5 Movie Podcasts You Haven’t Heard Yet


So, you like podcasts about movies, but you’re looking for something new, something different, something that’s not as loose and jokey as Doug Loves Movies or as newsy as /Filmcast?? (Both fantastic podcasts, don’t get me wrong). Well, here are 5 slightly lesser known podcasts that might do the trick. Check ’em out!

1. Greatest Movie Ever!

Greatest Movie Ever! tackles everything from cult films to b-movies to anime to more critically acclaimed films with the same positive attitude, something that is often missing from film podcasts. If you think re-watching Repo Man is preferable to seeing most films in the theater right now, this podcast might be your new favorite thing. Check out this episode about Rock’n’Roll High School!

2. Fighting in the War Room

Some (or all?) of the people who used to do the Operation Kino podcast have started a new project after their original podcast was dropped, and not surprisingly it’s still great! Check out episode 31, where they discuss class warfare in film and move on to talk about the future of blockbuster movie scores, and you’ll have a good idea of the wide ranging nature of this show.

3. Shit Talking with Joe and Cheryl

Joe and Cheryl’s podcast works like this: They watch a film (often a film in the theaters at the moment), and, without doing any research or taking too much time to work out their thoughts, record their first conversation. This ride-home-from-the-theater podcast is loose and charming (their bickering and asides make for some funny moments) yet it’s also frequently insightful, with plenty of attention paid to the social and political messages of the films and little to no name dropping. Just talking shit. It’s a new podcast so give them some love! Check out this episode about the fantastic Blue Ruin.

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Watch the Movie 15: Aimless and Young in Singapore



15 (2003) A Film by Royston Tan

The first version of 15 I came across was the original short film released in 2002 that clocks in at just under 24 minutes, but what a dizzying and completely breathless 24 minutes! The original version mixed elements of cinema verite (a la the voyeuristic half-documentary style of Larry Clark’s KIDS) with aggressive editing interventions that run the gamut of music video, dream sequence, rapid fire montage, time lapse, Fallen Angels style rectilinear lens shots, and animation, all of which combined together into a ravishingly beautiful and devastating portrait of three boys trying to survive, rebel, and find purpose on the fringes of Singaporean society. It’s a mind blowing short that feels cohesive despite the often jarring stylistic changes and does an amazing job exposing the realities of life in the shadow of Singapore’s rapid economic growth.

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Bill Murray’s Lost Film “Nothing Lasts Forever” Online


Bill Murray fanatics have often heard talk about a “lost” film that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer refused to release back in the early 80’s, but very few of them have ever had a chance to lay eyes on it. Murray himself has held screenings of the film from time to time, but it seemed like it would stay buried in the vault forever. That all changed this week when some intrepid YouTube user uploaded the whole damn thing to the net. Unsurprisingly, it’s a great film, done entirely as a 40’s era screwball comedy, an aesthetic it totally nails. Check it out!

30 Rock ‘n’ Roll and Punk Films You Can Watch Right Now

I had been working on this list for awhile, but, seeing as the world is now officially Ramones-less following the death of Tommy yesterday, I thought I’d put it up now. R.I.P. Tommy Ramone.

The films on this list either feature musicians as a major part of the plot line or have soundtracks and aesthetics that could be labeled “punk” or “rock.” They also have to be streaming online on a non-subscription service. If I’m missing any, feel free to leave links in the comments!

1. Rock N Roll High School (1979)

The quintessential punk rock comedy is still a blast to watch, and the Ramones are just so terrible at acting that they’re actually fantastic. It’s a sloppy fun ride for all you kids who wanna watch the world burn.

2. Burst City (1982)

This post-apocalyptic rock ‘n’ roll yakuza film is raw energy from start to finish. Ahead of its time and heavily influential on Japanese cinema going forward (see Tetsuo: Iron Man on this list), this one is so good you won’t even mind that the YouTube video doesn’t have subtitles.

3. Repo Man (1984)

Repo Man is one of my favorite films. Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton are a perfect combo in this tale about punk rockers, repo men, and aliens. Every moment of this film is unexpected, wryly funny, and just about perfect. Especially notable for its insanely good L.A. punk soundtrack featuring Iggy Pop, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, and oft forgotten The Plugz, among others. “Let’s go do some crimes.”   Watch it here.



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Green Snake: Tsui Hark’s Forgotten Masterpiece


Green Snake (1993) is a wonderful example of the spaces opened up by the Hong Kong New Wave (1979-1984), but chances are you’ve never seen it on any lists. In 1993, it came during the post-wave period, where interest in Hong Kong films was at a low point, and directors like Wong Kar Wai were making fiercely personal, groundbreaking films that drew attention away from older mainstays like Tsui Hark. One of the last films Hark released before moving to America to make a couple terrible action movies with Jean Claude Van Damme and fade into obscurity, Green Snake is also a fantasy film based on a traditional Chinese folk tale, a genre which wasn’t exactly what audiences were looking for at the time.


I ran across Green Snake on a binge of Wuxia movies (that vein of Chinese and Hong Kong film akin to the samurai/yakuza flicks of Japan), and, after watching a number of fairly average sword fighting movies, the opening sequence of Green Snake came as a revelation. I wasn’t expecting a movie so drenched in color, so full of hallucinatory images and erotic beauty, that could also manage, using a cast of magical monks, snake sisters, and spider demons, to hit on surprisingly deep moral topics. It’s a complex film, and has buried in it some of the political tensions alive in those years before Hong Kong would return to mainland Chinese control.


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Well, I was lazy and just now finished putting together some of my favorite movies from last year. Hopefully you haven’t seen them all already. 2013 was a great year for movies, and this list has films from all over, including Japan, America, Britain, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Italy, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain. Hope you enjoy them!

