Category Archives: podcast

José Arroyo in Conversation with Josh Schulze on ‘Alternate Takes’

Joshua Schulze is the new editor of Alternate Takes. James MacDowell one of the original founders of the digital site devoted to film and television criticism tells me that,

‘The aim of Alternate Takes is to provide analysis of cinema that is informed by academic debates, but also walks a line between the journalistic review and the critical essay. It publishes long-form essays that embody this ethos, but the most obvious way the site has achieved this compromise position between reviewing and scholarly criticism is by writing about new films twice. First there is a short, evaluative piece that ‘spoils’ as little as possible about a film, but still grants a sense of the sorts of experience it offers; the idea is that this is a review to read before you see a film. Then, after you’ve watched it, you can read our Alternate Take – a longer, more in-depth critical piece, which usually digs more deeply into a particular critical issue that the movie raises. While over the years this dual-review format has become less rigidly enforced, the overall approach it fostered has remained the same, and the site has continued to publish film criticism that is in-depth, critical, mindful of social and artistic contexts, but also accessible and enjoyable.’

 

The impetus for this conversation with Josh Schulze was merely to find out if there was a new direction he, along with co-editors Matt Denny, Patrick Pilkington and Leanne Weston, wanted for the now celebrated digital platform and what that might be.

In the podcast Josh and I discuss Pauline Kael, cinephilia, the pressures of writing quickly and its effects on film reviewing, the nuances of film criticism and how Alternate Takes is devoted at looking at films and television in depth. We also discuss our admiration for the video essays of Adrian Martin, Catherine Grant and Kogonada, and how contributing to Alternate Takes is a great way for early career people and students to explore their ideas and take new approaches to film.

You can find the website here: www.alternatetakes.co.uk/

James MacDowell’s thought provoking piece on the raison d’être and purpose of the platform can be found here: www.alternatetakes.co.uk/?2011,3,240

José Arroyo

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Eavesdropping at the Movies: 89 – Searching

 

You wait all day for a new type of film and then two turn up at once. Hot on the heels of Unfriended: Dark Web, which we discussed a few weeks ago, is Searching, another desktop film (as we’re calling them). John Cho plays a father whose teenage daughter goes missing and conducts a search for her using her laptop and an old family PC.

It’s formally a little different from Unfriended, and we consider that even more formal difference might have suited the story. But the form does allow the film to cleverly and subtly address themes of generational difference and familial disconnection, and the drama the film builds is deeply involving.

We also remark upon the film’s surprisingly unique and welcome depiction of an Asian-American family, and Mike misremembers the origin of the term “woman in the fridge”.

The podcast can be listened to in the players above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

Eavesdropping at the Movies The Party – Eavesdropping at the Movies – Ep 14 – 25th October 2017

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Mike describes it best:

Sally Potter’s all-too-brief comedy drama polarises us, which makes a nice change to the agreements we’ve been having recently. Is it smug or knowing? Is its range of incongruous acting styles engaging or distancing? Who knows. But Sally Potter is very very very important in British cinema and feminism and queer representation, says Jose, who then has the nerve to criticise The Party for having its right-on cake and eating it.

Includes a reminiscence of seeing a man stand up in a screening of I, Daniel Blake and a magic trick where Mike convinces Jose he has an extraordinary memory.

Recorded on 22nd October 2017.

 

 

With Michael Glass of Writing About Film

José Arroyo interviews Lawrence Napper on ‘Silent Cinema: Before the Pictures Got Small’

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The first of a series of interviews of books on cinema. The intention is to expand and disseminate our understanding of cinema and its diverse histories and various cultures by bringing attention to recently published books in the field in order to enhance understanding of and access to the knowledge the books provide. This first one is an interview with Lawrence Napper — author of ‘British Cinema and Middlebrow Culture in the Interwar Years’ (2009) and ‘The Great War in British PopularCinema of the 1920s: Before Journey’s End’ (2015) — on his contribution to Wallflower Press’ Short Cut series, an excellent introduction to silent cinema, ‘Silent Cinema: Before The Pictures Got Small,’ (2017).

You can listen to it here:

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José Arroyo

Blade Runner 2049 – Second Screening – Eavesdropping at the Movies – Ep 11 – 11th October 2017

 

 

We couldn’t stay away. And with a second viewing, time to percolate, and responses from friends informing us, Eavesdropping once again delves into Blade Runner 2049.

What to make of the film’s representation of women? How does the film use names? Why did Mike have a little weep at the end this time? Do gay women have cottages? Does the film function as a story about slavery? What about criticisms of its lack of diversity in casting?

Why do people think this film is dull? Is it the film’s fault? Television’s? Humanity’s? Why don’t we care to engage visually any more?

Most importantly, what do the bees mean?

Recorded on 10th October 2017.

