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Peking Opera Blues

One of the great films of the Hong Kong New Wave, Tsui Hark’s Chinese Revolution era adventure is notable for focusing not on the war or heroic men, but on the friendship that grows between three women who find themselves involved in a tangled web of espionage.

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The Return of Captain Invincible

A washed-up, alcoholic superhero must pull himself out of depression and obscurity in order to defeat the villainous Christopher Lee in one of cinema’s first deconstructions of comic book superheroes. It also happens to be a musical.

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Understanding the Aliens

Last month on The Cultural Gutter, I wrote about Nalo Hopikinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring the importance of diverse voices and experiences in science fiction. Following that thread, this month I’m looking at one of the grand ladies of science fiction, Octavia Butler, and the first book in her “Xenogenesis” series, Dawn. Understanding the…

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James Bond vs. the ’80s

We are increasingly left with a sort of bland guy who just happens to be named James Bond — which, in a way, might be bringing the character back around to how Fleming originally imagined him, as an anonymous blunt instrument into whom a reader could pour his or her own identity; a characterless cypher of a man who might not be interesting but to whom interesting things happened. But honestly, by the middle of the 1980s, with decades of suave, awesome James Bond under our belts, did anyone really want an anonymous 007?

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Legend of Suram Fortress

Based on a retelling by author Daniel Chonkadze of a Georgian folktale, the simple plot at the core of the movie is about Georgia in a tumultuous time, caught in the middle of a war between Muslims and Christians. Although its borders are largely secure thanks to a network of fortresses, one of these strongholds is a weak link owing to the fact that no matter what manner of architectural and engineering know-how is applied to it, the walls inevitably crumble after a short while.

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Chinese Ghost Story

Partially a remake of a Shaw Bros. classic, partially an adaptation of an old Chinese folk tale, Chinese Ghost Story became one of the defining films of the Hong Kong New Wave and inspired countless imitations, including its own sequels and remakes. There is little in the short story “The Magic Sword,” part of the…