1. Why Don’t You Play in Hell? – Sion Sono


From last years excellent Holy Motors to the Keanu Reeves fronted documentary Side by Side, it seems like the death of 35mm film stock is on every filmmaker’s mind. Most of the films that have come out of this transitional period are somewhat somber affairs, reluctant, yet celebratory concessions to the digital age. Sion Sono takes the opposite approach, choosing to rework an old script about a group of amateur filmmakers called the Fuck Bombers and in the process transform it from a wacky pastiche of B-cinema into a joyful ode to the seemingly impossible dream of making films in the world before digital cameras.


The Fuck Bombers are misguided guerilla film anarchists, scouring the streets of Tokyo with 8mm cameras, ready to jump into any action that they can capture, even if it means putting their own lives in danger. Luckily, their devotion doesn’t go unnoticed by the god of film, who, through a series of outrageous events (involving a catchy toothpaste commercial and warring yakuza clans), puts them at the helm of a real life action movie. It’s a tongue-in-cheek tale with a lot of humor and plenty of giddily spilled blood.


Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (“play” is the key word here) doesn’t aim for great heights or even the (fucked up) psychological depths of Sono’s more recent films, but it captures something that most other films that attempt to address the death of film seem to forget: before we all became “connoisseurs” and “critics”, we loved movies – the heroes, the sword fights, the magic of the images, the idea of being in one or even making one – high or low brow, it didn’t matter.


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BEST FILMS OF 2013: Pure Pulp

Gangster Squad


A gangster film with big names (Sean Penn anyone?), beautiful detail, and genre-solid writing that is a bit like the popcorn you should have ready when you plop down to watch it: it’s good enough, goes down easy, and when it’s over you probably won’t remember having consumed it. This is pure pulp and all the better for it. How was this a total flop?

Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear


If you could somehow edit out all the cheesy exposition and lovey dovey flashbacks and whittle this film down to the action sequences, you’d have something like last year’s The Raid. As it stands, what you have is a cringe worthy (and somewhat racist) love story periodically ruining a fantastic action film full of technical and mind-blowingly athletic fight sequences.

Bounty Killer


A B-movie, post-apocalyptic shoot-em-up that plays directly to the crowd that likes those sorts of things, Bounty Hunter has over the top action, an ass kicking vixen in a mustang, ridiculous humor, and blood everywhere.


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BEST FILMS OF 2013: Documentaries

2013 was a pretty great year for documentaries. I liked a lot of them. Rewind This, First Cousin Once Removed, Cutie and the Boxer, Our Nixon, The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, Gideon’s Army, Call Me Kuchu, and Let the Fire Burn were all memorable. Sure, everyone gushed over Stories We Tell, and it was a well-done doc, no doubt. But, for me it felt like a million New Yorker stories I’ve read, something in that comfortable tradition of upper middle-class literary memoir that while good enough on its own terms, didn’t really seem to be adding much to what the documentary form is capable of doing. So, these three docs and one hybrid are the ones that seemed to be working in those directions, pushing at the boundaries, opening up new possibilities.

1. The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer

the-act-of-killing3This film is hard to watch and hard to stop watching at the same time. For me, it’s one of the most important documentaries I’ve ever seen, and one of the hardest to truly recommend watching since the act of watching is so emotionally draining. The premise is a masterstroke: the gangsters responsible for a witch-hunt of leftists in Indonesia (that clearly earns the genocide label) are asked to recreate their killings as they see fit for a big screen production. These mass murderers (who are now regarded as heroes by the Indonesian government) are more than happy to help depict their past deeds, and for over two hours we spend time listening to them as they gloat over their killing, grapple with the horror of it, and argue for how to make filmic images that fit their heroism.

Still from The Act of Killing, a documentary about Indonesia's mass killings

At times the images they decide on are surreal, almost beautifully psychedelic, though just as often dip into the wells of action film star-making tropes. It’s baffling, really traumatizing material, yet the film is devoid of any graphic historical images, opting to view all of this madness only from the point of view of the perpetrators, through their words and crafted images.


The film has done a lot to help change public perception of the genocide within Indonesia, but it also clearly speaks to the falseness of collective memories of violence shaped by any nation. The quote from Voltaire that opens the film speaks to this: “All murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers, and to the sound of trumpets.”

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The 25 Best Films of 2012

Ok, so after a month and a half vacation spent watching movies as fast as I could download them, I’ve put together a list of my favorite films from last year. There’s still a handful that seem like promising additions to the list. For instance, Two Years at Sea and Neighboring Sounds look fantastic, but haven’t yet hit the torrents. That said, there are more than enough great films here to occupy your time. If you want to get a sample of any of these, all the titles link to a trailer on YouTube. To save space, I’ve paired up a few of the movies that share thematic or visual themes.


Amour (2012) – Michael Haneke, France

A somewhat clinical, though no less heartbreaking look at an elderly man coping with his wife’s rapid mental and physical decline. It’s hard to watch, as most of Haneke’s films are, but it is certainly one of his best.


To Rome With Love (2012) – Woody Allen, USA

Woody Allen is back in form here after the cute but largely forgettable Midnight in Paris.


The Raid: Redemption (2011) – Gareth Evans, Indonesia



L’exercice de l’État (2011) – Pierre Schoeller, France

L’exercice de l’État, or The Minister as the English title has it, takes as it’s protagonist the French minister of transportation as he negotiates his way through the political landscape in a time of austerity measures and rapid privatization. Sounds boring? The film plays like an action film, and yes, that naked women climbing down the throat of that alligator is the opening sequence. Don’t expect too many more surrealist touches, but this one will keep you on the edge of your seat.


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