Dept. of Excess: The Top Five Things I Forgot to Say While Presenting My Top Five Remakes List on Filmspotting This Week

I’ve written at least 150 concert reviews like this one for the Washington Post in the last five years. The format is very short: 250 to 300 words is your usual allotment; sometimes more, but usually not. I’m not crazy about the level of compression that requires, but it does keep you in the happy position of having more opinions than space.

I was thinking about this for the last couple of weeks as I prepared for one of the most exciting jobs that’s ever come my way: the chance to guest-cohost my favorite podcast, Filmspotting, which I’ve praised here before. (You can listen to the episode here or get it from iTunes here. The co-hosts of the episodes immediately prior to mine were two of the sharpest film critics in the game, my friend Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and Dana Stevens from Slate, whose writing I’ve long admired. So, you know, no pressure!) I don’t have much on-air experience yet, so I haven’t developed an awareness of how many seconds I need to express an idea verbally. But I do know broad/podcast media is very unforgiving of contemplative pauses and of digression, both of which are characteristic of the way I talk in real life.

Because I am, like Steve McQueen, a man of action, I made an effort to counter this troubling predilection of mine. For the part of the show where host Adam Kempenaar and his sidekick rank their Top Five films in the theme or genre under consideration that week — mine was the remakes episode; the Top Five segment starts about 63 minutes into the 89-minute show — I prepared index cards for each of the movies I’d chosen to discuss. Insurance against long-windedness, I figured: If I couldn’t fit what I wanted to say on a card it was too much.

trade secret

Well. Perhaps I should’ve stuck to one side of a notecard. At any rate, here’re some things I’d written down to say about each of my Top Five Remakes, but didn’t have time. I think I prioritized my points more or less appropriately, meaning I got to the meat of what I like about these films on-air. The leftovers are mostly just trivia, but what the hell, the show is called Filmspotting. Join me if you dare, or care.

3 responses to “Dept. of Excess: The Top Five Things I Forgot to Say While Presenting My Top Five Remakes List on Filmspotting This Week

  1. I love that you’ve expanded on your list. I especially like the comments on Insomnia. It’s a remake that in a lot of ways adds complexity to the original story, but at the same time tones some things down for a mainstream audience. I think it’s a good example of the Nolan sensibility though. A film can be mainstream and entertaining and not too offensive but still be complex and high minded.

  2. The man does his homework! (Still can’t say I like his picks, though.)

    Wonderful job as guest-host, sir. And you needn’t have been nervous: your velveteen voice, measured tones, droll humor, and cinephilia made it seem as though you had been doing it for years.

  3. I was the one who left the voicemail on the Fly. You were the one with the more eloquent exegesis by far, though. Outstanding job guest hosting, and I hope to hear you on there more often.

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