May 10, 2017

Podcast Portal: Cinescopers Prime

Welcome to Podcast Portal: a spontaneous column that will highlight podcasts of all genres that are lesser known or new shows that are worth giving a listen. With the medium continuing to grow, it is hard to acknowledge all of them. However, I am going to try and find as many noteworthy titles as possible to share and hopefully expand your mind to the greatest growing medium out there. If you have any podcast that you feel is worth adding to the Podcast Portal, please make sure to inform me whether through the comments or through an e-mail (information in sidebar). 

SHOW: Cinescopers Prime
HOSTS:  Matthew Bowers, Alli Martin, Zoe Eckman
EPISODE BEING DISCUSSED: "CSP 135: Stagecoach (1939) & Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2"

With the continually growing influx of movie podcasts, it becomes harder to find shows that have a niche focus. A show can no longer just be about reviewing movies. There has to be an angle. One of the quirks of the now defunct Wrong Opinions About Movies podcast was that it looked at movies through the prism of history. Everything relates to each other in some way, and it often results in a pairing of something old and new. The show disappeared in 2014 right after the release of Guardians of the Galaxy. Ironically, it is resurrected as Cinescopers Prime and spends its first episode back talking about its sequel, which opened this past weekend. What's more impressive than this commitment to a very odd joke is that the banter remains just as lively as ever.

In the previous episode (Episode #134.75), they detailed their new plan to make Cinescopers Prime into a more expansive exploration of film history, so this first episode is only the start of a bigger, grander vision (kind of like the movie). For those who missed Wrong Opinions About Movies, it's a whole lot more of the same, including regular coverage of current pop culture news; which in this case includes The Dark Tower and The Defenders trailers. From there, they discuss the two movies in detail before showing how thematically they are similar. On one hand, it's an excuse to double up on reviews. On the other, it's a chance for the hosts to work their magic. 
The conversation around Stagecoach is especially enjoyable because of the differing opinions that each host shares towards John Ford and westerns in general. With one claiming that it's only her second time watching a western, it creates a compelling exploration about how culture has changed in the almost 80 years. There's talk about Ford's cinematic racism and misogyny before talking about his real life charity that contradicts this image. It's difficult, but this show takes a progressive stance that allows themselves to be critical while accepting the era's problematic politics. Even if Stagecoach seems like a stretch for comparing to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (next week's combo makes a little more sense with The Sword in the Stone and King Arthur), it's fun to hear these hosts bantering again.
While it's still shy of a week from release, they also have an interesting look at the latest film from Marvel. While many are praising/criticizing the story on its audacious father/son story, the hosts decide to show just how conflicting the film can be. One thinks that James Gunn is a creep. One thinks that Mantis' character is secretly racist. These are only a few of the points explored, and they all are well informed and valid. If nothing else, it shows just how rich the modern conversation can be had. At the end of the day, the hosts still like the film. It's just problematic in some small ways.
This is where things will presumably evolve from in the weeks and months to come. The proposed new vision (which I'll let that episode explain better than I can) definitely will appeal to cinephiles wanting more glorious content. Beyond that, the one thing that thankfully has remained the same is the host's ability to express their passion through lighthearted and accessible commentary. The episode never drags and ends up feeling like a new essential show, even if it's a reboot of Wrong Opinions About Movies and technically an ongoing essential show. Still, it's nice to have the gang back together, and one can only hope that what is to come will be just as joyful and entertaining as this first episode back was. 

OVERALL RATING: 4.5 out of 5
WORTH A SECOND GO?: If you like movies, then I think it'll be smart to at least keep it on your radar for when promising new movies come out. Considering that it's summer movie season, that's going to be quite often for the time being.

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