Showing posts with label podcast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label podcast. Show all posts

April 24, 2019

Dissecting Michael Mann's Heat on the One Heat Minute Podcast

Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) subdues Eady (Amy Brenneman) in Michael Mann's 1995 crime opus Heat.

Michael Mann is one of my favorite directors, if not the top choice. His films provide more depth with each repeat viewing, especially his best work. Mann's 1995 crime epic Heat is one of the best examples of a movie that appears simpler on the surface. It's about a lot more than cops and robbers chasing each other around Los Angeles. Its characters offer more than you'd expect, including the supporting players well beyond Robert De Niro's Neil McCauley and Al Pacino's Vincent Hanna. This is one of many reasons why I've enjoyed Blake Howard's podcast project One Heat Minute. Howard and his guests closely explore Heat, one minute at a time.

I was lucky enough to join Blake for Episode #129 of One Heat Minute. We covered Eady's (Amy Brenneman) realization that perhaps Neil isn't the right guy. The gorgeous nighttime shots of the hills of Los Angeles provide the perfect backdrop to her attempts to escape from Neil. Blake and I talked about Neil's real intentions in this relationship and how perhaps we shouldn't root for his success. It was a treat to play a small role in this awesome project. Blake's guests have included NY Times film critic Manohla Dargis, Heat cinematographer Dante Spinotti, author Jordan Harper, and many other film experts. You should definitely check out this podcast, which is inching closer to completion.

Trash (Mark Gregory) leads The Bronx Warriors against Hammer (Vic Morrow) in this silly movie.

Other Podcast Appearances

Back in January, I also joined Todd Liebenow on The Forgotten Filmcast to talk about the silly movie 1990: The Bronx Warriors. Led by the tall and strangely wooden Trash (Mark Gregory) a group of outlaws try to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic version of The Bronx. This low-budget film has some fun moments, including the over-the-top antics of Vic Morrow as Hammer. It was fun to talk with Todd once again about lesser-known movies that are worth checking out for curiosity if nothing else.

Finally, I spoke with author Brian Jay Jones on The Tomorrow Society Podcast about his biographies of Jim Henson and George Lucas. Brian's exhaustive books offer interesting portraits of both men that played such a huge role in television and movies. My podcast focuses on theme parks but sometimes veers towards movies with connections to the parks. Brian and I had fun chatting about Star Wars in particular given some of Lucas' controversial choices to keep changing his films. You can learn more about The Tomorrow Society Podcast and listen to all the interviews through Apple Podcasts.

December 3, 2018

Talking Movies on The Tomorrow Society Podcast

Tomorrowland remains an underrated gem and deserves more attention.

This site has been quiet lately, with the exception of my detour into Stargate Origins earlier this year. That doesn’t mean I’m not still involved with talking about movies, however. My focus these days is The Tomorrow Society, a blog and podcast focused on the world of theme parks. It’s a different sphere yet still veers into the world of movies periodically.

On The Tomorrow Society Podcast, I speak with authors, filmmakers, and experts that work behind the scenes on theme parks. Two of my recent episodes might interest you because the guests work in the film world. They’re still connected to Disney, but the conversations dive into the process of making movies. Here i a quick summary of each episode; John Walker and Mark Mancina had a lot to say about their careers in movies.

Episode 60: John Walker, Producer of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2, and Tomorrowland

My latest podcast was just released today and focuses on the box-office disappointment Tomorrowland from 2015. I talked with Producer John Walker about making that movie and why it wasn’t a bit hit. I’m a big fan of Tomorrowland and believe it deserves more attention. We also cover John’s work with Brad Bird on The Iron Giant and the two Incredibles films.

The music of Moana from Mark Mancina holds up really well to repeat viewings.

Episode 55: Mark Mancina, Composer for Moana, The Lion King, Tarzan, Training Day, and Speed

Back in October, I was thrilled to speak with composer Mark Mancina about his diverse career. The talented musician has brought his interest in progressive rock to scores on popular films like Speed and Training Day. He’s also worked regularly on Disney films, most recently Moana. We talk about Mark’s background plus the music for The Lion King, Tarzan, and a variety of projects.

If you’d like to learn more about everything that I’m doing at The Tomorrow Society, you can go to or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. You can also subscribe to The Tomorrow Society Podcast on Apple Podcasts.

March 30, 2015

Elsewhere on the Web...

Chris Hemsworth stares down the villain as Hathaway in Blackhat.

It’s been pretty quiet lately on this site, but that doesn’t mean the music has stopped. I’m still writing and chatting about movies, theme parks, and Survivor all over the Internet. The challenge is finding enough time to balance all my interests. It’s fantasy baseball draft season, so even my love of movies is taking a back seat this week. In case you’re curious, I’ve included some recent blogs and episodes below from sites that deserve your attention. Thanks should go out to the webmasters and podcast hosts that believed I had something to contribute to their fine establishments.

Back in January, I ranked Michael Mann’s 10 features for Movie Mezzanine at the time of Blackhat’s release. After re-watching Ali and Miami Vice for my latest marathon, I might already change those rankings. Heat is the obvious top choice, but spots 2-6 remain a lot more fluid. It’s been thrilling to revisit Mann’s work this year, and he’s only fallen short once during a long career.

I recently joined up with the guys at Battleship Pretension to write periodic reviews. Tyler and David do great work on their podcast and have a talented group of writers on their site. My first post was about the indie film Growing Up and Other Lies, which started a limited run on March 20. The movie wasn’t very good, but it was still exciting to join up with this excellent site.

Another site that I’ve enjoyed writing for in the past year is Cinema Axis, which covers a diverse selection of new releases and classics. Courtney Small is a very good writer and has recruited smart people to join the fun. Once again, I’ll be writing about several films appearing at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto next month. I also spotlighted lesser-known movies available on Netflix in a regular series. The most recent piece in January was about the documentary Bill Cunningham New York.

Last week, I was the guest on the Forgotten Filmcast with Todd Liebenow. Our topic was the 1967 political satire The President’s Analyst, starring James Coburn. It’s a ridiculous film that’s firmly within its time period, but it mostly works. Catching up with Todd to discuss a movie that I knew nothing about previously was a blast. If you’re interested in finding hidden gems, Todd is your guy.

Jason and Nolahn recently celebrated their 100th episode at the Lair of the Unwanted. They cover some terrible movies but find a way to make the shows entertaining. They’re fun even if you haven’t seen the films, which is common for me. I happened to be on Skype at the right time and made a very brief appearance on their big show, which included a lot of friendly guests.

