A film major and an English major watch a movie…
Two close friends, Kevin Cobb and Michael Pazen, have joined forces to create the podcast “Subtitled Cinema,” which takes a look at foreign films as a way to both reject a Western positionality (as much as one can) and explore the depth and artistry across our globe. Their first series is an “around the world” type of collection, each episode about a film from a different country.
A little while after it was initially released, I finally tuned in—and was immediately hooked. The podcast is casual and intimate, truly translating the experience of listening in on two good friends; their voices have easy and complimentary cadences that put you at ease; and the intro and outro utilize pleasant instrumental reminiscent of NPR, making it ideal for easy listening (especially on a rainy day). I was struck (though not surprised) at how critical the work is; it becomes obvious they’re both knowledgeable and researched as they approach their conversations, and I can clearly see where their different, though related, backgrounds come into play. There is both an analysis of film’s elements of imagery, sequencing, musicality, light, and frame, and literary elements of diction, tone, and symbolism—and it’s hard to deny the overlap of both fields. It’s in this overlap where the conversation merges, and what comes forth is wonderfully fun and critical.
Something to respect is the clear acknowledgment of the detriments of Western influence and colonialism on cinema and cultural understandings, as well as their own positions, while also attempting to rectify that through exploration and exposure. In the introduction, we hear Michael and Kevin announce: “We made this podcast because we want to highlight non-American films, stories, and perspectives. Despite the prevalence of Hollywood, we want to decenter the American experience to broaden our understanding of the world, and to show you something new.” Not only have they forefronted an acknowledgment of the need to expand perspective and seek understanding through storytelling, but they’ve done it in a way that directly invites you, the listener, onto that journey of decentering and exploration with them.
In a time of exponential media consumption, and faced with the never-ending question of, “What should I watch?” this podcast is exactly what we need. Lighthearted, critical, and smile-provoking, “Subtitled Cinema” should take the top of your summer listening list. And as you watch these movies, feel free to follow their Instagram account and post comments of your thoughts! The podcast may be between two people, but the broader conversation always includes more.