Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hollywood Imperialism

I have a love-hate relationship with Hollywood. On the one hand, Hollywood has brought us many cinematic classics we all treasure and love and to this day, still continues to manage to thrill and excite us with quite a few new classics. On the other hand, Hollywood is also a corporate entity and with a few exceptions, a real creative and artistic black hole filled with remakes, reboots, sequels and rip-offs. Don't get me wrong. I'm not some elitist hoity-toity film snob who only likes obscure avant-garde films from Eastern Europe. I enjoy a great popcorn flick and geek out when a great genre film comes out.

But Hollywood isn't the only place where great popcorn flicks, great genre pieces or even great films in general are produced. Lots of filmmakers and film industries all around the world are making great films. But I'm not just talking about the big art-house, auteur-driven film festival favorites. They're also great popcorn flicks, genre pieces and totally accessible films in general but only a few make any significant impact in the U.S. box-office or even the world box-office. Hollywood executives will tell you that your average Americans generally do not like to have to read subtitles and are generally not open to seeing films made by other countries. Others will tell you Hollywood simply made films the most number of people want to watch or that Hollywood simply made better movies. *snorts*

Actually, the REAL reason is that Hollywood is one big corporation and they've set up a system that is almost a monopoly that dominates the multiplexes leaving very little room for anything else to succeed. Hollywood Inc. is very clever in fostering the mindset of subtitled films are boring and only for film snobs and intellectuals. But how does one explain Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? It's a subtitled film with female protagonists and made well over $100 million, unheard of for a foreign-language film! It's the exception, they will insist on saying. Yep, the "exception". Every time an unconventional, unexpected film succeeds, be it something quirky, a bit artsy, a bit cerebral or heaven forbid, a documentary or a subtitled/foreign-language film, the upper-echelons of the Hollywood elite will say "It's the exception!". To me, it's bullshit. I believe that they've really set up a system and a cultural mindset that dominates and favors the big mainstream studios to pretty much dominate. It's Hollywood imperialism.

Hollywood does this in two ways. First is what's called the buy-it-and-sit-on-it method. The Chinese epic wuxia film Hero almost fell victim to this. It was first released in China and the world on 2002. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is still fresh in the minds of many people. Here comes another martial arts epic from the East that has been a hit in several countries already and got an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. It should be a no-fucking-brainer, right? Wrong. Miramax bought it, they tried to "edit" it because they didn't feel it's "marketable" to Americans and postponed its U.S. theatrical release for two years. A similarly themed film just made a ton of money in the box-office just a couple of years before, how simple could it get? Clearly, there are people who will want to see this. It wasn't until a combination of a very vocal group of film buffs online and Quentin Tarantino who is a fan of the film said to just release it as "a Quentin Tarantino presents" film that Miramax broke down and released it. It opened at the Top 5 of the U.S. box-office. It would've made more had it been released sooner, I bet. How many films do people in Miramax have in their vaults?

The next one of course is the remake. Simply promoting and distributing potentially huge money-making breakout subtitled hits is not enough for the Hollywood studios. Remaking them will get them more money. That's not to say all remakes are pure cash-grabs devoid of creativity. Several Hollywood remakes of foreign films have turned out to be very good standalone films on their own, from The Magnificent Seven (the Western remake of Seven Samurai) to The Departed (remake of Infernal Affairs). The most offensive type of these are usually horror films. There's a Spanish horror film called [REC] which is a rather scary zombie thriller set almost entirely inside of an apartment building using the "found footage" technique. As it is, it could have been a hit State-side but the powers-that-be knew better. They remade it as Q uarantine and even stole the scary final shot of it.

During the '50s, '60s, and even the '70s, the films of Kurosawa, Bergman, Fellini and Truffaut were shown quite often side by side with the Hollywood films of Hitchcock, Ford, Wilder and Capra. What happened? I'm hypothesizing it's the combination of the invention of the blockbuster and the liberalization of film censorship laws. (Before that, Americans got their sex and nudity from foreign films so they flocked to it). Are Americans really that lazy to read subtitles? Perhaps. But I do believe that if Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon could make over $100 million, it's totally and completely possible that more foreign-language films a year could make that kind of money in the U.S. and the world as well. It's not an "exception". If it's a good film that is accessible to people, it will definitely have a market. A good film is a good film.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekly Round Up (8/21/11 - 8/27/11)

The Love Parade (Ernst Lubitsch) **** - A womanizing military attache finds himself married to the Queen of his country and a battle of the sexes ensues. This is another classic pre-code musical courtesy of Ernst Lubitsch and Maurice Chevalier. The film will be viewed as rather sexist today and the songs are not that memorable but the wit, charm and filmmaking artistry will definitely win most people over (yours truly included). Oh, and it's also quite funny.

