Friday, June 27, 2008

Film Podcast Review V: Cinebanter

Finally! A film-oriented podcast with a woman involved! After listening to hours and hours of podcasts hosted solely by men, I was desperate to hear a woman's point of view. Cinebanter to the rescue! The podcast itself even starts with "I'm a girl. I'm a boy.... How does this show differ from other movie podcasts? I'm a girl. I'm a boy.... "

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.

Content: 7/10
Production: 4/10


Tassoula said...

Hi CG,

Thank you so much for your review of our show. I think you make some very valid points (I did drone on too long in the SATC re-cap, didn't I?) and I appreciate you including us in this critique series.

Re: the Cinebanter production quality, everything before episode 40 is spotty. We were using Skype (with a Mac in Seattle and a PC in San Jose) and recording from that, constantly battling static, loss of calls and sound interference. Thankfully, one of our great podcasting peers steered us in the right direction and provided a new method for us to use, which has improved the sound quality significantly (however, we'll work on the "p's," ha).

I was delighted to hear that you will continue to subscribe to our show.

Furthermore, since you mentioned liking our Last Five segment, we'd love it if you'd send us YOUR last five to be read on the air.

All the best,

MichaelVox said...

Hey. I'm the other half of Cinebanter. I am sorry that your first exposure was with the SATC/Zohan episode. I'm glad you listened to some of our more typically formatted ones as well. I also must confess that while Tassoula was recapping Sex and the City, I might have been dozing as you were. We probably won't try that format again. As for the production, we are two people with two real jobs in two separate cities using free software. I'm just happy when both our voices turn up in the same episode.

As for my sexism, it is my job, nay, my duty, to desseminate piggish information regarding nudity and all other manner of boyish fascination to a discerning public.

MichaelVox in San Jose.

Post a Comment