I have become something of a podcast nut lately. There is a ever growing number of podcasts on just about every possible topic, including movies. The following is a list of the movie-related ones I have discovered. All are available in the iTunes store for free. I’m sure most of you know about these already.
NPR Movies is of the typical NPR genre: Staid, subdued, intelligent, and hosted by emotionally controlled individuals who come across more as radio hosts than film buffs. Not only film reviews, this show has a magazine format which includes good interviews and pieces on various aspects of filmmaking and the film industry. As one would expect from NPR, the production quality is exceptional. NPR also has a the ability to interview film industry notables. What is lacks, however, is cinephilia passion as well as deep analysis of films. (Something that is largely lacking in all the podcasts. I address this more in my comments at the end.)
Production quality: 5
Total Score: 4.2
Filmspotting is maybe the most representative of the cinephilia ethos. Filmspotting is my pick for the best overall podcast on the list. The hosts are true film fanatics who exude a love of all things cinema, but also back it up with knowledge. They also have a good chemistry as they banter their way through reviews, opinions, poll results, and lists. What keeps this podcast moving is the combination of wit, pace, and the ability of the hosts to draw connections between many films – as any good cinephile can do. This is currently my favorite of the film podcasts though its overall score is the same as NPR Movies.
Production quality: 4
Total Score: 4.2
Movies 101 is a rather straightforward version of film reviewing. Three people talk about a weekly list of films in a roundtable format. The hosts are knowledgeable and congenial. This show does not have nearly the energy of Filmmspotting or the slick production values of NPR, but it is a decent and intelligent movie review show. I have to say this show is not geared toward the younger crowd or the cinephile crowd, but a thoughtful middle-aged-plus crowd that likes their low cholesterol popcorn.
Production quality: 3
Total Score: 2.5
Movies You Should See is a hip, edgy (what does that mean exactly?), roundtable discussion of old and new films by enthusiasts (though not cinephiles – if such a distinction can be made) who talk as much about themselves as about the supposed topic. Most of the shows take looks at older films, which makes me happy. Although the production quality is fair and the conversations can seem to go on too long at times, the group is funny and their language is sometimes hilariously profane. The format, however, is simply a small group of 20/30 somethings gabbing about movies the way most any intelligent group would, which makes it both interesting and leaves one thinking, “don’t I already get enough of this in my own life?” Still, it is worth keeping in one’s queue.
Production quality: 2.5
Total Score: 3
For the most part these podcasts are a great addition to other film-related resources, like blogs and film mags. On the other hand, what I would love to hear is a podcast that incorporates deeper film criticism rather than the hosts merely having a conversation about current films and entertaining us with an unscripted light-weight debate.
I would like to hear a podcast that considers trends in film theories, connections with academic currents, film history, and aesthetics. I would also like to hear a podcast that finds and explores the kinds of living connections films have with the other arts, with culture and society, with language and psychology, and with the social sciences.
In essence, I would love to hear a podcast that incorporates the best of the film and media professors I had in college with the best of the film critics doing a combination of an off-the-cuff as well as scripted show, maybe something like Radio Lab for movies. (Ah Radio Lab, maybe the best podcast in the world.)
Do you know of any others worth listening to?