Monday, June 30, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Just in case that you are wondering, here is a summary of my podcast reviews thus far. Because I value content over production value, I created the new "weighted score" rating which is simply the average of three times the content score and the production score. Your results may vary. Look for more podcast reviews soon!
Friday, June 27, 2008
I first listened to their reviews of Sex and the City and You Don't Mess with The Zohan. Yikes! My first impression was disappointment in the fact that having a man and woman discuss films is central to their show instead of of peripheral. Rather than an intelligent exploration of film between two film reviewers who happen to be of different sexes, my first exposure to the podcast played on the chick-flick and guy-flick stereotypes. However, this problem proved to be unfounded, as the SATC episode was a special episode that didn't follow the show's normal format. For example, in discussing The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, they did discuss the film intelligently without even touching their male/female personae. In that same discussion, they ended up in a pretty interesting open ended discussion about playing video games as kids and modern documentary style. Still, in other episodes that I have listened to, they do lapse into the stereotypes occasionally. For example, when discussing "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" the male co-host "Michaelvox" spent by more time by far discussing Marisa Tomei's extensive nudity more so than any other aspect of the film. Most of the time, they hold the gender stereotypes at bay.
One of their other 'hooks' is that they give spoilers on their show, with ample warning. I'm OK with spoilers that have an advance warning, if an intelligent discussion of the film requires it. However, they don't consistently use spoilers intelligently. For example, their excellent discussion of There will Be Blood included the ending in a very insightful way. On the other hand, in talking about Sex and the City, Tassoula (the female co-host) gives an extensive start-to-finish plot synopsis for no apparent reason other than to fawn over how much she loved the film. I am even less inclined to see it now, and the synopsis was really immaterial to her review. Another miss-they avoided (forgot?) spoilers on No Country for Old Men? The ending of that film was central to the few criticisms other reviewers had of the film, but they make no mention of it.
I do like their "Last 5" segment in which they each discuss the last five things that they have seen. Since that can and mostly does include rentals, it has included some long forgotten or hidden treasures that I am interested in going to rent myself (once I get through these podcast reviews).
On the personality side, the co-hosts are not super charismatic, a strong contrast to Fat Guys at the Movies, but thankfully they have a much more intelligent and less prurient discussion. Tassoula does in fact have a very sexy voice (as her fans are wont to write in to tell her). Perhaps Michaelvox does as well, I'm not one to judge. Still, they are not always engrossing in conversation. On occasion, you can tell that they are reading from a prepared script. In one episode, they spent 10 minutes discussing where they like to sit in a movie screening and where they ended up sitting during their Iron man screenings. ZZZZZZZZZZZ............
The production quality of Cinebanter is just OK. The hosts are in separate cities, which I am sure adds to the technical complexity. Tassoula is clearly the home base for the recording, because Michaelvox's audio is often more spotty (in some episodes more than others) where hers is less so. Both of them suffer from "popping Ps" if you know what I mean, which is annoying--they need better microphones or something. Also, the flow of the show is sometimes choppy, with jarring breaks inserted here and there. They are often communicating the flow of the show on air. For example, at the end of their up-front review segment, they often tell one other "I've got nothing else to say." Would it be so hard to communicate to one another before recording what your last points are going to be? This isn't a big criticism, it was just striking to me after listening so long more slickly produced podcasts and NPR productions.
All in all, I do like listening to these two a lot and will continue to subscribe to their podcast.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
- They have two articulate and generally well-prepared hosts (Neil Miller and Kevin Carr)
- The production quality is pretty good. Wow! Professional microphones! But, um... why is your kid in the background yelling for the bathroom?
- The length is reasonable.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Additionally, the production quality is atrocious. Some hosts are clearly calling in, while it sounds like others that are perhaps in the same studio do not even have the same quality of microphone. So, technically, it sounded bad.
All that being said, my biggest problem with the podcast is that it was all over the map. Each episode, there are numerous hosts--4? 5? 6? 7? It was hard to keep track because sometimes 10 minutes would go by without a comment from one or more participants. Often, the participants spoke over one another, making everything they said unintelligible. The "What We Watched This Week" segment, though a clever idea, is indicative of the problem. The idea of this segment is that each person can talk about what they watched the prior week. That does come with some interesting benefits, like having interesting discussions with the benefit of years of thought about a film that may have been released a decade or more prior. However, what it ends up happening is a completely unstructured conversation that drags on for two hours. Other examples of the scattered nature of this podcast:
- When the show was announced on the /Film blog, one of the hosts of the show posted in the comments, "Heh, I guess I’m gonna be on the show tonight… and what a great way to find out. This is gonna be really fun!"
- During the podcasts, the participants seem unprepared for the topics. In one case, one participant asked another his opinion on a rejected script for the latest Indiana Jones film. The response was '"Well, to be honest, I didn't get a chance to read the script, but I have read other people's reviews of the script..." He then proceeded to comment on it.
Perhaps the issues that I raised are a side effect of the live broadcast, an issue that the other movie-centric podcasts that I have reviewed have post-production efforts to clean. /Filmcast is in its infancy, just having gotten a handful of episodes under its belt. Maybe I'll tune in again in a few months if they reduce their number of hosts and broaden their focus beyond the comic-con topics. For now, I'm unsubscribing from this one.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Overall, a nice upgrade for the speed, but not worth all of the hype that it got last week.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Production Rating: 10/10
Based in Santa Monica, KCRW's The Business program (and podcast) is an inside look into "the business" of film and television. The show's host, Claude Brodesser-Akner is a veteran writer for publications such as Variety, Premiere, The New York Times Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and Us Weekly.