I’m also a serious theme park fan, and one of the top blogs in covering the parks is Theme Park Insider. Robert Niles keeps the tone light but professional, which is a tricky balance in a world filled with very enthusiastic Disney blogs. He covers both the behemoths and the regional parks and is even-handed by theme park standards. I started writing for his site back in November and contributed three articles following our trip to Disney World in January. The most recent post recounts our experiences with FastPass Plus, Disney’s controversial crowd management system. There are some positives with the new structure, but it also introduces major challenges that don’t enhance the guest experience.

One of my favorite TV shows is still Survivor, which is currently airing its 30th season. That’s an amazing number, and it’s easy to think the show couldn’t sustain itself creatively. Surprisingly, some of the recent seasons (especially Cagayan) have been among the best. I started writing about Survivor for former contestant Rob Cesternino’s awesome spot Rob Has a Website last year and love digging into all the strategy each week. My latest post looks at the reasons for throwing a challenge and how everyone stands going into the merge. Writing thousands of words about a reality show each week may sound ridiculous, but it’s easily one of my favorite hobbies.

July 11, 2014

The World That I See: Reads and Listens #21

Tomorrow, I’m hopping in my car and driving to Chicago to meet a group of film fans that I’ve been talking with online for years. I’ve also appeared with them on podcasts, so there’s a familiarity that you normally don’t have without meeting people in person. It’s going to be surreal, but I can’t wait to hang out with such a cool group. To prepare for the 300-mile drive to Chicago, I’ve loaded my iPod with podcasts. This week, I’ve already caught up with a bunch of interesting shows that had been lingering on my computer for too long. In honor of the impending meet-up, I’m making this an all-podcast post and including episodes that are definitely worth your time. Some are new and others are from a few months back, but they all have something interesting to say about the film world.

Here are some interesting podcasts that are definitely worth your time:

I’ve been participating in the Blind Spots Series for the past three years, and it’s been a great way to push me to finally catch up with movies that have been on my watch list for a long time. The topic of blind spots was the focus of an episode of Filmwhys, hosted by Bubbawheat of Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights. His guests were Steve Honeywell of 1001 Plus and Ryan McNeil of The Matinee, and both have seen a lot of classic films. Ryan leads the blind spots project, and Steve has completed the 1001 Movies You Must See before You Die list. The fun conversation reveals a lot about each person’s approach to catching up with the classics and the challenges of seeing all the essential films.

Speaking of the difficulties in doing everything, The Film Pasture covered this topic in the “Get a Life” episode. Host Lindsay Street from French Toast Sunday brought Mette from Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions and Chris from After Credits onto the show to talk about finding that balance of life and film blogging. It’s quite a challenge to make time for everything, and something is bound to get left behind. Lindsay makes a great point that having other hobbies beyond movies is a major hurdle. I’ve been trying to get back in shape with lots of swimming, and it’s hard to do that along with family, work, and keeping up with new movies. I’ve been failing on the last task, but I’m okay with it.

The guys at Mamo have been cranking out the episodes this summer. I blinked and four new shows had arrived. Matthew Brown and Matthew Price are the only guys that I regularly listen to that cover the box office side of the year’s big movies. One of their recent episodes tackles a different topic and covers another wave of price increases at TIFF. They’ve been regular attendees for years, but the huge costs are becoming too much even for adults with a solid income. When does the quest for profits change the nature of the festival? Or has that already happened? This informal discussion hits on so many topics and reminds me why Mamo is one of the best shows out there.

Staying in Canada, Ryan McNeil (he’s all over this post!) recently brought Matthew Brown onto his podcast The Matineecast to talk about How to Train Your Dragon 2. I bypassed that discussion since I hadn’t seen the film, but I stuck around to hear them talk about Dragonslayer and Reign of Fire. Their conversation about the latter was very entertaining. Both admitted that it’s extremely dumb and has a ridiculous premise yet still has a certain charm to it. It was an enjoyable show from two guys who know each other well and have a relaxed camaraderie that’s impossible to fake.

I’ll close this post with a show that brought a huge smile to my face. Nick Jobe of Your Face and Pat McDonnell of 100 Years of Movies have found a great formula with the We Sing Poorly podcast. Instead of just talking about a movie, they sing about it and ask a guest to join them. Each week, they tackle a musical and sing their reviews in hilarious fashion. I checked out the Beauty and the Beast episode, which brought in Mette (again!) to belt out variations on the tunes from the classic soundtrack. This was a clever way to get into some possible issues with the beloved movie while having a great time doing it.

November 8, 2013

Talking Homicide: Life on the Street on The Televerse

Andre Braugher and Kyle Secor in Homicide: Life on the Street

I’ve written thousands of words about the greatness of Homicide: Life on the Street, and it only scratches the surface of my feelings about the series. It’s more than just a highly influential show that spawned other great shows. Instead, it stands on its own as a hallmark of television that still finds ways to surprise me after many viewings. This week, I was thrilled to join the esteemed Kate Kulzick and Simon Howell on their excellent TV podcast The Televerse to rave about Homicide. We spent nearly 40 minutes talking about it, and the conversation left plenty of topics on the table. If you’re a fan or just curious about the acclaim, you should definitely give it a listen. It was a fun conversation and covered many of the reasons for the series’ long-running staying power. You can also check out a piece that I wrote for Sound on Sight this past March that delves further into my reasons for all the praise. While the job of murder police has “nothing to do with life”, there’s plenty of vitality in these characters. The remarkable cast and crew put their heart and soul into the project, and the results show clearly on the screen. I’m hoping this podcast will drive a few more people to check out such an effective and important series.

August 15, 2013

The LAMBcast: Richard Linklater Retrospective

Richard Linklater brings an outsider’s perspective to even his most commercial projects. The Texas native was at the forefront of the American indie movement in the early ‘90s and has never lost that sense of daring. His latest film Before Midnight is one of his strongest works and deserves the acclaim. Although many of his movies tackle similar themes, Linklater rarely gets caught repeating his old material. He delves into the inner lives of intellectuals in the Before trilogy and Waking Life, but this is the same guy who directed School of Rock and The Bad News Bears. It’s trickier to pin down a certain style than you might expect. Bernie is set in Austin, but it feels much different from Dazed and Confused or Slacker. Those early projects still work today and remind us of his remarkable staying power. Linklater is one of my favorite directors and continues to surprise me with every new feature.

