The Cultural Gutter

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

“He looks just like what you want a hitman to look like”

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Jeanne Marie Laskas tells the story of an ATF agent who works undercover as a hitman. Hear an interview with her at NPR and read the story at GQ.

Tales of Desolation

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Friends of The Gutter Todd Sharp and John Crye are releasing chapters of their new serialized photo book, Tales of Desolation, every Tuesday and Thursday. “I was ten when everything changed. That’s when it all stopped working.”

RIP, Antonia Bird

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Director and producer Antonia Bird has died. Bird is probably best known for her films Ravenous (1999) and Priest (1994), but she also directed UK television series, episodes and  tv movies such as, The Village,  Cracker, MI-5, Inspector Morse and EastEnders. The BBC has an obituary. The Guardian has collected tributes to Bird. The Guardian […]

RIP, Hal Needham

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Director, stunt coordinator  and stuntman Hal Needham has died. Needham directed Smokey and the Bandit and The Cannonball Run, but he also performed and coordinated stunts in The French Connection II, Three The Hard Way, Chinatown, Our Man Flint, The War Wagon and Blazing Saddles. and in television shows such as, Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, […]

“The Art of Stealing”

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Lex Boon explores “The Art of Stealing: The Tragic Fate of The Masterpieces Stolen from Rotterdam”: “Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse, Monet, Meijer de Haan and Freud. On television they are talking about a loot worth hundreds of millions of euros. The amount is not important to her. The pictures are evidence against her son and destroying […]

“Blood, Meth and Tears”

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At Cinema Junkie, Beth Accomando says good-bye to Breaking Bad: “In the end for me what Breaking Bad delivered was a portrait of America and a distinctly American sense of identity. By tapping into the western genre, the show starts with something quintessentially American. That genre is prone to celebrate the individual over the community […]

The Fatal Flaw of Dexter

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And Todd Van Der Werff has some thoughts on the series finale of Dexter at The AV Club: “The fatal flaw of Dexter has always been that its writers have rarely, if ever, treated the central character with anything like a clear vision of who he’s meant to be.”

“Walter White, Angry White Man”

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“If…other antihero shows played off the thrill that results from being able to do anything or take whatever one wants, then Breaking Bad is increasingly about how unpleasant that actually is in real life. Walt’s justifications for why he should have what he wants stem almost entirely from believing that he’s owed in some way, […]

Bad Fans and a Mind-Bending Phone Call

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Emily Nussbaum writes about the complexity of one phone call in Breaking Bad‘s “Ozymandias” episode.

Old Crime Photos in a New Context

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Marc Hermann superimposes historic NY Daily News crime photos onto contemporary photos of the same locations. (Thanks, Edie!)

“He used to be on police dramas, then he met a bad buy in real life.”

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Portrait of actor Tom Ligon at The New York Times: “Fans of 1970s police shows have Mr. Ligon’s face stamped in unconscious corners of their minds.  He played bit parts in Baretta and Police Woman. In an episode of Starsky and Hutch, he played a character listed in the credits as Young Man, a mumbling, brainwashed […]

Anna Gunn’s Character Issue

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Anna Gun writes about the experience of playing Breaking Bad‘s Skyler White and how it trickles into hatred towards her: “I finally realized that most people’s hatred of Skyler had little to do with me and a lot to do with their own perception of women and wives. Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable […]

RIP, Julie Harris

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Actress Julie Harris has died. The Los Angeles Times remembers her.  The Hollywood Reporter has an obituary. She appeared in countless film, television and stage roles. Here she is as Eleanor in The Haunting (1963) and as Betty in Harper (1966).

RIP, Elmore Leonard

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Writer Elmore Leonard has died. The Detroit News remembers Leonard and reprints his “Squad 7: Impressions of Murder.” The Detroit Free Press also remembers Leonard. The Onion offers their own tribute. Here is a three-part interview Leonard did at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference. Cinemablend shares their favorite film adaptations of Leonard’s work.

A Conversation with Lee Epstein

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Daily Grindhouse interviews Lee Espstein, author of the biography, Lee Marvin: Point Blank (2013). “I had several moments when I realized that when you study someone’s career you’re going to see certain themes become prevalent, and with Marvin it was this constant thread of violence. I wanted to know where that came from. I also […]

Two Thoughtful Pieces on Breaking Bad

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At The AV Club, Stephen Bowie makes,  “The Case Against Breaking Bad,” while at The New York Times, A.O. Scott examines how <i>Breaking Bad</i>’s Walter White “found his inner sociopath.” and the beloved antiheroes of television’s current Golden Age.

The Subtle Noir of Dorothy B. Hughes

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At The LA Review of Books, Sarah Weinman writes about fine, subtle and underappreciated noir writer, Dorothy B. Hughes. “In a Lonely Place…blasted my mind open to new ways of reading. I wasn’t only enjoying the story and getting creeped out by the wholly unreliable narrator, Dix Steele, but marveling at the way Hughes let […]

Violence As A Cheap Conflict Drug

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In discussing The Following, Todd VanDerWerff writes about violence & wanting “to be only cool moments”: “Violence becomes a kind of cheap conflict drug, and the show’s writers keep trying to get hit after hit. The effect wears thin, particularly for those familiar with horror movies, who will see every single twist coming.”

RIP, Dennis Farina

Actor Dennis Farina has died. The Chicago Tribune and WGN TV remember Farina. The New York Times and The Guardian have obituaries. Here’s Farina as Jimmy Serrano in Midnight Run, as Henry DeSalvo in Big Trouble and as Mike Torello in Crime Story.

In A Lonely Place

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At Pulp Curry, Andrew Nette looks at In A Lonely Place, both Nicholas Ray’s cinematic adaptation and Dorothy B. Hughes’ original novel.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley writes about his past as a soap opera fan and the return of a classic soap opera, The Doctors, and its significance for the genre.

     

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    Action choreographer, director and stunt performer Panna Rittikrai has died. Films Panna worked on, whether as a choreographer, director, producer and/or actor include: Born To Fight / Gerd Ma Lui (1986 and 2004), Tom Yum Goong (2005), Chocolate (2008), Spirited Killer (1994),  Power Kids (2009),  Dynamite Warrior/Khon Fai Bin (2006), Bangkok Knockout (2010) and all three Ong-Bak films (2003, 2008, 2010).  Film Business Asia, The Bangkok Post and Wise Kwai’s Thai Film Journal have obituaries. City On Fire and Far East Films also remember Panna. Here’s an interview with Panna from Thai Indie.  Panna kicks ass in this tribute video.

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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 Company3rd Rock From The Sun, My Sister Eileen and 30 Rock. The New York Times Variety and The Detroit Free Press. Saara Dutton remembers Stritch in her piece, “In Praise of Broads.” Here Stritch performs, “Zip” from Pal Joey, “Why Do The Wrong People Travel?” from Sail Away and “I’m Still Here” at the White House. Here she is in a 2008 production of Endgame. And here she is on Theater Talk.

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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 (1963), My Fellow Americans (1996), Space Cowboys (2000), God, The Devil and BobDivine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002),  8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter and The Notebook (2006). The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Variety have obituaries. Here is Garner in what is reportedly his favorite television series, Nichols (1971). And here Garner talks about acting.

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    The Projection Booth watches Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires with Troy Howarth.

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    The Comics Journal takes an in-depth look a Tony Wong Yuk-Long, Ma Wing-Shing and the massive Hong Kong comics publisher, Jademan Holdings Ltd., and Jademan in North America: “He is a showman, this Tony Wong–a real Stan Lee, though I would argue that he is more interesting than the American model.” (via Kaiju Shakedown).

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