Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: “The /Filmcast”

Posted by Maximum Fun on 10th May 2009

Long before your Podthinker became a Podthinker, his esteemed predecessor Ian Brill wrote up a movie podcast called Battleship Pretension. Having been sold on the show by that very review, it has thus been your Podthinker’s goal to dig up an equally good program on matters cinematic to recommend. When Tyler and David, co-captiains of the good ship Pretension, mentioned that they’d made a guest appearance on The /Filmcast [iTunes link], said /Filmcast emerged as a promising contender.

Is it as recommendable as Battleship Pretension? Quite difficult to say, since never have two podcasts that share a subject been so different in form. Where BP has the purity of two dudes in the same room simply straight-talking about the cinema every week, T/FC is a more exotic, technological beast, combining Skype-based group film discussion with news, reviews, interviews and even movie commentaries. It’s like some crazy Horn of Plenty of film talk, an ever-more-various variety show that pushes the boundaries of what can be accomplished in the movie-chat-podcast form.

The plus side is that, what with all the elements, features and wingdings, every film geek’s going to find something to love. On the minus side, some of the show’s branches necessarily prove sturdier than the others. Downloading an episode at random — actually a semi-episode, since each is broken up into multiple files — you’ll get one of a few basic entertainments. One is what I call the “episode head”, where the group get together and first mention what they’ve seen recently, then speculate about the latest word from the film world, then commence arguing out the merits and/or demerits of a single motion picture in current theatrical release, such as Duplicity [MP3], Observe and Report [MP3] or Crank 2: High Voltage [MP3].

As was always the case with Siskel and Ebert, the reviews are as fun as the disagreement is strong. This was well-illustrated on Tyler and David’s guest appearance, when everyone but them liked the (pretty lame-sounding) State of Play [MP3]. (If there’s a weakness to the discussions, it’s that the usual group gives way too much slack to “popcorn” movies.) Many others from the internet film scene also stop by to participate: people from Rotten Tomatoes, people from the Independent Film Channel, people from C.H.U.D., that sort of thing. But things don’t truly get interesting until the free-form “/Filmcast: After Dark” segments start up, when guards are let down, spoiler cautions are thrown to the wind and (one assumes) the drinks start flowing. (It’s especially nice to hear the group’s marginally irritating spoiler fixation stop, since, really, any movie that’s literally spoiled by revealing its plot points probably isn’t worth watching to begin with.)

All that said and your Podthinker hasn’t even gotten to The /Filmcast‘s interviews, where host David Chen turns roving reporter, going around and conversing with the neato filmmakers of our time like Brick director Rian Johnson [MP3] and Sin Nombre director Cary Fukunaga [MP3]. Though a bit on the short side, the interviews are informative nonetheless. And speaking of, any more information in this column — and much more could be said about such a full-featured podcast — and the short side will recede into the distance, never to be seen again. Even if this isn’t your Podthinker’s Battleship Pretension, it’s got enough variety and experimental brio to extract admiration from any willing cinephile.

(Oh, and they take listener calls, too.)

Vital stats:
Format: film discussion, film reviews, film interviews, film news
Running since: May 2008
Duration: 20m-2h (depending on the segment)
Frequency: one segment every two, three or four days
Archive available on iTunes: last 70 segments

[Fun fact: Podthinker Colin Marshall also writes a film column. Argue with his impeccable points at colinjmarshall at gmail, discuss Podthoughts on the forum here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]