Listening to movie podcasts can be a trial sometimes

posted in: Movies | 0

This is going to light some folks’ fuses, I’m sure, but it just has to be said.

Some people are just so … unobservant, inattentive, oblivious … that it would really be easier if they just weren’t allowed to be part the audience.  The burden of being mentally on-the-ball and also a student — of any level — of storycraft means some sequences and scenes in stories can be pretty annoying.  I struggle to remind myself of this every time a movie or show or book has to bring its scene to a screeching halt to explain “EMP – Electromagnetic Pulse; it’s a burst of energy that overloads electronic circuits” or something like that.  I mean, seriously, after going on three decades — at least — of it we still have to explain what EMP means and what it does to the lay audience?

Apparently so.  Because I have yet to come across a project — movie, show, book — that doesn’t painstakingly stop to mention EMP, spell out the acronym, and then define it.

But then, just today, I was listening to the James Bonding podcast at Nerdist.  The podcast has been mentioned several places, and I’ve been aware of it for some time now, and I finally decided to pull an episode down to take a listen.  I made the mistake of selecting the Casino Royale episode as my inaugural experience.

Let me be clear.  Everyone in the ‘cast seems like a nice person.  The two Matts (Mira and Gourley respectively) are, I’m told, big 007 fans.  And my coming complaints have nothing to do with the fact that their two guests were not men.  I’ll repeat that; my exasperation has nothing to do with the fact that women were involved.  I would be reacting this way about anyone who acted as they did in this podcast.

Here’s my complaint.  I’m still only two-thirds of the way through the podcast, and already I’ve come close to shutting it off twice at the absolute stupidity displayed by the panel in the episode.  The whole shtick of the podcast is to discuss their way through a James Bond movie.  Generally, their discussion is working as good radio, or good podcast to be more modern about it since I honestly haven’t listened to radio in … years.  But the Matts are gamely plugging the episode through the movie, from the start and headed toward the end.  So they’ll get to a scene or sequence or section of the film, set it up, then meander and veer off from the movie itself where the conversation takes them.  No problem, it’s good ‘cast.

But several times now, the panel has had “oooooh … that never made sense to me” moments or “ooooooh … I didn’t get that until now” moments that are just beyond insane in their …. Okay, I’ll reign myself in a bit.  I don’t want to use abjectly negative words.  Let’s just go with inattention.  The complete inattention that was given to the movie they watched before coming in to discuss it is not cool.  It’s definitely not cool when they knew they were going to actually be sitting and discussing this film.

Example?  Gladly.

When it’s explained that Bond leaves Bermuda and goes to Miami; because “the bad guy” needs a new plane bomber to blow the plane up, since Bond took out the “parkour bomber” already.  The panel has its “ooooooh” moment.  How could that have been made any more clear in the movie?  They even had a whole scene, after the action sequence which ends in Bond killing off the parkour bomber, where M lambastes him with both barrels over killing the bomber.  That scene alone makes it abundantly clear the guy was a bomber.  And the entire first third of the movie, from the end of the opening theme song to when Bond stops the plane from being blown up is about a bomber who was trying to blow the damn plane up.  Was the film supposed to apply the brakes and give us an explicitly spelled out scene where parkour bomber and “the bad guy” are shown talking to one another before the guy hands the parkour bomber a bomb and a picture of the plane at the Miami airport?  How much more clear does it have to be?  Is it so much to ask that an audience has to keep up with narrative that isn’t required to be brought to a dead stop to spell things out?

Also, a good amount of time is spent making fun of the accents of people in the film.  It’s a European film, set mostly in Europe, with a mostly European (and almost entirely non-American) cast.  I’m reminded of the comedy with Chris Tucker, Rush Hour, where Tucker’s character, talking about Jackie Chan’s character, says “Can’t even speak American.”  Shit like this, the podcast’s panel taking such delight in ripping apart the accented English of numerous characters, is why a lot of the world rolls its eyes at Americans.

I’m going to listen to a couple more of these before I decide, but I think I’m going to cross my fingers and hope these panelists don’t show up on other episodes.  Because … jeez … it’s just ridiculous.  I listen to the How It’s Made podcast, and there are a lot of these “ooooohh” moments there, but that show’s excuse is that it’s supposed to be a comedy podcast.  James Bonding doesn’t purport itself as any sort of academic analysis piece, but I don’t see anything on the branding that indicates they’re going for full-on comedy rather than a discussion.

Please folks.  Pay attention to what you watch.  I always hear folks complaining about “lowest common denominator” programming; prove to creators LCD isn’t the way to go.  Having folks miss crap like “oh, that guy needed a bomber to blow the plane up” in Casino Royale doesn’t bolster the non-LCD argument.