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The Letterboxd Show 3.20: Jay Bennett
[clip from Face/Off plays]
I want to thank you for enduring all these years that I was an insufferable bore...
Sir, did you just have a surgical procedure?
What do you mean?
Well, was the stick successfully removed from your ass? [laughs]
[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker fades in, plays alone, fades down]
SLIM Hello and welcome back to The Letterboxd Show, our podcast about the movies people love watching from Letterboxd: the social network for people who love watching movies. I’m Slim, Gemma is also with us in studio, and this week we travel across an ocean to England to meet a guest whose day job is very much of interest to the Letterboxd crew right now, as we’re making the final tweaks to a new poster feature that will allow Patron members to select the poster when you look at your favorite film’s Letterboxd page.
GEMMA Jay Bennett is a poster designer with the creative agency Intermission Film who do amazing work in the cinema space, creating posters and trailers and other things to get us to go… to… the… movies… at… the… cinema. Jay is also a Letterboxd member with more than 30,000 followers, 85 very specific lists and a ratings histogram that holds right back on those five stars. We need to know more. So please welcome, to quote from his profile, the silliest little guy on Letterboxd—Jay, hello and welcome to The Letterboxd Show.
JAY Hi guys, thanks for having me on. This is really exciting. So yeah, I really appreciate you guys inviting me on here.
SLIM This histogram is blowing my mind. So the chart on everyone’s like Letterboxd profile, when you look to see someone’s rating spread, you know, through up to five stars. It’s like... do you see this, Jay? Is this a bit? It’s like the most perfect histogram I’ve ever seen, there’s like no five stars. It’s insane.
JAY Yeah, I’m glad someone’s like finally noticed it... [Slim & Gemma laugh] Because I have like keeping this up and people have like mentioned it every now and again of like, why I hang back on five stars. You guys are the first people to bring it up verbally, in such a public platform as well. [Gemma laughs]
GEMMA Like, to describe it to the listener, it’s like a really pretty staircase... steady, steady, beautiful, beautifully designed staircase up to a horrifically terrifying cliff. [Jay laughs] What does the film have to do to get a five-star [rating] from you?
JAY I don’t know. I’ve always just had this thing that five stars is like, the epitome of perfection. It’s got to be like the best film in the world. I’ve got to keep coming back to it. That’s why I don’t give a lot of films five stars initially.
GEMMA RoboCop, how many stars? Five stars, surely...
SLIM I’ll tell you what, I’m looking at it right now, I don’t see RoboCop in Jay’s five-star ratings.
JAY Unfortunately not, no.
JAY Paddington 2 is four and a half, I think. Four and a half.
GEMMA Ohhhh... [Gemma & Slim laugh]
JAY I don’t know, I have such like a thing about like, if I keep coming back to it, over and over again. It’s gotta mean a lot to me and I’ve got to have so much like stories behind that for it to be like the absolute perfect movie. Although, if you look at my four-stars, all of those are movies I can’t really find like a fault with... so like, realistically, those are the five stars. [Slim laughs] The five stars is just like an extra bit, you know?
GEMMA So what’s got five stars?
SLIM There’s one that jumps out at me, real quick, Martyrs, 2008. This movie... I have seen reviews of this movie people just being totally horrified about it. It’s like a revenge movie but some depravity involved, but this one makes the list, five stars.
JAY Yeah, it’s just such a morbid movie. [Gemma laughs] Yeah, it’s such a bizarre one to give five stars but I think it was like the first really like, horrible movie I watched that I felt like so much effect from. Like a horror movie that finally—I don’t know—
SLIM Made you feel sick?
JAY Exactly. I feel like I’ve pretty thick skin when it comes to horror movies. And this one finally, like, cracked through my outer-shell and just made me feel like, disgusting. [Gemma laughs]
SLIM Oh god.
JAY But it’s just so well shot. It’s like a perfect story with amazing performances and I’m I’m kind of shocked it doesn’t have more of like a cult following.
GEMMA As well as one of the most batshit-insane histograms in Letterboxd history, you also have a lot of fun with Letterboxd lists, Jay. You identify quite specific themes and connections such as Tom Hardy invents an accent, Films ranked by the quality of the Mac and Cheese, Cannes you believe it, good title, that’s the list of the weirdest and worst films that premiered at Cannes, like Gotti, X-men: The Last Stand. I have an issue with Dirty Dancing being a bad Cannes premiere, but we can fight that out. [Gemma & Jay laugh]
JAY I was just surprised that that showed there. It’s not so much that it was a good or bad, it’s just like, ‘Wow, that was a Cannes premiere?’ When you think it’s like esteem and the highest quality of film. They’re very, you know, they’re very selective of what they choose there. And Dirty Dancing is there so—I mean, it’s great. It’s a great film.
JAY Of course. And deservedly.
GEMMA And then the epic one—which is kind of spoilery for those who don’t know about these moments—Who let Matt Damon into the studio, a list of films where Matt Damon shows up unprompted when no one asked.
JAY It’s true. He shows up a lot like any movie, like any movie, like Thor[: Ragnarok], you just don’t expect him to pop up and it’s like a jumpscare.
SLIM I know! It’s so weird. The first one I remember is EuroTrip, I remember I had that on VHS when I was a kid.
JAY Oh wow.
SLIM And he famously is in the band that sings the song. I wonder where it is with Matt Damon, because he does have a thing for like, “Oh yeah, I’ll appear for this.”
JAY He loves a cameo. [Slim laughs[
SLIM He does! He loves a cameo.
GEMMA He loves a cameo!
JAY You say that and I haven’t added that film to the list, so that’s going straight on there afterwards. [Slim & Gemma laugh] You’re feel fueling my fire. It’s going straight on there.
GEMMA I think that during this show, we should be asking you not just to rate the films, the four favorites, but also the posters for those four favorites.
JAY Of course, sounds great.
GEMMA Yeah. Do you—in terms of the lists you keep—do you, are you about to make a ‘Favorite Posters of All Time’ list?
JAY Honestly, with this new new feature coming along and the article that’s following this, I think I have to.
SLIM Yeah, oh man.
JAY There’s so many great ones. I just need to kind of hone in considering it’s, you know, the thing I consider my like professional craft. I need to kind of go in into that on Letterboxd, really. Because I haven’t really touched on it much other than the fact that it’s like in my bio.
SLIM One of the things that I started doing, so the Letterboxd crew has had access to the ‘Patrons can change posters’ on their, you know, when they look up a movie or you make a list, you can have your own view of your posters that appear on TMDb and elsewhere. I started looking at the Criterion posters of some of these that are available. I mean, they’re so gorgeous. Why not throw them on there? You know, change them up?
JAY Exactly, you have to. Sometimes the Criterion covers are just like far more beautiful than the actual key art. No slander, but like they just announced the Criterions in a couple of months and they feature [The] Power of the Dog.
GEMMA Oh yeah.
