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

Interview with Michael Keaton

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Tom Chiarella conducts an Esquire interview with Michael Keaton interesting in both form and content: “Keaton. On the versions and versions and versions of himself. Glib young man, mook, weird spook, superhero, villain, operative, hitman, guy with a parakeet on his shoulder, corporate shill, and ex-superhero. He never got caught in any one. How?” Like […]

“Rookie Mistakes”

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 […]

“Remembering Koh Masaki”

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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. […]

Writing Nicole Perlman out of Guardians Of The Galaxy

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“If [James] Gunn’s dismissal of Perlman’s milestone [screenwriting] credit continues to go unchecked, it seems possible that Perlman’s involvement in the success of Guardians of the Galaxy will eventually be forgotten. As it is, she was not invited back for the sequel, which Gunn will write and direct on his own.” Ellen Killoran has more […]

Pirates On One Hand, Privateers On The Other

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Director Lexi Alexander writes about movies and piracy and wonders if studios are more damaging. “I would argue that releasing crappy movies has a far greater effect on the film industry bottom line than piracy ever could. Similar things happen when a hyped TV show bombs or an anticipated game is a letdown. Companies don’t […]

“Girl Power: Remembering Shirley Temple”

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In a tribute to Shirley Temple, Nitrate Diva offers a thoughtful analysis of Temple’s career and appeal. “When I watch Temple, it is with the rapt astonishment that one might feel before a great magician. Not because I consider her talents a ‘trick,’ but rather because I find something infinitely more sacred in the strength […]

RIP, Sid Caesar

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Comedian, actor and writer Sid Caesar has died. The New York Times and Variety have obituaries. Time has gathered clips of his work. The Archive of American Television has an interview with Caesar here. Like this:Like Loading…

RIP, Run Run Shaw

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Film and television producer Run Run Shaw has died. Sir Run Run founded Shaw Brothers with his brother, Run Me Shaw. They produced hundreds of films in all genres, but were best known for their revolutionary kung fu and wuxia movies. Shaw also produced myriad television programs for TVB. The South China Morning Post remembers […]

Operation Scraping Netflix’s Data

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“This database probing told me three things: 1) Netflix had an absurdly large number of genres, an order of magnitude or two more than I had thought, 2) it was organized in a way that I didn’t understand, and 3) there was no way I could go through all those genres by hand. But I […]

RIP, Joan Fontaine

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Joan Fontaine has died. The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times  and NPR have obituaries. Here are a clip of Fontaine in Suspicion, the trailer for Jane Eyre and Fontaine’s screen test for Rebecca. Fontaine co-hosts the Mike Douglas Show in 1967 here. Like this:Like Loading…

“Two Easy Steps To Make Hollywood Less Sexist”

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Geena Davis has two suggestions for making films and television shows less sexist. They’d work well for increasing diversity of all kinds.   Like this:Like Loading…

Another Look At Why So Many Movies Follow the Same Plot Rules

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Jason Pargin (aka, David Wong) and Jack O’Brien talk about the very precise plot conventions of big Hollywood movies and how they shape our expectations in watching films on the Cracked podcast. Like this:Like Loading…

The Weinstein Company vs. Asian Cinema

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At Daily Grindhouse, Ric Meyers writes about, “A History of Disrespect: The Weinstein Company’s War on Asian Cinema.” Meanwhile, at Flavorwire, Jason Bailey asks and answers. “Why Do Asian Films Have To Be Dumbed Down For An American Audience?” Like this:Like Loading…

“Michelle Rodriguez Made Me Cry At Comic-Con”

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Kate Conway writes about how powerful she found the Women Who Kick Ass Panel in San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall C. “These dudes onstage weren’t selling themselves to me; they didn’t even care what I thought. Here we were, in the biggest room at Comic-Con, and I only felt disgust. And then, out came Michelle Rodriguez.” […]

“That’s Not A Plot Hole. Allow Me To Explain”

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Scott Nye writes about plot holes, deflection, and characters explaining for the audience at Ebert.com‘s “Balder & Dash” blog: “Characters must constantly address questions on behalf of a too-curious audience awash in complexly-plotted mega-stories. The movies are trying to plug leaks in a boat before the whole thing sinks—never quite repairing it, but doing just […]

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. Like this:Like Loading…

“Why Does Every Movie Released These Days Feel Exactly The Same?”

