Monthly Archives: April 2012

Get An Earful of Film

Podcasts About Movies That I Think You’ll Enjoy

Ear with strip of filmWhat’s the next-best thing to watching movies, or discussing them with fellow movie geeks face-to-face? Listening to others discuss them! For those times when you’re craving cinema, but you’re by yourself, and/or needing to do a task that requires your eyeballs but leaves your auditory apparatus free, here are audio podcasts that cinema wonks will enjoy.

  1. Linoleum Knife: Hosts Alonso Duralde and Dave White are genuinely funny and knowledgeable about movies past and present, and about the movie industry. The audio quality is high, and language stays pretty clean. (All of these characteristics are, disappointingly, a rarity when it comes to podcasts about movies!) In a recent episode I thought I heard someone give Dave the nickname “The Velvet Lawnmower”. Listen and find out why that’s a dead-on description.
  2. Movies You May Have Missed: This podcast’s title sums it up. Rather than try to hit the ever-moving target of current movie-industry news, hosts Juan Carlos Bagnell and Lee Buckley bring attention to films from a lot of different eras and genres that even the most obsessive movie nerds may not know about. Past episodes have covered topics ranging from zombies to Joan Crawford‘s version of “Mildred Pierce”. This podcast introduced me to “Seconds”. The hosts seem to welcome suggestions from listeners.
  3. Film Misery: Just discovered this one but I plan to start listening regularly. Host Alex Carlson and a changing lineup of guest hosts and co-hosts are extremely polite but don’t take themselves too seriously, the music used in the episodes is listenable, and the audio quality is high.
  4. Geek Scholars: Another very recent addition to my list, but I’m looking forward to listening and learning more. The lively hosts (Chris, Fox, Lauren and Jill) seem to take the “scholar” part of their podcast’s title seriously.

Honorable mention has to go to the Popcorn Mafia podcast. The only reason I’m cautious about recommending it is the strong language and kinda racy humor. This one definitely merits iTunes’ “explicit” rating. So just use some judgement about where and when you listen. Host Grae Drake obviously knows and loves movies, and her enthusiasm shines through in every episode.

Doing the research for this entry reminded me that many seem to be compelled to create their own podcasts about cinema, but so very few are worth listening to. I encountered several (which will remain nameless) which were really a chore to listen to. Problems like atrocious audio quality, squeaky-voiced hosts, and hosts that guffawed at their own jokes while wildly mispronouncing the names of films or of actors, had me reaching for the “stop” button on iTunes pretty fast.

Also, podcasts that don’t focus exclusively on recent movies and movie news seem to be in short supply. If you’re aware of any that fill this niche that you can recommend, pass them on. Happy listening!

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“Police Academy” vs. the Sea Cucumber

(or, “Flicks for when you’re not feelin’ so good”)

"Police Academy" vs. the Sea Cucumber

What movies can you recall watching while you were sick, injured, or otherwise temporarily incapacitated? Are there any favorites that you summon up on Netflix, or slide into the DVD player, when you start feeling lousy?

The title of this entry comes from an experience the Cinema Wonk had last August. My husband and I were trying a new Asian restaurant. The entree’ I chose included something called a “sea cucumber“. Less than 24 hours later, I was profoundly regretting my choice during several rather urgent trips to the bathroom. “The Revenge of the Sea Cucumber” enjoyed an exclusive run, shall we say, for about two days. About the only activity I could manage between pit stops was watching TV. And brother, I was not picky about what I viewed. I’m pretty sure I watched all of one of the “Police Academy” movies for the first time in my life. Don’t ask me which one. Even though that series of movies came out just as my cinematic diet was expanding beyond Disney and the oldies shown on TBS, somehow I’d missed seeing more than a few minutes of any of them. The one that saw me through the sea-cucumber siege included a guy being tricked into washing his hair while in the nude in view of several other people, and the guy who could imitate all kinds of sounds using only his mouth. Also Steve Guttenberg was in it. (Does this narrow it down?)

All of which made this movie a perfect fit for my gastrointestinal haze. Any critical faculties I have were not just dulled; they were reduced to the level of a kindergartener’s. And that kindergartener was not the brightest kid in her class, either.

