Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: What is the best film (or film-related) podcast?
Neil Miller (@rejects), Film School Rejects
There are a great many podcasts in my life — from the ones I host to the ones hosted by close friends — so it’s hard to approach this subject without wanting to selfishly yell “One Perfect Pod!” Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s a real favorite: “The Mothership,” from the folks at USA Today. More importantly, it involves two of my favorite Twitter pals Brian Truitt and Kelly Lawler. Its mandate is broad, which means there’s video game and comics talk to go along with film and television, but alongside Brett Molina, they make an interesting trio that often wrangles interesting guests. It is consistently one of the breeziest listens of my week, usually clocking in under an hour — which is very rare for a film podcast. Note to the world of film podcasters: brevity is the soul of wit.
Kyle Turner (@TyleKurner), Brooklyn Magazine, Paste Magazine
“You Must Remember This,” for both its engaging storytelling and Karina Longworth’s celebrity impressions.
Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic), Nonfics and Film School Rejects
Apologies to all the podcasts linked to my employers and no apologies for going with this pollster’s own, but my favorite is “Fighting in the War Room.” I love a lot of other pods for their niches and focus and uniformity, but FITWR’s roundtable of dissimilar voices about a wide range of pop culture topics is consistently the one my ears and aural short-attention span are most comfortable with, no matter what I’m doing while listening. They just need to talk about documentaries more often.
Mallory Andrews (@mallory_andrews), cléo
“Film podcast” is a somewhat broad category. If we’re talking scripted and rigorously researched podcasts, Karina Longworth’s “You Must Remember This” is unmatched (her current Dead Blondes series is really great). And then there are the interview-based shows, for which I’ll nominate a pair that complement each other: Matt Gourley’s “I Was There Too,” in which Gourley interviews people who have had minor roles in major films, and Norm Wilner’s “Somebody Else’s Movie” in which notable individuals in the industry are asked to talk about a film they love but had no part in making.
But most of the time when I’m listening to podcasts, usually while I’m on my morning commute or doing housework, I just want to feel like I’m sitting in on a conversation between friends. In that regard, nothing comes close to “Film Junk” for me, in which the hosts (Sean Dwyer, Jay Cheel, Frank Knezic, and occassionally one of a recurring roster of guest hosts) chat about movies as much as they constantly rib on each other. Based in St. Catharines, Ontario, Film Junk has been running for over ten years and 600 episodes, and is rife with running jokes (there’s a handy glossary on their webpage to ease new listeners into the Junk universe) and will often go on tangential asides (the Christmas 2015 movie-going season prompted a nearly hour-long debate on the proper pronunciation of “Krampus”). For me, this is the best part of “Film Junk”: they’re often crass and usually uproarious. Oh, and the film-related content, which includes a weekly review of a new release following by the segment “Other Stuff We Watched”, has been a reliable source of movie recommendations for me. And while they’d be the first to deny their status as “serious” film critics, their aesthetic analysis of film have been some of the most thoughtful I’ve ever encountered…after making it through the 20 minute long discussions about getting poutine at the drive-in, that is.
Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail
Let me cheat here, and answer with three (four, really), in the following categories:
Best interview podcast: Kim Masters’ “The Business” on KCRW. I love how Ms. Masters always makes sure to ask good follow-up questions of her guests (recent ones include Ben Wheatley, Damon Lindelof, the “Zootopia” directors and Ava DuVernay), and never allows terms that might make sense to her interviewee but not to her audience go undefined. She is truly a “master” at what she does, and one of the best in the “business.”
Best film-history/film-topic podcast: Karina Longworth’s “You Must Remember This.” With topics ranging from “Dead Blondes” to the Blacklist to “MGM Stories” and so much more, host and co-writer Longworth takes us on brilliantly crafted journeys through the Golden Age of Hollywood. Not to be missed.
3. Best movie gabfest podcast: A tie between “Fighting in the War Room” and NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour.” The former features Katey Rich, Matt Patches, Da7e (Dave) Gonzales and IndieWire’s own David Ehrlich; the latter features host Linda Holmes, regular guests Stephen Holmes and Glen Weldon, and an assortment of other semi-regular guests that include folks like Gene Demby, Petra Mayer, Chris Klimek and more. Both offer the voices of intelligent and opinionated critics on the current movies, TV shows, and other pop-culture artifacts of our day. If you get tired of one, there is always the other.
Matt Singer (@MattSinger), Screencrush
Besides “Filmspotting: SVU” (PLUG PLUG PLUG PLUG PLUG), lately I’ve really been enjoying “The Next Picture Show,” featuring some of my former colleagues from The Dissolve. Each episode is broken into two parts, connecting a movie currently in theaters with an antecedent that relates to it in some way. The chemistry of the hosts is terrific, their knowledge is top-notch, and the discussions are both light and extremely in-depth. Some film podcasts I only listen to when I’m interested in the movies up for discussion. “The Next Picture Show” is good no matter what the pictures are.
Max Weiss (@maxthegirl), Baltimore magazine
This is bound to be controversial but I like Bret Ellis’s podcast (B.E.E.). It’s not strictly about film, of course. But he’s a true cinephile, who waxes rhapsodically about ’70s auteurism and his boyhood experience of seeing films like “Carrie” and “The Shining.” He talks about the aesthetics of film quite a bit (he called “La La Land” last year’s “purest expression of cinema.”) He also has a lot of directors on his show: The Larry Clark interview was as sleazy and fascinating as you might expect and Paul Schrader was hilariously bitchy about his rival Brian De Palma (on the De Palma doc: “It’s more than anyone needs to know about him.”) And while I rarely agree with Bret, his iconoclasm can be thrilling, especially compared to Film Twitter where there tends to be a uniformity of opinion. (Bret found “Moonlight” “miserablist” and neutered, for example…”Moonlight!”)
Two words of warning: You have to sift through a lot of Bret tediously raging against SJWs and liberal snowflakes to get to the good stuff. And as an interviewer, he’s literally the worst witness leader I’ve ever encountered (he shapes the conversations based on his obsessions, not his subjects’). Still, his passion for film is self-evident and he’s even inspired me to look at certain films in a new light.
Manuela Lazic (@ManiLazic), Freelance for Little White Lies, The Film Stage
Few film podcasts are as persistently captivating as “The Film Comment Podcast,” hosted weekly by the always funny and dynamic Violet Lucca. Bringing together contributors to the magazine such as the brilliantly cutting but hilarious and kind-hearted Nick Pinkerton, the precise and wise Michael Koresky, or other talented writers of the likes of Adam Nayman or Aliza Ma, the hour-long show often takes cues from the magazine’s content itself to address contemporary debates in cinema. The brilliance of everyone in the room and the seamless editing create a conversational tone that is inspiring, inviting and intriguing throughout, without ever leading to the type of shapeless musings that are common in this format and give it a bad rep. When it wasn’t making me stop in my tracks to better listen to the personal and very thought-through opinions of all involved, the recent episode on Terence Malick had me laughing out loud, alone, in public.
David Ehrlich (@davidehrlich), IndieWire
“You Must Remember This,” of course. Though “Filmspotting,” Peter Labuza’s “Cinephiliacs,” “Yo, Adrian” and IndieWire’s own “Screen Talk” are right there with it.