A few weeks ago, I joined four smart bloggers to explore Linklater’s career and most prominent films. This LAMBcast runs for more than two hours, and we easily could have talked for a lot longer. We focus on 10 movies yet spend a little time on basically everything. Joining me for the fun are host Dylan Fields and Justin Gott from Man I Love Films, Jay Cluitt from Life vs. Film, and the Vern from the Video Vortex. Few choices receive an easy consensus, which makes for a better discussion. If you’re a Linklater devotee or just getting started with his work, this podcast is worth your time. Despite the extended length, it moves quickly and rarely takes a breather. Linklater’s had success but is hardly a household name, and there are plenty of hidden gems within his career. We barely scratch the surface of his diverse filmography. Check out this LAMBcast episode through this link.

August 9, 2013

Filmwhys Podcast: Big Trouble in Little China/Kick-Ass

John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China

All film lovers have blind spots that never seem to find their way onto the screen. They keep moving them down their Netflix queues every time they near the top. I’ve knocked out a lot since I started the blog, but there’s an endless supply remaining out there. More “must-see” movies keep arriving every year. How can we keep up? This quest is at the heart of the Filmwhys podcast, where host Bubbawheat tackles a new landmark film each time. His site Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights focuses on super hero movies, so his guests take a shot at a new pick from that genre. It’s a great concept, particularly since he has missed some big-time selections. Prime examples from his first 10 episodes include Jaws, Rocky, and 12 Angry Men. I joined him this week to cover John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. This wonderful 1986 film has its share of fans but deserves even more attention.

Carpenter finds the right tone for this combination of genres that never takes itself too seriously. A main reason for the success is Kurt Russell, who keeps Jack Burton likable despite his cluelessness. He talks like John Wayne yet bumbles his way through every situation. His buddy Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) constantly saves the day while Burton comes out unscathed. They inadvertently embark on a quest to save the girls from the evil David Lo Pan (James Hong) and his minions. Kim Cattrall and Victor Wong come along for the ride, and it’s lots of fun. I had a great time introducing Bubba to this very entertaining cult film.

Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass

Our second film was Kick-Ass, a subversive take on the genre that generated plenty of controversy. I wasn’t offended and had fun with it. Chloe Grace Moretz and Nicolas Cage steal the show as Hit Girl and Big Daddy. They find the right tone for the tricky, ultraviolent material. It’s a mixed bag overall, and the high school romance for the title character (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) isn’t so thrilling. Director and Co-writer Matthew Vaughn takes clever jabs at super-hero movies, though it shifts into more standard action fare by the final act. I’m glad to finally check out this movie that’s a favorite of many film lovers. I can understand their excitement and am curious to check out the sequel, which arrives later this month.

You can check out this episode of the Filmwhys podcast through this link. I had a lot of fun talking about both movies and participating in this cool show. The other episodes have intelligent guests, and the conversations are definitely worth hearing. Closing blind spots is one of my favorite pastimes as a movie fan. Even when the choice isn’t thrilling, it gives perspective on new movies and expands our knowledge. That’s rarely a bad thing.

July 19, 2013

The Forgotten Filmcast: True Stories (1986)

Last week, I joined host Todd Liebenow on the Forgotten Filmcast to discuss a gem that deserves more attention. Released in 1986, True Stories was directed by David Byrne at the height of his popularity. He’s known as the front man for The Talking Heads, but this isn’t just a vehicle for their music. Instead, it’s a charming look at a fictional Texas town. Virgil includes colorful individuals with their own quirks. This is hardly a nasty satire, however. Instead, Byrne takes a warm look at their odd behavior and appreciates the unique traits that make us human. He visits the local mall for an unconventional fashion show, hangs out with the hopeful romantic Louis (John Goodman), and shows what makes this community tick. The result is a mellow, engaging little film that has mostly disappeared. While The Talking Heads remain well-known, this movie has drifted into the background.

Byrne plays an unnamed narrator who drives into town in a red Chrysler Lebaron convertible. He presents the story like a documentary filmmaker who takes himself a bit too seriously. His reverence for the shopping mall and other basic aspects of life seems odd today. He never winks at the camera, and that’s the main reason the character works. Along with a likable performance from Goodman, the supporting cast includes Spalding Gray, Swoosie Kurtz, and Jo Harvey Allen in a scene-stealing performance as a woman who lies about everything. The slow pace gives us time to get to know these characters and understand how this town functions. The film is set up as a collection of interludes that could give it a meandering feeling, but that tone seems right for this material.

One of the best parts of True Stories is the music, which keeps it from becoming too dry. The standout is “Wild Wild Life”, performed at a karaoke club by a group of people dressed as rock icons. The cast includes several music stars, most notably Pop Staples as a voodoo practitioner. Goodman even gets in on the action and sings “People Like Us” during the finale. The mix of humor, mellow charm, and music works better than you might expect. You can listen to this episode of the Forgotten Filmcast through this link. Todd does an excellent job and has covered other gems like Condorman and Streets of Fire in previous shows. I had a great time talking about this film and highly recommend adding it to your weekly listening.

June 20, 2013

The LAMBcast: Peter Jackson's Dead Alive (1992)

This week, I joined a group of intelligent bloggers on the LAMBcast to discuss Peter Jackson’s 1992 gorefest Dead Alive. While this offbeat zombie film is different then his recent blockbusters, his technical expertise is apparent. The practical effects are stunning and ridiculous, which makes it worthwhile even if you aren’t a fan of horror films. I’ve seen most of the classics but wouldn’t call myself an aficionado. Even so, there was plenty here to make it a fun experience. The blood and guts are played for comedy, so it isn’t the type of movie that will induce nightmares. It may be unpleasant at times, particularly when bodies are being reduced to slimy zombies. Slime is flying everywhere, and Jackson mines plenty of icky moments in the early going. When the chaos picks up, the gore is so pervasive that it’s tough to even keep up with all the craziness that’s on display.

Timothy Balme stars as Lionel Cosgrove, a mild-mannered guy who’s connected a bit too closely with his mother Vera (Elizabeth Moody). She’s a nasty individual who keeps him confined with manipulative tactics. When he goes on a date with Paquita (Diana PeƱalver) to the zoo, he mother spies on them and hopes to break up the burgeoning romance. The grisly Sumatran Rat Monkey has been captured and brought to this zoo, and it bites her arm. This attack starts a transformation that makes her a zombie, and Vera starts bringing others into the fold. The silly part is that Lionel continues to care for his mother after her change. It’s clear that she’s not the same person, yet he can’t help himself and puts her in the basement with several other zombies. He seems to have the situation under control but inadvertently brings about a massive bloodbath. The final act is filled with outlandish violence and includes a zombie baby, an organ monster, and other gruesome evils. It’s hard to take anything too seriously, and the gags become more bizarre with each successive kill.

