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The Letterboxd Show 2.02: Demi Adejuyigbe
[clip of I, Tonya plays]
LAVONA Dress up a pig however you want. You know what I’m saying, Dianne?
DIANE It’s not just about fitting in. It’s about how she’s growing up!
LAVONA Lick my ass Diane, she can do a fucking triple.
[clip of I, Tonya ends]
[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker fades in, plays alone, fades down]
GEMMA Hello and welcome to The Letterboxd Show, a podcast about movies from Letterboxd: the social network for film lovers. Each episode, hosts Slim and Gemma—that one’s me—are joined by a Letterboxd friend for a chat about their top four on the platform, that is for movies you choose as your favorite films on your Letterboxd profile. It’s an opportunity to learn more about our community of movie lovers. We have links in the episode notes to the movies, lists and people we talk about, so you can follow along adding those movies to your watchlists as we merrily roll along.
SLIM We’ll be having a revolving cast of friends on the show. Filmmakers, podcasters, comedians and normal people just like you and me, who love to sit down and watch a movie and log it on Letterboxd. This episode, we’re going to City College and then to jail. And back to City College with Demi Adejuyigbe, screenwriter, comedian and quote, “not a critic”. Demi’s top four are Lady Bird. I, Tonya, Ocean’s Eleven and Hot Rod from 2007. He writes in his review of Hot Rod, quote, “the last truly great goofball comedy.” Now—on with the show.
[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker fades in, plays alone, fades down]
SLIM What’s it like seeing F9 with 34 of your closest friends? What’s the emotion level? What’s the vibe? Spare no detail.
DEMI It’s really—it’s chaotic. I don’t think you can take in a movie on any base level, if you were experiencing it with the adrenaline of a full crowd where you know the crowd like that. It just feels like you’re there and like anything that is—like there will be a base level of here’s what just happens in a movie. And anything that goes above or beyond that line is a cheer or a laugh, or like just strong reactions. So no matter what happens in the movie, you’re like, I enjoyed that, I had a great time. And you leave and you’re like, I don’t know about the plot, but, you know. [Slim laughs] Just you’re excited, you’re having fun. We dressed up for it. We all just knew we were going to just, I don’t know, it felt like a very cathartic release of being inside for a year and a half and then being like, let’s go just see something absolutely, just absolutely chaotic. And it was chaotic. And I had a great time.
GEMMA Important question from the red carpet. What did you wear?
DEMI I wore a—oh, I actually have it right here. I wore a white tank top and this Dominic Toretto necklace that I got off Etsy. [Demi laughs]
SLIM Oh my god. [Slim & Gemma laugh]
DEMI And then I also wore white pants because I am obsessed with this one shot in Furious 7, where we see his—spoiler—his and Letty’s wedding where she is wearing this beautiful, fully white wedding gown. And he’s just in a white tank top and white pants. And it’s like so they had time to prepare. It wasn’t like an elopement. And he was like, I got it. I’m doing this. Let’s go. [Slim laughs] And it’s like if she were in a very casual outfit, I’d understand. But the fact that he is not, it’s just sort of like, hmm, I don’t know about this.
SLIM I feel like I see Vin wearing that stuff to like red carpets. I feel like he’s pretty much in control of his wardrobe in that franchise at this point.
DEMI Totally. I feel like he’s one of those guys who like think it’s like the billionaire mindset, where it’s like you spend less time focusing on what you wear and you can spend more time on other things. It’s like, well, you can just also wear, I don’t know, like, a nicer shirt? I don’t know, it doesn’t take that much willpower or brainpower to think of clothes. [Slim laughs]
DEMI 7 is my favorite. I think it’s just what I like about the Fast and Furious franchise is just the idea that it’s very high octane, sort of like, incredibly choreographed and really just like well thought out action, within their own sort of set of rules of how physics works, and whatnot. And I think that 7 is the one that gives me the most of that where they just go stunt stunt stunt stunt. And like there’s so little planning or dialogue. And I think it’s because they bring in a villain where for the first time you don’t care as much about his motivations as much as you do about seeing his partaking in the action. Because they’re like, well, this guy’s a star too. We need to give him some time to shine. And I think because of that, it’s just truly there’s like no need or time to be like, let’s talk about their relationships to each other. It’s just let’s parachute cars out of the sky. Let’s have Brian run up the side of a bus. Let’s have them drive between two buildings. It’s just, there’s no time to breathe or just sort of think, oh, where are they in the world right now? And it doesn’t matter! And I love that.
GEMMA And that’s what we’re there for. Right?
DEMI Oh yeah.
GEMMA Because you have commented on some of the other Fasts that there are moments where that the exposition without action just goes on a little too long.
