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  • Lars Henriks

Film discussion vs. Film criticism

In the last couple of weeks, I started booking guest appearances on international podcasts and, thus, I've been blessed to talk with many fascinating film lovers over the past couple of days already, and am looking forward to many more coming up.


The other day, I spoke to Kelly Hughes, indie filmmaker and - obviously - podcaster, who was generous enough to grant me 100 minutes of his time to talk about our little indie film movement, the New Hamburg School, that has been happening for close to ten years now.



I'm new to being interviewed this thoroughly and English is a second language to me, so I'm a bit more stiff and awkward than I should be, but that's entirely beside the point I wanted to write about today.


Kelly said something during the interview along the lines of "Everybody is doing a podcast these days", and I think, especially during the pandemic, that is very true.


Still - Among the vast number of podcasts to choose from, I rarely find what I am looking for in the realm of film. Not really because of the topics that get discussed, but because of the way the topics get discussed.


In my head, I've started to differentiate between film criticism and film discussion. I'm looking for the latter. Here's what I mean by that:


A few years ago, joke-y film "criticism" with very little expertise, lots of hubris, disrespect and even more terrible jokes was the most popular way to go. Maybe it still is, but where I read, people are mostly annoyed by that.


The films I want to hear discussed don't get discussed on that kind of channel anyway.


But still - Even the better ones mostly offer little but their own opinions and while that is entertaining as part of the package, I'd like to hear more in-depth discussion.


I like to listen to film discussions, in which the film gets taken seriously as a work of art. I want to hear about the context, the background, the filmmaking, the meaning, the techniques employed. I'm more interested in interpretation than in ratings.


My favorite podcast of all time to listen to is "Literature and History" by Doug Metzger. The way he treats ancient texts I'd like to see applied to film, too. I haven't found a lot of that in podcast form.


Do you know what I'm talking about? Are you experiencing a similar frustration or do you like your film discussion light and comedic? Or am I just blind and there is tons of content out there that fulfills exactly the requirements I've lined out here?


I mean, obviously there's some shows like that.


"The Faculty of Horror" is an obvious one and maybe the best one out there. In-depth discussions with scholarly background, lots of good theory being used to dissect and interesting selection of films.


"The Important Cinema Club" is a lot more brief, but easily among my all-time-favorites, for their breadth in topics alone.


"The Evolution of Horror" is very, very likable. Not every episode is entirely the way I love it, but most are, and even if it's more on the "general criticism"-side of things, this podcast is always a joy to listen to! Lots of good movie suggestions to find in their seasons dealing with specific sub-genres of horror.


"Zobo with a Shotgun", though the least glossy production among these, has been surprisingly pleasurable to listen to. A knowledgeable delve into an underrepresented and obscure side of film history.


On "Mysterium Pictorum", we try to do discussion rather than review and always talk about the filmmakers and some context to the film, too.


There are, of course, plenty of books that discuss film the way I like it. Not many of them have audiobook versions, but some do, and I highly recommend them.


"Midnight Movies" is a fantastic discussion of 70's cult movies.


"It came from the Video Aisle" chronicles the history and most important films of "Full Moon". Incredibly inspiring and a lot of fun in general!


"Down and Dirty Pictures" and "Easy Riders Raging Bulls" are of course, brilliant examples for what I'm looking for and there are great audio versions of both.


I'd be very happy about more suggestions!

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