The Cultural Gutter

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"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

RIP, Polly Bergen

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Actor and singer Polly Bergen has died. Bergen has roles in film and television series as diverse as Desperate Housewives, Commander In Chief, The Sopranos, The Love Boat, Move Over Darling,  Cape Fear (1962), and The Polly Bergen Show.  The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Guardian have obituaries. Here Rex Reed […]

High diving boards, banana costumes,
and other risks worth taking

Normal Rockwell Boy on High Dive

I come from a family of eggheads, so summer camp for me was usually something like Mini University. We’d play with metal shavings and magnets, or compete to design the most aerodynamic paper planes, but one of the things we also got to do was use the Olympic swimming pool with a full size, triple-decker […]

RIP, Richard Kiel

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Actor Richard Kiel has died. Kiel worked in both film and television, including performances in The Twilight Zone episode, “To Serve Man”; Eegah (1962); The Barbary Coast with William Shatner; Happy Gilmore (1996); Pale Rider (1985); as Vlad in Tangled (201); and as Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).   […]

“44 Medieval Beasts That Cannot Even Handle It Right Now”

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A gallery of Medieval European beasts and creatures who can’t even.

Line Up for the Midnight Madness 2014 Program

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Here are the films playing the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness program: Tokyo Tribe; Big Game; Tusk; It Follows; Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films; [REC]4: Apocalypse; Cub; The Editor; and, What We Do In The Shadows and The Guest. (More trailers as they become available).

RIP, Liz Holzman

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Animator, writer, director and producer Liz Holzman has died. Holzman worked on Animaniacs, Pinky & The Brain, DuckTales, Smurfs, Muppet Babies and Darkwing Duck among other television series and films. The Hollywood Reporter, Animation Magazine and The Los Angeles Times have obituaries. Animation Insider has an interview with Holzman. Here is a gallery of Holzman’s […]

RIP, Robin Williams

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Actor and comedian Robin Williams has died. There are many obituaries and remembrances out there, so we’re just choosing a few.  The AV Club, RogerEbert.com and Boing Boing have obituaries. The writers of RogerEbert.com offer tributes. Terry Gilliam talks about directing Williams in The Fisher King. Penny Marshall talks about working with Williams on Laverne […]

The Rockford Files, The Sopranos and Classic Television

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Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. […]

Movies! Movies! Movies!

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The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

RIP, Elaine Stritch

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Actor and singer Elaine Stritch has died. Stritch worked extensively on Broadway, but she also appeared in September (1987), Small Time Crooks (2000), Monster-In-Law (2005), the British television series, Two’s Company,  3rd Rock From The Sun, My Sister Eileen and 30 Rock. The New York Times,  Variety and The Detroit Free Press. Saara Dutton remembers […]

RIP, James Garner

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Actor and producer James Garner has died. Garner is probably most famous for his role as Jim Rockford in the tv series, The Rockford Files, but he also starred in Maverick (the tv series and the 1994 film), Support Your Local Sheriff (1969), Marlowe (1969), The Great Escape (1963),   Victor/Victoria (1982), Move Over, Darling […]

RIP, Paul Mazursky

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Writer, director, actor and producer Paul Mazursky has died. Mazursky directed Bob And Carol And Ted And Alice (1969), Harry And Tonto (1974),  An Unmarried Woman (1978), Moscow On The Hudson (1984), Down And Out In Beverly Hills (1986), Enemies, A Love Story (1989). Mazursky was Emmanuel Stoker in The Blackboard Jungle (1955), a tv […]

RIP, Meshach Taylor

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Actor Meshach Taylor has died. Taylor had roles in Mannequin (1987), Designing Women, Buffalo Bill, Criminal Minds, Ned’s Classified School Survival Guide, The Urban Gardener with Meshach Taylor and the Broadway production of Beauty And The Beast. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and NPR have obituaries. Here Wendy Williams talks with Meshach […]

“Exploring Apatow and Rogen’s Schlubby Non-Misogyny”

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Film School Rejects looks at the Judd Apatow’s comedies: “Apatow is not a denialist of misogyny within society. In fact, if you read the many personal #YesAllWomen anecdotes—all of his films verify that sad reality in a non-condoning, often vilifying way. Through non-traditional heroes, he navigates his audience to a hopeful future.With personal, transformational films comes […]