JAY And that one is stunning, and no shade on the agency that created The Power of the Dog key art because it is also very pretty. However, that cover with the—I think it’s like the flowers are in his hand—
GEMMA Ahhh, yes.
JAY Stunning artwork.
SLIM I just changed it.
GEMMA You also have a list on your Letterboxd, where you rank the Saw films based on how morally right the Jigsaw Killer is. Which, of course, brings us to the first of your four Letterboxd faves and we’re going to discover were on that list of moral rightness the original 2004 Saw film sits. This is directed by James Wan written by James with Leigh Whannell, who plays Adam. It has a surprising 3.6 average, I would have thought higher. And you are one of 3,300 fans who have this in their four favorites on Letterboxd. “Obsessed with teaching his victims the value of life, a deranged, sadistic serial killer abducts the morally wayward. Once captured, they must face impossible choices in a horrific game of survival. The victims must fight to win their lives back, or die trying. And also... Danny Glover is in it.” [Jay & Slim laugh] Let’s get straight into it, Jay, he never calls for backup.
JAY Oh not at all. [Slim laughs] Absolutely. He’s a man that just wants to capture himself. He is driven on revenge. He is—ah, the bit later on in the film where you find out the reveal that he’s been like stalking the doctor’s apartment the whole time.
GEMMA Cary Elwes. He’s been stalking the Dread Pirate Roberts Jr. Yeah. [Jay laughs]
JAY And yeah, you found out he’s been stalking all time and he’s there like just doing his raspy voice talking to himself like, “I’ve got him! I’ve got you this time!” [Gemma & Slim laugh] It’s just glorious. What a performance.
SLIM One of my favorite scenes is—you know, skip ahead maybe if you haven’t seen Saw, but I think a lot of people have. But when he finally is having that fight in the hallway, it just goes so south for him. [Slim & Gemma laugh] I just like throw my hands up in the air like, ‘Come on! My god!’
JAY It’s so funny. It’s like, he just constantly fails. He is easily one of the worst cop detectives in any of these detective-horror movies. [Slim & Gemma laugh]
SLIM He is.
JAY It’s so funny.
SLIM So with in terms of horror and Saw, what’s your backstory with the genre? And do you remember when you first saw this movie? Was it in theaters?
JAY No, the first Saw movie to me, I got introduced it in a way, essentially I got introduced to it from my dad, which like, you wouldn’t think the Saw movies growing up would be a film that you’re like father would introduce you to. However, we did do like the whole watching like Star Wars and Indiana Jones as a kid, like movies you should be introduced to by a dad. But I don’t know, I just got this weird obsession as a kid, like your dad’s constantly watching these movies in the living room where you’re meant to be in bed and you hear them downstairs. And every time I’m like, “Oh, can I come downstairs?” He instantly turns them off, like I want to know more about what he’s doing down there!
GEMMA Was this one where he didn’t shut it off? So you came in and he was like, “Alright, I guess you can watch this one.”
JAY Well, no, not really. So I come downstairs and he’s watching the fourth one and I catch a little bit of it. And I’m around like thirteen or fourteen at this time and I go and pirate it essentially on my laptop upstairs. [Slim & Gemma laugh] I mean, why not? I haven’t got access to a physical copy, streaming isn’t a thing yet. So I go and find it online upstairs. And it just sends me into this like deep spiral of crime and horror movies. It leads me on a path towards Se7en and [The] Silence of the Lambs, all of these like twisted, like time-jumping tales of trying to catch a killer and like diving inside their mind and seeing how it works. And I mean, then the story goes on from there, then I just got obsessed with the rest of the movies. And it’s a whole spiral downwards.
GEMMA This was 2004. Another film that came out in 2004 was Shaun of the Dead. It was a really interesting year for horror being remade and kind of reconstituted from all of its, you know, various grisly parts by young, non-American, sort of bright-eyed writer-directors who had grown up, like you, with the genre and gone, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna put my stamp on it.’ I mean, this has spawned, you know, an absolute empire of horror films for both James and Leigh.
JAY No, absolutely. I feel like what also got me so interested in film from this is reading all of like the IMDb trivia stuff, and you find out that the film cost around like $700,000. And there’s just these two Australian students that managed to get their script across the world over to the States and shopping [it] out to production companies. And they made this film for, yeah, $700,000. And it made around like, 150 million.
GEMMA My god. So $700,000 basically buys you, Denis and the catering. And everyone else is in there. I mean, Cary Elwes at that point had been pretty quiet in terms of his career. This was a real revival for him after The Princess Bride days, right?
JAY Yeah, definitely. It’s just like, so amazing how they had like this small amount of money and this small turnaround of like seventeen days and got all these stars there and such like a skeleton shoot of like a tiny crew all in this one little rundown bathroom set—
SLIM Dank bathroom.
JAY —that they’ve had to rebuild, like over and over again. It’s absolutely disgusting.
SLIM Yeah, I was talking to Gemma before, and I didn’t realize that Leigh, you know, the co-writer and in the movie, didn’t realize that Leigh was also the director of The Invisible Man and Upgrade, which has a huge cult following that had come out a few years ago. So I mean, because when I was watching this, I was like, ‘Why haven’t I seen this young guy again?’ Well, he went on to go direct some pretty popular movies.
JAY Yeah, because he’s a far better writer and director than actor, as the film shows. [Gemma laughs]
SLIM You said it. You said it, not me!
GEMMA Well, funny that you should say that because I didn’t remember Adam, at all. I know I saw this at the movies when it came out. But all I remember is Cary Elwes in the two-way mirror and the dead guy in the room. I’m sorry, was I drunk? Maybe I was drunk in 2004. I don’t know. [Jay laughs] But I’m really sorry, Adam. And what’s really fascinating looking at Letterboxd reviews of more recent times of Saw is the sort of obsession with Adam and Dr. Gordon as these—it’s essentially like everyone’s shipping them, right?
JAY They’re distant lovers, quite literally, in that room. I love how it’s—even the Saw official like Twitter and Instagram pages have owned as well. On Valentine’s Day, they posted the bloody love heart drawn in the movie.
JAY With the two of them in the middle. So it’s getting like owned by Lionsgate, which I find incredible. [Slim laughs]
GEMMA Is it because Adam doesn’t show him the photo at the beginning?
GEMMA Because, I mean, it’s a wild meet-cute when you think about it.
JAY Oh absolutely.
GEMMA But then when is the moment that they actually, one of them actually falls in love with the other, and it’s when Adams like, ‘I’m not going to show him the photo.’
JAY Definitely, and I also think it’s proven in the end when, obviously spoilers, Dr. Gordon chops his foot off and he crawls over and they both finally are able to embrace each other from, you know, these opposite sides of the room coming together. [Gemma laughs] And he’s like, just whispering in his ear like, “I’m gonna get help. I’m gonna get help for you.”
