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

RIP, Bunta Sugawara

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Actor Bunta Sugawara has died. Sugawara is probably best known for his work in Kinji Fukasaku’s The Yakuza Papers/Battles Without Honor And Humanity film series. Sugawara also appeared in Norifumi Suzuki’s Trucker Yaro series, Spirited Away (2001), Tales From Earthsea (2006), Wolf Children (2012) and Kon Ichikawa’s Actress (1987) . The Asahi Shimbun, The Japan […]

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

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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

    The Bowery Boys Podcast dedicates an episode to New York City in the history of comic books. “In the 1890s a newspaper rivalry between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer helped bring about the birth of the comic strip and, a few decades later, the comic book.  Today, comic book superheroes are bigger than ever — in blockbuster summer movies and television shows — and most of them still have an inseparable bond with New York City.”

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    Pornokitsch’s One Comic Podcast looks at Red Sonja #10: “To everyone’s surprise, despite some of the covers and the character’s reputation, this isn’t the exploitative boobs’n’swordplay production it could have been. How did it achieve that? Listen and find out.”

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    Los Angeles Magazine has a gallery of self-portraits of Bunny Yeager and a bit about the career of a model and photographer most famous for her pin-up photographs of Bettie Page. “Having dedicated her life to photography and modeling, not to mention publishing 30 books on the subject (one of which shares a name with the Gavlak exhibition), Yeager had an influence on a generation of artist-photographers including Diane Arbus and Cindy Sherman. Arbus even went as far to call her ‘The world’s greatest pin-up photographer.'” (Thanks, Stephanie!)

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    Arch Daily has a gallery of images of remarkable sandcastles built by Calvin Seibert. Smithsonian Magazine has more, including a 2012 interview with Seibert about his work. (via @lordwoolamaloo)

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    While playing Batman: Arkham Knight, Austin Walker wants to walk the streets of Gotham. “There are lots of different kinds of Batman fantasies–and I’m not looking to invalidate any of them–but throughout this four game series, the developers have largely given me the same one over and over. For once, I want a Batman game where I’m compelled to save the day not because of abstract threats, damsels in distress, or a desire for personal vengeance, but because the beauty of Gotham City compels me to protect it. Instead, I’m left for the fourth time with Batman and his playground.”

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    At Die Die Danger Die Kill, Todd thinks about Karel Zeman’s Vynalez Zkasy. “Vynalez Zkasy (released in the U.S. as The Fabulous World of Jules Verne) may represent Czech FX pioneer Karel Zeman’s quest to emulate the style of 19th century fantasy illustration—to the end of presenting the future through a Victorian lens—at its most extreme. That does not mean that it is any less fascinating than, nor nearly enchanting as, films like The Stolen Airship and Cesta do Praveku/Journey to the Beginning of Time. It only means that there is a vague miasma of obsession that threads through the movie’s general air of wonderment.” (The Gutter’s own Keith has posted images from Karel Zeman’s work here).

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