Since the last couple times we’ve checked in, some old favorites have gone on hiatus and some new ones have been found. The world of podcasting used to be niche in itself, now it’s a vast area of media on its own and a chance to explore the niches of culture. Presuming you’re familiar with Solute-hosted productions like Soundtracking and Ellroycast and cultural explorations by Solute contributors like The Barn and the Jackpot Entertainment podcasts (and if you’re not familiar, check out them links), here’s some recommendations from the world of movie podcasts. Many are culled from your suggestions on previous summaries – recommend more below (shameless self-promotion encouraged, as always).
Black Men Can’t Jump in Hollywood – Hosted by actors Jonathan Braylock, Jerah Milligan and James III (of Netflix’s rudely buried The Astronomy Club), the podcast highlights new and classic films featuring leads with actors of color. The discussion of diversity is the show’s raison d’etre – and at nearly six years old, predates the most recent mainstream coverage of the issue – and the multiple perspectives show the variation and nuances in that discussion. Every episode finishes with a three-tiered rating system based on how a movie furthers the cause of actors of color. But as they’re quick to point out, appreciating a movie’s diversity isn’t the same as appreciating the movie, and a stinker is going to bear the brunt of their wit. Running jokes and a casual conversation format puts it in a category with “eavesdropping on friends” podcasts like Blank Check, and following the movies chosen can lead to some lesser-seen titles.
Highlights: Even Will Smith – an actor often evoked on the pod for positive memories and running gags alike – can’t save Suicide Squad from getting roasted. The energy of early Black Panther screenings gets captured in that film’s episode.
The Projection Booth – In a medium with a sometimes uneven approach to preparation, host Mike White brings background and focus to the discussion, as well as great interview subjects. A long and eclectic catalog of episodes tends toward sci-fi and cult, but includes a bit of everything. The past month’s episodes have included a trio of Buster Keatons, Never Cry Wolf (1983), Seven Beauties (1975) and The Duke of Burgundy (2014). This is the show for the deep diver, with episodes regularly topping the two-hour mark and often hitting three or four hours. But the discussions between White and a rotating list of co-hosts never drag or get sidetracked. If anybody is allowed to ramble it’s the interviewees, a selection of actors, crew members and authors as delightfully varied as the titles chosen.
Highlights: More so than any of these podcasts, look for a film you can’t get enough of for your starting point. Go as high or low brow as you like – you can find Ellen Burstyn talking about The King of Marvin Gardens or Pitof on Catwoman.
Bad Dads Film Review – A British podcast where four dads go back to catch up on the movies they miss due to having children. A relatable premise for breeding cinephile with episodes divided into bite-sized segments for the parent on the go. Each week starts attempting to construct a consensus top five list on topics like Clint Eastwood titles or elevators featured in movies. Next they discuss the featured movie, sometimes featuring a guest or relevant interview. The last segment is a discussion on a piece of pop culture foisted on them by their children.
Highlights: Pairings create intriguing episode titles like Midsommar & My Little Pony and Dallas Buyers Club & Peppa Pig. An episode on Under the Skin is particularly notable for star Adam Pearson giving a witty interview, then losing all his goodwill with the group when he has them watch Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n Roll Wrestling for their children’s option.
We Hate Movies – In the top tier of the subgenre of Bad Movie podcasts, the WHM gang gets points first for being consistently funny, choosy with their targets, and for often contradicting the title of their own podcast and letting their affinity for film – even crappy ones. They’ve been known to spend a month a year reversing the premise (and theme song) for We Love Movies, so they can include all-time favorites for discussion, riffs and imitations.
Highlights: With over 530 episodes and counting, as well as several spinoffs into other side areas, somebody much closer to the WHM-iverse could point to the all-time classics. As far as relatively recent encounters, last spring early in quarantine they covered all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies with an increasing madness and fatigue that felt just right for that moment of time.
Best Movies Never Made – Producer Stephen Scarlata and screenwriter Josh Miller discuss the histories and contents of screenplays and story treatments for high profile projects that never made it to the big screen. As industry professionals with time in the trenches, the podcast has a light inside-baseball tone that gives it an extra dimension of insight beyond just geeking out over the contents of James Cameron’s Spider-Man script. Some episodes have the writer of the ultimately rejected script, often revealing the labyrinthine and strange process of developing a studio movie. In the best episodes a copy of the script exists and the hosts and guests will do a table read of key scenes.
Highlights: A number of Jurassic Park 4 ideas got committed to the page and you’ll go from mocking the idea of an elite velociraptor commando team to thinking… maybe that could have worked? A couple subjects – like Spider-man and Super Mario Brothers get enough drafts to fill four episode mini-series, containing memorable moments like a Mario script with a musical number and Cameron’s likely rushed proof-of-concept draft where Peter Parker uses R-rated language on Doctor Octopus.