SLIM [in a choked-up voice] ”I’m gonna get help! I’ll get help!” [Slim & Gemma laugh] He’s got like the pale skin too. I love the makeup he has, as he’s like bleeding out. It cracks me up.
GEMMA At least 100,000 of that 700,000 was spent on making Cary Elwes look like a ghost.
SLIM That was chalk. They had some chalk, like a chalkboard and they just grabbed that chalk and poured it over his face. They’re like, ‘Yeah, you look like you’re dying.’
GEMMA There’s a Letterboxd member Amaya who was up there. I mean, people rewatch the crap out of Saw. But we have the receipts, we know who you are.
JAY Oh no...
GEMMA The people more than 25 times and Jay, you’re not one of them. But Amaya is and of many of her reviews, I think two of my favorites are, she writes: “can’t believe a dumb horror movie about two stupid men crawling on a dirty bathroom floor and yelling at each other is the best thing ever.”
JAY It’s absolutely true. She’s so right. [Gemma laughs]
GEMMA And then her other one, I think it’s her most recent one: “you could play the last five minutes of this movie, anytime, anywhere and as long as I’m within a twenty-mile radius, I’m gonna come bursting through the window screeching like a pterodactyl.” [Gemma & Slim laugh]
JAY No, it’s so fitting. It’s such an intense ending. And I think the score is a testament to that as well, by Charlie Clouser, it’s just like an enormous string percussion coming in. That must have been where a lot of the budget went to, right?
SLIM Actually the music is probably one of the most visceral memories I have of that scene, when he gets up and the music like kicks in hard. And before we get your take on the poster, your five-star, whatever rate you might have for the poster. But James Was has had also gone on from here to have such a storied career still. I mean, Malignant was like the most recent big one. But [The] Conjuring, oh my god, and Insidious. Those are really fun movies.
JAY An endless career. It’s such like a bizarre career trajectory. He’s like gone from these tiny, tiny indie horror films that he kept making for a couple more years after this and just got like swept up into the storm of these mainstream horror movies that are still really good. Like you put them against them with the majority of horror movies that get powered through Hollywood, The Conjuring and Insidious are still like miles above the rest. And then he got swept up into, you know, Aquaman, which I have my reservations for. I think it’s a bit of fun. [Jay laughs]
GEMMA There’s an octopus playing bongos, I have no problem with that. [Jay & Slim laugh]
JAY And there’s Pitbull doing a cover of Toto’s ‘Africa’, like, what more can you want? What more can you want? [Gemma & Slim laugh]
GEMMA Okay, so where does the Saw poster rank—I mean, this is your number one choice and let’s, okay, let’s dive into this poster, shall we?
JAY So I don’t love the poster. I think there’s a lot of like unneeded texture on it. It could be a lot cleaner. But it does reflect that era, the early-2000s posters were very grungy and gritty and quite ugly. But I think it very simply explains what you’re going to get yourself into with the film. The film’s not particularly gory, but you’re going to see a guy probably chop his foot off. [Gemma & Slim laugh] So that’s that’s all you need to know. And there’s the saw jagger’s at the top.
SLIM There is another alternate poster, which I just changed to. It’s the black with the red text of ‘Saw’ and it’s the woman wearing that helmet.
SLIM Where she was trapped with. That’s a really nice poster.
GEMMA Hey, I have not seen another single Saw movie, but I understand that we see her again.
JAY Yeah, we see her, we see her a couple times. And we also see the reverse bear trap a couple more times.
GEMMA What is your favorite poster of all time?
JAY My favorite poster all time... I was thinking that this before we came on, because I thought that might be thrown at me, it’s definitely The Lobster.
JAY I think you cannot go wrong with a bit of negative space, a bit of black-and-white photography. And it’s just proven how iconic it is ’cause the majority of clients that we get in, one of their reference posts is almost always The Lobster.
JAY And you can never capture something that iconic. And you don’t want to copy obviously. But I think it’s pretty genius.
SLIM It’s gotta be pretty freeing to get clients at least that are, you know, open to some pretty high-tier design aesthetic.
JAY Yeah, definitely.
SLIM As opposed to getting the crap out there and just putting whatever together.
JAY No, it’s true. Like I’m blessed with being able to work for a company that we still work with a lot of indie films and small directors that want some some kind of iconic poster. And don’t get me wrong, we have done like bigger projects that do require you to have an actor’s face at a large size, or a couple. And that’s always a shame, but I do find myself quite lucky that we can revert to the more iconic styles of design and make something that’s genuinely like actual art at the end of the day, more than just a movie poster, something that people want to have hanged in their rooms.
GEMMA Wow, we will get into a few more details about how posters happen and approvals and key stills versus illustration and all that kind of stuff. So many meaty questions. But first of all, rumor has it, you designed the or a poster for Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse?
JAY Yeah, you’re completely right, I did. Not the official one though. I do like the official one. But there’s, there’s a little bit of a story behind the poster for The Lighthouse. And it is, I think, the start of my career in film and film-poster design kind of started there. So a couple years ago, before The Lighthouse had even been released, I was doing a bit of poster design, just like for fun. I did an alternate like Hereditary poster and Suspiria. And kind of trying to get my name out there, but nothing was clearly like working amazingly yet. But at this point, I had amazing interest in film and plan to go to Cannes Film Festival in 2019. And that was the film I was mainly going there for. I couldn’t wait to see it. What we had was this one still, no like other promotional images. And we went there on a mission and me and some friends, we all queued for about five hours outside for the second-ever screening.
GEMMA For The Lighthouse?
JAY Yeah. And wow, like it was completely worth it. Like what a film. Well, I’m sure we’ll get into it, but I love it so much. But I came home from Cannes and instantly got straight on with making my own alternate poster. And technically it was the first one that came out, like the first alternate one before anyone else got onto it. And so I do that, and I put it out there and it gets a bit of traction. And enough traction in fact to get a DM from A24, which is long gone. It’s on an old Twitter account, but a DM from A24 being like, “Oh, can you send us your portfolio and your resume?”
JAY So that was like amazing. I was only like nineteen or twenty at the time and to get something like that, I was over the moon. And obviously nothing came from it at all. And understandably I was like just a twenty-year-old who didn’t have much in his portfolio. So I just like accepted it, realized that they had moved on and then the official poster drops a couple weeks later and is extremely similar to mine. [Slim laughs] And I... I don’t want to toot my own horn at all on Twitter, but we had a lot of people being like, “You’ve copied this design!” Everyone going nuts. Yeah, it was just like a whirlwind, because then I got like a load of freelance requests and got some more jobs in. So it worked as promotion, I got what I wanted. Obviously, you know, I’ll never get a tiny little bit of credit for The Lighthouse design. But working in the industry now, you do realize that inspiration comes from like a lot of different things and it wasn’t like the most original design in the world. I am all-in-all over it, but it’s just a fun little story that got me into the game early.
