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Left Field Cinema, the best-curated film podcast out there
June 12, 2009 10:41 AM   Subscribe

I've listened to dozens of film podcasts, but Left Field Cinema is the first that devotes its episodes only — or at least primarily — to movies worth discussing. I'm talking about Malick's Badlands. I'm talking about Tarkovsky's Solaris. I'm talking Kieslowski's Dekalog which gets a two-parter. I'm talking about Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies. I'm talking Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. At long last, I say.
posted by colinmarshall (38 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
I hope the podcast is more exciting than those movies. The Jesse James movie was interesting material presented at a soporific pace.
posted by bz at 10:51 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just a few minutes into the Conversation and I'm already glad you posted this. Very dry, but these will be great on the MP3 player when walking.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:52 AM on June 12, 2009


Couldn't find any Spielberg reviews, and he's probably the most important director of the last 40 years.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:55 AM on June 12, 2009


Couldn't find any Spielberg reviews, and he's probably the most important director of the last 40 years.

I see what you're trying to do there.
posted by xmutex at 10:58 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do they have any about Guy Maddin? Because I just saw Brand Upon the Brain and, like, dude, what?
posted by rusty at 11:10 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also notably absent is the auteur Uwe Boll.
posted by xmutex at 11:14 AM on June 12, 2009


What are you talking about?

I believe he's passionate about cinema as an art form.

Couldn't find any Spielberg reviews, and he's probably the most important director of the last 40 years.

Somebody wants to argue.
posted by philip-random at 11:18 AM on June 12, 2009


Somebody wants to argue.

By which I mean, please let's not derail this into a argument about Steven Spielberg. The guy's had a profound impact, no doubt. But come on, so have Malick, Tarkovsky, Kieslowski, not to mention a whole bunch of directors I've never heard of ... and I'd like to.
posted by philip-random at 11:25 AM on June 12, 2009


Do they have an episode about Ghostbusters 2?
posted by Brocktoon at 11:29 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


No Party Girl?

meh.
posted by oddman at 11:57 AM on June 12, 2009


Couldn't find any Spielberg reviews, and he's probably the most important director of the last 40 years.

There's still time; the podcast's a going concern and all, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down.
posted by colinmarshall at 11:59 AM on June 12, 2009


Do they have any about Guy Maddin? Because I just saw Brand Upon the Brain and, like, dude, what?

I haven't seen Brand on DVD, but I did see it at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago. You may already know this, but the film was intended for the presentation that the Music Box gave it: The film was completely silent. Live foley artists performed the sound effects; a live orchestra played the score; Crispen Glover narrated. At two points during the film, a castrato sang a brief song.

Again, I haven't seen it on DVD, so I don't know what it's like at home on the small screen, but on the big screen, presented thusly, it was one of my favorite movies I've ever seen.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:05 PM on June 12, 2009


I'll bite. Spielberg is commercially and culturally important, and often entertaining. Artistically he's sterile as a mule. Sounds like the makers of this podcast are more interested in the latter quality.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:05 PM on June 12, 2009


Artistically he's sterile as a mule. Sounds like the makers of this podcast are more interested in the latter quality.

Looks like it leans that way, but it's not all highbrow. Cloverfield gets its own episode, and given that, I don't see why an analysis of Jaws or the Duel would be beneath them.
posted by Beardman at 12:19 PM on June 12, 2009


In this thread, the word "derivative" has be replaced with "important." Shhhh! Let's see who notices.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:24 PM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've listened to dozens of film podcasts, but Left Field Cinema is the first that devotes its episodes only — or at least primarily — to movies worth discussing.

I dunno, call me jaded, but I can't tell anymore what movies are worth discussing and what movies are not. I have a minor in Film Studies and during my undergrad years in the early 90s I spent about three nights a week in the excellent local indy cinema, but I can barely get through a rented DVD now.

I'm not always sure why accessibility is somehow a mark of sterility or whatever. Without being facetious (this time), I do think Spielberg is worth discussing. Compare ET with Paris, Texas: both movies are groundbreaking in that they include, observe and investigate the (post) modern condition - for example, both feature Star Wars merchandise, and take place in tract housing in California. Yet you ask any film nerd which movie is more worthwhile to watch or more credible, and they'll tell you it's Paris, Texas. 'Cause, you know, it's not a commercial movie, it's only really meant for the small number of people who can truly appreciate film.

Still, this is quite an excellent find, and I look forward to downloading and listening to these podcasts while working around the house.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:37 PM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


You talk about a lot of things.
posted by owtytrof at 12:39 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like that they get it right by posting their podcasts as articles for those of us who have more time to read than to listen.
posted by goatdog at 12:41 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm talking about form. I'm talking about content. I'm talking about interrelationships. I'm talking about God, the devil, Hell, Heaven. Do you understand... FINALLY?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:42 PM on June 12, 2009


shakespeherian: I kinda loved it too, actually. Yeah, the DVD describes the original performance context, and seems to reproduce it to the extent that's possible. Isabella Rossellini narrates, and really her narration is the weakest point of the whole thing. A couple scenes would have required an extra title card or two, most particularly the first telling of the story of mother's birth, but otherwise the narration could have been dispensed with entirely, and it would have been a stronger film for it. It may possibly just be that Rossellini is grating and annoying, but I think she really was superfluous.