DEMI Yeah, and you’re like, I understand it feels like you need this for some of the audience. I am not that person. I truly am—if they were just like, here’s the montage of cars doing things I’d be like cool! Just make it Jackass with cars. And I’m like, great, let’s go. [Gemma laughs]
SLIM One of my friends just let me know that there’s a new Jackass movie coming out.
DEMI There is!
SLIM And it’s just like totally under my radar. Jackass, you know, not to date myself. But Jackass changed my life.
DEMI Jackass was—I feel like it’s very, it’s one of those movies and franchises that sort of is a pin in a lot of people’s lives, where it’s like, you know where you were when it came out. You know who you were when you were watching it. And I feel so different now. And it was—so I’ve seen Jackass 4, I went to a screening of it. And it was very strange to just be like—I was nervous going in and being like, okay, I’m a different person than I was when the last movies came out. I don’t know how I’m gonna feel about this. And then watching and just being like, yeah, these guys are wild. And not just feeling like oh god, you can’t do this anymore. Just feeling like no, you can, weirdly. But yeah, it’s very much a cultural product of a time and it’s strange to just be like, okay, they’re gonna keep going? [Slim laughs]
GEMMA Their bodies are older—they probably have children—
DEMI They do.
GEMMA This is—interesting.
DEMI And they are notably older and you just, you worry for them on that front. But then they still manage to do things where you’re like, man, these guys are truly just committed to making us entertained. And I respect that.
GEMMA Well, speaking of Jackass, let’s dive into one of your four favorites on Letterboxd. Now, we call this the Top Four. We call it the four favorites. Letterboxd members choose their four for lots of different reasons. And we use four favorites because we’re not saying what are the four best films that have ever been made in the history of cinema? We’re saying what are your four favorites?
DEMI Well mine are the same. They are the best movies. [Gemma & Slim laugh]
SLIM No dispute whatsoever.
GEMMA Well, then on that note, let’s start with Hot Rod. You know, from a similar camp as Jackass and Fast & Furious. [Gemma laughs] In terms of stunts and how far people push themselves. Now, this has a 3.5-star average on Letterboxd, but it has five stars from Demi. Which I have to start off by saying is my personal favorite movie space in the world, is five-star reviews of 3.5-star movies. [Slim laughs] Dive on in. Why is it a five-star for you? [music from Hot Rod fades in]
DEMI So I think I don’t have a lot of memories of movies that changed my life when I was young. I feel like I didn’t get into film in a big way until I went off to college. And because of that, I just feel like sometimes people just like, oh, what inspired you to get into filmmaking? Or like, what was the movie that you watched forever as a kid? It was like, things that other people showed me. And I never really had a choice in watching. And Hot Rod is a movie that I saw in college with friends. And the first time I watched it, I remember being with them in one of their dorms and just be like, oh, yeah, this is really funny. I’m really having a good time, like laughing so much at it. And then watching it again and just feeling like I’m still laughing as much as I did the first time. And just it being like the first movie that sort of like, slotted in my memory as something that like when people would be like, what kind of movies do you like? I was always like, oh, I want to tell them about Hot Rod. It feels like it was the first time I saw a comedy that felt like specific to my tastes and like a thing that I wanted to think of as—if you were to describe your sense of comedy, what would it be? And I think that it taught me a lot about comedy from a direction side and just sort of like, having watched it so many times now, I just like see the rhythm of how they do jokes and like the, the way that they do so many little touches to the movie that make it funnier, and that I think a lot of modern comedies don’t really do very well. And I think that’s like, because The Lonely Island are so good at that just all the time and normally. But then, particularly in this movie, they throw away the best bits and they’re like, there’s no focus on it. And I think that makes everything so much funnier. It’s not trying to highlight a thing and be like, laugh at this! It’s trying to be like there’s a story here. And some funny things will happen in that main story. But also on the fringes of that story are even funnier things that you sort of pick up on and they hit you like a surprise. And they make you react in a stronger way than you would if we were to just be like, laugh at this thing I’m showing you! It’s like, I don’t know. It’s like being on Zoom and someone telling a joke and then like something falling off the wall and the background and that being way funnier than the thing that they’re trying to make you laugh at. [Slim & Gemma laugh] Because I think surprise is such a big element of any emotional reaction in film, and especially with comedy. And I just think that movie handles it so well Because they know what they’re doing with it. But yeah, it just meant so much to me. And just every time I watch it, I feel like I’m like—I feel like I’m gonna preface it with like, I know it’s dumb! And it’s not like a great movie, but I enjoy it a lot. But then I every time I watch it, like, it is really good, though!
[clip of Hot Rod plays]
ROD My safe word will be whhh-iskey.
KEVIN Sorry, Rod, what was that?
KEVIN Don’t you mean whiskey?
KEVIN You’re saying it weird.
ROD Saying whhh-at weird?
KEVIN All of it.
ROD Whhh-ere do you get off?
