The Cultural Gutter

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

RIP, Isuzu Yamada

Actress Isuzu Yamada has died. Yamada worked with a range of directors including, Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Mikio Naruse, Yasujiro Ozu and Kinji Fukasaku. The New York Times has an obituary.  The Gutter remembers her with a scene of her performances as Lady Washizu in Throne of Blood.  

RIP, Kaneto Shindo

Director and screenwriter Kaneto Shindo has died. He lived past 100 and made masterpieces including Onibaba, Kuroneko, Children of Hiroshima, Lucky Dragon No. 5 and The Naked Island. He also wrote the screenplays for Seijun Suzuki’s Fighting Elegy, Yasuzo Masumura Irezumi, Kinji Fukasaku’s Under the Flag of the Rising Sun, Seijiro Koyama’s Hachi / Hachiko […]

“Battle Royale and Japanese Nationalism”

This Japanese Life provides some historical context for Kinji Fukasaku’s film, Battle Royale–including an incident from Fukasaku‘s own life as a student drafted into a munitions factory, writer Yukio Mishima and the Hagakure: “Since the film deliberately omits much of the novel’s WW2-inspired alternative reality, I look at Kitano and see a modern-era Japanese glorification of […]

Happy Birthday, Akira Kurosawa!

Gutter Comics Editor Carol wrote a little piece on Akira Kurosawa and action films over at the ActionFest Blog in honor of Kurosawa’s 102nd birthday.

Saturday Morning Happy Hour

police academy 80.jpg

Racial epithets. Topless women. Speeches interrupted by blowjobs. Steve Guttenberg. Doesn’t seem like fodder for a Saturday morning cartoon show. But in the late 80s the film Police Academy, which subjected viewers to such adult situations, spawned an animated series of the same name. Running for two seasons, the series featured the original franchise’s characters–Mahoney, […]

Vampire, Or Maybe, Werewolf

When’s a vampire really more of a werewolf? When it’s Toppei from Osamu Tezuka’s Vampire. Todd from 4DK writes about the mostly live-action television adaptation, starring Tezuka as himself, beret and all, and they remind him of both Kurosawa’s High and Low and Fukasaku’s Black Lizard.

So Many Fukasaku Kinji Soundtracks!

Don’t have enough soundtracks by Japanese composers? Wild Grounds will help you out with “The 5 Japanese Film Composers You Must Know” and a whole section of downloadable soundtracks and excerpts from Yojimbo to Battle Without Honor or Humanity.

Life is Better Underground

My obsession with below-ground parking lots

Since the first Cro-Magnon man set foot in the limestone caves of Lascaux, we have has a bittersweet relationship with cool, dank places. They provided mankind with much needed shelter from the elements, yet in their dark recesses they also supplied material for our nightmares — whether they materialised as a flesh-ripping cave bear or […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Monkey See, Libby Hill considers RuPaul’s Drag Race and the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Monday Night Raw. “To compare WWE’s Monday Night Raw to RuPaul’s Drag Race may seem like an easy punch line to those who dismiss both as lowbrow entertainment pitched to niche audiences. But those who indulge in both (almost assuredly a very small sliver of that particular Venn diagram) know better than to reject the notion out of hand.” (via @kalaity)

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    Tin House has published an edition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness illustrated by Matt Kish, an interesting follow-up to Kish’s project, Moby-Dick In Pictures; One Drawing For Every Page. See more of Kish’s work here.

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    At Salon, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll write about irony and cynicism, sincerity and honesty in art: “At one time, irony served to challenge the establishment; now it is the establishment. The art of irony has turned into ironic art. Irony for irony’s sake. A smart aleck making bomb noises in front of a city in ruins. But irony without a purpose enables cynicism. It stops at disavowal and destruction, fearing strong conviction is a mark of simplicity and delusion.

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    Eastern Kicks has an interview–and a gallery of photos of–director Park Joon-hung.

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    Get ready for a new season of Mad Men with this collection of Absurdist Mad Men promotions, which the Cultural Gutter participates in and even encourages. Duck Phillips rules an undersea advertizing empire and “Pete feels slighted.”

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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.

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