Friday, August 18, 2006

I won't tell you again!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Movies You Should See is a Podcast You Should Listen To - it's so side-splittingly funny you won't mind being told what to do in the least. In each zany, ad hoc episode Richard Smith, Allison Downing, Mike Dawson, Craig Bevan and Tristan Ofield attempt to make the case for why your life won't be complete until you've watched the elected movie of the week, assuming they can remember what it is.

Mostly though you shouldn't need much cajoling. Unless you've been living under a Wi-Fi Enabled Rock, you won't be tuning in for advice, you will have seen the plugged movies dozens of times and bought the accompanying lunch box and posing pouch. To be honest, if you're not familiar with the movie up for discussion you'll feel like an Alien in New Yorkshire. The crew do provide synopses though they're often quite scanty, so relying on the podcast as a celluloid divining rod isn't recommended.

A more appropriate title might be, 'If You Haven't Seen Star Wars Go Out & Buy It, Stick It In Your DVD Player, Thoroughly Digest It & Then Come Back & Listen to Our Podcast', but that wouldn't roll off the tongue quite so smoothly, and would only apply if they were pimping Star Wars, which they haven't yet. This is by no means a criticism, it's meant as a helpful tip to ensure you get the most out of the show.

Movies You Should See's meandering, ADHD-addled style is what makes it so compelling. It's like earwigging on a pub conversation, except the participants are still sober and know what they're talking about because they're in the biz themselves. The off-topic rants and did-you-know? tidbits are as entertaining as the planned-ish discussion points.

For instance, the recurring ITV-dialogue-mangling segment has me in stitches every time; to make movies more watershed-friendly the British network, Independent TeleVision, like to dub over any language they - in their dubious wisdom - consider offensive. Well, to be fair to them I think sometimes it's the case that they simply opt to broadcast official, alternative, TV-friendly versions of movies. Whatever the source of the edits they're trivia gems. One of my favourites comes from Caddy Shack: with a swish of the almighty Wand of Political Correctness the line, "hey everybody, let's all get laid" becomes, "hey everybody, let's go take a shower". Unsurprisingly expletive-littered gangster films are butchered to a greater extent. I don't care whose company they find themselves in, hardcore Mafia bosses do not use phrases like 'melon farmer', 'muddy funster', 'flip you', 'jeez Loueez' or 'forget you'.

It turns out that this meddling isn't restricted to audio; ITV/whoever even went so far as to edit the text on the sandwich board John McLane is coerced into wearing in Die Hard With a Vengeance to read "I hate everybody" rather than "I hate niggers". This fouls-up the significance of the entire scene because he was specifically made to stroll through Harlem - home of The Brothers - where he would inevitably find himself on the receiving end of a jolly thorough bottom spanking.

I've always been fascinated by the decision making process involved in cutting certain scenes from movies, and the way creative editing can radically alter the narrative and character development. All this is covered in depth, as is the reason director's cuts are sometimes little more than spurious marketing gimmicks concocted to sell you movies you already own.

MYSS is a refreshingly rough and ready blend of quick-witted banter, insightful observations and analysis and insider film production geekery (did you know the pioneering, pre-CGI arrow-eye-view shots in Prince of Thieves were created by simply attaching an arrow to the side of a camera mounted on a track, sliding the entire rig towards its target and then speeding the whole thing up?). There's nothing else quite like it.

If you want to sample MYSS without the 'commitment' of subscribing to the podcast I can highly recommend the Arnie-bashing special. It's hysterical from start to finish.

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