Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
<i>Cats</i> is clawed open on <i>This Had Oscar Buzz</i>, a podcast about not-so-award-winning films

Cats is clawed open on This Had Oscar Buzz, a podcast about not-so-award-winning films

PodmassPodmassIn Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.

Power: The Maxwells
The Lady Ghislaine

Illustration for article titled Cats is clawed open on This Had Oscar Buzz, a podcast about not-so-award-winning films
Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

As the world waits to learn of the secrets and fate held by Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, investigative journalist Tara Palmeri looks back at the weird, watery death of her tycoon father. Robert Maxwell was a politician and businessman so internationally famous in his own right that he was parodied as a Bond villain. By the fall of 1991, however, massive money problems forced the media tycoon to flee to a yacht off the Canary Islands to compose himself for the challenges ahead. There he disappeared from the deck of The Lady Ghislaine early one morning. His body was recovered days later naked and floating; many say (and dueling autopsies fail to make clear) that that condition means that he could not have drowned. Daughter Ghislaine spoke noncommittally at a rushed press conference, but five years later she told a U.K. tabloid she believed he’d been murdered. Decades later, details of his death and life remain shrouded in mystery. British press veterans speak now of their assignments to travel with the Maxwells at the time, and of Robert Maxwell’s surprise burial on the Mount Of Olives in a ceremony attended by the top brass of Israeli intelligence. [Zach Brooke]


The Pod And The Pendulum
Sinister 

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

The 2012 film Sinister is not without its diehard fans. This week’s The Pod And The Pendulum guest, DeVaughn Taylor of the Bloody Blunts Cinema Club podcast, has seen it a number of times, and Mike Snoonian, who hosts this podcast alongside Lindsay Traves, has already analyzed the movie on his previous series, Psychoanalysis: A Horror Therapy Podcast. With an episode runtime of over two hours (longer than the film itself), there’s plenty of time to dig into not only Sinister but the general trends in horror surrounding its release. As a horror film, Sinister straddles the found footage trend and the more prestigious sort of scares exemplified by the studio A24. Discussion also strays into the validity of the “elevated horror” concept, the choice of Ethan Hawke in the lead role, and the value of unknown casts. The movie somehow functions as both a popcorn-horror date night movie and a family drama, which leaves plenty of runway for the hosts to discuss Sinister 2 in the next episode. [Jose Nateras]


This Had Oscar Buzz
Cats

Illustration for article titled Cats is clawed open on This Had Oscar Buzz, a podcast about not-so-award-winning films
Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

In the crowded field of movie breakdown podcasts, entertainment writers Joe Reid and Chris Feil have carved out one of the more inspired and unmined niches for themselves: films that garnered high awards expectations early on, then had those hopes quickly dashed by audiences and the Academy after opening weekend. The result is a rich episode list of “autopsies” for a filmography of mostly forgotten or mediocre projects that, maybe counterintuitively, prompt some of the most substantive and fun movie conversations in the podcast sphere. In a film discourse that is becoming increasingly siloed on blogs and social media, This Had Oscar Buzz is a consistent breath of fresh air that delves into the sort of under-discussed deep cuts that fans of shows like Blank Check will likely appreciate, ranging from brilliant non-hits like Darren Aronofsky’s mother! to conceptual head-scratchers like Morning Glory to zero-cultural-impact features like The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan. This week, Feil and Reid (who have both contributed to The A.V. Club) satiate listeners with a long-awaited analysis of Tom Hooper’s 2019 adaptation of Cats, which features plenty of poking fun at “digital fur technology,” but also measured and thoughtful criticism of the film’s directorial missteps—plus one hell of a convincing case for fantasy casting Celine Dion as Grizabella. [Dan Jakes]


Travolta/Cage
Face/Off (with Jordan Morris)

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

For the past year and some change, film writers Clint Worthington (contributor to our sister site The Takeout) and Nathan Rabin (a notable A.V. Club alum) have taken listeners on a very particular, very unpredictable journey: into the film careers of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. (It’s a journey they once invited me to take.) It’s a road littered with highs, lows, cultural touchstones, Oscar-nominated performances, and so, so many bad decisions, as they spend every episode dissecting one film each from their respective filmographies. Everybody knows these two crossed paths in the 1997 blockbuster Face/Off, which Worthington and Rabin finally get to dismantle in this ep. Both hosts (along with their guest, Jordan, Jesse, Go! co-host Jordan Morris) agree it’s still one of the most exhilarating yet utterly ridiculous action movies ever made, with Travolta’s FBI agent and Cage’s rock-star criminal trading places by literally exchanging faces. Not only do they say it’s both Travolta and Cage’s finest action hour, it’s also the best film that John Woo—who famously churned out operatic bullet ballets like this back in Hong Kong—directed during his time making big-budget studio fare here in the States. [Craig D. Lindsey]


Under The Influence With Terry O’Reilly
Switch-Pitchers: When Spokespeople Change Brands

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

This episode of Under The Influence, a Canadian show packaged as the inside baseball of the advertising world, rattles off an anthology of spokesperson free agency, including a glance at the personal lives of the actors behind the product hocking. Paul Marcarelli, the “Can You Hear Me Now?” guy, found his catchphrase uttered by onlookers at his grandmother’s funeral, and the senior citizen of “Where’s The Beef?” fame got shitcanned by Wendy’s after she starred in an ad for Prego pasta sauce. But the podcast focuses mainly on the business calculations behind these campaigns. Cell networks, for instance, are an industry where almost all growth comes from poaching customers away from competitors. So after Verizon parted ways with Marcarelli, Sprint signed him up to become a powerful symbol of switching cell providers. And Ryan Reynolds was testing a novel theory about zeitgeist-based advertising when he cut an ad with the infamous “Peloton wife” within 72 hours of her Christmas commercial going viral. [Zach Brooke]

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