When I was a youngster growing up in Brooklyn during the 50s and 60s there were two ways to watch movies: go to my local movie theater and see the latest studio release, or catch an old movie on late night television. Thus, your choices were pretty limited. As I grew older, I would schlep into Manhattan and watch movies at arty revival houses. In this way I educated myself about motion pictures. I screened a fair number of movies by the time I entered college but I realize now I was pretty ignorant. Basically, access to movies was severely limited.
This all started to change with the advent of renting movies on video, which eventually morphed into laser discs, and then DVDs and Blu-Ray.
Now, we live in an almost miraculous age. We who love movies can purchase a dizzying array of films on disc or go online to streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Criterion, Kanopy—the platforms are multiplying at a dizzying rate—and watch hundreds, no thousands of movies, at the click of a button.
For the gift of instant accessibility we have sacrificed the communal experience of sitting in a dark theater with an audience—most vital to comedy. But the trade-off, to my way of thinking, is more than fair.
With the explosion of movies online has come hundreds of movie blogs where fans write with love and intensity about their various obsessions.These fan/blogs have, thankfully, relegated traditional newspaper movie critics to the dust bin of history.
In the past few years, there has been an explosion of podcasts dedicated to all aspects of the movies. Here are three film podcasts I listen to on a regular basis.
I Blame Dennis Hopper is the brainchild of actress Ileana Douglas. She interviews actors, directors, producers, about the movies they love, how they got into the business, their hopes, dreams and frustrations. The conversations are free wheeling and often veer off into unexpected directions. Douglas loves the movies and has a deep appreciation for film history. Her conversation with legendary director Peter Bogdanovich is amazing.
The Movies That Made Me is hosted by screenwriter Josh Olson and director Joe Dante. The dynamic duo give guests “homework assignments” asking them to compile lists of influential movies. In a recent episode they had actor Thomas Jane compile a list of his favorite French gangster movies of which Jane is something of a connoisseur. The lists frequently kick off deep digressions with Dante revealing such a deep knowledge of film history that I feel like the dumb kid in Talmud class again.
The Projection Booth is hosted by Mike White. His focus is on one particular movie. These are deep dives into sometimes obscure films, but also more well known pictures. White has guests with a particular expertise on the film they are dissecting and the conversations are always revealing and fascinating. A few weeks ago White devoted a show to my first Hollywood film Body Double, where I learned stuff about the film that I never knew. Mike interviewed me for the podcast but I actually never listened to my segment.