Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Quentin Tarantino at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
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.

Culturally Relevant With David Chen
Zen And The Art Of Videogame Character Maintenance (With Dan Trachtenberg)

Hardcore film nerd, critic, and /Filmcast host David Chen has started a new solo podcast focused on conversations with creative talents in media, anywhere across its vast spectrum. On this episode, Chen has an insightful conversation with director Dan Trachtenberg (Black Mirror, 10 Cloverfield Lane) about his early film career, how he approached his cinematic trailer for the popular free RPG shooter Warframe, and directing the first episode of the not-so-shiny Amazon Prime superhero show The Boys. Trachtenberg, who proudly notes that he ends every single night by playing video games to unwind, initially rose to fame by way of his fan short Portal: No Escape, so Chen asks him about his career beginnings and if that sort of viral film would work with today’s Hollywood talent scouting. Chen’s ability to genuinely listen instead of speak over his guest is a blessing in podcasting, and it’s because of this that the listener can truly learn a thing or two about Trachtenberg’s approach to direction. [Kevin Cortez]


Dude Talks To A Lady
Ismael Loutfi

In Dude Talks To A Lady, host Janet Hyde talks with male comedians about the place women and gender hold in their jokes. In this episode, Ismael Loutfi’s off-putting anecdote about gawking at women on the street slowly spins out into a fascinating exploration of curiosity, otherness, and the male gaze. Loutfi explains how Islam has affected how he observes others and how he wants to be seen himself—right down to his knees, which made their first public appearance at the time of recording. Loutfi has realizations about his own prejudiced behavior, but Dude Talks To A Lady feels less like a rude guy getting schooled and more like a dialogue about masculinity and catharsis that leads to genuine growth. [Adrian Jade Matias Bell]


For Keeps
Migrants’ Belongings, Saved And Photographed By Tom Kiefer

For Keeps is all about collectors and their collections. In each episode, host David Peterkofsky interviews different aficionados and gets to the root of their obsessions. But this episode is different: Photographer Tom Kiefer’s collection is not about things that make him happy, but other people’s sorrow. From 2003 to 2014, Kiefer worked as a janitor in the Ajo, Arizona border patrol processing station; one of his duties was to dispose of the possessions that had been confiscated from captured migrants, items that ranged from Bibles and rosaries to mix CDs and children’s toys. Unable to throw away people’s personal belongings, he began to save the items, and was soon taking photographs of his growing collection. The resulting exhibit, El Sueño Americano, aims to combat the lies being perpetuated about the people trying to cross America’s southern border; these are simply individuals and families looking for a better life, Kiefer explains. This episode of For Keeps is a departure from previous ones about Beatles memorabilia and velvet painting collections, but just like those, it gets at the heart of a larger story through the objects on display. [Anthony D. Herrera]


Land Of The Giants
Why You’ll Never Quit Amazon Prime

It’s hard to believe how recently in history you couldn’t just add press-on nails, dog treats, and penny loafers to your online cart and have them arrive at your doorstep in just two days, but a pre–Amazon Prime world did in fact exist. Vox Media’s Land Of The Giants explores the five dominant technology companies—Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google—and how these corporations have changed people’s lives, both for better and worse. This season begins with the rise of Amazon, initially just an online marketplace for books that now offers television programming, same-day shipping, and robots capable of reordering toilet paper or checking the weather. This oral history documents how Prime grew from one of many nebulous projects in development to become the cornerstone and engine of Amazon, providing a critical examination of the cost of convenience. Host Jason Del Rey explores the painstaking innovations in fast-track shipping, and why customer obsession is the foundation of Prime, in this measured look at what keeps us locked into the Amazon ecosystem. [Morgan McNaught]


Late To The Party With Travis Tate
Dispicable Prick

Comedian Travis Tate and his friend Jake Dahl talk about every topic under the sun in their podcast, but the theme of the show allows them to sleep on those topics as long as they please. The two kick off this episode discussing how weird it is that people age—a fact that might seem unremarkable until they realize with a jolt that Jerry Seinfeld, for example, is in his mid-60s. He’s one year older than Willem Dafoe, which leads to the pair discussing how Dafoe is the perfect casting choice for the Green Goblin in 2002’s Spider-Man. These hosts weren’t lying; they really are late to this party. But by the time they get there, it’s usually worth a listen. After discussing a 17-year-old superhero film, Tate and Dahl also share why they aren’t big fans of “dead kid” movies (spoiler alert: it’s for very obvious reasons). [Vannessa Jackson]


Medical Mysteries
The Elephant Man Pt. 1

This new show about medical oddities from the perspective of physicians and patients plays it straight. No skits, no hosts yukking it up, not even strong reactions to the stories being told, just a taut yet comprehensive narrative, delivered the way a doctor might as they try to make a diagnosis. There’s little time for anything else but exposition in this first episode, which chronicles the case of Joseph Merrick, a.k.a. the Elephant Man. Others might’ve squirreled away such a well-known subject for future episodes, but Merrick best showcases the podcast’s essence. Merrick went through his short life knowing little about the cause of his own disorder. The doctor who attended him fared no better despite being a leading surgeon of the day, though he did succeed in documenting Merrick’s medical condition, which the hosts promise to dive into in the next episode. [Zach Brooke]


Off Menu
Sian Clifford

Comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster have invited you to dine at their restaurant. But theirs isn’t just any restaurant. First, it’s imaginary. Second, it’s the restaurant of your dreams, in which everything from the table bread to the dessert selection is designed to your exact specifications. So, the question is, what are you going to order? That’s what they ask of their celebrity guest each week on Off Menu, a delightful culinary adventure through different people’s ideal meals. In this episode, Sian Clifford (Fleabag) gets lightly razzed as she goes into exacting detail about her water order and takes the hosts on an autobiographical tour of her past favorite dishes. But that’s what’s so great about the Off Menu restaurant: One’s main course isn’t limited to an existing entree at a five-star restaurant they’ve been to. It could be a fantastic curry they remember from their childhood or a pasta they had on a particularly romantic date. Gamble and Acaster are just here to pretend to facilitate it. And make a few puns along the way. [Dan Neilan]


Quentin Tarantino’s Feature Presentation
Quentin Goes To The Movies/Quentin Tunes In, Drops Out/Quentin, You’ll Be A Director Soon

Besides Christopher Nolan, is there a filmmaker who causes more cultural mass hysteria with their releases than Quentin Tarantino? Social media has become a hot-take-dispensing shitshow ever since Once Upon a Time in Hollywood came out. In this three-part mini-podcast, film critic Amy Nicholson acknowledges how Tarantino is “one of the last artists who creates mass culture alongside, well, The Avengers.” But when Nicholson sits down with the director for the conversation that makes up the bulk of this NPR-ish audio collage (complete with movie clips, interview snippets and very QT- style music cues), he talks more about other people’s movies than his own. Nicholson brings up five films—Point Blank, Enter The Dragon, Valley Girl, Hollywood Shuffle, and Boogie Nights—that Tarantino has personally programmed at his L.A. revival house to ask how or if they shaped his filmmaking. But Tarantino prefers to highlight the flaws he sees in many of these films. Nicholson does manage to assemble a history of his early years as a budding cinephile-turned-visionary wunderkind, but whenever Tarantino gets on the mic, he shows he will always be the same shit-talking film nerd who used to work at Video Archives. [Craig D. Lindsey]

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