In 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
’80s All Over
Drew McWeeny and Scott Weinberg have tasked themselves with reviewing every American theatrical release from the ’80s on their ’80s All Over podcast. This week, the duo stops off in September of 1981, showcasing more than a few forgotten gems. The hosts are not necessarily fans of the Friday The 13th knockoff Don’t Go In The Woods, but do cautiously recommend (or maybe unwittingly sell) the bonkers Jake Steinfeld horror flick Home Sweet Home, if only as a curiosity. The two also ponder what could have come of John Belushi’s career post-Continental Divide if the actor-comedian hadn’t died the following year. Mel Gibson’s tearjerker Tim is on the agenda, as well as Ulu Grosbard’s crime story True Confessions, featuring Robert Duvall and Robert De Niro as a detective and a priest involved in a murder mystery inspired by the Black Dahlia case. Walter Hill’s oft-overlooked hicksploitation actioner Southern Comfort is this week’s gem. Cut from the same cloth as Deliverance, Southern Comfort is a tense and terrifying film that features a National Guard squad under siege by vengeful Cajuns in the bayou.
The Bechdel Cast
Spider-Man 2 With Sina Grace
“Hello and welcome to The Bechdel Cast. This is our best episode yet,” declares Jamie Loftus in the latest episode’s introduction, and she may not be wrong. Caitlin Durante insists she will try to keep things on track for this Spider-Man 2 installment, though it could end up being mostly about character actor Alfred Molina. Fans of The Bechdel Cast should know by now that Loftus has always been, as she proudly broadcasts, “all horned up” for Molina, so it was only a matter of time that they’d examine the 2004 blockbuster. With author-illustrator Sina Grace as a special guest, this episode effortlessly encapsulates all there is to love about the show. Durante and Loftus are as charming as ever, and since the movie itself is so much fun, their discussion has a jovial ease that is an undeniably enjoyable listen. Amid the Molina fawning, they manage to break down all the ways that the film does not pass the Bechdel Test. But they do so with the specific flair that allows them to build sincere criticism of how static the female characters remain—in the same breath as using terms like “cum web.” It’s a balancing act that continues to set them apart.
A Fairy Home Companion
Set in the imaginary town of What Queer, Iowa, A Fairy Home Companion twists the work of Garrison Keillor, using journalism to subvert the family radio hour, explore intersectional histories and futures of the queer Midwesterner, and preserve their stories. Hosted by June Carter-Gash (KT Hawbaker), “Episode 1” introduces us to a place that’s “flat as hell and gayer than the hills,” full of daring dykes, lusty lesbos, queens, queers, pansexual Pattys, and trans champions, to name a few. It’s also a place where a Midwestern dad goes in on his daughter for being a leftist elite, speaking German, while a Trump rally rages in the background. That is to say, it’s an only slightly exaggerated reality. Rounded out with serious sexual definitions and peppered with fictional ads that rival the podcast’s main inspiration, A Fairy Home Companion is a show to keep an ear on as it finds its footing.
For a week with a double dose of The Bachelorette, Rose Buddies fans were treated to an extra-long installment of the podcast—and, boy, was it appreciated after the garbage really piled up. The ugliness of The Lee Situation is not shied away from by Rachel and Griffin McElroy; in fact, they confront it head on. But leave it to them to miraculously spin gold from what is the inarguably gross, drawn-out, and highly problematic straw of the Kenny vs. Lee narrative. Instead of glossing over the troubling way the franchise handled its “villain” and skipping to the good stuff, the hosts admit firsthand that they are not experts on race, but they do their best to break down the many problems within the franchise, even enlisting the help of various articles written about the two episodes. That careful consideration results in the show being so inclusive and its hosts not only consistently endearing, but also responsible in the way that they take on the show. There’s a lovely humanity about Rachel and Griffin that makes Rose Buddies a truly safe space to both enjoy the show’s fun and reflect on its flaws.
Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers
The Beguiled, 1971
J. Blake and Dion Baia dive into one of Clint Eastwood’s more interesting roles as they discuss 1971’s The Beguiled. Listeners of the show know that Baia is a tremendous Eastwood fan, and the release of Sofia Coppola’s reimagining of the Southern gothic is a perfect time to look back on Don Siegel’s original. While the guys admit to having not seen the remake yet, they do hypothesize on what the differences may be between an older film that two more, let’s say “old-fashioned” men made versus a female director telling the same story in 2017. There isn’t a lot of the nostalgia that usually peppers the show, as not many people were really into sexy hothouse thrillers during their childhoods, but the hosts do offer their sterling dissection of the film from its inception as a novel to its big-screen debut. Blake and Baia address whether the film could be considered a “horror film” as well as if the film is actually misogynist, as some critics have written.
The History Of Planet Of The Apes
Host James Hancock is joined by a trifecta of Ape-sperts (Kevin Maher of Kevin Geeks Out, Bill Scurry of I Don’t Get It, and John Cribs of The Pink Smoke) to look back on the Planet Of The Apes phenomenon. What began as a novel then turned into a franchise that spanned five original films, comic books, a television series, and two theatrical reboots. The crack team expertly dissects the convoluted timeline of the films (including the oft-overlooked Beneath and the fan favorite Conquest), the heart of the series—Roddy McDowall—and shares their personal stories about their first time experiencing Ape law and what the series has meant to them as adults. The Wrong Reel provides a wonderfully fun overview of a pop culture phenomenon that can be overwhelming to a newbie and some fun, in-depth trivia for longtime fans of the series.