Daily Briefing. "Blue Velvet" @ 25

"One of the most newsworthy items in this year's home-video calendar is the recent discovery of a horde of deleted material, long thought lost, that [David] Lynch cut from Blue Velvet to bring it from its rough length of four hours down to two," writes Jaime N Christley in Slant. Around 50 minutes of this material is included on MGM's new Blu-ray, out today. "Not only is this a Holy Grail for Lynchians, but these scenes can help to enrich anyone's appreciation and understanding of the film as we've come to know it over the past 25 years." Sean Axmaker shows us a 42-second clip we haven't seen before and Yahoo has another (see above). Earlier: Cath Clarke in the Guardian.

When Nick Rombes launched his ongoing year-long Blue Velvet Project at Filmmaker back in August — he's re-watching the film, pausing every 47 seconds and writing out his thoughts — he noted that, upon its theatrical release, "the film lingered at the dark edges of the imagination until the spring of the following year, when it was released on home video by Karl-Lorimar. The rapid ascendency of the VCR and the proliferation of rental stores (in 1980 there were only approximately 2,500 rental stores in the US; by 1987 this had increased to over 27,000) meant that Blue Velvet found its way into the very same sort of leafy small towns as Lumberton."

Update: This new Blu-ray edition "allows us finally to re-see and reconsider the thing in all its glory — and be reminded again how, though Lynch's film was routinely called mysterious and dark, its motives and underpinnings were all pretty clear," writes Bill Wyman at Slate. "Rewatch it today, as I did the other night with a group of willing friends, and the thing is still affecting, still alluring, still shocking, still challenging, offering glimpses of humanity at its most methodically terrifying and death at its most grim. But the clues Lynch left were all intact."

In other news. Syrian filmmaker Nidal Hassan, who worked with Lilibeth Cuenca on Three Stories of Life, Love and Death, intended to be on hand for the film's world premiere at the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival (CPH:DOX) but, as the festival reports in a statement Filmmaker's Scott Macaulay has passed along, "when he paid a visit to the authorities to obtain his passport, Hassan was arrested. Since then, nobody has heard from him. As usual, the Syrian regime has provided no information on Hassan, and there is good cause for serious concern about his fate."

"Anyone with an interest in cinema can hardly have failed to pick up on the news that, apparently, film is dead. An article by Debra Kaufman for Creative Cow, 'Film Fading to Black,'… has had a huge impact, with many writing obituary columns for the medium in the face of the inexorable rise of digital." But Luke McKernan argues: "Just as vinyl has survived the introduction of CD and audio files, so film is going to become the preserve of the select. Archives will still depend on it, though the rising costs of an increasingly rare medium (and rare skills able to maintain it) will mean higher access costs — if we want to see those films when they come out of cold storage so many years from now, we will have to pay handsomely for the privilege. Film buffs will still value it, and will collect prints and technologies required to show prints. They will sustain an aesthetic and cultural appreciation of film, and what will be exciting is when that appreciation is taken up by those who have grown up with digital but nevertheless look for something more in film. And artists, such as Tacita Dean, will continue to value it, for as long as it is available to them, for its plastic and particular qualities. Film is a canvas, after all."

The Contenders 2011 opens today at MoMA and runs through January 26: "For this recurring series, the Department of Film combs through major studio releases and the top film festivals in the world, selecting influential, innovative films made in the past 12 months that we believe will stand the test of time."

In the works. The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth: "With Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss already set in the lead, Top of the Lake reunites [Jane] Campion with Gerard Lee, the writer of her 1989 film Sweetie, for the tale of a detective investigating the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant daughter of a local drug lord. With the Sundance Channel now teaming with BBC Worldwide to co-produce and distribute the seven-part mini-series, Deadline reveals that the show is casting up. The Piano star and Oscar winner Holly Hunter, Peter Mullan (Tyrannosaur, War Horse) and David Wenham (Faramir in a couple of The Lord of the Rings) have all come on board."

And via the Playlist, the Observer's Jason Solomons: "Bernardo Bertolucci's sumptuous The Last Emperor is currently undergoing a 3D makeover. The 1987 film, which scooped nine Oscars, is being 3D-ised under the supervision of its cinematographer Vittorio Storaro in Italy, for release late next year. 'We've experimented with only two scenes so far but Bernardo is thrilled with it,' producer Jeremy Thomas told me ahead of the LFF screening of his latest David Cronenberg collaboration, A Dangerous Method. 'I've suggested we do Naked Lunch next, but David's against it, and I'd never go ahead without the director.'"

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