Monday, December 3, 2007

iPod therefore I am

Podcasts take up a big chunk of my iTunes library. I listen to them when I exercise, when I'm driving around doing errands, when I'm waiting for appointments. It seems hard to believe now, but when I got my first iPod a few short years ago, they barely existed. Now, there are thousands, maybe millions, on every subject imaginable.

In fact, before there were podcasts, I'd make my own, by taping my favorite National Public Radio programs off the Web with a utility called WireTap, converting the files into MP3 format and uploading them to my iPod. It was a pretty time-consuming process. Luckily, I don't have to do that anymore, since any program I could ever want is only a click away.

Jan, the blogger behind Broadway & Me, recently posted a great list of the best podcasts for theater lovers. Since she's got that topic covered, I started to think about some of my favorite podcasts on other subjects.

To start things off, here are some of my favorite podcasts about movies. (And you don't need an iPod or other MP3 player. You can listen to all of these programs on your computer through the show's Web site).

Filmspotting I started listeningn to this weekly podcast out of Chicago when it was hosted by Adam Kempenaar and Sam van Hallgren. I loved the witty banter between the two of them as they discussed, and often argued, about the merits of a particular movie. It was like spending an hour with two good friends talking about a subject they were knowledgable about, and truly loved. Well, Adam's moved on and been replaced by Matt Robinson. While the show's not quite as witty, it's still a very worthwile listen for film fans. Filmspotting features an in-depth interview of at least one new release, listener feedback, and a marathon built around a single theme. Recent marathons have included Hitchcock, documentaries, musicals and silent films. There's also a contest, Massacre Theater, in which the hosts act out a scene from a classic film. Listeners have to guess the film. All the correct entries are put into a hat, and one lucky fan wins the DVD of their choice.

NPR Movies: National Public Radio's arts coverage is unparalleled. Every week, NPR gathers some of the movie-related segments that run on its shows, including Morning Edition, Weekend Edition and Fresh Air, and puts them into one neat podcast package of about 30 minutes. There are reviews of new releases and interviews with actors and filmmakers, as well as movie news, such as how Sputnik left its mark on the silver screen, a stage version of the cult movie "Donnie Darko," the new wave of cinematic talent coming out of Mexico and the 40th anniversary of one of my favorites, "The Graduate."

The Treatment: Elvis Mitchell, a former New York Times and sometime NPR film critic, interviews someone once a week from the world of film, television or popular culture on this show on radio station KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif. Some of my favorite interviews have included Entourage star Adrian Grenier, directors John Badham, Bryan Singer, Paul Greengrass, Ridley Scott and Bill Condon, and playwright Jon Robin Baitz, creator of one of my current small-screen favorites, the hit ABC series Brothers and Sisters.

The Business: Another one of my favorites from KCRW. Here's a description from the program's Web site: The Business looks deep inside the business of entertainment. A half-hour of thoughtful and irreverent dialogue with Hollywood's top deal-makers, filmmakers, moguls, artists and agents, The Business will clue you in on who's making pop culture pop and what's keeping Hollywood's Blackberries juicy. Recently, host Claude Brodesser-Akner has covered the writer's strike in a series of programs, chatted with Hollywood's man in Washington, the Motion Picture Association of America's Dan Glickman. interviewed "Wicked" producer Marc Platt, and discussed the process of product placement in movies and television.

Creative Screenwriting: As you'd expect, Jeff Goldsmith, senior editor of Creative Screenwriting magazine focuses on the writers. Goldmsith conducts an in-depth discussions with writers of current films, talking about how they got their start in the business, the writing process and what their role is once filming begins. When movies are released, it's usually the actors and directors who get the spotlight. But where would they be without the writers? These interviews offer a great look at side of the movie making process that's usually overlooked by the public. Goldsmith also talks with actors, directors and producers. Recently, he's interviewed co-writing and directing team Joel and Ethan Coen about "No Country for Old Men," Ben Affleck about "Gone Baby Gone" and Matthew Michael Carnahan, writer of "The Kingdom."


Timothy J. said...

Good post. I enjoyed the Coen Bros. and Richard Kelly.

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Esther said...

Thanks very much for the comment Timothy! I'm so glad you liked the post. There are so many podcasts out there now, of varying quality, that it can be difficult to find the really good ones. I'll probably write another one on some of my favorite book-related podcasts.