SLIM 2019... this movie, I couple this together in what I would call like, air quote, “Letterboxd movies”. As I thought this, I looked at—let me see if I have my notes—I looked at the year, I mean 2019 is the beginning, the pandemic—
SLIM What a frickin’ year!
JAY I have so many five-stars from that year, like The Lighthouse, Uncut Gems, Parasite. I love Marriage Story. Also Portrait of a Lady on Fire, I think I’ve [at] four-and-a-half. Like what a year for technically, I guess, my first year of getting into film properly, like attending film festivals, getting deep into poster design. Wow. Wow.
SLIM It’s giant! Like is this the greatest year of all time for film? 2019? [Gemma laughs]
JAY Honestly, it’s gonna be hard to beat.
GEMMA I think there’s a couple of years in the 1970s that might have something to say about that.
SLIM I don’t know. I just, I think we’re making it official. Letterboxd says 2019 is the greatest year of cinema ever.
GEMMA Greatest year of cinema in Letterboxd’s lifetime, how about that?
SLIM So the synopsis—I’m not sure if this is a Gemma synopsis or this is the official one: “Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.”
GEMMA I looked at that and I had no notes, so... that is unchanged from the Letterboxd synopsis.
SLIM One of the rare perfect synopsis..es according to Gemma.
GEMMA We have to do some Jack’s Facts on this one because it is as Slim says, air quotes, “Letterboxd movie”. “This one is a biggie,” writes Jack. It’s our fourth most popular horror film of all time.
GEMMA It is currently our 21st highest-rated horror film. It remains the highest-rated and most popular of Robert Eggers filmography. 2019, it was number six in our Year in Review and the top-rated horror movie of the year as well as the 2010s in general, but Get Out has nudged above it. And it is—this strikes me as crazy, because I have watched it, loved it and went, ‘I will never watch it again.’ It is the fifth highest-rated obsessively rewatched film of 2020 on Letterboxd. So when everybody was in lockdown, this... this was in the top five of films people were rewatching that year. I mean, what a film to watch in lockdown, like one time, let alone multiple times. [Gemma laughs]
JAY It’s definitely a lockdown movie.
SLIM It is, yeah.
GEMMA Definitely, definitely a pandemic film.
JAY I think a lot of people did the same thing of just being like stuck in this enclosed environment with like one person probably just getting drunk. [Gemma laughs] And that’s the whole film. Right?
GEMMA So tell us why you like it.
JAY Ah, wow. It’s funny my dad said that, I struggled to sell it to them, because how else do you explain it other than it’s two people just going insane in a lighthouse over the course of two hours? I just think it’s a lot of my love for it comes from the story I’ve just said about going to Cannes and seeing it in such a film-centric environment. But I think a lot of my love for it comes from Robert Pattinson’s performance. I think he is absolutely spellbinding. And I think his career is like one of just something that’s going to be marveled in years to come. I don’t know what you guys think. I think he’s just absolutely incredible. From a career starting off in, like the Twilight movies, which have grown to have a little bit of a cult following. However, I know he’s, like, dipped his toes into indie for a little bit with Good Time and The Lighthouse. And now he’s back at the top doing Tenet and [The] Batman. And this is definitely a stepping stone to him there.
SLIM Yeah, there’s always gonna be that group of people like, “Uh, the guy from Twilight? Uhh, that guy?” But I mean, yeah, you’re right some of his indie movies, I didn’t love them, but I mean, he’s going hard. And like whatever project he chooses, I mean, his cheekbones in this movie are mind blowing. My god.
JAY Absolutely, yeah. Did anyone have cheekbones this good in the 1900s? [Slim & Gemma laugh] I don’t think so...
SLIM Or those teeth too, great teeth.
GEMMA If you weren’t eating that much, then yes, sure. I would’ve totally had those cheekbones. Yeah, that was my biggest feeling and thought about this. So I saw this at TIFF in 2019. It was in the Midnight section, rolled along to the red carpet to have a chat with the Eggers brothers. And Robert was there on the red carpet. But there was no getting close to him. Because he did—it was really extraordinary, the Twilight fans were out. And it was just this weird cognitive dissonance of Twilight fans being out for The Lighthouse, right? But they weren’t actually going to see the film, they had come to see him. And he walked onto the red carpet. He had about 30 seconds with one member of the media and then he just strolled away, and went straight over to the other side of the carpet where the fans were, and did his fan thing. And I remember then going, ‘You’re so graceful. You’re so calm about this. You’re not kind of avoiding it. You’re just taking it for what it is, which is the fans of the films that enabled you to choose any project you like.’ And I also spoke to Daniel Radcliffe at that same TIFF and it was a similar thing and he was there for some wacky movie where he gets guns strapped to his hands and—
JAY Oh yeah, Guns Akimbo, yeah.
GEMMA Ah, Guns Akimbo, he has to live stream a game, chatted to him about that. And again, you know, it’s once you’ve done Harry Potter, your choices are endless. And I really love that these actors are going, “Yep, bring me the most bonkers script you’ve read and I’ll throw myself into it.”
JAY No, definitely. I love that they have the feeling of, sure, we did these films—in Twilight’s case, not like the best critically acclaimed—but you’ve earned all that money, why not go nuts? Why not try and try something new and to build up that like acting portfolio that will enable you to get like enormous roles in years to come?
SLIM This was finally a first-time viewing for me.
SLIM I was about to say, “I had put this off for so many years,” but it wasn’t even that long ago that this did come out realistically. [Gemma laughs] But it did hit that like nuclear-hype level where I was like, ‘Oh, I gotta let this cool down a bit before I finally see it.’ And mainly the only thing I had known even from my own friend circles, like my friend Danny had taken his wife to see it and I feel like that became like a famous story between the two where, “I’ll never go see a movie like that ever again with you like, why did you pick this movie? This is the worst night of my life.” [Jay & Gemma laugh] He gave it four stars but she had maybe the worst theatrical experience of her life seeing that movie. So I thought, I mean, I thought this movie was gorgeous. I thought it was funny. Some of my favorite scenes, obviously like that pose towards the end, the lights coming from Willem’s eyes, that shot.
JAY Where they’re naked.
SLIM Oh my god. That was awesome. And then that bucket of poo that he brought to the water and tried to dump it. [Slim & Gemma laugh] Oh my god!
JAY There’s a lot of poo humor in this movie.
SLIM There is a lot of poo humor! I audibly gasped. Once they show the bucket, I was like, ‘Well, we’re in for a real treat here. Something’s about to happen with that bucket. And sure enough, it did.’
GEMMA My god, I also love the way that you can get deranged by so many things that actually aren’t being personal to you, but you take it personally, like the seagull, for example.
JAY Oh, definitely.
SLIM Oh my god.
JAY Oh yeah.