[clip of Hot Rod ends]
SLIM I think I rewatched Hot Rod ahead of this. I hadn’t seen it in a long time. But what reminded me this movie is if you find someone that likes Hot Rod, like you have found your group of friends. Because you could share this movie with somebody and they could think it’s the biggest pile-of-crap comedy. [Slim laughs] And you know instinctively what kind of comedy they like. And what really shocked me to have this watch was the editing of this movie is maybe some of the best editing in a comedy that I can remember seeing in so long. I mean, every point is so well done and well timed that it just hits so good.
DEMI It really does. Yeah. And it’s like another one of those things that the pacing and the editing and just the way that they hit the jokes and sort of like leave you after a joke without like lingering on it or giving you like a reaction shot of someone being like, that’s weird. It just feels so very specific. And like a lot of comedies around this time tried it but Hot Rod did it so well. And I’m always just like, it bums me out that their movies never seem to do financially well, because I’m just like they’re doing the thing! What do you people want?! [Slim laughs]
GEMMA So good. I’m coming in hot with the editor’s name, Malcolm Campbell. Who of course, is the genius who edited Wayne’s World. Coming to America. Ace Ventura. Home Alone 3. Wayne’s World 2. Shanghai Knights. Son of the Mask. Nothing but Trouble. You know, the list goes on and on and on. So this is someone who—oh and Trading Places—this is someone who gets comedy. And American Werewolf in London.
GEMMA You haven’t seen Home Alone 3?
DEMI I have not! Somehow. I really slipped out of the AFI watch I did.
SLIM Not even and of the Wayne’s World?
DEMI No, I haven’t.
GEMMA Wait, whaaat?
DEMI The bugbear for friends of mine and I’m always just like—it’s one of those movies that’s been so hyped up for me that I’m worried I’d watch it now and just be like I get it but it’s not making me laugh. And I just would rather have it exist in my mind that it’s funny than prove myself wrong.
SLIM Yeah, in my group of friends, we have like a Discord where we talk about movies. And I had this weird thing growing up the same way where if people loved a movie enough before I got a chance to see it, I would be completely turned off to that movie for like years. [Slim laughs]
DEMI Little worrisome.
SLIM And everyone would just despise me for it. But get over it!
GEMMA I think that you’d be okay with Wayne’s World despite the hype and I’ll tell you why. It exists for me in a similar suburb as Hot Rod. And other movies of this sort of comedy olk, which is—and it’s a suburb that I grew up in with my two brothers—it is a suburb where people do nothing. They fuck around, doing nothing. And Bright Wall Dark Room wrote a beautiful piece on Letterboxd about how Hot Rod falls into this gorgeous notion of nothingness being important, especially in increasingly online and you know, digital worlds, where people pay stupid amounts of money to go on retreats to get off their phones in order to rest up in order to become better capitalists workers. When in actual fact, what we need to do is just go back to our suburbs. And you know, I wrote in my review of Hot Rod, which I had never seen until last night. So thanks for that Demi.
GEMMA And I wrote in my review, “Tag yourself, I’m Kevin” because I literally was. I held the video camera while my brothers and our neighbors did the stunts with the skateboards and the shonky ramps that we built that went up and over the creek that ran alongside our house. So I watched Hot Rod and I think this is my teenage years. I loved it.
DEMI It captures a weird mundanity of suburbia so well that it also feels like it helps because there’s no time period that this movie really exists in. It’s sort of like, it has an ’80s style. But then every so often, you’re just sort of like is it an 80s style? Are we supposed to believe that this is like a vision of how children see themselves and therefore it’s like, this is like their story of who they were as kids, but we just are still seeing them as adults. And it’s just like, I think that helps it so well because you don’t ever go like these guys need to grow up and get a job, it’s just kind of like it makes sense, they’re children. And they sell the idea of this being what you do and what you care about when your kids so much.
GEMMA I wanted to ask your reaction to—I looked at some of the lower star ratings on Letterboxd of this film. And one one and a half star review from a chap named Jack, writes, “look, the whole proving masculinity thing is definitely more toxic than funny and is not aging well.” And this is in response to the whole storyline, which is that is that Rod Kimble wants to earn the respect of his stepdad who was paid by the brilliant Ian McShane, just sooo well in this film. And the whole point is that he needs to raise enough money, $50,000, for heart surgery for a stepdad so that his stepdad can get well enough for Rod to beat the shit out of him. And, you know, finally earn his respect. And meanwhile, there’s the girl next door played by the beautiful Isla Fisher, who seems to exist, you know, only for one reason and one reason alone. And I get all of that. But I wanted to ask your opinion on that take?