Dead Alive was the Movie of the Month for the Large Association of Movie Blogs, also known as The LAMB. It won the vote and became the feature topic for this week’s LAMBcast. It’s good to spotlight a lesser-known film that isn’t recognized by people who aren’t horror fans. It isn’t really my cup of tea, but I’m glad to have checked it out. It gives an interesting look at Jackson’s origins as a B-movie filmmaker. Joining me were guest host Jay Cluitt from Life vs. Film, Lindsay and Jess from French Toast Sunday, and Kristen from Journeys In Classic Film. If you like this film or are just curious to learn more, you should definitely listen to this show. We also gave our rants and raves of the week and played a game of movie knowledge. You can listen to this LAMBcast episode by clicking on this link.

May 1, 2013

Podcast Spotlight: Rob Has a Podcast

My Survivor enthusiasm began all the way back in the first season when I caught the last few episodes. It was already a full-fledged phenomenon by that point, and I joined viewing parties with friends during the Australia and Africa seasons. The reality competition’s popularity has waned over the years, but a consistent fan base has remained and kept it rolling through 26 installments. My interest has been strong, though I did wonder during the low points if I should jump ship. Starting with the crazy Heroes vs. Villains season three years ago, the show has become must-see viewing once again. My interest has shifted more to the strategic side of the game, especially since I started writing recaps for Sound on Sight. Expressing my thoughts about the latest twists wasn’t enough, however. Was there a community of fans out there who enjoyed the show in the same way? Thankfully, I discovered the perfect outlet for my Survivor mania. One of its most acclaimed former contestants actually does a podcast covering the show and reality television in general. I started listening a few years ago, and it’s easily become one of my favorite podcasts.

Rob Has a Podcast takes a light approach and has great fun delving into everything that happens each week. It’s very entertaining and makes keeping up with the show more enjoyable. The main reason is the self-deprecating host, who clearly loves the world of reality television. This isn’t a case where a former contestant can’t get over his past experiences. Instead, Rob Cesternino has found a clever way to use his insider status and create something entirely different in the process. The show has taken off in the past year, and this popularity has helped him to bring in big-time guests. Jeff Probst took an hour out of his hectic day to talk with Rob, and that’s just one of many great examples. Russell Hantz makes frequent appearances, and I’m sad to admit that my negative stance towards him has softened after hearing these discussions. Rob’s secret weapon is his wife Nicole, who brings so much energy to each appearance and has a big personality that’s just right for this podcast. Their back-and-forth discussions go beyond the show and are a lot of fun.

Every Thusday morning, Rob gets the chance to interview the player voted out that week. The conversations are usually 15-20 minutes and provide valuable insights about what we didn’t see on the screen. Later that day, a feature guest joins for several hours to go much further into the happenings. Recent stellar examples include Jonathan Penner, Sophie G. Clarke, Marty Piombo, and Sandra Diaz-Twine. Few guests disappoint, and even the rare awkward conversations are usually entertaining for that very reason. If that wasn’t enough, Rob and Survivor Tocantins runner-up Stephen Fishbach record the live “Survivor Know It Alls” podcast on Wednesday nights right after the episode. Their immediate reactions are a treat even when the episode fails to bring fireworks. When we have a case like Phillip’s surprise exit two weeks ago, their excited responses just add to the fun. Looking beyond Survivor, Rob also covers The Amazing Race with his resident expert Jessica Liese every Sunday. It’s hard to keep up with the crowd of great podcasts each week.

The main reason for Rob Has a Podcast’s success is the way it remains smart while having a great time. There’s plenty of silliness on display, including some ridiculous impressions of Probst, Penner, and Boston Rob from the jovial host. Even so, the conversations also treat Survivor with respect and really explore the strategic decisions made by the contestants. It’s geeky but in the best way possible. If the idea of chatting about the show for hours sounds like a good time, this is the podcast for you. Rob frequently includes questions from listeners in the discussions, and it’s clear that he’s building a community of passionate fans. While the everyday person may ask “Is that show still on?” and anger people like me, there still are plenty who can’t get enough of Survivor. The show’s long-running success is because of this group, and Rob Has a Podcast is just the place for them.

April 24, 2013

Podcast Spotlight: Filmspotting SVU

When Filmspotting announced that they would start a second podcast in early 2012, it was an intriguing prospect. Would it include Chicago mainstays like Michael Phillips or veer off in a different direction? Would the focus stick with new releases or shift to the classics of the past? When I learned that Filmspotting SVU would focus on streaming content, I was less excited. I dropped Netflix a few years ago and sparingly use the Amazon Instant Video service. My attention remains on physical media, so I wondered if this podcast would work for me. After listening to a few episodes, my concerns quickly disappeared. While the attention rests on streaming movies, that’s really just the framework for great discussions. It separates this show from the original yet maintains the spirit of discovery that makes is so enjoyable. That excitement about films is what draws me to this podcast every week.

Matt Singer and Alison Willmore host this podcast and have great chemistry from their time on the long-running IFC News Podcast. They clearly know each other well and have fun talking about movies, and you can’t fake that kind of camaraderie. He is doing amazing work at Criticwire covering the world of film criticism, and she does an excellent job for Indiewire and other online publications. They’re both experts but talk like friends you’d meet for a drink. Their enthusiasm is infectious and remains even when they’re covering silly movies like Streets of Fire or the Justin Bieber film Never Say Never. The portrait of the teen heartthrob was actually their main feature in the very first episode. There’s a different theme each week, and their coverage rarely hits the most obvious choices. The recent time-travel episode focused on Primer, but it also discussed Somewhere in Time, Happy Accidents, and Timecop in the “Queue Shots” section. The coverage frequently surprises with love for a hidden gem or concerns about a sacred cow. The “Listeners Choice” review often cover picks that I know little about, yet the reviews are still entertaining.