Summer Fun Time Reading ’14

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Summer is almost here, and I can’t tell you how glad I am. So smear yourself up with sunscreen and bug repellent, find your kickiest sandals, put the finishing touches on your Wicker Man and don’t forget to wear a hat because I have some comics to make your summer just a little more fun […]

Kaiju Shakedown: Hopping Vampire Edition

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With the US release of Juno Mak’s Rigor Mortis, Grady Hendrix decides it’s time to revisit the hopping vampire movies of yore.

RIP, Rik Mayall

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Actor and comedian Rik Mayall has died. Mayall is probably best known for his roles in The Young Ones (1982-4), Blackadder (1983-9), The New Statesman (1987-94) and Bottom (1991-5). He also starred in Drop Dead Fred (1991) and Guesthouse Paradiso (1999). The Telegraph, The Guardian and Rolling Stone have obituaries. ITV has clips and lines […]

Are You In A Jane Austen Novel?

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How do you tell if you are in a Jane Austen novel? You could be in one right now. The Toast helps with “How To Tell If You Are In A Jane Austen Novel.”

Homer Simpson’s Last Theorem

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Attention mathematicians and Simpsons fans: On Numberphile, Simon Singh and Brady Haran discuss Fermat’s Last Theorem’s appearances in culture and evaluate Homer Simpson’s solution.

RIP, Al Feldstein

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Al Feldstein has died. Feldstein got his start at EC Comics, creating Tales From The Crypt and several other titles, and later became editor for MAD Magazine. The Comics Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine and Robot 6 have obituaries. NPR’s All Things Considered remembers Feldstein. At The Atlantic Wire, […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Brain Pickings looks at the life and work of Tove Jansson and the wisdom of her character, Too-ticky. “Too-ticky, the sage of Moominvalley who solves even the most existential of problems with equal parts practicality and wisdom, was inspired by the love of Jansson’s life — the great Finnish sculptor and graphic arts pioneer Tuulikki “Tooti” Pietilä, Jansson’s spouse. The two women met in art school during their twenties and remained together until Jansson’s death more than six decades later, collaborating on a lifetime of creative projects — all at a time when queer couples were straddling the impossible line between anguishing invisibility and dangerous visibility.” (via Kate Laity)

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    Photographer Kevin Weir uses vintage photographs to create haunting animation in “The Flux Machine.” The Guardian has an interview with Weir and more on his work.

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    At the New Yorker, Jill Lepore considers the intertwining histories of women’s suffrage, feminism, Amazons and Wonder Woman. “It isn’t only that Wonder Woman’s backstory is taken from feminist utopian fiction. It’s that, in creating Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston was profoundly influenced by early-twentieth-century suffragists, feminists, and birth-control advocates and that, shockingly, Wonder Woman was inspired by Margaret Sanger, who, hidden from the world, was a member of Marston’s family.”

     

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    Tim Reis shares ten things he learned from producing his first independent feature The Demon’s Rook. “Making an independent feature film is hard. Making an independent feature film with no money is especially hard. Making an independent feature film with no money, no actors, and a first-time director and crew is almost impossible. It is also the greatest, most liberating thing and you can and should totally do it.” (Thanks, Colin!)

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    The Princeton University Digital Library has digitized three Seventeenth Century Japanese illustrated scrolls and you can view them here. Meanwhile, 100,000 images from Getty Research Institute are now available at the Digital Library of America. (via @BibliOdyssey)

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    The Awl’s Rich Bellis writes about Koh Masaki and the importance of Masaki’s visibility as an out gay man working in the Japanese porn industry. “By the time he died from peritonitis after an appendix operation, at just 29, Masaki had established a celebrity persona in a business where such a thing hadn’t existed before. Japanese censorship laws require blurring genitalia, but social stigma leads many performers (regardless of gender) to obscure their faces, too. Dark sunglasses, hats and blacked-out swimming goggles are common accessories in an industry whose overall value has been estimated at around $20 billion.” (Thanks, Earl)

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