GEMMA It’s like absolutely taking a perfectly innocent seabird like, so personally, that it becomes—
JAY What do you mean innocent?! [Gemma laughs] It’s not innocent at all, come on now. I’m from Devon, the southwest of England and seagulls go at you. You go down to the beach with like any kind of food and they will be swarming around you. This film captured just like the horror of that bird. [Gemma laughs] Horrible.
GEMMA I learned recently that seagulls are in decline. And it’s all humans’ and climate change’s fault and I have changed my mind about seagulls. I have become that person who’s like, ‘No, the beach is yours, you’re 100% correct.’ [Gemma laughs]
SLIM It was the 1890s, it was a different time back then Gemma, a very different time.
JAY It’s true.
GEMMA I just... the thing I found most striking about my viewing at Toronto was how, and even for a Midnight screening, how quiet the audience was. I was laughing like a drain, I was having the best time. I was sitting between two complete strangers. We had a great chat beforehand. We all sort of got the sense of humor inherent in this movie, because I think there’s a thing about Robert Eggers where he presents so seriously in the types of films he makes are, you know, based on ancient poems, or ancient myths, or the story of Hamlet, and so we must approach with complete seriousness. And it’s like, he’s also having a laugh.
GEMMA I had a long chat, long chat with his brother Max, who wrote this film with him. And the film is very much based on their relationship as brothers. And when you know that, when you sort of go in going, ‘Oh my god, these are siblings stuck in a house together.’ I found it really interesting the number of people who want to take it very seriously because—and I think maybe Robert Eggers doesn’t do himself any favors because he’s so intricately involved in the production design of the thing, you know, the specific brassware and kettles and pots and things that they had in there. Art directors, set decorators would bring him things and he’d go, “No, not period enough. Wrong!” And then have to go away and bring something else back, “Yes, you finally got it!” Or the design of the lighthouse itself, which frankly, Robert Pattinson was right to want to live in that crystal penis tip because it is so beautiful. But, yeah, and I just I thought, well, I approach with a sense of humor. And I think that’s why I had such good time. Esther Rosenfeld has possibly the most popular review of this film on Letterboxd, 17,000 likes so far: “Idiots will call this a staggering retelling of the myth of Prometheus through the eyes of the American laborer, the fire of the gods becoming success under capitalism, an unattainable fiction that drives men to maddened violence in their pursuit. Geniuses will understand that this is a movie about getting drunk and almost kissing ur homie and then getting even drunker and tenderly holding each other as you drift off to sleep.”
JAY It’s absolutely true. I feel like this movie is the perfect epitome of a house party where you’re just like all trapped in this enclosed environment and you’re just gonna get really drunk and then instinct just the mood switches and they’re all just like sat down having a smoke going deep into your life stories and then it switches again you’re all doing shit sea shanties in the middle of the room.
JAY I still haven’t seen The Northman, considering how much I like love The Witch and The Lighthouse. I just haven’t hadn’t got there yet. I still want to and I’ve heard for and other people that it’s essentially Robert Eggers taking the like 90 million or whatever that Universal gave him and just going all out, getting like authentic Viking costumes. We’re gonna go shoot on scene. He just uses every single, every single coin that he’s given and goes completely nuts.
GEMMA Oh yeah, to make get another film about the futility of men. The thing about The Northman, you know, The Northman poster, how everyone thinks it was a mistake that the title of the film was left off. And I’m like, do you in the film industry, do you get that many posters printed without somebody noticing that the title is missing?
JAY Well, it’s funny you say that, because I have a colleague, who hopefully won’t mind me mentioning this, but he knows someone that through like, loads of people, like a friend for a friend for a friend. And he knows someone that was behind that whole mistake at Universal. And it was a mistake. It was not like a marketing gimmick that everyone seems to think it is. A careless mistake that helped them essentially, amazing marketing.
JAY Like it went viral on Twitter and everything. But yeah, completely, completely a mistake. But yeah, I don’t know how those mistakes actually happened. Because there’s a software that we use called Adobe InDesign, which any designers listening will be groaning because we absolutely hate InDesign. [Gemma laughs] The app will let you know, when an element of the design is missing. Because the app works with links from other softwares to get like the highest quality in your print, and it’ll let you know like, it’ll be flagged with a yellow exclamation point. So I have no idea how it happened. But...
GEMMA Somebody didn’t see the yellow exclamation point.
SLIM It’s like Clippy from Microsoft. “Jay, you left the logo off the file, Jay! Don’t export, Jay!” [Gemma laughs]
GEMMA Aww, Clippy. [Indecipherable] I mean, these kind of, it’s like, it’s such a massive industry. And it’s just surprising to me, like there’s this whole story about, you know, the Barbie photos that have been released or leaked—
SLIM Oh my god.
GEMMA Of Ryan and you know, they look incredible. And they were roller skating in neon on Venice Beach. How is it not possible to get photos of that? But people are saying—and I’m like that, that’s an advanced leak to raise the hype for the film. But there’s people in the industry going, “No Warner Brothers aren’t that clever. No, they just kind of hoped that people would stay away if they laid out their orange cones and said that there was a film shoot.” I was like, that’s not gonna happen!
JAY I honestly, because like sometimes with like the early stages of trying to get a poster done and you asked for, like on-set photography and behind the scenes, and sometimes they don’t even have time for that, let alone trying to think of marketing schemes while shooting. Yeah, there’s no way that like, these are schemes that they fall up on set, because no one has time for that. [Slim laughs]
GEMMA You’ve got a list, Film Posters Don’t Feel So Good. It’s a collection of film posters from 1975 right through to now where there’s a person’s head, and part of it is broken or cracked or shearing off into pieces. So clearly a kind of like, design theme running through all of these posters. Jay, how does this happen? [Jay laughs]
JAY Well, the themes? How do they happen?
GEMMA Yeah, yeah. The similarities and are people like making Letterboxd lists of comp titles and going, “I want that” but for this film.
JAY No, it has to happen like, absolutely. I feel like again, no shade on any agencies. But I feel like there’s a lot of people that get handed briefs where the client or, yeah, maybe it’s like the client’s fault where they are so hell-bent on wanting an exact thing, where at some point you have to just listen to the client and be like, “Okay, well you want this thing there’s really not much point in going like round and round trying to offer you something original and interesting,” when realistically what they’re paying you for is something that they want. And I think that might be the product of that list, of just so many people wanting like a head crumbling apart, and it’s happened so many times that like it might—clearly it’s working somewhere along the line right? [Jay laughs]
SLIM Well it’s like remember when Everything Everywhere All at Once came out, there was like the buzz and the somewhat of a trend popping up for posters after that as well and then people were calling that out.
SLIM [The Bob’s Burgers Movie] I think maybe had one as well.
JAY Yeah, definitely. And the new Three Years—what’s it called? The new George Miller movie?
SLIM Three Thousand Years of Longing? I think that also has one too.
JAY Yeah, that poster did the exact same thing again, just literally Everything Everywhere [All at Once], like the film makes sense with the poster it gave us. That poster Everything Everywhere [All at Once] is stunning. Yes.
