Arts Desk

Arts Roundup: Hollywood Graveyard Season Edition

Hello! A lot of the new movies you'll see in 2010 will be old, the New York Times reports. Like, 2008 old! This is because: 1) January falls right after the deadline for Oscar eligibility, so it's a natural graveyard for films that the studios had hoped would be a lot better (like The Lovely Bones, and (one supposes) the new Scorsese film Shutter Island; 2) Every once in a while, Hollywood actually makes money early in the year (as with "Taken" and "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" this year; 3) the 2008 writers' strike has something to do with it, too (I guess). My thoughts: I wish American movie studios released quality films in months other than November and December. More importantly! January is terrible for American movies, but it's great for people in large cities that are not New York, since all the foreign-language films that got love on the international festival circuit finally trickle into American art houses (after limited New York-L.A. runs to qualify for the Oscars' foreign film category). If 2010's winter haul—Police, Adjective opens at E Street on Jan. 15—is as good as 2009's (Gomorra, The Class), then I'm set, Blarts be damned. Or I could take a chance on that new Michael Cera vehicle.

Avenged Sevenfold drummer James Owen Sullivan has been found dead.

- George Mason economist Tyler Cowen asks: What are the odds that the best chess player in the world has never played chess? He writes:

The more general issues are how well the modern world allocates talent and how much exposure you need to something you eventually will be very good at.

My view is that people who are born into a reasonably good educational infrastructure get exposed repeatedly—albeit briefly—to lots of the activities which might intrigue them. If the activity is going to click with them, it has the chance. To borrow the initial example, most high schools and junior high schools have chess clubs and not just in the wealthiest countries. Virtually everyone is put in touch with math, music, kite-flying, poetry, and so on at relatively young ages.

- Also on the economics tip: Since supervillains are so bad at their jobs, should they switch careers? Ecocomics explores. Key lines:

Lets talk about Calendar Man. He's a Batman villain who commits crimes on specific days of the year. It's kind of his gimmick. But committing crimes on specific days doesn't make you more successful. It actually hinders you quite a bit, allowing Batman to punch you repeatedly in the face. This is a bad thing.

And:

Batman and Superman should work to get their rogues connected with major companies in order to make everyone's lives easier. Mr. Freeze would be better off working for Frigidaire. Poison Ivy could work for Greenpeace. The Toyman could work for Hasbro. Clock King could improve the design of a Rolex tenfold. I'm actually pretty sure Brainiac already works for Apple.

- This WaPo subhead—"Tyra Banks will zip it"—doesn't quite read "Tyra Banks will end talk show" so much as it reads "Thank Christ she's shutting up." Subtle!

- Bono, Damien Rice, Glen Hansard, and Mundy went busking on Christmas Day.

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