DEMI Well, I mean, I always feel like every time someone has a very negative take on a movie I like, I always am, like, my gut response is, it’s fine. Like movies are whatever, no one’s right or wrong about a movie. I just like that people are enjoying it and thinking about them, whatever. And I feel the same way about that take. But then I also think it feels like that’s sort of the point to me? Of like, this sort of notion of masculinity being the thing that you have to prove. And I think that like, it feels like a satire of masculinity to me and it always has. It’s just like the idea of the most important thing in this guy’s life being not that he loves this father figure, it’s that he has to prove himself to this father figure. And the only way you can do that is by kicking his ass is such a ridiculous notion. And the lengths he goes to, to prove that he is good at this, while also sort of like like never really fulfilling the dream that he actually has. Like, he doesn’t complete one successful stunt the entire film, but he still gets to the point where he’s able to save his stepfather only because he just is so committed. And I think it’s like, it’s sort of, it feels like that’s another example of the background thing being the real thing. Like the thing you’re seeing in the foreground is he wants to do these stunts. And it’s like, why does he want to do these stunts? It’s like, well, he does love stunt work, but really, the only reason he’s actually drawn to doing this is because he just has to beat up his father. It is for some reason, a point of pride for him. It’s such a ridiculous notion. It feels like that’s the joke to me. I don’t think anyone has ever watched this—or I hope no one has ever watched this and been like yeah, that is how you prove yourself as a man to your father. [Gemma laughs] And then on the Isla Fisher note, I fully agree. It’s always a shame to rewatch this and just kind of be like she doesn’t have anything to do besides be a love interest and to like exist in this place where Rod is just like oh no! She has a boyfriend! And then she leaves that boyfriend suddenly, it’s like oh the conflicts over, she can be with Rod now. But I guess I wish she at least got more to do.
GEMMA I was gonna say I was okay with the scene where she with Rod says “Okay, you can have a ride on my, you know, funny little scooter motorbike.” And then it turns out that she’s just this incredible stuntwoman.
DEMI So much better. Yeah, I think a lot of times like when women get to be love interest in rom coms, they don’t get to do any of the com, they just sort of exist as like a foil. And there’s one moment at the end where she kisses Rod and it’s just this very weird open mouth kiss. [Gemma & Slim laugh] And I’m like, she should have gotten to do more of that over the course of movie where she is also just a weirdo and just very funny and everyone’s like, why did you do that? But I wish that it was at least that and if they’re still not going to make her like a fully fledged solo person.
GEMMA Yeah, like if Pam Brady had been able to do one more pass, I’m guessing that’s what you’d pull out of it. But I would just go back and watch that 90 seconds of Andy Samberg rolling down that hill again and again and again. Any movie that has a scene in it that makes me absolutely weep with laughter is a, yeah, it’s a five star in my book.
DEMI There’s also a moment in The Great Muppet Caper where they just let the Muppets go ragdoll and Gonzo jumps in front of a taxi. [Slim laughs] And it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s just like suddenly making a person just an object for like the physical comedy is just hilarious.
GEMMA I think you’ve just brought up a film that you and I maybe love and Slim maybe does not love.
SLIM Listen, we didn’t have to jump into this. We didn’t have to get into it. [Slim laughs] The new Jason Segel Muppet one, I wasn’t a huge fan of at the time, because I was one of those dweebs that thought that like, aw, Kermit would never abandon his friends! He never lived like that! You know, I was pushing my glasses up in the theater. So I was kind of turned off to the new Muppet one. But you know, maybe it’s time to revisit, you know?
DEMI I think it’s worth a revisit.
GEMMA Yeah, it’s definitely worth a revisit. It won the Oscar for Best Song! I mean, come on! Hey, Bret McKenzie was only competing against himself. That was amazing Oscars that year, where there are only three songs nominated in one was the song from Rio.
DEMI Oh yeah.
GEMMA Which features Jemaine, the other Flight of the Conchord, and the other two songs were both great songs from the new Muppets.
DEMI What a shoe in.
GEMMA Genius. I know. Imagine having a two out of three chance.
SLIM Speaking of star power, your next movie in your favorites, maybe the most star power in any movie ever filmed.
DEMI Oh, yeah.
SLIM Ocean’s Eleven, which is sitting at a 3.8 average on Letterboxd.
DEMI Too low.
SLIM I mean, is there a movie that has this amount of star power besides his franchise? It’s ridiculous, right? [music from Ocean’s Eleven fades in]
GEMMA Oh, yeah! Did you get cast in Knives Out 2, Demi?