 

José Arroyo and Michael Glass from Writing About Film

Flatliners – Eavesdropping at the Movies – Ep 9 – 7th October 2017

 

With a weary sigh, we get to Flatliners. Ellen Page, James Norton, Diego Luna and Kiersey Clemons expand their minds and run around shitting themselves in fear. Questions abound: Why did they call this Flatliners when the obviously correct title is Hot Doctors? Was Kiefer Sutherland wasted? Is it wise to be wasted while appearing in a film? In precisely how many millions of ways is the film inconsistent? Just how stupid and blind is its attitude towards the very real problems it presents? Does it make sense as a horror flick? Just how obsessed are Mike and Jose with the cast’s attractiveness? Who’s hotter, the ginger guy or the hot girl? All this and Catholic guilt too.

José Arroyo and Michael Glass of Writing About Film

IT – Eavesdropping at the Movies – Ep 6 – 22nd September 2017

 

What is IT? Is IT any good? Is IT scary? How much of IT did Mike watch through his fingers? Why would he agree to see IT in LieMAX? Was he right about the bit with the sink? (Spoiler: He has googled it and discovered that he was wrong.)

Recorded on 17th September 2017.

José Arroyo and Michael Glass of Writing About Film

mother! – Eavesdropping at the Movies – Ep 5 – 18th September 2017

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What is Darren Aronofsky’s latest fever dream all about? How is it allegorical? What does it mean?  How good is Jennifer Lawrence? Why we both loved it. Is the audience reaction fair and what might that mean?

Recorded on 17th September 2017.

José Arroyo and Michael Glass of Writing About Film

 

PS. You might be even more interested in this lively discussion between Aronofsky and William Friedkin:

 

Detroit – Eavesdropping at the Movies – Ep 4 – 3rd September 2017

Why Detroit is the best film currently on release. Is John Boyega a star? Does Kathryn Bigelow get the respect she deserves? Is race the political unconscious of American cinema? Why hasn’t a great film on such a timely subject found an audience?

Recorded on 28th August 2017

Michael Glass of Writing About Film  and José Arroyo

American Made – Eavesdropping at the Movies – Ep 3 – 2017.09.01

Is it possible for a film about drug smuggling, weapon dealing, CIA-sponsored militias and getting ludicrously rich to be in any way immoral? Tom Cruise helps destroy several Latin American governments and cultures, oblivious to everything except money and a sense of adventure. Do we empathise? Find out as we tolerate American Made so you don’t have to.

https://soundcloud.com/michael-glass-782430335/american-made-eavesdropping-at-the-movies-ep-3-20170901/s-GprfI

 

José Arroyo and Michael Glass of Writing About Film (In Very Long Sentences)

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – Eavesdropping at the Movies – Ep 2 – 23rd August 2017

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The second instalment of the Eavesdropping at the Movies podcast with Michael Glass of Writing About Film,  where we hope to offer the experience of eavesdropping on friends chatting informally about a movie after just watching it.

This week the focus is on The Hitman’s Bodyguard and the topics under discussion include: Can an action film that goes through Coventry be any good? Is it important that action scenes are funny? Is Gary Oldman a whore? All valuable questions. All answered in our chat about The Hitman’s Bodyguard. I think.

José Arroyo and Michael Glass.

Eavesdropping on Mike and José After a Movie

mikeandjose3.jpgEpisode 1 (Girls Trip, Malcolm D. Lee, USA, 2017)

This is a trial episode of a possible podcast that Michael Glass of ‘Writing About Film’ and I are posting primarily to get feedback. It’s done as an mp4 so you can play it on your computer’s usual player, like a video. I have this romantic idea of the movies as a conjunction of place, people and experiences, all different for each of us, a context in which individual and separate beings try to commune, where the individual experience overlaps with the communal and where that overlapping is demarcated by how we measure the differing responses between ourselves and the rest of the audience: do they laugh when we don’t (and what does that mean?); are they moved when we feel like laughing (and what does that say about me or the others) etc. The idea behind this podcast is to satiate the urge I sometimes have when I see a movie alone – but that I also hope is shared by at least some of you — to eavesdrop on what others say. What do they think? How does their experience compare to mine? Snippets are overhead as one leaves the cinema and are often food for thought. A longer snippet of such an experience is what this podcast hopes to provide: it’s two friends chatting immediately after a movie. It’s unrehearsed, meandering, slightly convoluted, certainly enthusiastic, and well informed, if not necessarily on all aspects a particular work gives rise to, certainly in terms of knowledge of cinema in general and considerable experience of watching different types of movies and watching movies in different types of ways. It’s not a review. It’s a conversation. One roughly transmuted into another format so that you may overhear. We know the design of the image is lousy; and that the transitions between snippets are roughly cut. But what do you think of the idea, the title, the format?  Feedback and suggestions most gratefully received.

 

José Arroyo

(also on behalf of Michael Glass)

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