While each episode of Filmspotting SVU follows a certain format, it doesn’t feel constrained by the structure. Singer and Willmore will rave excitedly about a movie for a long time and then realize they’ve gone off course. The regular segments keep them on track and provide a framework for fun discussions. They’re critical but aren’t afraid to express love for a silly genre. Singer’s clearly a big fan of over-the-top action movies from the ’80s and ‘90s, but he can also delve into the themes from a heavy indie film. Willmore has so much to say and is one of the smartest voices in the movie podcast world. There are a lot of subtle touches that add to the enjoyment. When they play trailers from the ‘80s in particular, they sound like they’re from another universe. Singer and Willmore are about my age, so they have affection for a lot of the same movies from childhood. It’s a podcast that works perfectly for me and has pushed me to seek out a lot of great movies. I’m also digging into specific genres and themes with my marathons, so Filmspotting SVU is definitely right up my alley.

April 17, 2013

Podcast Spotlight: Mamo!

One of the more recent additions to my regular listens is Mamo, a Toronto film podcast presented through Row Three. Hosts Matthew Price and Matthew Brown discuss the latest news and releases in a laid-back setting. They typically record at a local establishment, and the ambient sounds of forks clanking and servers asking for orders creates a different feeling. This atmosphere creates the sense that you’re just hanging out with friends after seeing a great movie. This approach could lead to a disorganized mess, but Brown and Price keep the pace flowing smoothly. It’s clear that they’re friends away from the podcast, which removes the awkwardness that could happen in this type of intimate arrangement. The sound quality is still good, so it isn't distracting to venture outside of the studio.

Mamo’s episodes are brief by podcast standards and run about 35-40 minutes. That’s a perfect length because it keeps them focused on the topic without unnecessary chatter. The conversations are sharp and avoid the filler you might hear on longer review-focused shows. Price and Brown typically look at a certain subject but don’t mind when the discussion veers away from the main topic. They also rarely get stuck too much with a single viewpoint. A good example is a recent show about trailers, where they covered frustrations with studios revealing too much in their promotional materials. It was more than just another rant about bad marketing because they recognized the role trailers play for the average moviegoer. It seems pointless to fans like us who know about the films in advance, but that isn’t the target of these ads. This nuanced approach helps the hosts to avoid the black-and-white debates that cloud too many podcasts. They have a specific opinion but aren’t afraid to admit that the situation has complexities beyond this view.

Price and Brown are serious movie fans who can have intellectual discussions about important films. Their two-part series about Steven Soderbergh provided some great insights into his diverse career. However, they’re the same guys who can record a goofy live Oscar show where they’re messing around and having a great time. They’re also involved with the Very Important Podcast, a new show that covers important figures from movie history. Smart experts from Toronto and beyond join to give their thoughts on Steven Spielberg, David O. Russell, and others. They’ve had four episodes so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. I’m glad to have discovered Mamo, which is one of my first listens when each new episode drops. Even when they’re covering similar material to other podcasts, it never feels derivative. Brown and Price know a lot about movies yet don’t take themselves too seriously, which is a key factor. They’ll spend time on schlock like G.I. Joe along with the prestige pictures, and that diversity makes it an excellent show.

April 10, 2013

Podcast Spotlight: Pop Culture Happy Hour

Although I write primarily about movies, my interests also include other realms of pop culture like music, books, and television. It’s difficult to do justice to even one of these subjects on a 45-minute weekly podcast. That challenge makes the success of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour (PCHH) even more impressive. The friendly, knowledgeable panel has a great time covering the latest news and offerings from all over the map. The combination works because the participants bring their own expertise to the table. Linda Holmes hosts the weekly fun and keeps everything flowing smoothly while having plenty to say. She previously wrote TV recaps for Television without Pity, and her crazily detailed coverage of each Survivor and Amazing Race episode as “Miss Alli” was remarkable. She’s since moved on to NPR and leads the Monkey See blog for their arts section. Hosting a professional weekly podcast is no joke, and she makes it seem effortless.

PCHH works because of the panel's camaraderie, and their conversations feel like what you’d hear from close friends at a local bar. They’re a diverse bunch with passions for many different subjects. Stephen Thompson from NPR Music has so much knowledge about that area but rarely gets pretentious. He’s as much a fan as a critic and brings that passion to discussions even when they aren’t discussing the latest artists. Thompson formerly worked at the A.V. Club, and his demeanor matches the tone of that excellent site. Glen Weldon is the comic-book star and recently finished a book about the history of Superman. He’s also an expert on geeky pursuits and excels at taking down the pratfalls of fan entitlement. The other regular panelist is Trey Graham, whose interests are more high-brow. He’s a theater aficionado yet keeps his thoughts down-to-earth and entertaining.

This podcast snaps along and is such a warm show that I’m hooked even when the topic isn’t in my wheel house. The main reason is that I’m connected to the hosts and want to hear them riff on the latest happenings. They rarely take themselves too seriously and do silly games like the “Regrettable Television Pop Quiz”. That segment includes clips from the worst reality TV productions and asks the hosts to guess the shows. It’s a personal favorite and is only one example of many that maintain the fun. Although everyone works professionally for NPR, they’re much different than the self-important intellectuals you might expect. Guests like the wonderful Barry Hardymon and Tanya Ballard Brown keep the show unpredictable and bring a nice jolt to the normal structure. They slide well into the main spots and keep the show cohesive even when it’s missing the regular stars.

Each PCHH show concludes with the “What’s Making Us Happy This Week” segment, and that’s frequently the best part. It perfectly embodies the tone of this podcast, which brings together energetic voices who remind us that it’s okay to love pop culture. Even within this model, they still dig into some pivotal issues for the future of the mediums. Linda’s passionate concerns about the Kickstarter model following the Veronica Mars success were fascinating. By the time they finished the discussion, my feelings were a lot different. The debate was sharp and intelligent, yet it remained entertaining at the same time. It takes an extremely capable group to pull off that combination, and this fine gang does it every week. This brisk, relaxed podcast is one of my favorites and deserves a lot more attention.

April 3, 2013

Podcast Spotlight: The Season Pass

If you’ve read this blog for very long, you probably know that I’m a serious fan of theme parks. There are few things that I don’t enjoy about them, particularly when they’re done well. I usually keep this obsession to myself since most people believe they're just for kids. Beyond the experience of visiting the parks, I’m also intrigued by the extreme volume of behind-the-scenes work needed to create a seamless attraction. Way back in 2008, I was thrilled to discover the Season Pass Podcast. This intelligent show is a lot more than a fan project and gives an insider’s perspective on the industry. Founder/Co-Host Doug Barnes and Co-Host Brent Young are experts on the business side yet still love visiting them. This rare combination lifts the Season Pass above the crowd of theme park podcasts. Unlike the huge crop of Disney shows that paint a rosy view of everything, Doug and Brent give their honest opinions on new attractions. They aren’t afraid to say it when blockbuster rides and shows fall short of expectations. Their discussions with experts of all ages are candid but maintain the excitement about the latest offerings.