30 Minutes or Less (Ruben Fleischer) **1/2 - An unambitious pizza delivery boy finds himself forced to rob a bank after a couple of n'er-do-wells decide to off the rich dad of one of them so they can get their inheritance to fund their prostitution scheme. This film is from the makers of Zombieland. It's not quite as good as that movie. The film feels like a Coen Brothers script as directed by Judd Apatow and the result is a mix of good and meh. The cast is funny though Jesse Eisenberg, I feel, is just teeny-smudge miscast (though he's still great in it).

Pixote (Hector Babenco) **** - A young street urchin who after escaping from a brutal reform school with a bunch of young hoodlums enter a life of pretty crime involving robbery, drug dealing and prostitution in the streets of Brazil. This film predates City of God by more than 20 years. Although it has less violence and no flashy editing, it is somewhat more harrowing and disturbing even after all these years. The lead child actor in the film, Fernando Ramos da Silva, who plays the title character is a real-life street criminal whose brief fame with this film was shortlived due to his illiteracy and turned back into a life of crime, ending in a police shoot-out which killed him at age 19. Knowing this fact lends a bit of poignancy to certain scenes. It's often tough to watch but still a great film no less.

Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh) **** - I got this as a present for my dad because he loves classic rock music. Since I've only seen parts of it, I might as well catch up on my classic documentaries (one of the few genres of film which I'm dreadfully behind) and my music at the same time. This is an extraordinary documentary. The breathtaking editing and cinematography are matched only by the amazing musical performances captured forever, thankfully, on celluloid. The historic event has very much a "it's-as-if-you-were-there" feel to it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Great Scenes # 4: A Night at the Opera (1935)

Directed by Sam Wood

I love the Marx Brothers. They're comedy legends and geniuses. Their films contain some of the funniest scenes ever filmed, IMO. Despite the fact that they were made during the 1930's, most of the jokes are still quite funny and clever. One of the funniest among their already funny oeuvre is the famous crowded cabin scene in one of their best films A Night at the Opera. All you need to know is that the Brothers were given a ridiculously small room in a cruise ship. The absurd situation sprinkled with great physical comedy from Harpo Marx as well as the verbal quips of Groucho makes this scene one of the great and funniest scenes of all time.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Key Films

I was having another conversation with a friend about how we've come to love film and I was thinking, you know, in every cinephile's life there are certain films that stand out. I'm not talking about in terms of films being a favorite or being the best but there are films which changed the way we viewed the world, our lives or hold special meaning to ourselves. For many cinephiles, there are films which made us love film or turn us to certain types of films or directors. Here's a key list of films which hold some special meaning to me as a cinephile growing up:

Dumbo (1941) - This is the first film I ever remember loving. I can distinctly remember when I was 3, 4, 5 years old of wearing out our then Betamax (yes, I'm old) player repeatedly playing the cassette copy we had until it was worn out every week. I now own the DVD and I recently saw it again and it holds up. If you don't get misty-eyed during the "Baby Mine" sequence, you better get that hole where your heart's supposed to be checked out.

Beauty and the Beast (1991) - I've liked and loved a lot of films in my childhood but I must say that Beauty and the Beast is a film that made me interested in the Oscars and the Academy Awards because I heard it's the first animated film nominated for Best Picture. That made me watch the Oscars and learn all about the categories awarded on the show and all the films nominated. Watching that Oscar show peaked my interest in the craft of making the film and of films in general.

Jurassic Park (1993) - I have seen a bunch of Steven Spielberg films before this: E.T., Jaws and the Indiana Jones movies, of course. But this is the first time I was actually paying attention and was aware of his work as a director. When I was watching the film, the audience was SCREAMING because it was so exciting. I, too, had my heart pounding on the excitement and amazing special effects. The fact that a director could manipulate the audience like that is what intrigued me in the art of directing and was made aware of the role the director has in film.

