Bottom line: The CriterionCast is a really fun podcast that you should check out.
I was looking for something to listen to while I drive around town and I thought it might be a good idea to download some film podcasts. After a quick Google, I found the CriterionCast. It's a podcast devoted to discussing films in the Criterion Collection. The Criterion Collection is a company that remasters and distributes classic films. I’ve always had good experiences with their releases. The bonus features like movie commentary are usually good. Now, first and foremost, this podcast is about films. Each of the episodes are about an hour and a half but there is a nice flow to the discussions so it doesn’t feel that long.
I was a little hesitant at first. As it is a podcast devoted to a particular company's collection, I thought it might it be too promotional. I was pleasantly surprised to find that that was not the case. In fact, during the episode about Robocop, the guys criticized the Criterion copy. The one speaker explained that he already has the MGM box set of the film which includes audio commentary. He didn’t feel the need to pay the extra bucks for the Criterion version because he already had all the extra features and, on top of that, the Criterion version wasn’t even the best visual quality. The people on the show use the Criterion Collection as a pool of classic movies to discuss, not to discuss or particularly promote the company itself. Granted, I have only listened to one and a half episodes so far but I didn’t get any promotional vibes yet.
The first episode to which I listened focused on the Godzilla release which included the original Japanese release, Gojira, and the American release, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It was really fun to listen to their conversation. The tone was casual but not too casual. It was focused on the movies and their experiences with the movies. They pointed out some fascinating facts from the commentary tracks. For example, consider the three names in the collection release: Gojira, Godzilla, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Which of the three is the “correct” name? They cite a someone who wrote a couple books about Godzilla, explaining that the Japanese word Gojira was constructed in such a way that it was synonymous with the English version. They are actually the same word. They talk about a bunch of fun little facts like that. I dig it.
They also mentioned something that I didn’t know about Godzilla. It was made, on some level, in response to a mysterious accident involving the loss of a Japanese fishing boat. The boat was destroyed somehow or it became irradiated. This happened a year before Gojira came out. It was recreated as the first scene of the film. Similarly, they mentioned the Korean horror movie, The Host, but I disagreed with their commentary. The Host opens with an American scientist dumping chemicals down a drain which leads to a river which then causes a fish to mutate into the giant monster. The speakers thought that The Host was using the ludicrous establishment to poke fun at the monster-movie genre. In fact, that scene was also a response to a real life event; a year prior to the movie, a scientist actually dumped hazardous chemicals down a drain which got into the Han river. This is to say that while these guys are solid film aficionados, they are human. They aren't exactly authorities on film but it is still very fun to hear them banter.
I would use these podcasts as food for thought and as a sort of discussion point rather than an authoritative text. I do highly recommend you it check out though. If I am looking at the website correctly, they have over a hundred and thirty episodes out and I look forward to seeing if my initial thoughts hold.