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Podcasts we love: Film Junk

August 24, 2009

By Nat

filmjunkitunes3Three guys from Ontario sit around for an hour and a half, maybe two, and talk about their lives for a bit before they review the movie of the week.

Real impressive, eh?

That’s what I thought the first time I listened to Film Junk.

Who are these guys? I thought, whilst ridin’ my bike on the rail trail that leads to the job where I formerly worked. Why don’t they get to the movie stuff?

I have no idea why I kept listening and less than no idea when it was I got hooked, but I know what hooked me: The group dynamic. You know those really cool friends you can hang out with and just chill? That’s these guys.

First off is Sean, the moderator, who’s the Real-Laid-Back Dude. He’s pretty monotone and non-confrontational, but, stepping back, he dominates the majority of each podcast’s runtime, and he does it so masterfully you never notice. In almost every episode someone will say something akin to a shocking dead baby joke, and, after a very awkwardly elongated pause, Sean will put the discussion back on track with a nonchalant, “Well, maybe.”

Then there’s Jay. Jay’s usually the guy who says that something akin to a dead baby joke. His voice, refined, distanced, and even lower-key than taciturn Sean, adds immensely to the effect. To give you an idea, there’s a thread going on their Facebook page asking peeps to describe their favorite Film Junk moments. One gal’s comprised a list of the best of Jay:

107: 0:36:25 (Jay’s theme song to ‘Weekend at Bernie’s').

150: 1:29:30 (Mid-discussion for ‘My Kid Could Paint That’ when Jay compares rap music to the girls painting, stating that people write off rap “one being Reed Farrington… because he’s a racist” and Greg bursts into laughter).

162: 1:04:11 (when Greg says he hates magic and Jay screams back at him: “How can you hate magic!” gold).

211: 1:43:29 (Jay refers to kiddie porn as “child art”).

But Jay’s crowning moments are the flip-outs. Once in a while, Jay’ll go on a rant, and as he goes on, you can hear the pressure mounting behind his voice, and then, out of nowhere SHIT! he’ll explode and be showered in a cascade of Greg’s laughs.

Greg. Greg’s the man. When you first start listening, you’ll be thinking to yourself He sounds like Seth Rogen, and someone will write in to their viewer mail, which Sean reads on the show, and they’ll make the same observation, and though Greg’ll wave it off, you’ll be like, Yeah—totally! But then, after you’ve been listening for a while, you’ll find that every new listener who writes in makes the same observation, and then it’ll become a running joke that you’ll share among the three. Greg is also a gifted raconteur. His stories regarding the working girls of St. Catherine’s are all laugh-out loud funny. And does he have any friends who are not girls?

Aaaaand then there’s Reed. I’m still not convinced that Reed is a real person. It’s tough to describe Jay, but it’s impossible to describe Reed. He’s just the ultimate fanboy. Jay’s short video tour of Reed’s house sums the tragedy up.

You may have noticed “film” has been missing from this review. That’s because the life of this show is based on this group’s dynamic. That’s not to say that film is not discussed, because it is and in depth—they cover movie news, what each one watched in the last week, and the latest trailers (with, easily, the best intro music). Jay is the one who knows film best, and his analyses are well-formed and frequently require more than a superficial knowledge of film. He may sound pretentious, but he does know his stuff. Greg has the knowledge of your average film-goer, but he’s never afraid to defend what he likes and dislikes and is seldom afraid to admit he’s wrong. Sean has a vast knowledge, but he’s too quick to back down.

I’ve tried not to delve into fanboydom in this review, but the joyousness of these three (sometimes four) is horrendously infectious. It’s tough to say something bad about something that does so many things so right. The length is intimidating, but, again, listening to it is like hanging out with friends—shouldn’t you wish it longer? Long is fine, as long as you’re not boring.

Actually, there is one criticism: screenplays. Jay knows cinematography, but no one seems to know much about writing, and that’s something, if these lovers of film want to attract other lovers of film, they should discuss screenplays—that’s a weak criticism, granted, and more of a request. I’m also not convinced that we’re getting the real people. The personalities seem a bit too clichéd: You have the pretentious filmmaker, the casual movie-goer, the guy who’s like “yeah, okay,” and the fanboy—with occasional appearances by some others, such as The Curser, who’d be funny if he had anything to contribute other than cusses. Or maybe that’s his schtick. It seems like each one was given a role to play and they ran with it. They did it well, and they added depth, but this reviewer can’t help but think that the fix is in.

In any event, I love film, you love film, and they love film. Toss into that good observations, delightful turns of phrase, and Greg’s boisterous laughter, and, fuck, man.


8 Responses to “ Podcasts we love: Film Junk ”

  1. pancake on August 24, 2009 at 8:25 am

    I started listening to their podcasts per your recommendation and I love them – thanks for the tip-off!

  2. anncine on August 24, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Sold! I shall give it a listen.

  3. FROTHYGIRLZ1031 on August 25, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Nat, I respectfully disagree about the lack of writing content/screenplay analysis. I think that is a niche that is wonderfully filled by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. I don’t know anything about screenwriting, and I think I would glaze over if they discussed it. I love the podcast just the way it is. Nice write up.

  4. Nat on August 25, 2009 at 11:51 am

    @Frothy Creative Screenwriting is the next podcast on deck for review. But when you say there’s a lack of screenwriting analysis, do you mean on FilmJunk or in podcasts in general? In any event, thank you very much for the kind words!

  5. FROTHYGIRLZ1031 on August 25, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I was just referring to what you felt was lacking in this particular podcast. I think this podcast stands well without getting into screenplay discussion. It would alter the entire feel of the show.

  6. Nat on August 25, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    @Frothy I agree–its more of a quibble than a criticism.

  7. James on August 25, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    I totally agree with everything you have said here. Love FilmJunk! I would also add that they are one of the most consistent podcasters I’ve ever seen. 232 once-a-week podcasts is like what… 4 and a half years? Crazy.

  8. Reed Farrington on October 21, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Nat, I love reading what bloggers have to say about Film Junk, and thankfully, I’ve only come across bloggers who have nice things to say about us at Film Junk. I have to say that I loved your analysis of what makes Film Junk work.

    If we come across as cliched characters, then I think it all comes down to each of us settling into a niche that each of us feels comfortable in, rather than some grand design on our part. I don’t particularly like the niche that I’ve fallen into, but I guess if the shoe fits…

    I would prefer if Film Junk moved in a Cahiers du cinema direction and discussed aspects of film like screenwriting in depth, but I suppose it would destroy the casual “hanging out with friends” vibe of the podcast. And we all know how Jay would feel if Film Junk lost its “magic.”