Pulp Fiction (1994) - This is quite frankly, the film that changed my life. Sure, I was very much interested in film before but I've never seen a film quite like this. I never knew film could be like this before I saw it. My mouth was wide open and amazed when I walked out. After the film cut to the credit: Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, I knew I wanted to work in this medium.

Fargo (1996) - If Pulp Fiction changed my life, this pretty much made it permanent that I'm gonna be a cinephile for life and working in film and the business. This film also made me appreciate the art of cinematography and of course the screenplay.

Throne of Blood (1958) - I have heard of the name Akira Kurosawa before but I never really took to seeing his films. I was quite hesitant to see subtitled films at this point in time. I've seen a few but nothing really blew me away. This one did. I saw it for a class in college. I've devoured Kurosawa since and of course this paved the way for me seeing more subtitled films.

Psycho (1960) - I don't know which film made me truly love watching older films. It's difficult to pinpoint. Was it Citizen Kane? Was it Casablanca? Was it Singin' in the Rain? Was it The Maltese Falcon? Maybe a combination of everything? Well, let's just say it's Psycho. Alfred Hitchcock's shocking horror thriller still holds up well today even in the age of gory slice-'em-and-dice-'em.

Play Time (1967) - This is the most recently seen film on this list. I blindbought it and saw it only a couple of years ago and since then, I made it my New Year's Eve/New Year's Day tradition to make this the first film I see during the New Year (or my last film I see on the old year, whatever). It's just that good. This is a film which, really, makes me, not only love film more but love life more. It's such a giddily, upbeat and positive film, in best sense of those words. It's a stunning piece of cinema yet also a very uplifting statement on the possibilities of life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sasha Grey: Porn Star & Film Buff

This is the first and only time I shamelessly try to up my page views by posting about a porn star. (LOL). Well, for those of you who don't know who she is, Sasha Grey is (or is it WAS?) an adult film actress who recently is making a transition into being a more mainstream actress with roles in the Steven Soderbergh film The Girlfriend Experience and guest-starring in several episodes of Entourage. She's also known for being a rather intelligent young woman pursuing artistic projects on the side and she's very much a film buff as evidenced by these two clips.

These two surprisingly very different lists can only be made by a film buff, serious about film. Although I do find it interesting that she made two COMPLETELY different lists with different films only two years apart. I can understand, as someone who watches movies a lot, that your favorite films can change depending on your mood and what you see but personally, I would think at least one or two would be consistently on the top of your list. Perhaps it was intentional because she wanted to recommend more movies to people, maybe. But based on these lists however, it's evident that she is a Godard fan seeing that he's the only director to appear on both lists. I love Godard as well, but she picked my two LEAST favorite Godard films. That's kind of interesting.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weekly Round Up (8/14/11 - 8/20/11)

To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett) *** - This is my first foray into the cinema of Charles Burnett. In this one, an average middle-class African-American family gets paid a visit by an old friend who then proceeds to sow seeds of discontent among them. It takes a while to get into it but the film is neverthless extremely well-made and very well acted by an impressive ensemble of actors headed by Danny Glover, who gives one of his more interesting performances of his career. I'm guessing this is a very far cry from Tyler Perry movies.

Killing Me Softly (Chen Kaige) * - This is technically an erotic thriller but unfortunately it's neither erotic nor thrilling. Expat American in London (Heather Graham) dumps her longtime boyfriend to marry celebrity mountain climber (Joseph Fiennes) whom she falls into lust with. The sex scenes don't titillate. Graham and Fiennes have little to no on-screen sexual chemistry and the turns the story makes is ridiculous. It could've been campy, trashy fun but fails on the fun part. Usually good director Chen Kaige's first unfortunate foray into making an English film.

The Disappeared (Johnny Kevorkian) **1/2 - This is a low-budget indie British horror film about teenage boy just released from a mental institution following the disappearance of his little brother. He's haunted by dark, disturbing visions which will lead him to the truth. Strong performances are what makes this otherwise been-there-done-that ghost story very much watchable if not that big of a must-see.

