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In Brief: Starting 2009 Edition

LinksHere is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.

  • Isabelle Huppert will serve as President of the Jury at this spring's Cannes Film Festival, succeeding Sean Penn. The 62nd Cannes Festival will be held from May 13 to 24. [Le Figaro]

  • Amanda Ameer asks a deadly question -- do musicians not only read reviews of their own concerts (mostly they do, I think, although some claim they do not), but do they take these criticisms of their work to heart? Even more, do they ever change something about their music-making on the basis of a review? Speaking from the critic's side of the equation, I can say that I do not critique performances -- not only technical quality, but adventurous or tepid programming, the overall worth of an organization's season -- only for my health. I hope that performers and concert organizers read what I write about these things, but I have no illusions that they take them to heart. As one brilliant Alex Gregory cartoon in The New Yorker once put it -- one dog says to another, "I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking." [Life's a Pitch]

  • Film critic Ann Hornaday's article about her great-great-great-uncle is a must-read. He was the man who put Ota Benga in the Bronx Zoo in 1906, the Pygmy who is referenced by The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in the character Ngunda Oti, a Pygmy who befriends Benjamin Button in one of the countless irrelevant subplots. [Washington Post]

  • As he so often does, writing not always in the moment but more retrospectively, Alex Ross sums up the double centenary of Carter and Messiaen, nailing the former and glossing over the latter. [The New Yorker]

  • I love reading the French dailies because the perspective is so different from American newspapers, although globalization is changing that, too. Here are three French books to watch for in 2009 according to one of those newspapers: Philippe Labro, Les Gens (a novel about "three characters who have no reason to be brought together but who are nevertheless going to overlap"); Max Gallo, La Révolution française (a radical new look at the years 1774-1793, claiming to be far away from a standard history); and Philippe Sollers, Les Voyageurs du temps ("a stimulating walk in the company of great men -- writers, to be sure, like Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Lautréamont, Céline, Breton… but also painters and musicians, like Watteau and Bach"). [Le Figaro]

  • An exhibit I wish I had seen in Rome, Giovanni Bellini, at the Scuderie del Quirinale, is reviewed by Roderick Conway Morris. [International Herald Tribune]

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