While my blog focuses on movies, there are connections between the visual arts and theme parks. The artists working behind the scenes are telling a story and using every means at their disposal to create an immersive world. Doug and Brent understand that even the greatest technology only works if it matches the story that’s being created. While the script is usually thin for a high-flying roller coaster, even those rides are set within a narrative framework. In more than 220 episodes, the Season Pass continues to dig into every aspect of the amusement industry. They don’t simply focus on the giants like Disney and give plenty of time to Six Flags, Cedar Fair, and other companies. They also bring in representatives from the manufacturers that build and design the attractions. This expansive approach keeps the shows intriguing even if I’ve never visited the covered park. It takes a crazy amount of effort to cover such a large quantity of projects. The persistence has paid off and delivered remarkable guests like Bob Gurr, Jerry Rees, Garner Holt, and so many others.

A key factor in the Season Pass' success is the personal connection that Doug and Brent make with listeners. Several summers ago, Doug packed his family in a van and embarked on the “Wheels on I-80” tour. They visited a ton of parks all over the country and interacted with listeners along the way. I was lucky enough to meet up with them at Six Flags St. Louis to take in some rides, and it was a blast. The down-to-earth qualities of the hosts and their frequent guests make it more than just a cool show. Doug seems intent on building up the community and connecting with fans as much as possible. That takes even more dedication, and it’s trickier when it isn’t his full-time job. It’s challenging enough for me to find time for this blog, and doing a podcast with many different guests is so much tougher. Brent is the visual effects supervisor and co-founder of Super 78, and that industry experience gives him great insights about the process of making an attraction. Frequent participants like Robert Coker and Nick Hutson bring even more knowledge and passion to the table.

The Season Pass continues to expand its scope and look for interesting ways to explore the industry. Disney expert Chad Emerson presents the Disney Files to closely examine specific elements. The Seasoned Pros episodes bring together a panel to rate their favorites in categories where every fan has an opinion. The topics have included the best dark rides, steel coasters, and most beautiful parks. Although certain picks come up frequently, there’s hardly a consensus on the top choices. The hosts also frequently record live from the parks and bring us closer to the action. Although it lives in a specific niche, there’s so much variety to please anyone who’s interested in the industry. The show has evolved considerably since its humble beginnings, but the goal remains the same. Doug, Brent, and the entire gang are passionate about the industry and keep looking for new ways to explore it. A podcast is a perfect venue for this type of show, and they make the most of it.

March 29, 2013

TV: The Walking Dead Podcast: "This Sorrowful Life"

Earlier this week, I was thrilled to join the trio of passionate critics on Sound on Sight’s Walking Dead Podcast. We discussed this season’s penultimate episode “This Sorrowful Life” and dug into what’s happening at the prison. Will they go to war with the Governor (David Morrissey) or flee to fight another day? That question will be answered on this Sunday’s season finale but didn’t play a huge role this week. Instead, Merle (Michael Rooker) takes matters into his own hands and nabs Michonne (Danai Gurira). The fallout from his decisions is tragic and sets the stage for an exciting finale. Even so, there are some concerns that the show’s writing still leaves a lot to be desired. I joined Ricky, Simon, and Kate to delve into all these issues, and there were some major disagreements of this episode’s success. You can check out this enjoyable conversation through this link.

I’m a fan of The Walking Dead and have watched since the beginning, but there are some story issues that have existed throughout the series. Characters act inconsistently, and the pace meanders too much during certain stretches. The most prominent example was during the second season, which spent too much time at the farm. Lead characters like Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) grew irritating and were nearly impossible to take. This season began with a stunning group of episodes that represented a high point for the series. The vicious battles in the prison with the hordes of walkers were paced well and frequently surprising. Unfortunately, the recent episodes were a mixed bag and focused too much on Andrea (Laurie Holden) and the Governor. It still could be an exciting finish, but there’s cause for skepticism because of these characters. He’s become a one-note psychotic villain, and her ability to dismiss obvious warning signs has been frustrating. Even so, I’m maintaining hope that we’ll get an exciting conclusion that leads well into the fourth season.

The Walking Dead is immensely popular, and their success grows with each new season. Even so, there’s been a lot of turmoil behind the scenes. These leadership changes are rarely positive because they can dramatically alter the creative direction. There are exceptions to this trend, but it’s generally a sign of greater issues. The fact that the show has reached such heights and built such a fan base is remarkable given these struggles. The zombie storyline doesn’t hurt, but I can’t dismiss the skills of the actors to sell the material. Norman Reedus is the breakout star as Daryl, and Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan do excellent work as Glenn and Maggie. One of my favorites is easily Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene, who joined the cast in the second season. Even the frustrating characters aren’t the fault of the actors. This group can sell even the more inexplicable moves from the group.

If you check out this podcast, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m also interested in your speculation for Sunday’s finale. Who’s going to take out The Governor? Will all the main characters survive? With a title like “Welcome to the Tombs”, the signs aren’t great. Regardless of what happens, I’m sure they’ll be plenty to discuss after a high-flying finale.

March 27, 2013

Podcast Spotlight: The LAMBcast

Thus far, I’ve spotlighted podcasts from a listener’s perspective. I made appearances on The Televerse and The Matineecast, but that was just a bonus and not a factor. This week, I’m covering a show where I’ve appeared regularly. The LAMBcast is the official podcast of the Large Association of Movie Blogs, known as the LAMB. It gives amateur movie bloggers the chance to discuss their passion with like-minded others in a relaxed audio setting. I was thrilled to get the chance to join the fun and made my first appearance back in August 2011. The podcast is rolling along and has crossed the 150-episode threshold, which is no easy feat. Each week, five participants have a great time chatting about movies and related topics. I can’t think of a more fun way to spend a few hours in front of a computer.

The format includes a discussion topic, rants or raves, and a game for the cinephiles to test their knowledge. The subjects are all over the map and include major new releases, fun top five lists, and a look back at a classic franchise. The episodes typically last about an hour and a half, but they rarely drag because it’s such a large group. The running time gives everyone a chance to say their mind and not get lost in the shuffle. The host is Dylan Fields, who founded the LAMB to give movie bloggers their own place to list their sites. He currently runs Man I Love Films with Kai Parker, and their site brings a diverse group of writers on board to cover movies. Dylan has a laid-back style that fits with the tone of the LAMBcast. This isn’t a place where guests will get shunned if they aren’t experts on every highbrow classic. It strikes a middle ground between intellectual explorations of cinema and your weekly trip to the multiplex for the latest blockbuster.