Without Men (Gabriela Tagliavini) ** - All the men in a remote South American village get rounded up and forced to fight a revolutionary war leaving the women to fend for themselves. Lots of interesting concepts and ideas which would make for a fresh, interesting take on the battle of the sexes but instead mostly degenerates into clownish stereotypes and caricatures with a tacked on a tired "we're all equal-I am woman hear me roar" message in the end. Eva Longoria makes out with another woman. If you're into that.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (Glenn Ficarra/John Requa) *** - I had rather low expectations of this based on the synopsis/trailer of the film but the enthusiastic response of some people I know persuaded me to check it out and I have to say I, too, was pleasantly surprised. Most romantic comedies make me wanna run for the hills but when one turns out to be good, it's a pleasure to watch. Some flaws aside, the film works primarily because of the strong ensemble cast who turn on the laughs, charm and sweetness on just the right levels.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Great Scenes # 3: Suspiria (1977)

The First Murder

Directed by Dario Argento

Suspiria is widely considered to be Dario Argento's masterpiece and one of the must-see films in Italian horror cinema, or giallo. I consider myself pretty jaded when it comes to most horror films and am kind of annoyed by cheap jump scares. This scene, no matter how many times I watch it, still gives me chills. It's both shocking and horrifying yet oddly very beautiful as well, thanks to the brilliant set design and cinematography filled with vivid colors which both heighten both the beauty and horror at the same time. It will make you both wanna cover your eyes and watch it all at once The great score by the Italian progressive rock band Goblin adds an extra layer of scares. Watch it. If you dare.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Marketing Department Film

I have not seen The Smurfs and I have no intention on paying my money to see it either so this is not a review of it. But watching the clips and reading the reviews of this film got me to thinking: Why does it exist? Why do really bad films of this type exist? The Scooby Doo movies, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, etc. Why do they get made? And more importantly, how do they make so much money despite being critically reviled? The answer: Marketing.

Now, I believe no one actually sets out to make a bad film. I know the hard work and effort it takes to put together a single film. However, films made in mainstream Hollywood studios are an entirely different case. Studios like these are not run by creative types. It's reported many of them aren't even fond of films. They're businesspeople first and foremost, concerned primarily to make the maximum amount of profit. Therein lies one of the problems.

The entertainment business is a highly risky venture because unlike, say, a mechanical product or a food product, your product relies a lot on highly subjective factors rather than objective factors. You can measure the size, weight, length, width, etc. of let's say, a screw and you can create a satisfactory product for your customers. But film, music, video games, etc. all rely on lots of subjectivity which can't be easily be measured or weighed or quantified. This is why a lot of huge tentpole Hollywood blockbusters are adaptations of previous material like books, comics, previous franchises, etc. because they have built-in audiences for them already so money is all but guaranteed. So the Harry Potter's and Dark Knight's have little to no problem.

What about something midway like The Smurfs? That's where the marketing department comes in. The studio behind this wants to launch a kiddie franchise akin to the similarly positioned Alvin and the Chipmunks: Take something old that some older people will be nostalghic about and reintroduce them to a new generation. But instead of trying to do something creative and inventive with the material (which really could be done), they instead went to the easily marketable route of cheap laughs and forced hipness (Papa Smurf in shades? Please). It's the same for a lot of these types of films. These are films whose scripts is dictated by Q-ratings, focus groups and strictly lowest common denominator filmmaking, designed to create products and consumers out of the kids who will bug their parents to buy the tickets and the toys. This film and films like it are purely a product of marketing, made for the pure purpose of making money.

So the next time you see a movie like this, just think, that's a film by the marketing department.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekly Round Up (8/7/11 - 8/13/11)

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down (Pedro Almodovar) ***1/2 - A young man newly released from a mental institution decides he wants a job and a family. What does he do? Kidnap the B-actress he fell in love with after a one night stand the year before! Only Almodovar can concoct such a bizarre love story with thriller, melodrama and black comedy elements. Victoria Abril and Antonio Banderas both do an excellent job of selling the outrageous and potentially dangerous premise. It manages to be actually sweet and romantic in its own sick, twisted way.

Fly Me to the Moon (Ben Stassen) ** - A trio of young flies decide to stowaway with Neil Armstrong and company to become the first flies on the moon. Somewhat unremarkable both story-wise and animation-wise but it's harmless entertainment for the wee ones.

God Said 'Ha!' (Julia Sweeney) *** - Actress-comedienne-former SNL cast member Julia Sweeney's filmed version of her one woman show about the time when her brother was diagnosed with cancer and her family moves in with her to what she planned to be her bachelorette pad post-divorce. She finds humor in what's supposed to be a dark, tragic and bleak time for her and her family. Although not always funny or moving as it should be, the film pretty much holds your attention for its duration.