While I’ve been writing this blog post, I’ve been trying to recall any other movies that made the perfect accompaniments to infirmity. And for a cinema wonk, it’s surprising that only two movie-related experiences come to mind. One is deciding that the only advantage to getting a sore throat was that I could sound more like Lauren Bacall for a few days. The second came during a recent mild cold, which seemed to respond to black-and-white British comedies. Dozing off while Peter Sellers and friends outsmarted Lionel Jeffries in “Two-Way Stretch“, and later Terry-Thomas and his teeth and a flock of spinsters (including the marvelously-named Elspeth Duxbury) contrived to steal any furs not nailed down in “Make Mine Mink“, proved very soothing for body aches and sinus congestion.

I guess this lack of sick-flick memories is good, because it means I haven’t had to spend very many long, difficult periods in bed. My only two really long periods of recovering – chickenpox and after having my wisdom teeth pulled – happened before the VCR Fairy visited our house. And the movie offerings on cable that were age-appropriate were pretty limited at those times. (During the wisdom-tooth convalescence, I do recall waking up during the Pat Benatar video for “Love Is A Battlefield”, and panicking because I thought this meant I had somehow ended up in the afterlife.) More recent sick days have been eased with DVDs, Netflix and a bigger range of movie options (and the freedom to watch R-rated stuff, without a parent censoring). So all those sick days run together. Except for that ferocious sea cucumber.

So, fellow wonks, what do you prescribe for the next time Dame Stomachache or Good Sir Sinus Infection comes a-callin’?

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Movie-Geeking for Dollars

In a perfect world, games based on extensive knowledge of movie trivia would be played for high stakes, like poker in Las Vegas.

Dream with me, won’t you?

Of a world where knowing the meaning of the phrase “pre-Code” gets you long-overdue rewards like fabulous accommodations, booze and food. All us cinema wonks could finally be rewarded in meaningful ways for those countless hours we’ve spent in front of movie, TV and computer screens, soaking up the kind of knowledge that in the real world will only get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks if it’s accompanied by at least $1.75.

And forget just visiting a Las-Vegas-type place to participate in these movie trivia games once in a while. Why not move to this imaginary paradise and become a professional movie trivia buff? As long as you keep your trivia knowledge sharp, it’s practically a guaranteed living. None of the stomach-churning risk of being a full-time poker player.

Think of the glitzy tournaments we pro-geeks could all compete in! Streamed live over the Internet, televised worldwide and beamed throughout the cosmos. The Super Bowl would fade in comparison. IMDb and Netflix would work themselves into a fever, begging for the privilege of sponsoring the film-wonkiest among us.

Finally a response from the rest of the world that’s more encouraging than the “Get away from that @#!! screen and go out for some fresh air!” we’ve all heard so painfully often. Every species possessed of even the most rudimentary eyeball, ear and brain would be transfixed to the point of requiring adult diapers because they couldn’t bear to miss a second of this clash of the cine-trivia titans. No matter how near-sighted and large-bottomed our film obsessions had rendered us, we’d each be enrobed in a flattering tunic completely covered with the shimmering logos of our adoring and loyal sponsors, and seated on our own (surprisingly comfortable) mountain of gold ingots.

During the competition our every utterance – to say nothing of our silences, carefully timed to heighten the audience’s already-fascinated tension to a new and deliciously unbearable height – would be hailed as both witty and wise. And when a victor finally emerged from this fantastic-bombastic brain-battle, he or she would be offered prizes such as a crown, the enthusiastic attentions of a harem-full of his or her preferred gender(s), and having the president of their choice chiseled off Mount Rushmore so that his or her countenance could be added. The also-rans would receive consolation prizes in the form of new piles of gold ingots, big enough to serve as ottomans to those ingot mountains they already have.

But when it comes down to it, we cinema trivia geeks are a humble folk with simple needs. After a decent interval of considering each of these fabulous prizes, the winner would cast down his or her eyes and shyly say, “Y’know, all I really wanna do right now is watch a movie.”

And so all of the competitors would shuffle amiably together to a venue of the victor’s choosing – be it drive-in theater, multiplex, art house or the basement of her or his childhood home – sit down in whatever posture they each find most comfortable, and, as they have so many times before, turn their gazes to the screen, and feel that familiar thrill as the lights dim and a flickering image begins to illuminate the truth.

The End

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