DEMI You know, I was in for a week, and then I’m out. And you know, I’m gonna see what happens. But it’s really just like, I think it’s not as big anymore. Because the level, the way that stars are now is nothing like they were at the height in 2001. Like when this movie came out, you could not have a more A-list trio than George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. They just didn’t make stars bigger than that. And now there are so many movies, there’s so many franchises. I think the idea of a star, and not just celebrity, a star is like whittled down to maybe three people if even that. And I just, I think that’s why this movie feels so special to me, because it feels like the platonic ideal of what a film could be. It’s just like the biggest stars, the smartest plot. It doesn’t feel like it’s insane in a way that like, they just threw a bunch of money at the wall and saw what stick. It feels like very constructed and planned in a way that like movies now feel like they can’t be because everyone’s got contracts that sort of determine what the film has to feature. And it just feels like that was a miracle that can never be replicated. And then to do it two more times, in ways that I truly love just as much, I think is like a magic trick. But I just, every time I watch it, I am blown away. And I just feel like—I also just love a heist movie. I love a con. I love a mystery. Anything where the entire purpose is to give you all of the clues and still trick you, I think is just like, again, the platonic ideal of good storytelling and just sort of the idea of direction being a thing where you are literally leading an audience to a conclusion that you want them to believe that they gained themselves and being like ’I tricked you! It was this.’ And that works every time for me. Even though I’ve seen this movie so many times. I’m just like, I forget, like how do they do it? Oh, right! And it’s just—it’s so charming. It’s great.
SLIM Yeah, I was watching for the first time in a while last night. And George Clooney’s hair to start this movie off, my god. He has an amazing head of hair movie.
DEMI He does.
SLIM I don’t know what kind of secrets he has, but he needs to share ’em
GEMMA He has an amazing head of hair but it’s never been uglier than that prison hairdo. [Slim laughs]
SLIM I love it! That’s the hair I’m talking about! The head of hair, he had it slicked back. I was like, god damn George, you look great right now.
DEMI So humbling.
GEMMA Absolutely love it. It was like he was owning himself. Right?
DEMI And he did this back to back with O Brother, Where Art Thou? where his hair is like so purposefully, like dopey. He’s just a person where you can put in any scenario and it’s like, oh, damn, he still looks very good. But just to like, put him back to back and he’s like prison getups where his hair is supposed to look insane. And you’re like, how does it still work kind of? It’s very funny to me.
GEMMA In canon of Brad Pitt eating in movies, Ocean’s Eleven is surely the number one right?
DEMI Oh, I feel like it’s the one where everyone’s like, he’s been doing this for a while, like we start to sort of see it as a thing that he does all the time. And like it’s so funny and just feels like you don’t know where it came from. But it works for the character because it’s such—I think that’s another thing about this franchise, is they give characters like very casual quirks that they don’t need to ever like comment on. But it gives them a physicality that makes it so that, sort of gives a clear divide between who these characters are. Like Rusty Ryan is so different from Danny Ocean because of Brad Pitt’s very calm and casual physicality. Even though Clooney and Pitt are not too dissimilar acting wise. But I think that like Soderbergh just was very smart about how he was like, I have 11 people, how do I make them all different without just being like this is the smart guy, this is the dumb guy, this is the strong guy, because they’re all kind of dumb, actually. [Slim laughs]
GEMMA It’s the shrimp cocktails that he’s casually eating. The burger when he has a little burp. He holds his tummy and he’s a little bit like, ah, I’m done with it. But it’s also Don Cheadle’s, like, East End accent. What is going on with that?!
DEMI It’s perfect! It’s flawless!
[clip of Ocean’s Eleven plays]
DEMI Barney Rubble.
SLIM The reviews I was scanning, almost everybody mentioned that accident in one way or another. And I didn’t even mind it when I was watching it! I was like, yeah, that sounds right to me. If I’d do an accident, I’d probably sound like that. [Slim laughs]
DEMI I don’t think I’ve reminded it as a kid even though I am British, and have spent a lot of time around British people. I think I was always just like, oh, probably a different part of England. [Gemma laughs] But I think it’s just because it’s such a fun choice. There’s no part of me that goes like, oh, that doesn’t make sense. He should have a proper like, very good English accent. Like that tells us this guy is just of a different—all it’s supposed to do is to be like, this guy’s not an American. He’s not living by the rules that we are accustomed to. So when we see him being someone who’s like, yeah, I blow things up. You’re like, I don’t know. He clearly grew up on the streets of London, I don’t know how they did things there. And it just adds to his mythos in a way that I really respect. And I really, I love. I don’t think they’ll ever do a fourth but I would love to see his character come back in like if they ever do like Ocean’s 9. Just bring him back have accent be even worse. Why not? [Slim laugh]
GEMMA I have not. But did either of you ever watch the original, the 1960 Ocean’s Eleven?
DEMI I was planning to when it was on criterion channel, but I heard it’s not very good and then ends with like a weird blackface thing. I was like, I’ll miss it. But I also just heard it’s not very heisty. It’s just a lot of talking. And I’m like, well then I don’t want to watch that.
SLIM Right, yeah.
