Summer Listening

The Daily — Jul 18, 2018
Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

We do a lot of lounging in the summer, often supplemented by reading and occasionally by listening. In the past few weeks, I’ve put together overviews of some of the most notable new books and magazine issues of the season that will be of interest to cinephiles, and today, I turn to podcasts. The occasion? Trailers from Hell has just launched one, The Movies That Made Me!, in which screenwriter Josh Olson and director Joe Dante talk with “filmmakers, comedians, and all-around interesting people” about the films that have influenced them. Their first guest is Miguel Arteta, director of Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl, Beatriz at Dinner, and most recently, Duck Butter. It turns out that sexploitation king Russ Meyer has had quite an impact on the way Arteta watches and makes movies. Arteta says that when he first saw Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), it made him realize that “you can do anything you want with the camera . . . It just completely energized me.”

Dante and a few new media partners created TFH in 2007. Since then, the web series has featured directors, writers, and actors such as John Sayles, Allison Anders, Edgar Wright, Guillermo del Toro, John Landis, Roger Corman, Illeana Douglas, and Dante himself introducing a trailer for a film that they either like or, since the emphasis is often on fantasy, cult, and exploitation cinema, find worthy of laughing along with. Here’s an example from 2014 from the former category in which Larry Karaszewski, coscreenwriter with Scott Alexander of Tim Burton’s Ed Wood and Milos Forman’s Man on the Moon, discusses Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt (1963).

And there are over 1,300 more such videos on TFH’s YouTube channel.

Further Discussion

Last week, I celebrated the return of Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This and her new series tackling Kenneth Anger’s gossipy book, Hollywood Babylon. In the latest episode, Longworth fact-checks the experimental filmmaker’s version of “the definitive sex-and-death scandal in early Hollywood history”: The demise of actress Virginia Rappe and the accusations of rape and murder leveled at Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle.

Most podcasts run about an hour, give or take, but The Projection Booth is one to take with you if you’re ready to go long. Since 2011, host Mike White—not the screenwriter and actor but the publisher of the cult zine Cashiers du Cinemart—has been inviting writers, actors, and directors to delve deep into a single film or topic. In the latest episode, White and film writers Jordan Blossey and Eric Cohen spend three hours discussing Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961), its sequel Sanjuro (1962), and a handful of related films such as Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars and Walter Hill’s Last Man Standing.

As a dedicated listener to the Film Comment Podcast, I was sorry to see host Violet Lucca depart, but glad to see her reappear at Harper’s. Film Comment editor Nicolas Rapold has taken over hosting duties, and the recent episode on Luchino Visconti is a particularly strong one.

Steve McQueen, whose heist thriller Widows with Viola Davis will open this year’s BFI London Film Festival on October 10, is an interviewee and topic of discussion on the new episode of The Cinematologists. British film scholars Dario Llinares and Neil Fox have been hosting the podcast, often coupled with a live event, for over three years now, and this latest discussion has been sparked by an exhibition of McQueen’s work at CAST Cornwall.

One of the more entertaining conversations of late has been Earwolf host Amy Nicholson’s with Rolling Stone film critic David Fear about Ken Russell’s Tommy (1975), the glittery, star-studded adaptation of the Who’s 1969 rock opera.

One on One

Marc Maron, who’s been interviewing top comedians and directors since 2009—and in 2015 got the chance to chat with Barack Obama—has just spoken with filmmaker and “kindred guitar noodler” Gus Van Sant about his entire oeuvre, including his latest, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. Van Sant explains why the film wouldn’t have been made if it weren’t for Robin Williams.

Compared to Maron’s WTF Podcast, Talk Easy is a new kid on the block, but it hasn’t lacked for star power. Host Sam Fragoso’s latest guest is Rob Reiner, director of such enduring favorites as This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, and Misery.

The most recent conversations Bill Ackerman has conducted on his excellent podcast, Supporting Characters, definitely need mentioning here. Bill Lustig is a filmmaker (Maniac, Vigilante) and CEO of Blue Underground, the distributor of cult and exploitation classics, and Eric Allen Hatch is a programmer whose essay for Filmmaker, “Why I Am Hopeful,” is one of the most shared and discussed articles of the summer. Hatch essentially argues that curators and institutions will soon have no choice but to become more daring if cinema is to carry on competing with an ever-expanding array of entertainment alternatives. Including podcasts.

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