The Cultural Gutter

going through pop culture's trash since 2003

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

RIP, Ken Takakura

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Actor Ken Takakura has died. Takakura starred in films such as Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965); Red Peony Gambler (1968); Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ichijoji (1955) and Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956); as well as in co-productions like The Yakuza (1974); The Bullet Train (1975); Black Rain (1989) and Riding Alone For Thousands […]

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 […]

The Gangs of Wasseypur

The Gutter’s own Keith writes about The Gangs of Wasseypur for Teleport City. “But more than that, Gangs of Wasseypur isn’t a potential Bollywood cross-over hit because it isn’t a Bollywood film. If anything, it is the antithesis of a Bollywood movie….Gangs of Wasseypur dwells in the spaces Bollywood does not want to show. The […]

Line Up for the TIFF 2014 Vanguard Program

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Here are the films playing the Vanguard program at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival: Spring; Luna; Hyena; Goodnight, Mommy / Ich Seh, Ich Seh; Alleluia; The Duke Of Burgundy; Over Your Dead Body; Shrew’s Nest; They Have Escaped; Waste Land; The World of Kanako; and The Voices. (Trailers added as they become available). Like […]

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, Eli Wallach

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Actor Eli Wallach has died. He appeared in many, many films and television shows including The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Godfather: Part III (1990), New York, I Love You (2008), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) and Baby Doll (1956). He played Mr. Freeze in the 1960s […]

Interview with Natsuo Kirino

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Japan Review interviews Natsuo Kirino, an author best known for her dark crime novels:  “I don’t think I exclusively tell stories of women criminals. However, being a woman in this society is mainly an anonymous existence. I don’t think the fact that the environment is such that women are nameless and overlooked is a good […]

Ushering In A New Regime: Johnnie To, Crime Films and Dissent

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Last month, I wrote about British (and a little pre-People’s Republic Chinese) censorship of Hong Kong movies and the ways that wuxia and kung fu movies in particular got around British control of political speech. And now, with wuxia and kung fu movies seemingly all nationalistic, dissent has creeped into the crime films, so this […]

RIP, David Hannay

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Producer David Hannay has died. Hannay is probably best known for Dragon Flies / The Man From Hong Kong (1975), The Kung Fu Killers (1974) and Mapantsula (1987).  The Sydney Morning Herald, NZ Edge and IF.com.au have obituaries. Jon Hewitt remembers Hannay at SBS. Brian Trenchard-Smith remembers Hannay on Hannay’s Facebook page. Hannay speaks at […]

Free Chapter of Tokyo Vice

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“Bury Me In A Shallow Grave: When The Yakuza Come Calling,” a free . pdf chapter from Jake Adelstein’s book, Tokyo Vice. Like this:Like Loading…

Interviews and Q&A from Midnight Madness 2013

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All the red carpet interviews and post-screening question and answer sessions from this year’s Midnight Madness Programme at the Toronto International Film Festival.  And all conducted by friend of The Gutter and Soldier of Cinema, Robert Mitchell! [Update: Link fixed!] Like this:Like Loading…

Bad Girls and Gun Molls

A history of women in prison film from the 1920s through the 1970s and a gallery of real-life gun molls. (Thanks, @lowdudgeon) Like this:Like Loading…

Summer Fun Time Reading ’13

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It’s hot and the air already feels like unset Jell-O, but you still have some time to prepare for summer, because all the list-happy magazines and websites tell me, summer must be prepared for. Dig out your seersucker suit! Bob your hair! Find that most fashionable bathing suit–might I suggest a kicky Twenties number? You’ll […]

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 […]

Bruce Lee is Kid Cheung

Watch 10-year-old Bruce Lee in his first film role, The Kid (1950). Like this:Like Loading…

New Johnny Tri Nguyen film

Johnny Tri Nguyen and his brother, director Charlie Nguyen, team up again for the Vietnamese gangster movie, Cho Lon. Check out the trailer here. (via City On Fire). Like this:Like Loading…

Most Enjoyable Asian Films of 2012

At Wildgrounds, Kevin Ma shares his most enjoyable “bad” film and most enjoyable “good” film of 2012. Like this:Like Loading…

RIP, Koji Wakamatsu

Director and producer Koji Wakamatsu has died. Wakamatsu had just been named filmmaker of the year at the 2012 Busan Film Festival. Wildgrounds has an interview, which Kimberly Lindbergs of Cinebeats helped translate, Keyframe has an obituary and Subway Cinema had a brief overview of Wakamatsu’s career paralleling a 2008 retrospective in Los Angeles.   “Divisive, exploitative, […]

Cheeseburger Compensation and Settling Hits out of Court

“These days, being a yakuza boss isn’t what it once was. In exchange for supreme status you get blamed for everything. In August of 2008, three months after the countermeasures laws went into effect, the Yamaguchi-gumi boss found himself dealing with one of his low-ranking underling’s unpaid McDonald’s tab. That’s because Japan’s approach to its […]

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    At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about Dr. Doom: “Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are  the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It’s really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.”

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    Actor Ken Takakura has died. Takakura starred in films such as Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965); Red Peony Gambler (1968); Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ichijoji (1955) and Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956); as well as in co-productions like The Yakuza (1974); The Bullet Train (1975); Black Rain (1989) and Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (2005).  The Japan Times, The South China Morning Post and The AV Club have obituaries. Japan Subculture has an interview with Takakura. Here Takakura sings the theme to Abhashiri Prison (1965)

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    Producer, writer and director Glen A. Larson has died. Larson was responsible for creating tv series such as Battlestar Galactica, Magnum P.I, Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Quincy M.E., The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and Buck Rogers In The 25Th Century, about which the Gutter’s own Keith wrote here. The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and The AV Club have obituaries. Watch Larson’s interview from 2010 at “Battlestar Galactica: The Exhibition”.

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    At Re/Action, Maddy Myers writes about how important the Metroid franchise, in both game and manga form, and its protagonist, Samus Aran, were to her. “Samus still represents a breakthrough. She first took off her armor to reveal a woman’s form back in 1986, the year that I was born. Samus and I grew up separately, kindred spirits who did not find one another until 2007. A best friend, a fraternal twin sister, a clone separated at birth. Or so I felt, as I let myself slip behind that visor. I wasn’t Samus myself – not yet. I stood behind her, hanging back. Did I dare? Did I dare pretend, role-play, allow myself to act as Samus? Could I be that cool?”

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    Maddy Myers writes about playing violent games, wanting to be powerful and internalized sexism. “Given my lifelong history of playing at war, and my desperate wish to feel strong, big, and powerful, it made sense that I would gravitate towards Counter-Strike and its ilk around the age of 15. But Counter-Strike, with its all-male selection of avatars and predominantly male player base, allowed no room for princesses — and the guys I played with didn’t either. I developed some traits during that time that I regret now — the belief that I was ‘special,’ and that I was ‘better’ than other women I knew because I liked playing violent games and they didn’t. The guys I played with encouraged and reinforced this behavior, assuring me that I was ‘different from those other girls,’ that my liking violence made me ‘cool.’ Girl stuff is stupid, I told myself, as I bought pants from the men’s section, told sexist jokes, and mocked all the ‘girl stuff’ that I’d liked, not so many years prior.”

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