The challenge with a podcast with rotating guests is quality control, and the success of the LAMBcast varies depending on the participants. Even so, there’s something refreshing about listening to people joining their first podcast and giving it a shot. Most of them do surprisingly well and often get hooked. Even when it’s a rougher experience, it usually feels genuine and doesn’t get too painful. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing on my early appearances. This was the perfect spot to join a podcast and see how it works. I’m hardly a smooth operator today, but the regular time on this show have made it a lot easier. Other bloggers have definitely had a similar experience, and some have gone on to create their own podcasts. My favorite opportunity was participating in an episode that went through all six Rocky films. For more than two hours, five of us did bad Stallone impressions and geeked out about the beloved series. I also loved participating in the best of 2011 show, which showed just how many interesting movies there are within any calendar year.

The best part of the LAMBcast is the communal aspect of connecting with so many friendly movie fans. Going beyond my participation, it’s remarkable to hear people who’ve never met in person talking like close friends. Recently, some LAMB members traveled to Vegas for the Oscars and hung out for the first time. They recorded a podcast and just talked about the experience of connecting directly with people they’ve only talked with online. They sounded like old friends, and it shows the changes in the way we connect in this online world. The social aspects of podcasting shouldn’t be discounted, and the LAMBcast offers a prime example of how well that can work. It’s also a great place to hear movie fans chatting about their favorite topic. You can’t really go wrong in that type of setting.

March 20, 2013

Podcast Spotlight: Sound Opinions

During the 1990s, I listened to so much music and stayed focused on the latest new bands. It was easy when I worked at the glorious college radio station KCOU, and I was so spoiled. As the years have rolled by and time has grown limited, I haven't kept up with as many artists. The concerts end up being some of the same bands that I liked years ago. For example, I've seen The Polyphonic Spree, Yo La Tengo, and Guided by Voices during the past year. These were great performances, but they show that my tastes are still veering towards groups that I loved a while ago. It's not a bad thing to keep up with great bands; the challenge is finding a balance and getting engaged with the latest music.

During the past few years, I've done better expanding my music horizons and hope to keep rolling in 2013. One of my best resources has been Sound Opinions, the excellent weekly show that airs on WBEZ in Chicago. The podcast has been in my regular rotation for a while, and it rarely disappoints. Hosts Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis are professional music writers with a wealth of knowledge about history and today's best acts. Their primary focus is rock, but they frequently cover hip-hop, soul, and other genres. They often interview artists and have them play live in studio; recent examples include Aimee Mann, the Japandroids, and John Cale. The production values are excellent, and the hosts are comfortable on the air. They have a relaxed chemistry even when they disagree about an album's merits.

Each show begins with the news of the week, and Kot and DeRogatis are fine with discussing popular artists like Katie Perry if the story is interesting. The topics often cover the industry as a whole and trends that could bring about major changes in the medium. After tackling the main subject, they'll review the latest releases using a scale of "Buy It", "Burn It", or "Trash It". With the notable exception of DeRogatis' soul-killing hatred of Bruce Springsteen, I can accept their views even when I disagree. They'll rave about even the most commercial pop music if it's done well. By the same token, they'll go after music idols if they aren't doing something interesting. This reviews are accompanied by a song or two from that record, so it's a good primer to see if it's worth pursuing. Those clips sometimes affect me more than how the album falls in their ratings. Kot and DeRogatis are old-school music journalists, but they've found a way to transfer their abilities to the podcast medium.

Sound Opinions has built up a significant national presence through public radio stations, so it may be playing weekly in your area. St. Louis is still missing it, which makes this podcast more essential. The production values are on par with commercial radio while still having an outsider feeling. The hosts love music yet speak in a way that's accessible to less-knowledgeable listeners. The shows the cover the history of a genre are excellent and provide a context for today's popular bands. The recent episodes on shoegaze rock and reggae are great examples. Kot and DeRogatis deserve more attention and continue to get better with each episode. They also give listeners a chance to speak out, even when they disagree. The final segment plays a series of voicemails that sometimes call out the hosts. It's a cool way to avoid the feeling that their voices are the only ones that matter. Like Kot says in the intro to this segment, "At Sound Opinions, everyone's a critic". It's that sense of community that brings me back to this show every week.

March 13, 2013

Podcast Spotlight: The Televerse

I don't watch enough shows regularly to make TV podcasts worthwhile, but I make an exception for The Televerse. Hosts Kate and Simon have a great rapport and cover the most interesting material from the past week. She's an enthusiast who consumes a crazy amount of shows, while he's the cynic. Both are willing to question even beloved series like Breaking Bad when they stray off course. Their candid opinions don't always mesh with conventional wisdom yet are supported by plenty of evidence. The "Week in TV" covers a large volume in a pretty short time yet provides great details. It's tricky to discuss so much and keep the show flowing, but Kate and Simon are up to the challenge. They also spotlight a specific episode that stands out from the fray each week. The picks often include shows like Justified, The Good Wife, and Mad Men, but some surprises will reach this status.

The highlight of The Televerse is each week's "DVD Shelf", which goes in depth for 30-40 minutes about a show that's left the airwaves. These include big-time examples like Lost and Cheers along with lesser-known fare like The Middleman and Nathan Barley. Each segment has a guest contributor who loves that series. This group has been really impressive and included Mo Ryan, Chris Gore, and Matt Singer, among others. To provide full disclosure, I did appear on the show to discuss Veronica Mars and Sports Night. However, my expertise pales in comparison to the hosts and superstar guests. My watch list has grown much longer because of these segments, and it's also inspired me to go back and revisit classic shows.

Looking at the covered series, they strike an interesting balance between heavyweights and lighter material like Top Chef and The Amazing Race. It's refreshing to hear sharp conversations that don't dismiss the reality shows as unworthy of attention. While Kate and Simon enjoy digging into the tasks from these well-made competitions, that doesn't mean they can't speak intelligently about key themes in fictional work. I've avoided The Newsroom specifically because they exposed the sexism in Aaron Sorkin's characters. I've been a fan of his other work, but this doesn't sound like a worthy part of his career. The willingness to take down sacred cows when it's required takes this podcast to a higher level. Their "Spotlight of Shame" is a particularly fun segment on shows that are especially bad.

