The Cultural Gutter

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

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).

Happenings With The Projection Booth?

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What’s happening with The Projection Booth, you ask? This week The Projection Booth watches Caligula (1979) and TPB‘s Mike White is interviewed by Dave Pace at La Politique Psychotronique.

RIP, James Garner

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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 […]

Bitter Coin

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Generally I try to keep my columns from retreading old ground. There are so many great books, authors and ideas out there that it seems a waste to repeat any of them. But today I’m going to revisit Simone St. James. Because… damn. Shropshire isn’t the kind of place I expected to have a revelation […]

And They Call It Puppy Love

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I own several shares of a cat. It’s not a weird as it sounds. A friend with a cat travels travels a lot, so the kitty spends a fair amount of time with me. She’s spending this week with me in fact, while her owner is off swimming, running, and cycling hundreds of kilometres at a triathlon […]

10 Comics I Liked In 2013

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It’s an amazing time in comics right now. There are too many good ones for me to even read them all. Comics are like a hydra, but without the decapitation or even really the fighting. (So maybe not all that much like a hydra except I find one comic and then there are 3-6 more […]

“Girls Running Away From Houses”

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A pinterest gallery of book covers featuring women running away from houses. (via @lowdudgeon)

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

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I always enjoy writing a ‘Best Of’ column, and this year it’s particularly timely. Not only do I work in retail (which is category 5 insane right now) but my week also included a bicycle accident and a broken water main. Frankly, I needed some happy time. It did me good to think about and/or […]

Boxers & Saints: Finding People In History

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If, like me, you have watched countless kung fu movies, then you’ll recognize this story: a boy goes with his father and elder brother to a local village festival. An ardent fan of Peking Opera, the boy goes off by himself to watch the festival performances. Hearing some commotion, he investigates and sees his father […]

Joe Sacco’s Panorama of War

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Artist Joe Sacco talks with NPR about his latest book, The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme. It’s a 24 foot panorama of one day. “Each panel in the panorama is dense and detailed. Fresh troops march in looking eager for battle. Some soldiers eat and relax, […]

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 March: On Chickens, Humanity and Moral Authority

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Other more serious writers have written about Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell‘s The March, Vol 1. (Top Shelf, 2013) . They’ve written about the audacious presentation of solemn historical material in a graphic novel; John Lewis’ contribution to perfecting the Union;  The March‘s importance in relation to American History and the fiftieth […]

Soulless and The Waters of Modern Horror Writing

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At Teleport City, Keith Allison reviewins Gail Carriger’s Soulless and slowly wades into “the waters of modern horror writing”. “An entire ocean of literature that teaches young kids that weird, spooky, awkward, and different people are awesome? I can deal with that.”

The Longing And The Short Of It

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 Ah, mid-February.  That time of year in which Romance authors are hounded by the media for sound bites and wink-wink, nudge-nudge style “advice” for hackneyed articles about Valentine’s Day, most of which will appear under headlines made awkward by ham-handed double-entendres*.  I’m all for Romance writers getting some press, but the box-checking, paper-thin nature of […]

The Many Faces Of Man. Or Rather, Men.

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Alex’s excellent article last week prompted Gutter Overlord Carol to suggest we each use this month to write about masculinity in our own particular capacity. Having been by odd coincidence right in the middle of reading The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine (a fascinating look at the physical and hormonal characteristics unique to, um, the […]

Steve Coll on Zero Dark Thirty

Ghost Wars: The Secret Wars of the CIA author Steve Coll writes of Zero Dark Thirty: “Zero Dark Thirty was constructed to bring viewers to the edges of their seats, and judging by its critical reception, for many viewers it has succeeded in that respect. Its faults as journalism matter because they may well affect […]

Moral Failure, Procedural Success and Zero Dark Thirty

“Recall that Bigelow wanted to make a movie about the failure to capture bin Laden, before the whole world knew, as she puts it, that he’s dead. Consider that she has still made a movie about a failure, a moral failure, our failure, embedded in a procedural success.” Sarah Nicole Prickett has more about Kathryn […]

“Django Unchain My Heart (And Set Me Free)”

Jim Emerson ponders what he finds good and bad in Django Unchained and a lot of the good is Christoph Waltz: “Quentin Tarantino has found his actor in Christoph Waltz — someone who can speak Tarantinian fluently and still make it his own.” (via Roger Ebert)

“Tarantino Unchained”

Jelani Cobb considers Django Unchained and history at The New Yorker.  “Tarantino’s attempt to craft a hero who stands apart from the other men—black and white—of his time is not a riff on history, it’s a riff on the mythology we’ve mistaken for history. Were the film aware of that distinction, Django would be far […]

“Man the Mast-heads! Call All Mates!”

Beloved shipmates, Joe Hill has started a Moby-Dick  big read along. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is holding its annual Moby-Dick Marathon today. And the Moby-Dick Big Read Podcast is still downloading a chapter a day with such dauntless readers as Tilda Swinton and ! It’s enough to keep you from knocking off gentelmen’s hats […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Actor Richard Kiel has died. Kiel worked in both film and television, including performances in The Twilight Zone episode, “To Serve Man”; Eegah (1962); The Barbary Coast with William Shatner; Happy Gilmore (1996); Pale Rider (1985); as Vlad in Tangled (201); and as Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).   The New York TimesThe Los Angeles Times and Variety have obituaries. Here he is interviewed with Britt Ekland. And David Letterman interviews Kiel here.

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    Open Culture has a round-up of eight free and complete films by Dziga Vertov, including Man With A Movie Camera (1929) and the first Soviet animated feature, Soviet Toys (1924). (Thanks, Earl!)

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    Matt Zoller Seitz has written a lovely meditation on Robin Williams at RogerEbert.com: “Williams wore the invisible garments of depression. He carried that burden. A lot of the time we didn’t see it, because he was a bright and enthusiastic comic performer and a great actor. But the weight was always there.

    Somehow he lived 63 years.

    What a warrior he was.”

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    At Kaiju Shakedown, Hiroshi Fukazawa interviews director Ringo Lam. “Not as flashy as John Woo, never as hyperkinetic as Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam is one of Hong Kong’s most underappreciated directors. He made his name with sophisticated, downbeat crime dramas that came to define a certain style of urban Hong Kong cinema in the Eighties and early Nineties. After getting his start in television at CTV and TVB, he directed five features before finding his stride with 1987’s City on Fire, the movie that provided the blueprint for Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.”

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    “[Grace] Jones — who was famous not just for her music, but also for her acting and modeling — took Lundgren to New York, where they partied at the legendary Studio 54 and Andy Warhol took pictures of Lundgren. Jones introduced Lundgren to the world of show business. Meanwhile, Lundgren was still set to begin his Fulbright scholarship at MIT. ‘I started sort of thinking, “Wow, this is kind of cool,”‘ Lundgren remembers: ‘”I don’t know if I want to go back to engineering after this.”‘ More at NPR.

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    “A mid-20th century collaboration between artists, poets and printers gave rise to a unique book of surrealistic creatures accompanied by complementary typographic art poems.” See more at BibliOdyssey. (Thanks, Andrezo!)

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