“Film Weekly” – An Obituary

When I visited my first real film festival as a professional writer, the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2008, I saw Oscar Nominee Richard Jenkins a few feet away from me and couldn’t have cared less. I was looking for someone else and when I finally spotted him, I was so star-struck that I didn’t dare to talk to him. Good thing I ran into him a second time – and this time I managed to chat with him for a bit. The man was Jason Solomons, a film journalist for “The Guardian” and he had been in my ear for over a year, every week.

Jason was the host of the Guardian’s podcast “Film Weekly”, the first podcast I listened to regularly, and one of the best film podcasts around, as far as I am concerned. In an internet world, where the geeks – and the loud films they like – have increasingly taken over power, “Film Weekly”, Solomons and later co-host Xan Brooks gave off a cushy scent of old film journalism gentry and art house sensitivity. I first discovered the show in an episode on Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (via the now defunct blog “Cinematical”) and was immediately hooked.

I almost never agreed with Jason’s and Xan’s assessment of more mainstream films, especially animation, and I found the way Jason conducted some of his interviews to be rather unnerving (witness, for example, how he almost drives David Cronenberg mad, by insisting on discovering what’s “cronenbergian” about him). On the other hand, here were journalists who had the power of a publication like the “Guardian” behind them, who could be autonomous and irreverent without too much press junket fanboy-ism.

They led me to art house gems I would hardly have discovered without them, featured big stars as well as small indie newcomers and had English accents that were easy on the ear. At about 30 minutes, the show was exactly the right length, and not as long-drawn and chatty as some of the other efforts on the net (like Filmspotting and the /filmcast).

It’s really too bad, that Solomons and Brooks hosted their last show a week and a half ago. Their company gave no real reason for the cancellation except “limited resources & belts being tightened, as well as the desire to push the Guardian’s multimedia in new directions”. A video show will follow later this year. While video might generate more clicks in this day and age, it’s also hard to enjoy it while you’re going for your weekend run and takes a lot more active commitment to watch regularly. I, for one, will probably stop consuming the “Guardian”‘s film coverage now. I hope I will have the opportunity to run into Jason or Xan at a film festival again to tell them how much I miss their show.

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