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.
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You don’t have time to read a lengthy introduction because you have 151 minutes of an epochal film to watch tonight, not to mention however long it takes to do crunches, scream into the mirror, get brain-erasing high, trim your toenails, call your mother, use a neti pot, cry, masturbate, cry while masturbating, or whatever else is required before you feel emotionally ready to validate and then contribute to Zack Snyder’s expensive sweatpants addiction.
So, anyway, hey! It was a pretty good week for podcasts! As you can guess, everyone was talking about Superman and Batman, though no one explicitly pointed out how this new 151-minute My Chemical Romance music video is seeing release on Easter weekend, which probably isn’t a coincidence because Zack Snyder might as well be making movies about super-ripped Christs in spandex pummeling each other to see who’s sad-strong enough to have the honor of climbing the cross and sacrificing themselves for the good of humanity. Granted, The Canon had their own “v” episode, pitting The Passion of the Christ against The Last Temptation of Christ, but they did that only because it’s Easter, not because it’s Easter and also because there happens to be a big ole weird fascistic, $250M Catholic paean eating up audience bandwidth in every multiplex across the cosmos. It was a pretty good episode!
Though shout-out to the Grierson & Leitch podcast (co-starring Paste’s own Chief Critic, Tim Grierson) for correctly giving Superman Returns its due, which inevitably entails pointing out all its Jesus-y imagery. I bet all you haters are reconsidering that flick after helping Snyder buy one more pair of dark grey Uniqlo dry stretch high-performance sweat-bottoms.
Speaking of sweat-bottoms, I have one waiting to get sat upon, so let’s get to my picks for the three best film-related podcast episodes of the week.
“Ethan Cushing Bounces The Terrorists From Club America!”
Matt Watkins and Brad Vassar are working film-type Californian people, and so they have plenty of friends or acquaintances who, at one point or another, have written screenplays which the authors were sure would help them crush it in Hollywood. At least, that’s what most of them say when they bring their old scripts to Best Movie Never, proceeding to then pitch the work to Matt and Brad, who say they’ll help “fix” the script but just spend an hour making fun of it. This week, Ethan Cushing, director and host of the My First Feature podcast (so…many…podcasts) brings along his script for Justice For All, which he describes as Crash meets Die Hard With a Vengeance. It’s a feature he wrote in 2003, less than two years after 9/11, and one that includes a climactic terrorist situation at a major New York landmark, because that is the kind of stuff college students do before they realize they’re talent is a lie and they’re degree is worthless. The script, in turn, is as terrible and pedantic as Crash’s probably would be were I to ever read it, the co-hosts reciting passages of dialogue with unbridled glee and painful accents. Notable highlights include Cushing’s many names for his many characters—which off the top of my head are, I think, such choice all-American brands as STEVE PARKER, SAM TAYLOR and PRESIDENT GARY LYNCH—and Cushing’s obsessive compulsion to describe every character’s hair color, style and length. If podcasts like Scriptnotes or The Broken Projector have a tendency to bum you out with all their erudite self-seriousness—c’mon dude, you wrote The Hangover 3, so maybe take it down a notch—then Best Movie Never is exactly as self-aware as it should be.
“Special Report: Room Full of Spoons”
I have seen The Room more times than any other film. I have a Playstation 3 with a Blu-Ray player that quit on me about two years into owning it, only to accidentally reveal itself some time later to require a “warming up” with a DVD before I can play a Blu-ray disc. That DVD is almost always The Room. Whenever I want to watch a Blu-Ray I inevitably watch The Room first. That is my The Room story; there are many like it.
Which is why Rick Harper’s new documentary Room Full of Spoons, which chronicles the making of The Room, is, as Projection Booth host Mike White describes, as much about Tommy Wiseau’s film as it is about Harper’s fandom and the making of his own film. White welcomes Proudly Resents host Adam Spiegelman to wax armchair philosophical about the Best Worst Movie Ever Made, touching on something that I think is crucial when considering The Room: There really is no difference between having a lot of fun watching a “bad” movie and having a lot of fun watching a “good” movie—a “guilty” pleasure is not something that exists—and to call The Room the worst movie ever made is to denigrate the sheer luck and passion that Wiseau sank into his film, despite literally and obviously having no idea what he was doing. Spiegelman and White share a fond and easy chemistry, but the true bonus of this “special” episode comes in yet another naturally enjoyable interview care of White, when he talks to Harper about the long process of making the documentary and what his experience has been as a first-time filmmaker.
Hosts Jonathan Braylock, James III and Jerah Milligan talk each week about a major film led by a black actor, and so with the DC Universe hanging hot and heavy above our heads, they pour themselves a White Russian (hold the vodka) to endure the disastrous 2004 Halle Berry vehicle, Catwoman, with all of the snark and disappointment and descriptions of sultry lesbian scenes it (probably) deserves. Though Jerah invites his agent, Jayme Marrow, a self-described Asian woman (I don’t know, I can’t see her, I have to believe them), onto the episode to dig even deeper into what Berry’s recourse might have been had she decided to drop out of the obviously shitty movie—a movie that went through at least three leading white actresses, greenlit in 1995—the meat of the episode’s conversation centers around the question of why the film even exists, planted in some sort of not-quite-DC neverwhere in which Catwoman isn’t Selina Kyle and what that might imply about the fact that after almost a decade producers cast a black woman as their ostensibly last choice. In the same year, Berry won both an Oscar and a Razzie, and she seemingly hasn’t recovered her career since. Would that have been the case were she white? It’s hard to say, though looking to Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck post-Daredevil does not bode well for the all-inclusive, forgiving nature of the filmgoing American public.
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.