GEMMA I guess my only thoughts were around the star power 2001. You know, like maybe, because the original Ocean’s Eleven in 1960 features Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Angie Dickinson, who was a huge star at the time. Cesar Romero, like crazy, crazy people, the Brat Pack. Absolutely. And it’s funny, isn’t it? Because it’s almost like you couldn’t remake it until you had George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Elliot Gould. It’s funny when things can come back around again. I’m not sure, I guess you know, we’ll know when we see it. But I’m not sure that Timothée Chalamet in Dune is quite the right starpower for another go round this soon.
DEMI I don’t think they could do it again. I really just feel like because of the way that stars work, and because of the way the internet works, it just feels like we are over inundated with any celebrity, even if they don’t have like a presence. You know, we have paparazzi capturing their every move. We have announcements of all of their movies, we see so much of these people in their personalities in a way that we never got to at that period of time, because the internet is like democratizing the very idea of existence. And therefore, like, there’s no one that has like a mythology to them. Where seeing them in a movie feels like you are going I’m looking at a god. I’m looking at someone who is not human who I can’t relate to who just has some sort of it-factor. And now you’re like, oh, it’s Chris Pratt. Yeah, I’ve seen him in a bunch of things. I get his deal.
GEMMA Clearly, that leads us to the third of your four favorites. [music from I, Tonya plays] Speaking of celebrity and paparazzi, and how we can and cannot ever truly know somebody. And that is the fantastic Craig Gillespie directed I, Tonya.
DEMI I, Tonya.
GEMMA Why is this in your top four?
DEMI So I had like, I always feel like I should put I, Tonya in my top four. And then I like no, don’t. It’s so new. And it’s like a recency bias thing. And you talk about it so much. I just always have this like fear of like, someone being like, oh, that’s so you when I do things, as if it’s like, who cares? I am me. [Slim & Gemma laugh] But I think that it’s because if I’m being honest with myself, of like, it’s just, I always feel like I need to give some time to a movie to feel like, oh, how do I really feel about it in the grand scale of every movie I’ve ever seen? And it’s just like, every time I think about it, every time I’ve watched or talk about I, Tonya, I do feel this string, I got to give it more time like I’m scared to commit to being like, I really liked this thing. Like when you’re really in love in a new relationship. And I think that it’s just because like, I don’t see the same love for that movie that I see for Hot Rod or Ocean’s Eleven. But I think that’s even more of a reason that it really does feel like a personal favorite and not just like an idea of like me trying to like a good movie. Because I think I, Tonya is a fantastic film. And every time I watch it, there’s a new aspect of it that I just feel like I want to write so much about or think so much about. But I just think it is a stunning portrait of a type of person that we are seeing more and more of now. But it tries to basically give some sympathy to this character without telling you that she’s not still, or without trying to tell you that she’s not bad or that she’s not like flawed in some way. And I think that’s so hard for people to do, because it’s often just like—I think with anti-heroes, often you get this portrayal of them as like, oh, they’re good, but they’re grumpy or whatever. And with this, it’s just sort of like, no, she is an asshole, but she’s a product of so many things that we also need to consider. And then also, when that all comes to a head in a way that it does where you are now on the biggest stage on Earth, when you are you are validated for your talent on some level, and you have this belief that like people have been treating you wrong, and it’s valid. And then you become a person who is like, of a status where you sort of have to—it’s like class mobility almost. If you are someone who grows up poor, and you become rich, you don’t suddenly in your brain go, ‘I’m rich now, I should probably change the way that I think about these things.’ You still feel that you are a victim. And I think this movie does that in such a good way, while also saying she is a victim but also not trying to say that just because she is a victim in these ways does not mean that she does not have to think of her responsibility to these things. I feel like I’ve been thinking about it so much lately, just like with people like Kanye and Dave Chappelle where it’s like the intersection of wealth and class and race. Where it’s like, when black people have been systematically pushed down for so long. And they sort of—we get these ideas of this is who I am, this is what the world is trying to tell me I am, I’m not going to be that. But then you also rise in power in a different sort of system. You suddenly see yourself still as a victim, even though you are amongst the more powerful people. And it’s like when Dave Chappelle goes on stage and is talking about how like, people treat him a certain way because of his race. I’m also just like, well, people also treat you a certain way as you are a man who has $100 million, who at the snap of his fingers can go out on stage and say things to an audience of millions of people. And Kanye, I’m like, yes, you have systematically pushed down as a black man. And as someone who grew up in a lower class, but also you were a billionaire, you have so much power. And I think it’s like, a lot of times it’s an either or with those scenarios. Where you see a person, you’re like, they’re either good or they’re either bad. And I, Tonya does a very good job of saying this is a woman who has been abused and is a woman who grew up poor and like through the sport that made her feel loved still was seen as a lower class person, no matter how good she got the thing. But it is also a woman who, because of the way that she grew up and the like, support system that she had, and the way that she never really felt loved and anything besides skating. She has a very certain mentality that as an adult, you have to have the responsibility to shed and recognizing yourself and just like, fix! And she doesn’t. And because of that she is an asshole. But that doesn’t mean she’s not a victim. And it’s just like, it’s things like that, where it’s like handled so deftly in this movie. And it feels like it is the only biopic I’ve ever seen of a woman that has the same energy of like a Scorsese movie, and just like how it’s like so poppy and so constantly moving. Like every scene of that movie feels like candy to me, and I love watching it. And I love thinking about it. And it really just is like every little aspect of it, I love so much and I think about in a million ways. Anyway, great movie!