I've also really enjoyed the episodes where Kate and Simon try something different. They've spotlighted an entire season for a currently airing show like Louie, which allows perspective on the collection at the end. Another cool divergence had Capone from Ain't It Cool News chatting with them about horror films and miniseries that aired on TV. It's this willingness to mess with their formula and tweak the set-up that keeps The Televerse from becoming too predictable. There have been times where I'm only regularly watching a few shows that they cover, yet I still download each episode. If you're a TV fan and looking for a podcast to expand your horizons, than this is definitely the show for you. 

March 8, 2013

The LAMBcast: Searching for Sugar Man, Haywire, John Carter, and Much More!

A few weeks ago, I joined four intelligent bloggers on The LAMBcast to check out movies we'd been watching lately. The discussion covered a wide array of films that included new releases and selections from recent years. My choice was Searching for Sugar Man, the Oscar-winning documentary about the unknown musician Rodriguez. Director Malik Bendjelloul takes us back to the late '60s when the Detroit singer built a small following. His songs have faded into the sunset in this country, but he's built a surprisingly large audience in South Africa. In his debut film, Bendjelloul sets up the tale like an investigation as several guys from that country learn more about their idol. There were rumors that Rodriguez had died on stage, but those are entirely untrue. When we eventually meet the guy, it's easy to see why he's remained far outside the spotlight. He's a quiet man who's clearly uncomfortable being filmed. I knew nothing about his songs, so it was stunning to hear just how good they are. That's the real find in this highly engaging documentary.

Although it's an entertaining movie, there are many questions about the accuracy of the claims in Searching for Sugar Man. Rodriguez is clearly an unknown in the U.S., so those points are accurate. However, he toured Australia in the late '70s and early '80s and is hardly an unknown around the world. The story of the difficult quest to find Rodriguez works on the screen, yet it's hard to look at it the same way after reading the criticisms about its inaccuracies. This article from Bill Cody gives a summary of the main issues. Having this knowledge makes it challenging to consider this film on its own merits. I really enjoyed the movie and am looking forward to picking up some of Rodriguez's music. Does the fact that Bendjelloul omitted important details make it a dishonest film? These questions will hang over this story for a long time as more viewers discover it following the Oscar victory.

We also discussed several films that I wrote about last year. Steven Soderbergh's Haywire is a spare, unconventional action film. Much of the criticism focused on Gina Carano's limited acting skills, but I think she did a solid job. Soderbergh is looking for a strong woman with a good screen presence who can handle the fight scenes. She may seem cold, but that fits with her character's nature. Mallory Kane is a trained killer who's always on her guard, so it makes sense that she would act in that manner. A film that received even more negative attention is John Carter, which was doomed before it even hit the screens. A poor marketing campaign, vague title, and negative press about its budget caused many to assume it was terrible without even seeing it. While there are some problems, it works much better than you'd expect. The old-school adventure starts slowly, but it has plenty of excitement once it gets rolling. We also covered Daniel Nettheim's debut film The Hunter, an understated thriller with a reserved lead performance from Willem Defoe. It's one of his best performances and reminds us what he can do when he isn't chewing scenery. 

One positive aspect of having five participants on the podcast is the possibility that we'll cover interesting topics that aren't part of the main discussion. A rant against the Nicholas Sparks adaptation Safe Haven spawned a great debate about that type of predictable movie. Is it better to shoot for the moon and possibly fail or take the safe route and please mass audiences? I prefer the first option, but I can see the validity of the other argument. I've never seen a movie adapted from a Sparks novel, but I doubt those are taking many chances. They're following a certain model and drawing big gains from it. The other participants on this podcast were host Dylan from Man I Love Films, Jay from Life vs. Film, Kristen from Journeys In Classic Film, and Joel from Deny Everything. You should check out this entertaining show through this link

March 6, 2013

Podcast Spotlight: The Matineecast

Toronto is one of the great movie cities and is filled with film lovers. Many are doing blogs and podcasts, and that’s a testament to the community's strength. A perfect example is the host of one of my favorite podcasts, The Matineecast. Ryan McNeil is one of the friendliest guys you’ll meet, and that feeling matches his show's tone. He also writes a daily blog at The Matinee, and his writing is just as interesting as the audio work. The guests frequently include smart voices from Toronto but extend to cinephiles around the world. There’s usually a review of a new release, but that’s just one part of the presentation. Within about an hour, he’ll cover a broad spectrum of topics that goes far beyond assessing a specific movie. There are few podcasts that pack so much into a fairly limited time.

One of the strongest aspects of The Matineecast is the fact that there’s only one guest. Many shows are crammed with four or five people, which makes it impossible to hear much from everyone. By keeping the group small, Ryan has time to really interact with the guest. The “Know Your Enemy” segment at the start has that person answering five questions about their movie background, and the answers are rarely predictable. Instead of just blazing into a review, we learn a bit about how the guest views movies. There’s also a lengthy “Come Talk to Me” portion where we hear feedback from listeners on the topic of the week. Those comments can lead to interesting conversations that go beyond the main subject. It’s this communal atmosphere that makes this podcast more than just another smart place for film discussions. There’s little high-brow nonsense, but it also avoids slipping into generic chatter that can dominate many amateur shows.

The main reviews are short by podcast standards, but that allows them to get at the heart of what a movie’s trying to say. The recent discussion of Side Effects with Titania Plant is a great example. That film delves into so many issues that trying to cover it could lead to a rambling mess. Instead, they tried to uncover the essence of the movie without tiring the audience. Along with discussing new releases, Ryan also does special episodes about topics like the Oscars, the year in review, and even an older film. The last example with Andrew Robinson was one of their best episodes. Instead of stretching to discuss a new movie from a weak field, they go back to an older film and then plow through some action spoofs. The conversation about Hot Fuzz got sillier than the show’s normal tone, yet it still worked because it fit the topic. That type of fun only works at that level with a single guest.

The other regular feature is “The Other Side”, which covers an older movie that connects to the new one. For example, the choices for the Zero Dark Thirty episode were Black Hawk Down and Strange Days. These segments can be great for recommendations, especially for listeners who are building their knowledge. All the sections are arranged smoothly with music cues that keep the show from becoming too dry. There are obvious ones like Green Day before “Know Your Enemy”, but Ryan also pulls out some great new songs at times to change it up. Although it’s an amateur podcast, it rarely feels like one. The high production values and music separate The Matineecast from its competition. It’s one of my favorite podcasts, and I look forward to hearing more from Ryan and his intelligent guests each time.