As you would expect from a professionally-produced NPR program, the show is slickly produced and professional. This does not sound like a podcast at all. I considered not including this program in my series of podcast reviews since it was not produced on a level playing field with all of the other podcasts out there. I decided to include it because it is competing for my ear alongside these amateur podcasts. Both are delivered to my iPod via iTunes the same way, after all. Plus, as we all know, budget doesn't necessarily equal quality, and low budget film productions can far outshine its mega-produced bretheren. The final result is still displayed on the same silver screen. But I digress.
As you would expect from a host with such deep credentials as Brodesser-Akner, TB is an insightful look into the world of TV and movie making, if you are into such things. If you are interested in the inside world of show business from the most public (the writer's strike) to the esoteric (nielsen is rating commercials now) to the minutae (the price of popcorn), this is the show for you. All of those topics were interesting to me to a degree, but occasional segments like the interview with the authors of The Hollywood Assistant's Handbook left me snoozing.
Personally, though I like the podcast, I am less interested in how movies and television get made than in the films and shows themselves. I will continue to listen to The Business because it is often interesting, but I expect to have to occasionally skip some segments out of boredom.
Friday, June 20, 2008
In one of my earliest blog posts, I highlighted my favorite film podcast (or rather, my favorite podcast overall), Filmspotting. Aside from the obligatory Star Wars/Trek/Matrix/Lost podcasts, I complained that there was a dearth of other interesting film-related podcasts out there. I recently discovered that this is no longer the case. New podcasts like The /Filmcast, Cinebanter, Cinemaslave, Fat Guys at the Movies, and Left Field Cinema have appeared on the scene (or at least, have come to my attention) recently. Anyway, as an avid podcast listener in general, I thought that I'd offer my thoughts and recommendations on these podcasts, plus the NPR production from KCRW/Santa Monica called "The Business".
This is what I originally wrote about Filmspotting:
Filmspotting (formerly Cinecast) is a good one--great commentary, knowledgeable, charismatic hosts, and great production value. Check it out.In the spirit of film reviews, I will add to that some official ratings for Filmspotting for production quality and content. In those categories, I give Filmspotting
Content Rating: 9/10
Production Rating: 7/10
I do miss their original co-host, Sam Hallgren, but Matty Robinson has been a nice addition. Co-hosted by Adam Kempanar, the podcast is smart without being arrogant or high-minded, and doesn't delve too deeply into adolescent snarkiness like many other podcasts do. The hosts are intelligent and run a tight show which moves along briskly without even coming close to descending into sound bite quickie reviews. I love the combination of reviews of current films along with their film marathons that encourage listeners to follow along (recently featured marathons were 70's Sci Fi, Ingmar Bergman, and Film Noir). They also have fun sideshows like Massacre Theater, top 5 lists, and Matty's Movie Minute that are always well researched and produced. They occasionally have do interesting interviews as well, with the likes of Ellen Page, Diablo Cody
However, Filmspotting is not perfect. I have two complaints about the show. Once in a while, I think that the hosts play devil's advocate simply to be interesting and make for a lively discussion. For example, I find it very hard to believe that Matty really admired Speed Racer as much as he professed to. I also think that while the production quality of the show is excellent compared to other podcasts, once in a while one of the hosts trail off and their comments are unintelligible. Of course, Adam and Matty don't have the resources of a professional recording studio and are not professional radio hosts themselves, so this can be forgiven. The production value is still better than 99.9% of the amateur podcasts that I have heard.
Look for reviews of some other movie-themed podcasts in the coming weeks.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
First, an alternative view of the press conference in the penultimate episode's flashback. This aired just prior to the finale yet differed from the original airing from the week before:
Alternate Endings to who was in the coffin, to discourage spoilers, I guess....
Speaking of Spoilers.... Spoiler Alert! Sawyer Whispers something to Kate... A fan speculates on what it was, and others respond....
I can't wait for next season....
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
I will continue to write about the iPhone, iPod and its bretheren here on this blog as I always have. In the future, look for even more--Look for my impressions of movies to incorporate the iPod. What do you think of this sample? "Hulk Incredible on the iPod"? Hey, let's treat this post as an experiment. I'll post the traffic results soon. iPod iPhone iPod iPhone iPod iTunes.
Incidentally, my next highest traffic volume comes from my posts about Journeyman. I guess that Journeyman and the iPod have something in common--people who follow them do so with freakish passion.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
David Pogue reminded me of all of the shortcomings of the newly announced 3G and GPS enabled iPhone. One that I didn't think of--AT&T's highly touted 3G network is only available in major metropolitan areas. Fortunately, I happen to live in one. But if you don't, make sure that you understand that before you buy one.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Incidentally, Idiocracy is a scathing look at American culture that is definitely worth renting if you haven't seen it. Read more about it here.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
- Worse battery life. Yes, you read that right. 3G networks are power hogs.
- More location-driven applications (a la, "Find local restaurants")
- A Whizbang iPhone SDK--so we'll start to see independant vendors and basement hackers building iPhone apps
- Here's the big guess--Video calling......
Monday, June 2, 2008
We'll miss you Sydney.