SLIM Am I adding I, Tonya to my top four right now?
DEMI Do! It!
SLIM Like I feel like you just freakin’ sold me.
DEMI Let’s get the movement going! We, Tonya! [Slim laughs]
GEMMA Oh my god! We, Tonya! [Gemma laughs] We are Tonya!
SLIM I did watch it for the first time, finally. This is one of those movies that was kind of like everyone saw I, Tonya. I was like, alright, I gotta wait until things cooled down a little bit. Watch it quietly. And so I did. And man, I just wasn’t expecting it to be so funny!
SLIM It’s hilarious! It is so funny.
DEMI It’s very funny. And I think that because it’s so funny, the marketing for the movie was very much like “It’s an uproarious dark comedy!” And I remember seeing that marketing come out and being like, oh, no, no, no, they shouldn’t market it this way. Because I think it also like came out at the height of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. And it didn’t feel like we got a lot of discourse about what this movie says about abuse and the depiction of Gillooly as an abuser and all the men in her life as abuser. From the cops who like leave her in the car with this man who’s clearly just beat her, to the cops who give her full testimony to Gillooly after she’s given it to them. And it’s just like so many things like that. Or even just seeing Gillooly where it’s like after he’s clearly shown to be an abuser but then we get a very romantic scene between her and him where you kind of go like ‘I don’t know if we’re supposed to like him? Why are you doing this romantic thing after we’ve seen him be a huge piece of shit?’ It’s like, well because that’s how victims of abuse see their abusers!
GEMMA That’s how abuse works.
GEMMA You know? It’s some crazy statistic like it takes someone seven times to leave their abuser if they’re lucky, you know? If they get out alive.
DEMI And then her tying that into the the superstition of her needing abuse to be good at what she does, is so heartbreaking. And it’s like handled comedically but has a very dark undertone to it, that I’m always just sort of like, bothered by the idea that they were just sort of watching that movie and going like, “Oh, yeah, we’re going to tell people this is funny!” Because I’m like, no, it’s so much more. But it is funny. I just think it handles the tone switch of that so well.
GEMMA Interesting fact that I shared with Slim before the record. I interviewed Malin Åkerman, late last year about a boxing movie that she’d put out. And learned this amazing fact about Malin Åkerman, the actress and now producer. She produces movies now, because she had a bit of a jolt. When I, Tonya came out. She called her people and she was like, why was I not considered for this film? Because it turns out that Malin Åkerman grew up as a figure skater, competed nationally in Canada for ten years!
GEMMA Yeah! And she was like, “This is this is insane. How did I not get the call?” And they said, “Well, it’s because Margot Robbie built that role in that film from the ground up, she produced it.” And that’s when the light bulb went off and she’s like, “I’m not going to miss out on roles that are perfect for me again.” But I love that. I love that Margot Robbie as a producer, obviously has been growing in skill and stature and I, Tonya is an example of that.
SLIM How do we get Tonya Harding on Letterboxd? Can we make this happen before this episode comes out?
DEMI I don’t know if I want to see what Tonya Harding has to say about certain movies. [Demi & Gemma laugh]
DEMI I think she’d love Ocean’s Eleven. Oh, I would love to hear her talk about Lady Bird! I mean, the dynamic of that movie—the mother, daughter dynamic of that movie versus her own mother daughter dynamic. I’m like, well, she probably has something interesting to say there.
GEMMA And there it is. There is the theme that ties all of your four films together! [Gemma laughs]
DEMI If there was any sort of parental relationship in Ocean’s Eleven, I’d be like, that’s it! But I don’t think there is. [Demi & Slim laugh]
GEMMA I don’t know, I think Danny and Rusty a little?
DEMI Yeah. A little!
GEMMA You know, when he’s like, “Don’t tell me you’re doing all this for a girl. Don’t tell me you’re doing all this for Tess.” There’s a little bit of a—I don’t know—there’s some kind of thing going on. But you’re right.
DEMI Maybe them and Linus? I feel like they have a very fatherly, we’re teaching you, sort of relationship with him.
