The Cultural Gutter

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

Eight Free Early Soviet Films

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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!)

RIP, Věra Chytilová

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Czech filmmaker Věra Chytilová has died. She was a central director in the Czech New Wave in the 1960s and is probably best known for her film, Daisies (1966). The Prague Post, The Houston Chronicle, The AV Club and The New York Times have obituaries. Fresques has an interview with Chytilová.

The Prague Museum of Communism

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At Teleport City, The Gutter‘s own Keith Allison continues to share his adventures in Prague. This time, he visits the Prague Museum of Communism.

Valentina Tereshkova, The First Woman In Space

“Tereshkova was celebrated in songs and her face was put on postage stamps. Soon after her flight, she was married off to a fellow cosmonaut, Andriyan Nikolayev. Khrushchev gave the bride away at a wedding filled with the Soviet equivalent of Hello magazine photographers. When the couple eventually split, their divorce needed the personal approval […]

Soviet Boardgames

Retronaut has a gallery of Soviet Era children’s board games. (via @wfmu)

Jack Kirby’s Collage

Imprint Magazine puts Jack Kirby’s collage in an art history context.

Russian Avante-Garde Design

Abebooks has a gorgeous gallery of Russian Avant Garde book cover illustration from the end of the Czarist era through the 1930s.

Red Skies: Soviet Science Fiction

A thorough and well-illustrated look at Soviet science fiction, from the 1920s through the 1980s. (via SF Signal)

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 […]

The People’s Mario

Mario is a hero of the Proletariat.

Behemoth in Anime

The Master and Margarita anime? That’s right, Russian animation in Japanese style at Catsuka!

Kathryn Bigelow Retrospective

Kathryn Bigelow won a best directing Oscar for The Hurt Locker. Time for a retrospective. Here’s the trailer for Near Dark and some clips. Point Break (i.e. Keeanu Reeves best movie). Jamie Lee Curtis in the cop thriller, Blue Steel. The premillennial tension of Strange Days. The Pirelli ad, Mission Zero. And her sub movie, […]

I Can See Forever

It’s like the 1980s are a black hole and the event horizon reaches forever: The A-Team, The Karate Kid, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Tron, Ghostbusters, Conan The Barbarian, Red Dawn, Short Circuit and Wall Street.

Cartographic Curiosities

Step right up for your glimpse of Slate Magazine’s slideshow collection of cartographic curiosities!

“Good Dog”

Is there anything sadder than Laika? (Art by Nick Abadzis, music by Luca Tozzi).

“Able Baker perfect. No injuries or other difficulties.”

The title alone makes this story about the first primates in space worthwhile: “After 50 Years, Space Monkeys Not Forgotten.”

The Wolverines, 24 Years Later

John Plotz re-watches Red Dawn and sees a different movie: “Red Dawn did not conjure up the chest-swelling patriotism I felt as a 14-year-old. Instead, it turned out to be disturbing in an entirely unexpected way.”

SpyCast!

Get the skinny on spying with the International Spy Museum’s SpyCast.  The Background Briefings about East Germany’s “Romeo agents” and “Spies of the Kaiser” are pretty neat, too.

Let The Right One In

In 1970s Sweden a bullied boy falls for a girl who’s been 12 for a long time. Enjoy elegant effects and nice winter shots in Let The Right One In.

Giant Intelligent Communist Apes!

“Giant Intelligent Commie Apes!” Just what it says.

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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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