The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

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

Learning from Akira Kurosawa and Stanley Kubrick


Tony Zhou looks at “The Geometry of a Scene” in Akira Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well and Domus looks at Stanley Kubrick’s use of one-point perspective. (Make sure to watch Tony Zhou’s other video essays in his Every Frame A Painting series).

“It’s Time To Retire The Disney Death”


At The Dissolve, Tasha Robinson writes about the use and overuse of the “Disney Death” in both Disney and non-Disney animated films. “Still, no matter how ambitious, sophisticated, and elaborate American animated films become, the Disney Death still dominates. It’s spread outside Disney to all sorts of films, from cartoons to adult stories; it’s a […]

Devil Girl from Inverness


The BBC’s Steven McKenzie looks at Scotland’s influence on science fiction film and a wee bit of television. (Thanks, Matt!)

Interview with Jeopardy! Winner Arthur Chu


The AV Club has an interview with Jeopardy! Champion, Arthur Chu, in which he discusses strategizing to win the game show, public personas and how the show is made.  

The Desire For Certainty In Film


“In the world of online film discourse, there’s a veritable cottage industry devoted to bringing certainty to ambiguity.” The Dissolve has more. Meanwhile, Film Critic Hulk writes about film logic, plot holes and “THE ONLY ANSWER THAT ACTUALLY MATTERS.”

RIP, Run Run Shaw


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 […]

“The Most Wicked Face of Theda Bara”


The Hairpin looks at “The Most Wicked Face of Theda Bara”: “She was the first in a long line of what came to be known as femme fatales — dangerous, devouring women who pop up in various genres at cultural moments when anxiety over the woman’s place in society is at its highest. Bara anticipated […]

Italian Film Cultural Blogathon


Read all the posts in Nitrate Diva’s Italian Film Culture Blogathon–including one about Danger: Diabolik by The Gutter’s own Carol.

“The Changing Shape of Cinema”


A history of the aspect ratio. “John Hess traces the evolution of the screen shape from the silent film days through the widescreen explosion of the 50s, to the aspect ratio of modern digital cameras.”

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 […]

Id Critics and Conspiracy Theories

“Room 237 is like an act of revenge from a filmmaker upon the critics,” writes Robert Greene in his review. And The Verge’s Adi Robinson interviews Room 237 director Rodney Ascher on The Shining, interpretation and conspiracy theories. “[Room 237 is] about what happens when the movie leaves the filmmaker’s hands, and the audience is […]

The Monster in Me


I’ve been spending a portion of my wee small hours (normally spent standing under a solitary street lamp on a lonely street, staring in melancholy reverie at my cigarette) revisiting old horror films. As a budding cult film obsessive, I cut my teeth on the horror films of cinema’s early decades. In the days before […]

Jim Brown’s Hollywood

“As a Black man in American, I brought something to the screen that hadn’t really been there before.”Jim Brown talks about his film career, making the transition from football to film and producing films in two parts of a documentary by Spike Lee. Here and here.

Reservoir Dogs at The Projection Booth

Mr. White and Mr. St. Mary have an in-depth look at Reservoir Dogs at The Projection Booth podcast. Special Guests: podcaster Jamie Jenkins, Film Threat‘s Paul Zimmerman and Reservoir Dogs executive producer, Monte Hellman. Special features include, Mike White’s video, “Who Do You Think You’re Fooling?” comparing Ringo Lam’s City On Fire and Reservoir Dogs, […]

“He wanted to reflect on his world of chivalry”

A complete, online documentary about legendary film maker, Chang Cheh. Thanks to the ladies of the Heroic Sisterhood for reminding us that Feb. 10 would’ve been his 90th birthday. “He liked all actors, but he liked the naught ones more, especially the ones who didn’t listen to him.”

