An Ear for Film: Bad Movies, “Bad” Movies and The Bad Sleep Well

The three best movie-related podcast episodes of the week.

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An Ear for Film: Bad Movies, “Bad” Movies and The Bad Sleep Well

Each week, Dom plumbs the depths of podcast nation to bring you the best in cinema-related chats and programs. If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, then writing about movie podcasts is like listening to someone describe someone dancing about architecture. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Movie critics are all about Sundance right now, which means that there’s either a dearth of new film podcast episodes, or there are a bounty of reviews, articles and assorted Film Twitter epistles which do little but make you feel like you’re not cool enough to have an opinion about the current landscape of cinema.

Which is fine, I suppose. Congrats are in order for Amy Nicholson over at the Canon for being a Sundance judge. Her and Devin Faraci’s discussion this week about Working Girl is a pretty fascinating encapsulation of how taste—and therefore any real critical opinion—is an incomprehensible amalgam of nostalgia, fact and ineffable, incomplete attraction. Everything Faraci says about the film rings true, as does everything with which Nicholson responds. They’re both right and they’re both wrong, and the movie’s fine. The takeaway is that your opinion, dear reader, is just as important as theirs, even though everything currently playing at Sundance you probably won’t see for at least another year, if you’re lucky.

On this week’s The New Flesh, Brett Arnold goes HAM on the remake of Martyrs, as he should, offering a pretty in-depth take on why the new version is such a travesty, and why the original 2008 film could be considered, for all of its near-obscene grotesquerie, a work of art. It’s worth making it to Arnold’s critique, though you may want to stop the episode all together when co-host Joe Avella goes on a sort of Tom-Cruise-prompted tirade about how much he hates every classic horror film ever made pre-1970, including all the Universal Monsters vehicles. I like his point—that film fandom need not require a holistic love for whatever the film world deems as a “classic”—but his ire comes off as more bitter and stupid than well-reasoned. Plus, when he declares that the original House on Haunted Hill is somehow better than all the aforementioned picks, he totally lost me: I love me some Vincent Price just as much as the next person, but that movie’s a pretty dumbly constructed waste of good talent.

Still: no shade. We all love film here. And we all love it in different ways. Some like to write about it, and some like to talk about it, and some like to talk to people who talk about it—and some like to listen to people talk to people who talk about it.

Here are the three episodes you should hear this week:

ear-film-we-hate-movies.jpgWe Hate Movies
“Episode 234 – The Last Witch Hunter

One of the (many) joys of tuning in to We Hate Movies every week is the coterie of characters core hosts Andrew Jupin, Stephen Sajdak and Eric Szyszka have developed (with some admittedly suspect voice work) to populate their riffs on the countless terrible movies they’ve watched. A personal favorite is Christopher Lambert’s Raiden from the original Mortal Kombat, but this week they introduce “Vin Diesel,” which pretty much amounts to them trying to get their voices as low as they can go, giving up halfway through the episode to just play the actor as a sort of deadpan, dead-eyed one-liner-machine. Unsurprisingly versatile, “Vin Diesel” is a half-assed character for the ages, both charming and inhuman, which pretty much explains the appeal of any of his movies, and why anyone would want to watch them. The Last With Hunter is a perfect pick for a show like this, because it straddles the line between irredeemable garbage and exactly the kind of movie one would watch with friends while intoxicated, its plot unhindered by screaming drunkenly at the screen. Assault your liver and check this one out—both the movie and the podcast, the latter also featuring a pretty spot-on impersonation of Michael Caine as a man who literally won’t get out of bed for much of anything anymore.

ear-film-rilato-report.jpgThe Rialto Report
“João Fernandes: The Artist Formerly Known as Harry Flecks”

The Rialto Report is a beautifully thorough podcast about films you’ve probably never seen—unless you’re an avid fan of pornography. Each episode features a typically over-detailed interview with a stalwart of the adult film community, illuminating both the history of the industry and the many personalities who served as trailblazers for such a hotly contested chapter in artistic media. Plus, host Ashley West is like the Narduwar of porn: His knowledge of these films—the filmmakers and the context in which they were made—is inestimable. It’s marvelous to listen to him fill in the blanks for each person he interviews, helping them remember parts of their own lives typically lost to the flagrant lifestyles they enjoyed decades ago.

This week, West talks for almost two hours to João Fernandes, director of photography for such “classics” as Deep Throat, Devil in Miss Jones and The Story of Joanna. The rub (pun definitely intended) is that Fernandes did what many adult filmmakers always wanted to do but never could: He eventually broke into Hollywood, working on a number of Chuck Norris and horror films, even serving as DP for Children of the Corn and a Friday the 13th sequel. The interview closely chronicles how Fernandes made it so far, forging a path many adult film stars could never follow, portraying the man as far from a smarmy horndog as possible, more a film buff (and student of the dame teacher who once mentored Scorsese) who saw the adult film industry as a way, pre-digital, to learn what technical filmmaking was all about. Which is exactly how he used it. That the conversation is also a good-natured, optimistic narrative of the immigrant experience in 1960s New York is a bonus.

ear-film-important-cinema-club.jpgThe Important Cinema Club
“The Kurosawa Cliché”

Self-identified “bespectacled white guys” Will Sloan and Justin Decloux host The Important Cinema Club with as much seriousness as that title implies, knowing full well that the kinds of perspectives they offer—of the aforementioned white guy variety—are no longer perspectives people are really jonesing to hear anymore. With that, their show takes to film-love as one would to a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos: Hungrily, shamelessly and with little care as to how one’s taste will appear to society at large.

This week they talk about Akira Kurosawa’s legacy via two films that handily encapsulate his brilliance: Throne of Blood and The Bad Sleep Well. With a cursory examination of Kurosawa’s patchy friendship with Toshiro Mifune, as well as a chuckly glimpse of the extent of Kurosawa’s power in Japan and how that may have led to him being such a well-known dickhead, the hosts offer a conduit for any uninitiated viewer into an intimidating oeuvre. Their detour into some excellent little anecdotes about Kurosawa’s close friendship with Godzilla director Ishir? Honda frames Kurosawa as a much broader director than critics and historians may want to admit. Calling him the “Michael Bay of Japan,” is such an on-the-money phrase for opening up the genius of world cinema to people who may otherwise hear the name and allow their brains to turn off instantly.

Dom Sinacola is Assistant Movies Editor at Paste and a Portland-based writer. Like everyone on this planet, he co-hosts his own podcast, Pretty Little Grown Men, which is sometimes about movies but mostly about Pretty Little Liars. You can follow him on Twitter.