GEMMA And what have you worked on? I was looking up Intermission Films, they’ve worked on some good ones. Andrea Arnold’s Cow is just exquisite.
JAY That’s one of mine.
GEMMA Were you just like, ‘It’s called Cow, the cow was beautiful. I’m just putting the cow on the poster.’
JAY Yeah, basically. I mean, so we had like such a wide selection of cow images. And Andrea Arnold saw thing was like, “We need to just show this cow for the beauty that it is.” I don’t know if you’ve seen—
GEMMA It’s about the modern life of a cow.
JAY Essentially and just follows a cow around with a film camera over the course of seven years. And it’s extremely difficult and a very real view of the farming industry with no particular stance. However, they didn’t want to market it like that because realistically, who is going to want to see that? So they just want to see something like pretty, essentially, and what better way to show that than just a photo of the cow in quite a nice green field?
SLIM We should move on to perhaps the best poster we’ve discussed so far, from 1997, John Woo, Face/Off. [Jay laughs] 3.4 average, 480 fans, I feel like that’s a little bit low for this nearly three-hour action sensation. [Gemma laughs] I have not read this but it does look like a Gemma special, so I’ll read it. “29 minutes into John Woo’s first major Hollywood blockbuster John Travolta’s character Sean Archer is told the best way to get close to the conspirators of a domestic terrorist whom he has been after for years is to medically switch faces with him. He just says, ‘Yeah, okay.’ And the next minute Travolta’s anti-terrorism agent now has the face of a comatose psychopath Castor Troy, played by Nicolas Cage. The fun begins.”
JAY The fun definitely begins. What a film. [Gemma & Slim laugh] I had to throw in just like an abysmal movie in here. Oh my god.
SLIM I love Face/Off! This is maybe the most unhinged sexual-action movie of the ’90s, I feel like. It’s just so off the rails. I love it. Do you remember the first time you saw it?
JAY So I actually saw it for the first time early this year.
JAY Yeah, it stayed under my radar for so long. Although I was aware of it. I just haven’t got quite round to it yet. But through lockdown and going into the film industry, you watch a lot of good movies, like that’s the point. You’re watching these good movies to try and market. But in my outside-of-work time, I tend to find myself going more towards the more like, so-bad-they’re-good movies, just because they’re so much fun, they’re a blast. You sit there with your friends and you’re cheering at the screen like way more than you would at any like kind of slow three-hour artsy movie, where all I need is realistic like speedboats flying everywhere. [Gemma laughs] Nicolas Cage hamming it up. Like, wow.
GEMMA IndieWire recently did a 25 Best Movie Performances of the 1990s piece and they did not include Alessandro Nivola as Nicolas Cage’s brother Pollux, which I think is just doing damage to the 1990s film canon.
SLIM What is that voice he’s doing in this movie?
JAY No one really knows. [Jay laughs]
SLIM It makes me want to claw my eyes out every time I watch this movie. Whatever he’s doing, I can’t stand it. [Gemma laughs]
[clip of Face/Off plays]
Not feeling very coordinated lately, are you.
Shock treatment? What’s the matter with you? Did they operate?
What *was* my medication?
GEMMA I know, but I also wrote down on my notes that we need a major revisionist essay about the true MVP of Face/Off...
SLIM Uh oh.
GEMMA And she has Joan Allen. I mean, she has to juggle two husbands.
JAY It’s true.
GEMMA She has to sleep with both of them. She has to play convincingly, that she really thinks that John Travolta who was her husband is now also her husband. Oh my god, she’s incredible.
JAY Oh my god.
GEMMA If she doesn’t pull off her performance, I think the entire house of cards falls.
JAY You’re absolutely right.
GEMMA It doesn’t matter how hammy John and Nick, it does not matter if Joan Allen cannot hold that balance. It all falls apart.
JAY No, you’re completely right. How she manages to keep a straight face when John Travolta arrives home for the first time after the face swap. And he’s just like, pulling up in his car slamming the door like... oh god, yeah. Being weird to his daughter? So weird.
SLIM Oh my god.
GEMMA But how she manages to keep a straight face when John Travolta does the thing with the hand on her face. [Jay laughs]
SLIM The hand thing...
JAY What do you mean? It’s the most accurate portrayal of romance the ’90s has ever seen.
SLIM And parenthood. You can do that hand-face thing to anyone you love in your life.
GEMMA I saw in some Letterboxd reviews, it’s actually called the “hand waterfall”. [Jay laughs]
SLIM Oh my god. It is rough. I have seen this several times and I always kind of come back to what you had said, Jay, about loving the movies that are kind of bad, but having an amazing experience doing so. So Hard Target is one other movie that I put in there from John Woo, where I have ratings that I’ve added to my Letterboxd that aren’t related to a log, sort of, kind of before-Letterboxd memories. I call them ‘BLB’, before Letterboxd.
JAY Nice, yeah.
SLIM And I had a one-star for Hard Target, and I rewatched it, I got the 4K. And I was like, ‘What was I thinking? This is so much fun.’ I gave it four-and-a-half stars, and it’s kind of like opened up my eyes again to movies that I would have considered like, ‘Oh, that movie is bad.’ But it’s still good! They’re fun!
JAY Absolutely. It’s like, I feel like at least a while ago, maybe like four or five years ago when I was starting to use Letterboxd, you have this bit of pressure where you’re like, ‘Oh, even if I really enjoyed a movie, technically I can’t give this a high rating because it’s bad.’ You can’t say that Face/Off is like a really great piece of cinema. But then like the older you get, and you just start realizing like, ‘Wait, I’m rating movies based on how I enjoyed them. And did I find this like fun?’ And boy I did. What a time I had.
SLIM Yeah. Yes. Yes.
GEMMA So does this one push over the cliff of your histogram?
JAY Honestly, a couple more watches and it’s definitely there. [Slim & Gemma laugh] A couple more times.
SLIM One of the things too, that I thought about on this recent watch. You know, your mega-stars, John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, and then you hear that John Woo is like making another, you know, US movie. If I were them at that point, I would probably have done anything to be in his movies. Because I watched Hard Boiled for the first time this year. And if I’m like a mainstream actor, you’re like, ‘Put me in that movie. I want to be in whatever he does next.’ And he does Hard Target, he does Face/Off, like he gets wild in these things.
JAY Yeah, I need to watch more of his movies, definitely. I just need to go into like back-catalogues of schlocky ’80s and ’90s action movies. There’s so many fun ones. One of my favorite other ones in that pocket of cinema is Death Wish 3, the Charles Bronson movies, like just so much fun. Because at the time, Death Wish 3, Charles Bronson was probably late-’60s, early-’70s. And just like the dystopian environment it creates, it’s just New York, and everyone’s shooting everyone. [Slim laughs] I love terrible movies. There is nothing more enjoyable for a film than for it to be a complete catastrophic failure. It’s like, they’re so much fun.
