-The Joy of Filmspotting

In this moment of quiet before the onslaught of holiday movie and awards season madness descends upon us, I want to take the opportunity to do a shout-out.

For those of you who have not yet discovered or embraced the wonderful world of podcasting, you are really missing out. To those with mp3 players, podcasts have opened up the world and brought, essentially, free talk radio to us, but without all the annoying people calling in. There are podcasts on almost any subject you can imagine, from cars to Lost, from home improvement to politics. But, just like the internet and blogging, virtually anyone can make a podcast, and, just like blogging, there are really great podcasts out there and there are a ton of really bad ones. All you need is a microphone and a way to upload it and you’ve got a podcast. Sometimes it’s hard to weed out the really good ones that are worth your time.

And when it comes to movie podcasts, you can imagine how many there are out there. So many people love movies and everyone has an opinion. But, as I’ve come to find, it takes more than an opinion to make a good movie podcast. If I have to sit through another podcast hosted by three buddies sitting in their basement chatting about movies where every other word is “like,” I think I’ll put my head in the oven. And it also takes more than professional polish and pedigree. While the classic NPR movie podcast is still up there in quality and informative value, it is quite stilted and can always be counted on as a cure for the hardiest case of insomnia.

If you’re looking for a movie podcast, there’s only one choice: Filmspotting. It is the best around.

Filmspotting, hosted by Adam Kempenaar and Matty Robinson, is by far the most intelligent, interesting and enjoyable movie podcast out there. Adam and Matty are informed, smart and funny and they review their films with a film professor’s knowledge, a bit of philosopher’s bent and a fan’s perspective. And they manage to boil it all down and talk about each film in a way that makes us want to listen. They never give away too much of a story and they always are respectful of the audience. But, mostly, they are fun to listen to. They offer up their film reviews as a bonafide conversation, like two friends sitting down after seeing the film and discussing it over a drink. Nothing stilted and stuffy here. But, don’t get me wrong, they know their stuff. They are currently teaching a course in film at the University of Chicago and their knowledge of the form and history shines through. They have a passion for film and its history, but aren’t too stuffy to admit they love The Big Lebowski. They are regular guys who have a knowledge of film history, a passion for movies and a gift for analyzing a film through plot, themes, character and nuance—and who can admit when they’re wrong! What more could you possibly ask for in a critic?

But they offer more than just film reviews. They do a great bit each week called Massacre Theatre, where they butcher a scene from a film, acting it out (badly) and challenge us to guess what film it’s from. If you guess it right and your name is chosen from the hat, you win a prize. It’s not only fun to guess what movie they are performing, but just hearing them interact with each other with childish glee reminds us what watching movies is all about….entertainment.

They also offer a top 5 list every week, which usually ties into a review they are doing. For example, during a recent week when they reviewed W, they offered up their top 5 scenes from Oliver Stone films.

While they do occasionally interview actors or directors, it is not a regular occurrence, thank god, because, in my mind, there’s nothing more boring than listening to an interview with an artist who’s there just to self-promote, and hearing the same boring questions and answers over and over again. They keep their guests’ appearances to a minimum and keep the film commentary to a maximum.

Filmspotting with Adam and Matty is the best podcast around. Again, I can’t recommend it enough, if you love movies and have a long commute, fly a lot, or just like to mix it up a bit on your iPod. Listening to them reignited my love of movies….maybe they will do the same for you.

New shows are produced weekly and you can subscribe for free on iTunes or on their website. Visit www.filmspotting.net to learn more about the show or to download an episode and listen for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.