I was actually really impressed that a film that is entirely built out of melodrama, reference and stock psychosexual archetype could manage to be so engaging. And also the "aerophone" and "heart to heart rescussitation" were just awesome.
posted by rusty at 12:44 PM on June 12, 2009


I'm talkin' about friendship. I'm talkin' about character. I'm talkin' about--hell. Leo, I ain't embarrassed to use the word--I'm talkin' about ethics.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:58 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Isabella Rossellini narrates, and really her narration is the weakest point of the whole thing.

There are a bunch of different narrator tracks you can choose from though, if Rossellini doesn't float your boat. Criterion did a fantastic job on that disc (it's only missing one of Maddin and Tolles terrific commentaries).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:02 PM on June 12, 2009


Crap. I missed that somehow.
posted by rusty at 1:15 PM on June 12, 2009


Left Field Cinema provides alternative analysis of mainstream films
[emphasis added]
posted by kirkaracha at 1:22 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yet you ask any film nerd which movie is more worthwhile to watch or more credible, and they'll tell you it's Paris, Texas. 'Cause, you know, it's not a commercial movie, it's only really meant for the small number of people who can truly appreciate film.

I have to just put an end to this fallacious claim. Maybe it's the loser film nerds who are like this, I dunno. But I'm at USC getting an MA in Critical Studies of Film, right? I'm grading the papers of the students in what is, for all its flaws, the best and oldest film school in the world, right? I know from film nerds, and there is more diversity in study that that. Lots and lots of actual film academy deals respectfully with genre pictures and pulp and EVEN TV *gasp!* So, if you want the truth about what I think? Film nerds are better than you describe. Those snobby, self-educated idiots are "film buffs" to me, and usually they are the ones who suck to talk to because they give you shit for not having seen whatever they pin you down for having not seen.

And there IS going to be a class on Spielberg-as-auteur class in the fall, so there ya kinda go. ET is pretty freakin' great. I also am quite fond of Hook.

Film is an art, a craft and a commericial, collaborative, cultural endeavor. You can create an excellent work within any of those parameters, and you can create interesting discussion about any of those facets of any picture. To believe otherwise is myopic.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:32 PM on June 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


Werckmeister Harmonies exposes all of the machinations surrounding the human condition in a single two and a half hour film. It seems to me that any further discussion is unnecessary.
posted by eschatfische at 1:33 PM on June 12, 2009


Stop being so reasonable Ambrosia! SOMEONE IS WRONG and we should get back to deciding who it is!
posted by freebird at 2:03 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


SOMEONE IS WRONG and we should get back to deciding who it is!

Okay, how about ...

I'm talkin' about friendship. I'm talkin' about character. I'm talkin' about--hell. Leo, I ain't embarrassed to use the word--I'm talkin' about ethics.

I'm talking about form. I'm talking about content. I'm talking about interrelationships. I'm talking about God, the devil, Hell, Heaven. Do you understand... FINALLY?

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! - for choosing to make fun of the OP's choice of words and not offering anything positive to the discussion, thus wasting precious seconds of my life. Can we please leave this infantile teasing in middle school where it belongs? ... and I suspect it's not tolerated there either.
posted by philip-random at 2:11 PM on June 12, 2009


RE: Spielberg.

Wanted to chime in and say that A.I. is amazing, y'all, and probably should be slotted into their misunderstood section. Jonathan Rosenbaum—probably one of the better modern film critics around and hardly a Spielberg fan—put up a must-read analysis of it when it came about. In general, Spielberg's recent works have been more artistically compelling since he dropped most pretense of creating prestige pictures, particularly Munich, Minority Report, War of the Worlds, and Catch Me if You Can. Though looking at this list you would be forgiven in thinking that he's forgotten how to put together a third act.

As for the site, I took a gander at some of the posts and it's kind of flat as far as analysis goes. It reads like a compilation of undergrad film essays.
posted by Weebot at 3:05 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Spielberg is not the Britney Spears of film. He's the Michael Jordan of film.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:27 PM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


phillip-random fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: Never miss a movie reference when movie nerds are in the thread! HA HA HA! -- hA ha HAAAA! -- HA HA H- *thump*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:46 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


My favorite Spielberg film is EMPIRE OF THE SUN, no question. JG Ballard hits s the mainstream -- head on. Troubling, flawed, impossible to forget ... this sequence in particular, though it loses much of its power viewed out of context of the 90 odd minutes leading up to it ....
posted by philip-random at 3:50 PM on June 12, 2009


for choosing to make fun of the OP's choice of words and not offering anything positive to the discussion,

So you haven't seen Miller's Crossing or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, right?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:57 PM on June 12, 2009


EMPIRE OF THE SUN - concerning a land war in Asia. I seem to have blundered doubly ...
posted by philip-random at 3:58 PM on June 12, 2009


Extra credit: The two movies quoted earned the same oscar for two unrelated men with the same last name in successive years.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:00 PM on June 12, 2009


So you haven't seen Miller's Crossing or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, right?

I've seen both, at least three times. I regret to my eternal humiliation that their dialogue is not forever emblazoned upon my consciousness. Clearly, I need to do more drugs.
posted by philip-random at 4:45 PM on June 12, 2009


Spielberg is not the Britney Spears of film. He's the Michael Jordan of film.

To me he's the Émile Zola of film. Admirable in some ways, but when I watch (read) his stuff. I go "OH GOD NO DON'T DO THAT" and then he does it every damn time (see, for instance, the ending of Saving Private Ryan).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:06 AM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wanted to chime in and say that A.I. is amazing
Apart from that scene at the end with the boy robot and his mother. To this day those scenes give me the creeps, and the film was very good without that denouement.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:52 PM on June 13, 2009


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