Brian, I probably shouldn't even respond because you and anyone else should be able to come in this forum and vent and not necessarily have to deal with me responding or seeming to take it personally... which I don't at all because you're respectful and it clearly does come from a positive place. But a few thoughts because I can't help myself:
"But try to mix it up a little bit and throw in just ok looking movies that aren't necessarily the biggest draw." -- You mean, like when we talked about Dark Shadows? Deciding which movie to talk about each week is something that's just organic, and it's always been that way. We ask ourselves which movie we are most excited to see and discuss. Occasionally, what we imagine the listeners' interest level to be factors in. But there's no grand plan.
I think the note about going from Westerns and Hitchcock to Bresson and Iran is a little bit off because it overlooks all the super arty Marathons both Sam and Matty did on the show. Bergman? Kurosawa? Kieslowski? Almodovar? All with Matty. It's true Matty and I would deliberately try to break up the foreign language/arty ones with a good genre or Hollywood marathon, but Josh and I have always planned to do the same and we've only done two. We felt comfortable getting away with two 'tough' ones back to back because the next one, Blaxploitation, should be much lighter and has been set for several months.
At the risk of repeating myself from above, it's probably objectively true that the show has become 'dryer' to some degree since Josh came on board. But I don't think it has anything to do with us needing to relax or build more rapport. If it feels like it's two art critics more than it did before, that makes sense -- it's the first time two people who approached the show as critics are doing it. I'm sure there's room to improve, but I'm honestly as relaxed and comfortable now as I've ever been. And frankly, that comfort level has been there for me since the first time Josh came on.
Sure, it takes some time to understand the other guy's tendencies and be able to play off their likes and dislikes, but I think after 6 months I can safely say: this is your show... unless, you know, it's not. I personally don't want to change anything about our approach on-air or off-air at this point. We're having fun... and having laughs... every week.
P.S. The summary of the 'lessons' comes from the mind of producer Sam Van Hallgren, and honestly, I haven't completely embraced it yet myself... But as (almost) always, there's a method to his/our madness. The show isn't just a podcast; it's a radio show. And people who listen on radio don't necessarily here the entire episode.