Cowboys & Aliens (Jon Favreau) **1/2 - This film had the potential to be the great genre blockbuster of the summer: It's a straight up Western mashed up with straight up science fiction. Though this film has quite a number of great moments, the tone is all over the place and uneven and it doesn't quite mesh together as a whole. It's highly tricky concept to pull off and expectations for this were kind of high. So I can see why it's a disappointment for many. But the film is nevertheless entertaining and has many fun moments with the actors giving it their all.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Great Scenes # 2: WALL-E (2008)

Directed by Andrew Stanton

PIXAR has made a lot of great films (the Cars movies, an exception) and every one of them have great scenes. Probably the greatest, most artistically accomplished one is none other than WALL-E. A film about the sweet romance between two sentient robots, this scene encapsulates everything that's wonderful about this film. It's funny, it's visually spectacular and oddly moving. It's definitely a surprise that a film about robots could be also the most human.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Internet and Cinephilia

I started becoming interested in movies at around age 11. It was around the early 1990's then and the Internet was only specialized tool used by a select few. So I got most of my information on books and on TV. It wasn't until the mid-1990's during my college years when I *really* became serious, started voraciously watching Kurosawa, Truffaut, Godard, Fellini and all the Hollywood classics. What happened? A combination of growing up as a person and as a film buff and of course the Internet where I met and corresponded with people who recommended these films to me.

One of the reasons why cinephilia is so popular these days, as well as all other aspects of geekdom is the Internet. Never before in the history of society and film has information and access been this easy. I mean, from the time I started fiddling with the Internet and corresponding with people, downloading entire films and watching in your computer have become commonplace. Rarely seen films and very indie and very arthouse flicks can reach audiences easier than ever before. I also find that some young people are becoming serious cinephiles at rather young ages, discovering films that I haven't even heard of until college during their junior high years!

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, there are downsides to this, of course but I do believe that the good far outweigh the bad. It means films and the appreciation for films as art form will no longer be shared by a elite few but rather by a wider spectrum of people.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Weekly Round Up (7/31/11 - 8/6/11)

The Smiling Lieutenant (Ernst Lubitsch) ***1/2 - Due to a series of lies and misunderstandings, a horny military officer finds himself unwillingly married to a sexually repressed, plain Jane princess but he's still in love with a sexy, liberal concert violinist. This film is, I believe, pre-Code so it's quite racy despite being a black & white '30s film. And it's quite funny too and despite some long stretches of silence at times, the dialogue scenes are very witty and crisp and the film is also more surprising than any sex comedy or rom-com of today. Maurice Chevalier, as the title character, is terrific so are the two women who's involved with him. Though it is technically a musical, most of the musical numbers are forgettable and extraneous but it's still an excellent film.

Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders) **** - A man resurfaces after disappearing for four years in order to put things right with his estranged son and wife. This is a film whose concept could have easily have been played for either cheap laughs or cheap sentiment. But script by Sam Shepard and the direction by Wim Wenders gives us a film that's genuinely moving and even sweet at parts but never feeling the least bit manipulative or phony. Harry Dean Stanton and Natassja Kinski both deliver great performances especially at that climactic scene in the end. Extra points for Robby Muller's great cinematography.

The Big One (Michael Moore) **1/2 - Probably the weakest I've seen from filmmaker Michael Moore. In this one, he uses his book tour to expose corporations downsizing their employees despite gaining record profits. His heart is definitely in the right place but the film is all over the place and lacks focus.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt) *** - I have quite a few problems with this prequel (underwritten characters, lack of depth, still dwarfs when compared to the original etc.) but they're few and far in between. Overall, the film does quite a damn good job of rebooting the franchise series after the cinematic abomination that was the Tim Burton "reimagining". The human characters are by and large merely serviceable (with the exception of John Lithgow who shines with his material, even in his relatively limited screentime). The real star here though is Caesar played by Andy Serkis, truly a remarkable marriage of great visual effects (the CGI mo-cap) and great acting. It features a very rousing climactic action scene as well.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Great Scenes # 1: Touch of Evil (1958)

(This is a first of a series of blogposts celebrating the great scenes, at least in my opinion, in the history of cinema.)