SLIM What did you think of Face/Off, Gemma?
GEMMA Ah, I mean, I saw this when it first came out in cinemas. [Slim laughs] 1997, wow, that was yeah, I remember that was a year for cinema, wasn’t it? And we were screaming, absolutely screaming. I mean, what else was there to do? It’s so weird. I remember it being so weird to me though, watching John Travolta like this, because I think he’d sort of done Grease, which, you know, was very formative in my early years. And then he’d done some weird, “I’m an angel called Michael” movies, a boy-in-a-bubble stuff. I don’t know. All I remember is just screaming, a screamingly good time.
JAY I was gonna ask like how well this played in front of like a cinema audience, because I’ve watched this like twice with friends, but both in just living rooms with TVs. So I need to find a screening of this somewhere.
GEMMA Yeah, it was insane. But it was also what we were getting a lot of at the time. So it was like just another Friday night at the cinema. Another American action flick but there was something different about it. And I didn’t really understand the John Woo-ness of it all back then. But watching it this time, it totally came through. I mean, the doves. Can we talk about the doves? [Jay laughs]
SLIM That and Hard Target, when I first watched those movies, I was like, ‘What is this ? This is a weird movie.’ And then you you open up like some of his filmography, and you’re like—oh, Mission: Impossible II, also, that was probably maybe his biggest one.
JAY I just don’t think action movies nowadays are nearly as fun, like obviously you’ve got your like, Mission: Impossible has finally got it right with [Mission: Impossible – Fallout] and I think it’s going to carry over on to the next ones. And then there’s the John Wick movies, which are always fun. But like take The Gray Man, for example, that definitely needed something like hammy performances, ridiculous set pieces. The Gray Man failed—well, I guess critically failed—because it was just nowhere near as fun as it should have been. And Face/Off, you know, some people think it’s a great time, some people think it’s complete nonsense, but at least you’ve got to admit that it’s just a blast.
GEMMA And it rests on the baddies, right? I mean, the ’90s were Dennis Hopper in Speed, you know? And it’s Nicolas Cage in Face/Off. We do in Marvel movies get wacky baddies and, you know, in Bond movies you get Javier Bardem acting his tits off—
JAY Oh, he’s amazing, yeah.
GEMMA Ah, incredible. But I just think in the action films, the action films we do get, the baddie’s just Chris Evans in a pornstache, isn’t it?
JAY Yeah, it just wasn’t enough. It really wasn’t. Honestly, I kind of wish they just like had Nicolas Cage and John Travolta be there in those roles in The Gray Man. [Slim & Gemma laugh] Just doing the exact lines.
SLIM Oh my god. That would be insane. Holy cow.
GEMMA Can you believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were originally being eyed for Face/Off?
JAY Wow. I mean, I still want to see it. I can’t say I don’t want to see it.
GEMMA I find it really fascinating, like all of that casting stuff. What’s interesting about reading Letterboxd reviews for your fourth favorite, When Harry Met Sally…, is how many people have opinions about Billy Crystal and whether he should have been Harry. And it’s like, ‘Five stars except Billy Crystal’ is the tenor of so many Letterboxd reviews of When Harry Met Sally… and I’m keen to discuss that as we move into Rob Reiner’s 1989, absolute God-tier rom-com written by the great Nora Ephron, based on their friendship, Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron’s friendship. It’s got a 4.0 average, it’s got many, many, many fans, and it asks the timeless question, ‘Can men and women be friends after sex?’ And that single question fuels a decade-long dance between Harry and Sally in this famous blueprint for the rom-com formula. Starring our beloved Meg Ryan, and nobody’s favorite Billy Crystal. What is that about?
JAY Ah, he’s absolutely my favorite. He is so good in this movie. I think it just like, I think it kind of makes it really that he’s not like a chiseled, perfect rom-com star, right?
GEMMA He’s not Matthew McConaughey, eh? He’s not—
GEMMA He’s not sort of as soft as Tom Hanks. It works because he is who he is.
JAY Yeah, it works perfectly. And like Harry’s meant to be a bit of an asshole, right? He’s not the nicest guy in the world. If he was the nicest guy in the world, then Sally would have fallen for him like instantly. He’s meant to have this just like, bizarre thing to him. And I mean, that comes through and like the conversation. I think the conversation is the absolute star of this movie. Like the script is impeccable, just real life conversation. It’s just genius. It’s amazing.
SLIM if I need more romantic movies with the every-man in the lead role. Get these McConaugheys out of here. Get his six-pack abs out of here! Get me in the role, you knw?
GEMMA Did you watch that one with JLo and... what’s his name? Owen Wilson.
JAY Oh, yeah, I saw that.
GEMMA That’s your every-man rom-com, Slim. [Slim laughs] You need to go and you need to go and get the wife and settle down and watch Owen Wilson, a humble Brooklyn school teacher, get in with JLo, an absolute superstar.
GEMMA It was not the worst.
SLIM It was not the worst.
JAY It’s JLo back at what she does best, like JLo had a little spell with Hustlers where like, you know, Golden Globe nomination came through. Unfortunately, Academy Awards didn’t pull through. But she saw it, she took the note and went back to doing trash, as she should. [Gemma laughs]
SLIM I also love the idea, like me searching for reviews and I see Gemma’s and it just says, “Not the worst!” and then I’m like, ‘Well, okay, maybe I will watch this.’ [Gemma & Jay laugh]
GEMMA Forgot writing that, but yeah, it’s true. So what you say about the conversations, absolutely. That comes through and all of the Letterboxd reviews and I think it worked so well because, I didn’t rewatch When Harry Met Sally… for this conversation. What I did do was go through and look up like oral histories of the film. And because I wanted to understand more about the friendship between Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner. And he was, he had had his heart broken, and was coming out of heartbreak into making this film, and just oversharing, just totally talking too much, completely oversharing about what was going on for him. And she put all of that into Harry. It’s like, here’s the guy who just, it’s like, you don’t always have to say what you think. There are inside thoughts and your outside thoughts. And Harry’s just like, ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’ And she would get on the phone and interview Rob and write down all the notes and just basically put that into the script. And I love that, that he’s directing. And he and Billy Crystal were really good besties. So he’s directing his bestie as himself, and then towards the end of shooting the film, Rob Reiner met the love of his life.
JAY Oh wow!
GEMMA And so… yeah, so as they’re coming out, the end of it, there’s like this insane kind of air of romance around the seat that just fuels the last few bits and pieces of the… I love it.
JAY No, it’s such a nice fact.
