupitsyn in The White Review on Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989-90), Close-up (1990) and Blue (1993).
• Paul Thomas Anderson – an autocritique: Greg Gerke on the director’s films in the Los Angeles Review of Books.
• The most stylish movie you’ve never heard of: except of course that we have, even if Esquire’s Michael J. Agovino thinks we might have missed the best film of the year, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty – anyway, here’s the lowdown on the ‘impeccable style’ conjured up by costume designer Daniela Ciancino.
• A conversation with David Bordwell – poetics of cinema, film stylistics and research valorization: a nearly hour-long interview with the film historian (see above) about the principles of studying film through poetics; asking the questions is Ari Ernesto Purnama, a Ph.D. student in film studies at the University of Groningen – I thought this was fascinating.
• 625 vs 405, colour vs B&W, PAL vs NTSC, 50 frames vs 60, AM vs FM, 44.1Khz vs 48Khz: truly terrific techno-porn in the shape of sumptuous vintage photographs of standards converters from the BBC Radio 3 tumblr.
• The death of photography: are camera phones destroying an artform?: for the Guardian Stuart Jeffries with good thoughts about the state of the art.
• Henry Moore – Reclining Figures: a neat video from The Hepworth Wakefield with curator Frances Guy introducing the gallery’s new collections display.
• Young souls portray the wit of Hamlet, with brevity: The New York Times asked students to send them Instagram videos (15 seconds of fame) of fragments of Shakespeare’s play – and some 500 did; the results and some reflections by Michael Roston and Erik Piepenburg are here.
• Ghost stories – why the Victorians were so spookily good at them: a good and timely piece by Kira Cochrane for the Guardian.
• Heat in a mild climate: James Wood on Benjamin Britten in the London Review of Books, with added audio clips.
• The algorithms of our lives: Lev Manovich in The Chronicle of Higher Education with an introduction to why it’s essential to study software culture.
and… back in 2007, The Boss sings Santa Claus is comin’ to town – timelessly great.
Image: from The Land of the Incas and the City of the Sun; or the story of Francisco Pizarro and the conquest of Peru, 1885, p. 182; via The British Library.