A Podcast For Movie Geeks: The Ringer's Rewatchables
There’s a lot of great content out there for movie geeks. Sometimes just by searching the title of a movie you can find some great takes and reviews, and if you’re not careful you’ll entertain yourself this way for hours. But it’s also nice to find individual sites or feeds with consistently good content that’s right down your alley. And if you just love movies, The Ringer’s Rewatchables podcast feed may be the perfect example.
Run by sports and pop culture commentators Bill Simmons, Chris Ryan, Sean Fennessey, and others, this is a regular podcast in which each episode constitutes an audio deep dive into a single film. While each episode is a little different, they tend to consist of summary breakdowns, loose critical commentary, and then a series of discussion categories such as “casting what-ifs” and “best scene” or “best quote.” It’s just a fun format for going over old favorites, and one of the coolest things about it is that if you and your friends listen together you’ll wind up having Rewatchables-esque conversations on your own.
If this all sounds interesting to you, I’ve highlighted some of the best episodes to get you started.
“The Dark Knight”
For my money, this is the best movie of the 21st century, and not just for comic book nerds and superhero fanatics. It’s got a little bit of everything, and The Rewatchables does a nice job of combing through it all. Incidentally, the same site behind this podcast ranked it as the top superhero film of all time (a ranking which should be universal and beyond debate), so in some ways this is mostly a love-fest. There are however some amusing nitpicks (this pod feed has a whole category called “picking nits”), such as an all-out, laughter-filled assault on the ludicrous plot aside that sends Bruce Wayne to China. It’s a good reminder that even the very best movies can be laughed at good-naturedly. It’s also a particularly vital listen given that we’ve hit the 10-year anniversary of this incredible movie.
“The Social Network”
The other day I saw a headline about Facebook training AI to detect “deep fake” videos. If you’re not familiar, a deep fake is a type of video (launched – where else – in the porn industry) in which it is made to look like a real person is saying or doing something he or she never did. It’s “fake news” in video form, and the concern is that it will inevitably be used to create fake political gaffes. More to the point, this podcast about “The Social Network” is a nice reminder of how fascinating and innocent Facebook once seemed. When this movie came out, AI was primarily a concept, no one had ever heard of deep fakes, and Facebook still had a good reputation. While this podcast is clear about the fact that there are some narrative liberties taken in the film, it’s also a great snapshot of what seems more and more like a strange moment in time, when we were all learning about Facebook’s origins. The pod also offers some great support for the idea that at his best, Aaron Sorkin is an unrivaled screenwriter.
Doing a podcast with this format about “Jerry Maguire” is just a fun idea. This was one of the earlier episodes when there was a little bit more focus on format, and that suits this movie just fine. Could you find a better film for which to talk about legendary scenes and quotes, or moments that aged the best? It’s basically an hour-ish-long celebration of moments like Tom Cruise yelling, “SHOW ME THE MONEY” and Cuba Gooding Jr. being delightfully over the top, with a few moments thrown in for two fo the most iconic movie quotes of all time: “You complete me,” and “You had me at hello.” I dare you to listen to this and not want to watch the movie again.
When this movie came out, poker was a back room hobby, and almost a little stigmatized. Following its release, amateurs thrived at the World Series of Poker (which went on TV), online poker emerged, and an entire international gaming industry burst to life. Nowadays you can play in whole real money tournaments online, and even in the U.S. casino gaming has caught on. As of recently, you can read entire expert guides to online gaming options based in New Jersey, and likely more states in short time. There’s an argument it can all be traced back to this cult classic poker movie, which is one reason it’s so much fun to hear Bill Simmons and Co. break it down. If you can get past Simmons’s borderline irrational love of Matt Damon, there’s an effect not unlike that of “The Social Network” pod. It takes you back to an incredibly important time at the very beginning of major, international social phenomenon.
This is one of the more recent episodes as of the time of this writing, and it’s just a sort of casual reminder that before it was spun into a franchise, “Taken” was one of the most purely entertaining action movies this century. The Rewatchables is a perfect vehicle for going back and exploring a movie like this, because the commentators can completely embrace the film’s absurdity without losing any appreciation for it whatsoever. That’s pretty much a necessary formula if you’re to have fun with this film, and I’d argue that listening to this breakdown actually makes it more fun on a rewatch – which is sort of the whole point.