The Cultural Gutter

geek chic with mad technique

"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.   Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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 Comics Alliance, Chris Sims interviews Ed Brubaker about his work on Batman, Gotham Central and Catwoman. “When I look back at [Catwoman], I’m so proud of the first 25 issues of that book, when I felt like everything was firing on all cylinders. I probably should’ve left when Cameron Stewart left instead of sticking around. That’s one of those things I look back at and think “Ah, I had a perfect run up until then!” (Incidentally, Comics Editor Carol’s first piece for the Gutter was about Brubaker’s first 25 issues of Catwoman).

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    At Sequential Art, Greg Carpenter writes a lovely piece about Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. “After only two installments, Schulz had solidified the rules for his comic strip.  Random acts of cruelty would punctuate this irrational world, and Schulz’s trapped little adults would be forced to act out simulations of human behavior, using hollow gestures to try to create meaning in a universe where no other meaning was evident.  If Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been a cartoonist, the results of his daily grind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” might have looked somewhat similar—each character a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” until he or she was heard from no more.”

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    The Smithsonian Magazine has a gallery of US spy satellite launches. “Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, [National Reconnaissance Office] follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.”

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    At The Guardian, Keith Stuart and Steve Boxer look at the history of PlayStation.“Having been part of the late 80s rave and underground-clubbing scene, I recognised how it was influencing the youth market. In the early 90s, club culture started to become more mass market, but the impetus was still coming from the underground, from key individuals and tribes. What it showed me was that you had to identify and build relationships with those opinion-formers – the DJs, the music industry, the fashion industry, the underground media.” (via @timmaughan)

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    Neill Cameron has re-imagined the characters of Parks & Recreation as members of Starfleet. (Via @neillcameron)

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    Christopher Lee has released a promotional video for his latest album, Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing.  You should probably watch everything at Charlemagne Productions.

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