8 Movie Podcasts
Film Podcasts are on the grow – We went out there on the web to find as many as we could and then whittled the choice down to a select few you may want to check out. These range from weekly review and news podcasts to retrospectives.
Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review
Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo take you through the latest releases every Friday afternoon. Thankfully the downloadable version available later comes minus too many jingles and news and sport interruptions (which the live version is frustratingly full of. I never understood why radio insists on updating the news so often. Also for us non-sports fans it is annoying).
Say what you want about Mark Kermode, he knows his shit, and he knows how to rant about shit (find his podcasts on Fred: The Movie and Sex And The City 2 for perfect examples). It is often a highlight (for some) when he goes off on rants about releases that don’t meet any sort of desirable standard. Mayo then makes the perfect foil (and on occasion removes the good doctor’s microphone to shut him up). Mayo is always direct in his comments and never afraid to put Kermode right when he is wrong.
Although the good Doctor has a habit of correcting the English from the correspondence that comes in, he can too often get his own diction incorrect at times and is often the target for this hypocrisy. Still we can hope that he (as promised) will refrain from correcting others in future so that the focus can remain on film.
The format normally includes a countdown of the top 10 with swift comments made about each either from Kermode, or from Mayo reading out the many fan emails they get in. There is then usually an interview with a film-maker followed lastly by reviews of the new stuff.
Overall if you are a Brit it is a decent listen, highly entertaining – perhaps the best of the Brit ones out there. And at usually an hour and a half it fills the time up nicely!
The idea was simple. Both hosts watch two specific films they have linked in a way and then talk about them one after the other. In a very Grindhouse sort of way, the link is often very flimsy – but the content in which they go into is deep. And we are not talking arthouse cinema here – we are talking a good mix of Hollywood and cult films.
Also worth seeking out is the many shows they have done on horror franchises. Just listening to two guys almost regret the fact that they stayed up watching 8-9 films in a row just for the show is funny and impressive at the same time. They even manage to say a few things or two about the ones that didn’t work.
Both speakers are often funny and illuminate much in the material often making you want to go back for a second viewing of a film you may have dismissed all too lightly. Clearly both know how to contextualise a subject and they do it well adding great insight and interest.
It is also a rare podcast from the States where the voices do not grate the nerves (too often the geeks can sound like high pitched whiny nerds – but not here).
One of the more well-known US film podcasts out there, Slash Film is actually a bit of an oddity in that it lasts a couple of hours and yet they review very little.
They generally set up with what the hosts have all been watching that week. They then talk about the big items in the news and finally, a review for the last hour (which is split into a spoiler free section, followed by a spoiler area where they give away plot twists and endings.)
The three hosts have a good grasp of film over all – and thankfully they don’t all agree with each other on everything. The moderator/host David Chen doesn’t have the easiest voice to listen to as he sounds like he has of bit of a lisp. He is also partial to the odd put down remark which he quickly disguises by hurriedly moving onto the next subject. As host it’s a cheeky way of getting the last word in on any subject. But then many hosts do have a predilection of using their power on controlling the momentum to quickly snip in their own remarks on others reviews before moving on. It only becomes noticeable if you are looking for it though, but to be fair to the guy he his pretty well informed and has set up a show that is worth listening to.
The only other annoying factor is many American based critics’ use of the word “aesthetic.” Basically it is used almost as much as American bands and TV producers say the word “AWESOME” (yes we are looking at you Damon Lindleof – trust us. There was nothing “awesome” about the way you ended that show!)
Slash Film though is perhaps, right now, the best of the US film podcasts out there for weekly news and film reviews. It is up to date, covers a range of material and it is done maturely, yet not without argument. It can go on to exceed 3 hours of running time which would indicate that all speakers need to come more prepared and keep their comments relevant in order to keep the attention of the listeners. It can be painful on films of no interest to the listener – but then what’s to stop you skipping forward.
Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier cast back to the days of podcast yore. Yes they have been at it for several years and it all started out brilliantly well. Basically the two get together to talk about stuff they have been up to, and maybe even certain events in their pasts. The genius of this banter was added to by a cleverly edited in music that often reflected what they were talking about.
Every now and again Smith would invite on a random guest from his friends or family which helped spice things up a bit. Smith was great at improvising and setting up make believe scenarios for them to act out.
Then they released that damn book!
Yes a book with Kevin (not Scott’s?) name on the front which was literally a transcription of the best of SModcast. Total con! And then Smith got in the habit of reading out shocking news items he found which started to get a bit repetitive. Lately though they have tended to play LIVE SModcast which is them in front of an audience, and is not nearly as funny as you may think. They often even resort to reading from the Smodcast book! Yeah OK, it was funny the first couple of times they did it as they swap parts. But like a lot of Smith’s jokes – they are repeated on almost any medium he can get his hands on. Often he tells the same joke to different audiences he is facing, but those listing to the podcast or watching the DVD groan as they heard it already from him elsewhere.
Then suddenly they dropped the sound-tracking and got themselves an opening theme (and we guarantee it is the most annoying thing you will hear in many a year! Thank god we can thumb past that on the iPhone!).
But the biggest sin is the sponsorship. Yes, they are helping to promote a certain type of adult product and every week they open with a skit about how they like to use it. Again, a joke that has just been done to death. But they are constantly going on about them on the show too. Apparently all Smith does now worth talking about is smoke weed and screw plastic toys. So it is perhaps maybe only worth downloading every other podcast from recent times as you may find yourself getting bored and wondering what happened to the good old days when natural banter between two guys at home worked so well before it all turned into sponsorship, jingles and live performances.
There are still some gems out there though. If you really want to hear him talking passionately then find the one where he bitches about the airline that kicked him off a plane for being too fat to fly.
Probably the closest in relation to Slash Film, this one again reviews the latest films, but also can go on for hours and hours. They either need to have a serious edit afterwards, or keep their comments as relevant as possible.
What is impressive about our hosts is that they have expanded beyond Hollywood cinema and take in a lot of world cinema as well (they got points for mentioning Fish Tank in their best of 2010 show!!).
Sadly they do not have the easiest of voices to listen to – one in particular has a voice that drones so heavily you’d have trouble picturing the guy awake as he gives his reviews. But at the same time he is probably the funniest of the lot.
Behind The Screen
Another geek fest that looks at current news and reviews. There is a very entertaining, fast talking host who keeps things zipping along. Well informed and researched you get some blunt discussion on what is about at the time and what is coming out as well.
This will be put it in the same bracket as Film Junk and Slash Film. This one seems better paced and frankly offers an alternative to those other general podcasts.
More film retrospectives on classic and cult films here, focussing on one film at a time. There are many podcasts out there that do the retrospective review – and it’s a good thing too as it gives you a chance to pick who you think has good commentary to make on film and who has a voice that you can have in your ears for a prolonged period of time.
Film Sack is one of the better to choose from – and their choice of films can often help make them appeal more as they cover films that have notoriety but are not huge films (Hudson Hawk? Waterworld?). It’s this choice of oddities that make it worthwhile as they give these films a second chance and report on what actually seems to work as well as what may be justified in the initial criticisms about them.
A huge selection of retrospective reviews, generally lasting over the hour mark, and if you like franchises then these guys have been covering some of the biggest and best. Be it horror icons to Hollywood blockbusters – this group recap the films and then take it in turns to tear apart or support what they have seen on screen (usually the former).
After you are familiar with the speakers you can pretty much predict how they are going to feel about certain films. Occasionally they contradict themselves, but generally they do back up their arguments with some substance.
Some of the podcasts get to the point long before they are over. Many podcast producers don’t seem to know how to or want to edit down their chat tracks.If you love some of the big franchises it’s worth a listen.