SLIM Love is real. I’ll read Amanda’s review, I think we might have read it before, but it’s one of my favorites: “My dad muted the fake-orgasm scene but then my mom grabbed the remote and turned the volume back on. What an icon.” [Gemma & Jay laugh] I loved When Harry Met Sally… I always think back when I was growing up, my parents loved Steve Martin, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, like those guys were literally untouchable. Anything they could say on television, they were howling. So these actors looking back and watching some of these movies for the first time ever, I just have like a different appreciation, because at that time, like they were perfect. You know, the perfect comedians, they could do no wrong of that timeframe. So when I hear people talking about Steve Martin, I always think back to that era and other younger actors have had that too, that I always reference, like Jim Carrey. Jim Carrey had a stretch of like six or seven movies where he was like the biggest shit ever in movies, and there was nobody close. So it’s just a lot of fun to go back and watch some of those movies from those eras of those actors.
GEMMA It’s amazing. And to be fair, there are Billy Crystal defenders on Letterboxd. Sophie writes: “The fact that they somehow made Billy Crystal sexy in When Harry Met Sally…, that’s the magic of cinema.”
JAY It’s true.
GEMMA Wait, is that in defense?
SLIM That doesn’t sound like a defense...
GEMMA That doesn’t sound like a defense, sorry. [Gemma laughs]
SLIM Backhanded compliment on Billy. [Gemma laughs]
JAY I think it’s absolutely true though. Like it’s definitely from the costuming as well. Just like now.
SLIM The sweater.
JAY Just like now, we’re going into like autumn now, it’s time to get out the When Harry Met Sally… fits. We’re gonna get out the knitwear, the long coats. [Gemma laughs] Stuff that makes people like Billy Crystal looks like a model.
GEMMA Oh my god, when they’re looking at the apartment and they’re both just in their jeans and sweaters against that huge New York-loft window. It’s just...
GEMMA Olivia Craighead writes—and I think this is also potentially not a defense. It’s a negging: “Do you think this movie would be as good if Billy Crystal was 6′0″? I think even if he were 5′10″ the energy would be all off.”
SLIM You know what? I’m looking at Billy Crystal’s white sweater from that still, it’s almost identical to the one that Chris Evans wears in Knives Out.
GEMMA Oh yeah.
SLIM Blowing my mind right now, my god.
GEMMA I thought you were gonna say, “I’m looking at Billy Crystal in that sweater and I’m in love.” [Slim & Jay laugh]
SLIM That could be! It feels weird. But maybe it could be true!
JAY It does have that effect.
SLIM Usually at the end of the episode, we’ll go back, look at the profile of our guests to see what else they’ve been watching. There’s a note in here. How was your most recent rewatch of Hannah Montana: The [Movie]? [Jay & Gemma laugh]
JAY Again, like Face/Off, that’s a film I’ve seen twice this year. It’s just like, with me and my housemates, when we bring out a terrible movie and we sit around and watch it, it’s just a blast.
SLIM Comfort food.
GEMMA I mean, like, once. Once makes sense. But twice, like who was in the flat who went, “Let’s watch Hannah Montana: The [Movie]?
SLIM Fire it up.
JAY I’m pretty sure it was me again. [Gemma & Slim laugh]
GEMMA And what did you get out of it on a second viewing?
JAY Well, I’ll tell you what we got out of it. We got to see the Tyra Banks fight again. Because Hannah Montana gets into a fight with Tyra Banks over some shoes. We get a character actress Margo Martindale playing her grandma. We get—I know—we get a Taylor Swift cameo, which is so bizarre. It’s just endless, endless joy, endless things to talk about.
GEMMA You are selling me so much on Hannah Montana: The [Movie] right now, which has been on my watchlist for a while.
SLIM This poster, my god.
GEMMA I mean, yeah, there’s some floating heads. [Slim laughs]
GEMMA There’s some floating heads on beaches. That’s been on my watchlist for quite a while but specifically ever since we did a list, thanks to Jack’s Facts, we looked at, we wanted to know that in the ten years that Letterboxd had been alive—this time last year—which films had risen up the ratings histogram the most?
GEMMA Not that they’ve gone from one star to five stars, but they’ve gone from maybe one star three stars, you know, as in over time, which films have been kind of re-looked at and re appreciated. And I am pleased to say that Hannah Montana[: The Movie] is one of those films. In fact, of the 50 that we identified, it’s the fifth out of 50 in terms of its biggest ratings increase over time. So you’re not alone in your appreciation of [Hannah Montana: The [Movie].
JAY I love that. The Hannah Montana Renaissance. [Jay & Gemma laugh]
SLIM Justice for Hannah Montana.
GEMMA Speaking of sets, your own records show us that the film you have watched the most... Do you know what it is?
JAY So it could be... Oh, wow, I’ve logged a lot of things. It could be The Social Network?
GEMMA It is The Social Network...
GEMMA What keeps you coming back?
JAY I think it’s, here’s the thing, I was gonna choose The Social Network, but it fell off for Face/Off instead. But I just think The Social Network has the best pacing ever in a movie. I think it breezes by the two hour runtime. You could just put it on and before you know it, you’re already at the “fuck-you flip flops” scene. [Gemma laughs] And the film is breezed by. I just think it just... I don’t know. It just flies by so perfectly.
GEMMA In terms of movie posters, it’s got the classic half face. That is a classic, isn’t it?
SLIM My god. That one had a theme for a bit too. The posters of the movies had come out after that, I feel like I saw that in many movies.
JAY Oh, definitely. There’s a list out there, I think, with a lot of half-faces. There’s the Bohemian Rhapsody poster that’s on Letterboxd too, another half-face. Like every designer’s got to have their half-face moment. And I hope it comes for me soon.
GEMMA Last question for you, Jay.
GEMMA When our new poster feature comes in, what is the first poster you’re gonna change up on your Letterboxd?
[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker fades in, plays alone, fades down]
SLIM Jay Bennett was our guest today. His posters can be seen in all good cinemas and on Letterboxd. Who knows, maybe one day very soon, you will select his poster as your favorite when our new Patron poster-selector feature drops next month. But you do need to be a Patron member to get that feature. So by all means, if you have the means, head to our website, or the app, to upgrade right now.
GEMMA We’d love that for you and for us. Thanks to our crew, Jack for the facts, Brian Formo for booking and looking after our guest, Sophie Shin for the episode transcript and to Moniker for the theme music. Be sure to listen to Weekend Watchlist, our other weekly podcast where Slim, Mitchell and Mia explore the latest releases in cinemas and on streaming. It’s out every Thursday. You can always drop us a line at . Have we got any mail this week, Slim?
SLIM No, we’re recording early this week. So we didn’t give anyone an opportunity to send us a letter, so that’s on us.
GEMMA That’s on us.
SLIM Not you, dear listener.
GEMMA I’ll send you a letter, Slim. Also, think about leaving a nice review or rating on all good podcast platforms. That’s how we keep this show going. The Letterboxd Show is a Tapedeck production. No more drugs for that man.
[clip of The Lighthouse plays]
If I had a steak... oh, boy. Oh, a rare and bloody steak... If I had a steak, I would fuck it.
[Tapedeck bumper plays] This is a Tapedeck podcast.