The Cultural Gutter

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

“What Made This Man Betray His Country?”

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“His anger drove him to become the most successful and valued agent the CIA had run inside the Soviet Union in two decades. The documents and draw­ings he passed to the United States in the early 1980s unlocked the secrets of Soviet radar and revealed sensitive plans for research on weapons systems a decade into […]

Watching Aleksander Ptshuko’s Evenings On A Farm Near Dikanka


At Teleport City, the Gutter’s own Keith spends Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka. “The movie opens as all good Christmas movies should: with a scene of a jolly witch tearing across the night sky astride her broomstick, collecting stars for her eldritch brews, while the devil bats the moon around and eventually slips it […]

On Writing The Spy Who Came In From The Cold


John Le Carré writes about writing The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. “It was the Berlin Wall that had got me going, of course: I had flown from Bonn to take a look at it as soon as it started going up. I went with a colleague from the Embassy and as we […]

Eight Free Early Soviet Films


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


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


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.”

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Playboy, Jake Rossen writes about the story behind the filming and the restoration of Manos: The Hands of Fate. “For a long time no one wanted to see it unless it was accompanied by MST3K’s taunts. Then, in 2011, a collector of film prints uncovered the original negative of Manos and embarked on an inexplicable project to restore the film with all the white-glove attention archivists give to Hollywood classics. His efforts would incur the wrath of a mysterious man with a fake New Zealand accent named Rupert, as well as Joe Warren, Hal Warren’s embittered son, who intends to preserve the Manos legacy at all costs.” (Thanks, Ed!)


    At Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill!, Todd reviews the two part Ghanian director Ninja’s film, 2016. “2016 is a movie that I am obligated to review by virtue of my having long ago joined the internet chorus of people trumpeting on about its insane trailer—and this despite the fact that all of you with any interest in seeing it have most likely tracked it down already. In that case, you already know that it is essentially a no-budget remake of Independence Day set in the suburbs of Ghana. And if that sounds like a massive over-reach to you, you obviously know very little about Ghanaian action cinema, and even less about the films of maverick multi-hyphenate Ninja.”

    Read about part one, here, and part two, here.


    Look, it’s the trailer for “The Abominable Snowman” a new episode of classic Thunderbirds. Huffington Post UK has more: “It’s exactly half a century since we heard the ominous tones of voice actor Peter Dyneley bringing us the Thunderbirds intro ‘5 -4 – 3 – 2 -1 Thunderbirds are go’, and to celebrate, the team are producing three brand new original episodes, based on audio-only recordings made in 1966, which means fans will get to enjoy the original voices, with some 21st century gadgetry thrown in on screen.” (Thanks, Todd!)


    At the Guardian, Elizabeth Day talks with Geena Davis about feminism, sexism in the film industry and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. “I mean, it’s freaky when you start examining it. For decades it’s been the same ratio – we’ve all grown up on that ratio. Could it be that women’s presence stalls at about the rate of female participation in the fiction that we watch? Could it be you get to that level and you feel done? That that looks normal? It’s just a completely unconscious image that we have in our heads that women only need to take up a certain amount of space and then we’ve done right by them.”


    At fbomb, Sabrina N. interviews Ashley Armitage. “21-year-old Seattle-based photographer and filmmaker Ashley Armitage’s work is largely a tribute to female friendships and femininity. Her dreamy, nuanced photography lets viewers into the intimate, magical moments of girlhood. They depict beauty routines and sleepovers. They unabashedly celebrate and normalize body hair, tampons and bras. The collection is a celebration of girlhood by one of its own products.” (via @GeekGirlCon)


    You can read every issue of No Magazine. “Be warned before you download and open these issues—they aren’t exactly safe for workplace viewing. If Larry Flynt and the Vienna Aktionists got together and published a punk zine in the late ‘70s, it would have looked a lot like NO MAG. NO MAG‘s publisher Bruce Kalberg, and the sordid turns of his life, were recently covered in LA Weekly‘s piece ‘Beautiful Loser, Tortured Killer.’”  (Thanks, Stephanie).


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