The Cultural Gutter

the cult in your pop culture

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

“Le Bestiare Fabuleux”

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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!)

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 […]

RIP, Robert Drew

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Filmmaker, cinema verité innovator and journalist Robert Drew has died. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Guardian have obituaries. Grantland has a memoriam of his work and life. “Drew died last week. He was 90. His genre was cinema verité, which is a much more artful way into truth. He made portraits […]

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.

The Cruelty of Idiocracy

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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 […]

CG Round-Up

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Screen Editor Alex’s latest piece for the Gutter is one of RogerEbert.com’s daily Thumbnails. Meanwhile, at the Alcohol Professor, SF/F Editor Keith writes about the Stonewall Inn, aka, “The Bar That Launched Pride.”

RIP, Massimo Vignelli

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Designer Massimo Vignelli has died. Fast Company Design, The Smithsonian Magazine and The New York Times have obituaries. The Verge shares a gallery of his work from the New York subway system map to Bloomingdale’s bags to American Airlines’ logo. Here Vignelli talks about design and his career.

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 […]

“Deadly Art of Survival”

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The Gutter’s own Keith writes about No Wave, Black cinema, ninjas, kung fu, cultural sharing, cultural appropriation, music and New York in a piece on The Deadly Art of Survival for Teleport City. “Its curious place in the history of cinema, for instance, [is] as this weird amalgamation of no wave, black cinema, and martial […]

“America, Be Seated!”

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The Smithsonian Magazine‘s Vicky Gan looks at “The Story Behind the Failed Minstrel Show at the 1964 World’s Fair.” “Remarkably, the musical received support from the NAACP. The organization, understandably turned off by the minstrel show label, was critical of the production at first, but after seeing a Boston preview NAACP officials reversed their stance, […]

Blurry Images Coming Clear: Hong Kong Cinema, Censorship and Me

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Every April, we like to switch things up at the Gutter, with the editors writing about something outside their domains. This week, Comics Editor Carol writes about subtitles, censorship and Hong Kong cinema. I don’t remember the first kung fu movie I ever watched. I am terrible at remembering “firsts.”  But I do remember the […]

Revenge In South Korean Cinema

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Some interesting thoughts on South Korean cinema with “A Dish Best Served Bloody: Revenge In South Korean Cinema” and this Cannes program piece on Arirang (1926) and the history of Korean film.

“Cambodia’s Lost Rock’n’Roll

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Al-Jazeera America profiles John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, a documentary about Cambodian rock’n’roll and musicians who survived the Khmer Rouge. “Until 1975, music thrived in Phnom Penh, with clubs full night after night, crowds gathering in the streets around transistor radios to hear the latest releases, and the biggest stars being feted by the […]

“The Architecture of Kowloon Walled City”

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Architecture Daily has an excerpt from City of Darkness detailing the development of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City. “By the 1970s, the City had filled out to its maximised form, with buildings of up to 14 storeys in height, and virtually no ground level daylight penetration save at its centre. Its density was estimated to […]

Killers’ Style

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The Gutter’s own Keith has started a new side project, Killers’ Style, exploring the style of well-dressed villains. His first post is a look at Hannibal Lecter’s full Windsor knot.

Prithviraj Kapoor Is Alexander The Great

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At Beth Loves Bollywood, Beth watches Sikandar, a 1941 Hindi-language, sword and sandals movie in which Alexander the Great’s army sings these words as they march on Hindustan: “Life exists because of love, so let it be spent in love.”

Kansas City’s Drag Balls

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Private Birthday Party has a collection of photographs from Kansas City’s Drag Balls in the 1950s and 1960s.

Black Victoriana

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A gallery of photographs of people of African descent from the Victorian era. (Via Kit Marlowe)

“On The Trail Of The Golem”

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The Gutter’s own Keith tracks the story of Rabbi Loew and the Golem–with some dips into alchemy and art–through Prague.  “So how did Rabbi Loew’s name become associated with the legend of the golem? Well, it’s no surprise, really, given how much weird, wizardy stuff is already attributed to him. It seems more or less […]

“Googling Nazca”

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A gallery of images of the Nazca Lines taken via Google Maps. (via @mattstaggs)

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Alexander Chee writes about difficulty some have in evaluating comics or even in taking them seriously. “As a frequent juror on prizes, colonies and fellowships, I am, it could be said, so tired of this, that in fact, I will fight you for Roz Chast’s right to be on this list. I will fight you for the right for Bechdel to get that MacArthur. In a ring, covered in grease, MMA style. That is how sick of it I am.”

    And Dylan Meconis has some suggestions on how to improve writing about comics. “This leaves all the critics who are just beginning their journey into comics reading, or who have yet to be entirely won over to the medium but want to keep an open mind (perhaps due to peer pressure: I remember a literati cocktail party where somebody near me anxiously muttered ‘I guess we’re all supposed to read graphic novels now.’) These brave souls are willing to give it a try, but they tend to make a lot of mistakes when they first start out.” (Thanks, Gareth!)

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    At Black Girl Nerds, Jamie Broadnax writes a powerful piece about racism, cosplaying, police violence and the homicide of Darrien Hunt. “The first thing we need to do is NOT let this story scare us nor intimidate us into believing that we should be fearful of cosplaying.  We should still encourage others who may not yet have participated in cosplay to know that there are several communities for people of color to have safe spaces where they can be embrace and be their nerdy selves. If there is little to no news about this incident on other mainstream geek sites that feature cosplayers, then framing this around race is pertinent and they should be called out on their silence.  Even IF this is not an incident where Darrien Hunt was actively cosplaying, the tone has already been set and anyone who is a part of the cosplay community should address this matter.  Many Black cosplayers are concerned about this, and still wonder if they would be viewed as ‘suspicious’ walking down the street.”

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    Nerds of Color announces that their own David Walker will be writing Dynamite’s Shaft comic. Denys Cowan shares the cover for Shaft #1 drawn by Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz. Sanford Greene shares some his cover work here and here. Black Comix posts Ulises Farinas’ cover.  Comics Wow has more and previews covers. (Via Black Comix and World of Hurt)

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    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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