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It turns out there’s a reason why movies are starting to feel the same: “Summer movies are often described as formulaic. But what few people know is that there is actually a formula—one that lays out, on a page-by-page basis, exactly what should happen when in a screenplay. It’s as if a mad scientist has […]

Pop Culture Propaganda

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Peter Gutiérrez looks at the pop culture propaganda of Ender’s Game, Pacific Rim and G.I. Joe marketing campaigns. “The interesting, if obvious, thing about these marketing posters is that they seem to rely on the viewer’s familiarity with propaganda. Does that mean that the audience for blockbuster movies these days is sufficiently “media literate” that […]

Interview with Takashi Miike

The Hollywood Reporter interviews director Takashi Miike about his new film, Shield of Straw: ” In Japan now, films are very safe. When I was young and went to old cinemas, they had a distinctive feel, an adult smell about them. As you got in your seat and the lights went down, there was a […]

The Algorithm of Success

The New York Times has a piece on the statistical quest for a sure thing box office hit. Meanwhile, The AV Club pans Netflix’s original series, very much grounded in algorithms, Hemlock Grove: “The genius of Netflix’s computer-programmed, demographic targeting approach to TV is that it doesn’t need to create amazing, or challenging, or even […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Author Philip Pullman talks about the work of William Blake at The Guardian: “My mind and my body reacted to certain lines from the Songs of Innocence and of Experience, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, from ‘Auguries of Innocence,’ from Europe, from America with the joyful immediacy of a flame leaping to meet a gas jet. What these things meant I didn’t quite know then, and I’m not sure I fully know now. There was no sober period of reflection, consideration, comparison, analysis: I didn’t have to work anything out. I knew they were true in the way I knew that I was alive. I had stumbled into a country in which I was not a stranger, whose language I spoke by instinct, whose habits and customs fitted me like my own skin.” (via Kate Laity)

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    At Sequential Art, Ryan Carey deconstructs and reconstructs Jack Kirby’s OMAC . “In order to better understand OMAC, then, we’ll be taking things one piece at a time here — we’ll look at where the ideas came from, how they related to other views of the future popular at the time, where Kirby was, creatively and professionally, in 1974, and ultimately try to decipher precisely why all of this ended up in the shape it ultimately did.  After that, we’ll concern ourselves with the real nitty-gritty of examining each and every one of the series’ eight issues, before taking a look at how, and in what form, the legacy of both the character and the book continue, and evolve, to this day.”

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    Video of illustrator and character designer Katsuya Terada drawing and talking about his work. (via @aicnanime)

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    A 1,300-year-old Egyptian book of spells has been translated. “Among other things, the ‘Handbook of Ritual Power,’ as researchers call the book, tells readers how to cast love spells, exorcise evil spirits and treat “black jaundice,” a bacterial infection that is still around today and can be fatal.”

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    Zack and Steve go through and review Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Module S-1: The Tomb Of Horrors at WTF, D&D?!…so you don’t have to.

    “Steve: Most of the opening paragraph is a warning about difficulty. ‘You’ll never find the demi-lich’s secret chamber’ and the tomb is fraught with “terrible traps, poison gases, and magical protections.” It’s telling you not to play the adventure.

    Zack: Not just in that part. In the DM’s notes section at the start, Gygax explicitly warns Dungeon Masters that if your players enjoy killing monsters they will be unhappy with the adventure.

    Steve: ‘This module is only for parties that enjoy dying immediately and repeatedly.’ Oh, man, we’re not going to play though this thing are we?”

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    Dr. Nerdlove takes a brief break from helping the nerd get the girl to address something that’s been bugging him. “Pardon me while I go off on a bit of a media criticism/ rant here. So I’ve been enjoying the *hell* out of The Flash lately except for one thing: Iris Allen. Her character is screen death; every time she’s around, everything comes to a screeching halt.

    The problem is: it’s not her fault, it’s the writers. Rather like Laurel Lance in the first two seasons of Arrow, she has Lois Lane syndrome. Her (like Laurel and Lois) entire character arc is based around being ignorant of events that literally everyone else in her life is aware of.”

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