Monday, November 28, 2011
Over the past however-many months, I have become a devoted fan of radio shows you listen to on your computer or some other such device that is not actually a radio, also known as “podcasts.” They’re quite the thing these days, and cover a huge variety of topics, through various tones and at varying levels of professionalism. As one would assume, this being the internet, movie-based podcasts are everywhere, and me liking movies the way I do you’d think I’d be all up on those. But actually no: the majority of my podcast-listening habits are devoted to the comedy ones, of which there are also many. My experience with movie podcasts so far has led me to believe that they’re all either too smug, too negative, too geeky, or too empty -- you know, the whole “this movie was good but not great” thing. Now, I do enjoy a couple of what have become known as “bad movie podcasts”, but the ones I enjoy are, while too taken with their own ironic interest in Nicolas Cage, tend to be mostly free of malice, and actually funny. But at this point we’re dealing with comedy more than we are with movies.
The big exception so far, and the reason for this post, is The Kubrick Series, itself a miniseries within the ongoing Movie Geeks United podcast. So far I only know the Kubrick episodes, but they’re pretty glorious. They come out only very occasionally, and once you’ve heard an episode you can see what takes so long. The most recent episode, Episode 5: Redrum, about, of course, The Shining, is two hours and forty minutes long. Longer than The Shining, in fact, and it plays, the podcast does, like a series of audio documentaries. Smoothly hosted by Jamey Duvall, each one is structured around a series of interviews, with Kubrick associates like Tony Ferwin and Leon Vitalli, film critics like Glenn Kenny and Keith Uhlich, Kubrick biographer Vincent LoBrutto, and on and on. These interviews are then sliced up and stitched together as you would in a documentary film, with voices weighing in on different aspects of a given film as the podcast episode shifts from theme to theme. And it’s all terribly fascinating.
You pretty much get everything. In The Shining discussion, you have people talking about how the ghosts in the film must be in Jack Torrance’s head, a beloved and totally infuriating critical theory, that you can hear happily dispelled when the next guy pops up and says “Well, Wendy sees them too, so…” Also, at the beginning of the A Clockwork Orange episode, which I haven’t heard in its entirety, during the “On this episode…” montage, you hear Tony Ferwin saying that he finds the whole idea, put forth by a depressingly large number of critics, of Alex being almost admirable because in his evil he is at least “alive”, very troubling. I have not often heard this fairly, let’s say gross, critical reading refuted, so I can’t wait to sit down with that episode as well, or any of the rest. They’re well worth your time.