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THE DIVINE 5 // Seen Anything Good Lately?

DIVINE 5

THE DIVINE 5 // Seen Anything Good Lately?

Spotted a podcast you want to try from a Pod Bible recommendation, but not sure how to dive in? We asked Jason Solomons of Seen Anything Good Lately? to share five of his favourite podcast episodes and why they’re worth checking out for new listeners…

On Seen Anything Good Lately? I ask guest creators to reveal their latest entertainment obsessions. Here are my current top five favourite episodes for you to enjoy!

Ep 5: Woody Allen Woody doesn’t own a computer or a mobile phone – he still types everything, from screenplays to emails (which he hands to a secretary), on the typewriter his Mum bought him for his 16th birthday. So getting an interview with him during lockdown was tough. Initially, I was granted an hour on the old-fashioned telephone landline, but the record quality on these is terrible and, honestly, he’s deaf in one ear, the ear to which he still insists on holding the receiver. He sounded depressed and resigned to never working again – he’d just lost a close friend in his jazz band to the virus. But I managed to persuade him to borrow his wife’s phone and I called him on FaceTime to get a lovely clean feed. It was the first time he’d ever used FaceTime (audio, not video, let’s not get ahead of ourselves) and I got another 30 mins with him and an interview he and I thoroughly enjoyed. He’s a maligned figure these days, of course, but I got a warm picture of him from this interview, how he practices his clarinet along to records, how he watches old movies in bed, his love for televised sports – I even got him to tell me a classic old joke. Listen here.

Ep 10: Venice Film Festival Special I can hardly believe this festival even took place. It feels like a distant dream now, and it felt unreal even while I was there for those first few days of a beautifully warm September, on the Lido over from mainland Venice. It was the only physical film festival to have taken place in the world since lockdown. I’ve been going to that festival for years and it’s always a great start to the awards season for movies. But this year promised a more intimate event even though nobody really reckoned it would actually happen, right up until journalists, TV crews, film makers, a few stars started arriving. And of course we were all in a great spot to see loads of new stuff to recommend, and to share excitedly what we’d all been watching over the summer. I think I managed to get all the garrulous joy of this highly unusual festival into my show with great guests (Stacy Martin, Jim Broadbent, Romola Garai and the great Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino) – it’s a bumper edition and I’m very proud of the work I put into it and how it sounded, to reflect an amazing few days of sunny ‘old normality’ that felt like a breath of fresh air rather than the last gasp of cinema I’d feared it might be. Listen here.

Ep 1: Emma Jane Unsworth What a great guest this author proved to be to start off the whole Seen Anything Good Lately? show. I knew Emma from a few panels we’d done together and knew how warm and witty she could be, but she really brought all of that to the podcast and had prepared beautifully, so her recommendations are top notch and immaculately varied, from buying expensive mustard, to hearing Meryl Streep read an audiobook of Nora Ephron, to the Brene Brown podcasts to the enduring appeal of Parks and Rec. I paired her with the bombshell Hollywood star Alexandra Daddario, who talked about all her favourite romcoms, from screwballs to Julia Roberts, and her 90s car driving jams, so it was a glamorous episode of smart, successful women with just the right energy and spread of recommendations to set the vibe – indeed the benchmark – for the whole series and suggesting to me that I might just have found a format and a podcast that works. Listen here.

Ep 6: Mira Nair and Mark Cousins Dedicating a show to female film makers always feels like you’re crowbarring an issue in, to look good, if you know what I mean? But this came about organically. Mira is certainly one of the best film makers in the world, and also happens to be a woman and it was wonderful to see her take on the huge task of adapting Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, finding Mira back in India, dealing with families (it opens with a wedding, reminding us of her brilliant Monsoon Wedding, of course) and politics. She’s such a warm and intelligent person and gave me all of that in the interview, talking about the influences she used to make the six-part TV show, and just making the listener want to follow up on so many leads, which is of course the whole idea of the podcast. I still must catch up on the Indian police show she recommended, Paatal Lok. At the same time, the documentary maker Mark Cousins was unleashing his 14-hour doc about women directors, Women Make Film. It’s brilliant, of course, and shines a light on so many forgotten or deliberately overlooked film makers and Mark was on typically smart form, firing off the recommendations for books and music and marginalised women cineastes as well recounting what it was like recording voice overs with Jane Fonda and Tilda Swinton. It’s a very inspiring episode. Listen here.

Ep 3: David Thewlis and Ashley Henry I love this show because of the contrasts. Thewlis is one of my favourite actors and he’s got this dry wit talking about his great career, from getting drunk with Gary Oldman after winning at Cannes, to notching up 100 film appearances to starting out to catch up on every episode of Peep Show and revealing, exclusively, that he’d just finished writing his second novel – he was so excited that he started unveiling the plot. On the same show, I talked to south London jazz musician Ashley Henry, whose album Beautiful Vinyl Hunter I’ve loved and who talked me through some of the tracks (wish we could play more of the music on the podcast!) as he was preparing to play a concert that was streaming through the Royal Albert Hall website that night. He was a bit nervous, but full of fun, and talked about his love of art galleries and why Earth Wind and Fire meant so much to him growing up, plus he turned me on to some great stuff going on on IGTV featuring ‘battles’ between hip-hop turntable legends. I really have picked up some gems of recommendations from my guests over this first series of Seen Anything Good Lately? – I know you will, too. Listen here.

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