The Cultural Gutter

we've seen things you people wouldn't believe

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

“Let’s Be Real”

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“All movies choose their moment. It’s called a release date. Some moments, however, choose their movies. And it looks as if the moment has chosen Let’s Be Cops.” Wesley Morris starts a review on Let’s Be Cops and ends up meditating on movie police and real world police, race, black men, Cops and Do The […]

Fun! Charm! Thrilling Adventure!

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The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a beacon in a grittily realistic, grimdark pop culture landscape, one guiding lost souls to fun, charm and adventure. And I’m glad to see The Thrilling Adventure Hour adapted from podcast radio play into graphic novel because I like what it portends for fun stories in the future and because […]

“The Life and Times of an Aging Superhero”

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A gallery of Andreas Englund’s Aging Superhero paintings. (Thanks, Todd!)

Lau Kar-Leung Remembered

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The Ferroni Brigade considers how Lau Kar-Leung brought comedy to kung fu as well as scrutinized the kung fu film tradition that had come before him.  David Bordwell writes about Lau and how sometimes stylized action captures the real better than “realism.”

“‘We Have Always Fought': Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”

“It’s easier to tell the same stories everyone else does. There’s no particular shame in it. It’s just that it’s lazy, which is just about the worst possible thing a spec fic writer can be. Oh, and it’s not true.” Kameron Hurley writes about lazy writing, cannibal llamas, female soldiers, and women here. (Thanks, James!)

Superman and Transcending Reality

“Words like ‘realism’ and ‘dark’ and ‘gritty’ get bandied about Hollywood as if the only merit a story can have is in its verisimilitude, but that’s a lie. Emotional honesty transcends reality; it’s what allows disbelief to be suspended, and yet what makes a story stay true.” Writer Greg Rucka writes more about Superman and […]

“The Rape of James Bond”

Sophia McDougall writes about “sexual assault and ‘Realism’ in popular culture.” (via @Pornokitsch)

“What Is Your Consensual Sex And Love Doing In My Epic Fantasy?”

In considering a discussion about realism, grittiness and “grimdark,” in fantasy, Kate Elliott asks, “How does epic fantasy–and heroic fantasy, and however you wish to define or parse the categories–do in conveying the realities of consensual sex and love?” She continues: “To my mind, we lessen the story we are telling about human experience if […]

Some superpowers are just useless enough to be real

astral projection

My best friend growing up had a theory about people claiming to have special abilities like ESP, levitation, or astral projection. She had a babysitter who claimed she could levitate, but only when she was alone. My friend’s theory wasn’t that these things were impossible, but that realistically they wouldn’t be very cool. She figured […]

The Dark Knight and the Bitter Tears of Alfred Pennyworth: Batman and Realism Part 2

This week Screen Editor alex MacFadyen and Comics Editor Carol Borden continue discussing The Dark Knight Rises. We both like Batman and we’re fascinated by how many different Batmans there are. Even though there are things we like about the film, we want to figure out what is it about The Dark Knight Rises‘ Batman […]

The Dark Knight and the ACME Bomb: Batman and realism part I

The ending to The Dark Knight Rises left my wife doubled over laughing in the parking lot of the theatre. I tried to take a picture for posterity, but it was too dark. Given that no one else in the audience seemed affected in the same way, I expect I’ll need to explain why: simply […]

Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits

An armorer has some suggestions about balancing functionality, character and story in “fantasy armor and lady bits.”

10 Comics I Liked in 2011

It’s the beginning of January, cold and dark where I am. The critics are all putting out their best of year lists, and maybe you’re looking for something to read. So here’s my entry into annual lists: 10 comics I liked in 2011 that I haven’t written about. Well 9 comics I haven’t written about […]

Unsatisfactory

Call me an online oddity: I ran out of steam, years ago, on doing the whole harsh-criticism thing in my review work. For a couple of reasons, summarized as “enthused librarian who points elsewhere for sad talk.”

10 Thankfully Deleted Scenes

Cracked presents 10 deleted scenes–with video clips–that would have ruined movies, from the very good, Alien, to the very bad, Revenge of the Sith.

Is Boring Bad?

Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott defend the slow and the boring film, giving as examples, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Dargis sees them giving space for thought. Scott sees “protests against the deep…[as] mask[ing] another agenda, which is a defense of the corporate status quo.”  And […]

Game Developers Conference: Golden Gate

Former Gutter Overlord and Games Editor, Jim Munroe, has written a really nice little text adventure set at the 2009 Game Developers Conference. Rock Paper Shotgun calls it an “[o]ddly human little thing which captures quite a bit about the human side of development.”

The Daily Grind, Videogame Edition

“It’s common practice for one of those guys, in a single day, to chainsaw his way out of the belly of a giant worm, take a detour through a zombie shantytown, euthanise his long-lost wife, and spend hours in a sewer trawling through blood and waste, with monsters leaping up at his face and depositing […]

10 Comics I Liked in 2008

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Here they are, ten comics I liked in 2008 that I haven’t written about yet. All ready? Alright.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice

Oh, to live in the era of the Regency Romance or the epic medieval adventure! Oh, except that life would suck: “No painless dentistry, eccentric provision for sewage, no penicillin and no concept of asepsis, and the condition of most women was not one that I aspire to.”

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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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