Directed by Orson Welles

Touch of Evil is considered the last of the true film noirs from Hollywood's Golden Age and the last film Orson Welles made for a Hollywood studio. It was mangled by executives in its release and only relatively recently was the version Welles wanted, as suggested through his now famous memo to the studio, released for the world to see. The opening scene, made in one continuous complicated shot, is a true example of bravura filmmaking. In it, we see a bomb being planted in a car in a town bordering Mexico and the U.S. and we are introduced to the central characters of American Janet Leigh and Mexican officer played by Charlton Heston. The scene only cuts when the bomb goes off so there's an atmosphere of tension throughout the uncut shot.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Film Podcasts

In recent years, I've gotten into the habit of downloading podcasts, loading them up in my iPod and listening to them incessantly during long trips, daily commutes and even downtime at work. They can be very entertaining and occasionally even informative. I'm particularly fond of film-related (surprise!) or comedy podcasts. Here's a short list of the film podcasts I listen to:

01. Doug Loves Movies - Formerly known as I Love Movies with Doug Benson, it's hosted by comedian and professional pot smoker Doug Benson. Often taped in front of a live studio audience in the Upright Citizen's Brigade theater in LA, he along with two or three guests (or more), usually fellow stand-up comics or even actors and TV personalities, riff about movies and movie-related topics, often going on unrelated (and hilarious) tangents. At the last 20 minutes or so of the podcasts, him and the guests usually play the Leonard Maltin Game, a movie trivia game that uses Leonard Maltin's Video Movie Guide, where using a particular category and some vague clues lifted from Leonard Maltin's review, a player has to guess a movie by bidding how many names from the cast list (starting from the bottom going up) he or she can name the movie. It is pure joy from any film geek. Notable guests have included Patton Oswalt, Jon Hamm, John Lithgow, Edgar Wright, Elisabeth Shue, Anna Kendrick, Michael Cera, Ellen Page, Simon Pegg, Rainn Wilson, Amy Poehler, Samm Levine and Leonard Maltin himself!

02. Battleship Pretension - For those of you who want their film talk to be just a tad more serious, this is the podcast for you. Hosted by film enthusiasts David Bax and Tyler Smith, this is simply a podcast where they talk about film usually focusing on a particular topic like the career of an actor, director, writer, even behind-the-scenes artisan or a particular genre. They too would often have guests, usually an independent filmmaker, a fellow podcaster or also a stand-up comic (both David and Tyler are comedy nerds as well).

03. And the Nominees Are... - This is another fun film podcast. Three college film geeks namely Keith Jackson, Kenny Jones and someone I happen to know online, Austin Lugar decide that they want to watch each and every film nominated for the Best Picture Oscar from the beginning of the Academy Awards to the present and review them in a podcast. Each year is kicked off with a "history lesson" where they talk about the historical events that happen in that particular year and then they proceed to share their thoughts on all the Best Picture nominees alphabetically (Years with 10 or more Best Picture nominees are usually divided into two podcasts). It is of course a long-term project. Since they are college kids with lives, the podcast doesn't come in weekly doses. They've been doing this for over a year, only now have begun to review the films from the 1940's. It is a fascinating podcast, a must for any fan of film history.

04. The Criterion Cast - This is another film podcast which review films exclusively included in the Criterion Collection (see post below) hosted by Ryan Gallagher, Travis George, Rudie Obias and a revolving door of podcasters and contributors. Since they are part of the Criterion Collection, they're often older, foreign, landmark films of the history of cinema. It's probably one of the more highbrow film podcasts out there. But they're not all that stuffy. They have bonus miniepisodes where they review current films and other aspects of pop culture as well.

05. Comedy Film Nerds - This is not quite as wacky and irreverent as Doug Loves Movies, although also not quite as serious as The Criterion Cast or even Battleship Pretension. This is somewhere in between. This podcast is hosted by comedian Graham Elwood and Chris Mancini where they and a special guest, usually another comedian where they talk about movies coming out in the theaters and DVD, and riff on movies in general, at times concentrating on a particular topic the guest is interested in though there is often no fixed topic. It's basically equal parts funny and informative.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Comedy Bang-Bang (formerly Comedy Death Ray), not a film podcast but a comedy one and an often hilarious one at that. Hosted by Scott Aukerman, comedians and comedic actors are interviewed and often do characters, skits and improv games to hilarious results. WTF with Marc Maron, hosted by comedian Marc Maron is a great interview podcast. In it, Marc interviews different comedians, actors and writers in rather revealing interviews, far more revealing and informative than any TV interview could ever get. If your favorite comic or actor is in this show, it's a must-listen.

So, what's in your iPod?