The Cultural Gutter

beyond good and bad, there is awesome

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

Fan Theorizing and True Detective

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“Fan-crafted theorizing is fun enough – it’s a solid way to keep up audience engagement over a show’s run and even inject excitement into series that might be flailing on its own (see: that horrifying “dead mother” theory that’s been circulating amongst How I Met Your Mother fans, which is either entirely insane or decidedly […]

The 39 Steps

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“Alfred Hitchcock’s original 1935 version of The 39 Steps is one of those films that’s so seminal that when watched today it can seem like little more than a parade of hoary old clichés; that is, until you consider that The 39 Steps is where many of those clichés originated.” Friend of the Gutter Todd […]

Kuala Lumpur Noir

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At Pulp Curry, Andrew Netter reviews, KL Noir: “Kuala Lumpur may not seem like the most obvious place to set an anthology of noir fiction. On the surface, at least, it has a reputation as an orderly, well behaved city. But if this book is anything to go by, a lot is going on under […]

“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 […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Paleofuture, Matt Novak writes about Idiocracy‘s unpleasant implications: “Sure. As an over-the-top comedic dystopia, the movie is actually enjoyable. But the movie’s introduction makes it an unnerving reference to toss around as our go-to insult….Unlike other films that satirize the media and the soul-crushing consequences of sensationalized entertainment (my personal favorite being 1951′s Ace in the Hole), Idiocracy lays the blame at the feet of an undeserved target (the poor) while implicitly advocating a terrible solution (eugenics). The movie’s underlying premise is a fundamentally dangerous and backwards way to understand the world.” (via The Projection Booth)

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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. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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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.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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