I’ve been on that podcast tip since like 2005 (way before it was cool). Back in those days podcasts were an excellent source of conversation about topics no one else in Annapolis, MD cared about. At the time that range of interests was centered mostly around comic books. So for a long time that is solely what I listened to. Shows like Comic Geek Speak, Around Comics, and iFanboy filled my pre-iPod mp3 player. Over time my tastes changed, moving more toward comedy, a shift to which I attribute most of my current endeavors. Lately though I have started listening to more shows about movies, such as Filmspotting and NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. My latest obsession in the the TV & Movie category is a show called Film Junk, though it is not entirely clear why.
Film Junk started back in 2005 as Space Junk Radio, when podcasts were a young medium that no one quite understood. I wasn’t listening back then, so I’m not sure who was on board from the beginning (a good reviewer might have gone back and listened to an earlier episode), but I know that Sean Dwyer and Jay Cheel have been around since the early days, if not since the beginning. Both men have stayed with the show, which released its 453rd episode this week. Third host Frank Knezic completes the Film Junk trinity, creating an interesting dynamic that unfolds over the often 2+ hour runtime of individual episodes.
The episodes often begin with a review of a new release – in the case of Episode 453, the guys reviewed George Clooney’s The Monuments Men. These showcase reviews tend to be 20 to 40 minutes long, often taking interesting tangents that eventually loop back to the film being discussed. The review is followed by a discussion of movie news, and finally the guys talk about anything (and everything) they have watched since the previous episode.
The weekly episodes are free, but the cost for the podcasters is subsidized by monthly premium episodes (one dollar each). These often cover films and franchises that the guys usually don’t address on the regular show. The latest premium is a discussion of the Harry Potter franchise. The guys go through the series, movie by movie, reviewing what works and what doesn’t.
The show won’t be for everyone; it is best if we acknowledge that now. These episodes are loooooong. And if you are not a film nerd you probably won’t get a whole lot out of them. Sean, Jay, and Frank also aren’t professional critics, so while they have very sharp opinions and observations, you won’t get the same level of analysis you might have expected from the late Roger Ebert or a Wesley Morris or a Scott Tobias. In spite of this, these gentlemen are voracious film consumers, so if you like to hear opinions on film (a lot of films) this is the show for you.
Another thing that makes the show work is the easy camaraderie between the three hosts. These guys have obviously been working together for a long time, so they know each other very well. Jay and Frank especially tend to take a lot of joy in messing with each other. Their back and forth can make or break a given episode (though it’s usually “make”). And Frank’s arrogance and wacky theories always manage to get the best out of the very monotone and deliberate Jay.
These are likable fellows (they’re Canadian for God’s sake), but what really sells them is the fact that they allow me to turn off my brain for an extended period of time – and they manage to entertain me for the duration. Sean, Jay, and Frank have recommended titles that I probably wouldn’t even know about otherwise, so in that sense they are making me a much more conscientious movie viewer.
The Film Junk podcast may not top anyone’s list, but it has been essential to my listening rotation, and I don’t plan on saying goodbye to it any time soon.
(Film Junk can be found at filmjunk.com and on iTunes by searching “Film Junk”)