Scouting the Orientalist Fantasy of a Perfect Chinese Restaurant

Scouting NY writes of the difficulty of finding a Chinese restaurant that satisfies directors’ ideas of a Chinese restaurant in New York, because that restaurant doesn’t exist. “Literally every time I get asked to find a Chinese restaurant, it’s the same description. ‘I want a place with really over-the-top Chinese decor,’ our director will say. […]

A Conversation with Steven Soderbergh

Director Steven Soderbergh has a thought-provoking conversation with Mary Kaye Schilling at Vulture: “You’re supposed to expand your mind to fit the art, you’re not supposed to chop the art down to fit your mind.”

Interview with James Nguyen

Friend of The Gutter, Robert Mitchell interviews Birdemic director, James Nguyen.  They discuss film-making, Birdemic: Shock and Terror, Birdemic 2 and what people can do to reduce their negative impact on the environment.

Ray Harryhausen’s Collection, Documented

The Documentation Officer for the Ray Harryhausen collection shares some of Harryhausen’s film materials.

2 Interviews with Ti Lung

Hong Kong film legend Ti Lung/Di Long discusses his career and Bruce Lee (turn on close captioning for English translation).  And Ti Lung’s debut in Return of the One-Armed Swordsman.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Playboy, Jake Rossen writes about the story behind the filming and the restoration of Manos: The Hands of Fate. “For a long time no one wanted to see it unless it was accompanied by MST3K’s taunts. Then, in 2011, a collector of film prints uncovered the original negative of Manos and embarked on an inexplicable project to restore the film with all the white-glove attention archivists give to Hollywood classics. His efforts would incur the wrath of a mysterious man with a fake New Zealand accent named Rupert, as well as Joe Warren, Hal Warren’s embittered son, who intends to preserve the Manos legacy at all costs.” (Thanks, Ed!)


    At Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill!, Todd reviews the two part Ghanian director Ninja’s film, 2016. “2016 is a movie that I am obligated to review by virtue of my having long ago joined the internet chorus of people trumpeting on about its insane trailer—and this despite the fact that all of you with any interest in seeing it have most likely tracked it down already. In that case, you already know that it is essentially a no-budget remake of Independence Day set in the suburbs of Ghana. And if that sounds like a massive over-reach to you, you obviously know very little about Ghanaian action cinema, and even less about the films of maverick multi-hyphenate Ninja.”

    Read about part one, here, and part two, here.


    Look, it’s the trailer for “The Abominable Snowman” a new episode of classic Thunderbirds. Huffington Post UK has more: “It’s exactly half a century since we heard the ominous tones of voice actor Peter Dyneley bringing us the Thunderbirds intro ‘5 -4 – 3 – 2 -1 Thunderbirds are go’, and to celebrate, the team are producing three brand new original episodes, based on audio-only recordings made in 1966, which means fans will get to enjoy the original voices, with some 21st century gadgetry thrown in on screen.” (Thanks, Todd!)


    At the Guardian, Elizabeth Day talks with Geena Davis about feminism, sexism in the film industry and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. “I mean, it’s freaky when you start examining it. For decades it’s been the same ratio – we’ve all grown up on that ratio. Could it be that women’s presence stalls at about the rate of female participation in the fiction that we watch? Could it be you get to that level and you feel done? That that looks normal? It’s just a completely unconscious image that we have in our heads that women only need to take up a certain amount of space and then we’ve done right by them.”


    At fbomb, Sabrina N. interviews Ashley Armitage. “21-year-old Seattle-based photographer and filmmaker Ashley Armitage’s work is largely a tribute to female friendships and femininity. Her dreamy, nuanced photography lets viewers into the intimate, magical moments of girlhood. They depict beauty routines and sleepovers. They unabashedly celebrate and normalize body hair, tampons and bras. The collection is a celebration of girlhood by one of its own products.” (via @GeekGirlCon)


    You can read every issue of No Magazine. “Be warned before you download and open these issues—they aren’t exactly safe for workplace viewing. If Larry Flynt and the Vienna Aktionists got together and published a punk zine in the late ‘70s, it would have looked a lot like NO MAG. NO MAG‘s publisher Bruce Kalberg, and the sordid turns of his life, were recently covered in LA Weekly‘s piece ‘Beautiful Loser, Tortured Killer.’”  (Thanks, Stephanie).


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