SLIM I didn’t share this because I was too embarrassed. When I first saw Ocean’s Eleven, I thought Linus’ character was Brad Pitt’s son in that movie. [Demi laughs] I like missed a line. So the rest of the movie I was like, ‘Wait a minute, is he his son?!’
DEMI Would have been a bold choice to be—like Matt Damon is young enough to play that. [Gemma laughs]
SLIM He’s like a baby in that movie. You know, it could have worked. It could have worked out. But your final movie that we’re going to talk about from your favorites, is Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird.
DEMI That’s right.
SLIM And this obviously I think for a lot of people can connect with. In my review, I wrote that the one scene where the teacher hands her test back, grade down. I almost had an anxiety attack from my days in school. But how did Lady Bird connect with you in your viewings with it? [music from Lady Bird fades in]
DEMI I think in the same way that it did with you. It’s the little details about the movie. And the little things that Greta Gerwig paints as like a picture of suburbia, and a picture of growing up and feeling like you don’t belong in the space that you’re in. And slowly having to recognize that even though you don’t love the space that you’re in, love the people you’re surrounded with and are like sort of trying to get out. You have a connection to this city. And just sort of like, it’s a coming of age movie that I don’t think I’ve seen many coming of age movies do, which is portray the person who is growing up as a person who is like to be seen as flawed and to be seen as like, ‘Oh, I don’t look like this city,’ but having to sort of realize as they are like, it’s time to leave the city, that their environment has made them. And they love the place that they’ve grown up. Or the things that they’ve sort of shied away from, are things that bring them comfort. And like the contentious relationships they have with their parents and their friends—or like even just her relationship with their brother—is something that is very relatable to me. And it’s different. it’s not the same for me. I see it so much more in like my family members and in my sister with our mom than I do with myself. But it is so recognizable in just the idea of dreaming of growing up out of a place. And being like ‘I’m better than this, I deserve to be away from this.’ And because of that, like not allowing yourself to see the love that people have been thrusting upon you, even if it’s in a different way than you are understanding. Or even if it’s in a way that you see as like, painful to you. And like, there’s so many things she does with her mother, that to her read as inconveniences or it’s just a thing that my mom does or whatever. And when you get to see her perspective, and you see the things that she does, just as things that she’s doing clearly not because they are convenient for her, but because she loves and cares for her daughter. I think that that is—it really unlocks just sort of like what the movie is about for me. And there’s one scene in particular that I think about literally every day of my life. It’s just sort of like—I think it just felt like someone saying a sentence that you wish you had heard when you were younger. It’s like learning a word that like everyone’s like, “Oh, it’s door.” And you’re like “Door? Door! Door! Door is the thing that it’s called that I see everywhere!” [Gemma laughs]
[clip of Lady Bird plays]
SISTER SARA JOAN You clearly love Sacramento.
LADY BIRD I do.
SISTER SARA JOAN You write about Sacramento so affectionately and with such care.
LADY BIRD Well, I was just describing it.
SISTER SARA JOAN Well, it comes across as love.
LADY BIRD Sure. I guess I pay attention.
SISTER SARA JOAN Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing? Love and attention?
[clip of Lady Bird ends]
DEMI And I think about it in respect with everything that I do. It literally changed my life. In the way that I stopped giving attention to things begrudgingly, because I’m like, no, I should only do things that I love. If I’m paying attention to something, even if I don’t like it, that is still a form of love. If I’m spending time with friends, that is a form of love. If I’m being attentive to a person directly and being like, I want them to know that I’m focusing on them, it is a form of love. I think even just in the way that I look back at my hometown, and I just sort of go “Oh, I didn’t like it. There was nothing to do. I did this. And I did this. And here are the things that I have.” It’s like in describing something with such passion and such fervor and like focused understanding, that is love. And there’s a tweet that someone wrote ages ago—actually, no, I do remember. It’s this woman named Danielle. I think her at is @petfurniture. Because again, it sticks in my head with this movie. But just the idea that the currency of love is focused attention in all forms. And I think about that so much as the thesis of this movie. And it’s like, when Lady Bird’s mom is going to pick her up from her friend’s house, and they have a conversation where is like, “Oh, I thought my brother’s gonna pick me up.” It was like “I did.” It’s like “Why?” It’s like, “Well, it was just easier.” And it’s like, it’s not easier for her. It’s easier for Lady Bird, it’s easier for her brother. And and that’s because her mom is just—we see these moments where she gets to be alone, and it’s so blissful and peaceful. But because she loves her kids so much, she is putting in the work to be like, I’m going to be attentive and do something that for them is easier. And I’m not going to draw attention to it. Because I’d rather just spend this time getting to be with my child. And even though their relationship is so contentious, and it’s so fraught, and you see them fighting all the time. And she even has that moment where it’s like, “I know that you love me. But do you like me?” You see that in those little moments and the things that she does and the way that she pays attention to her daughter. And even like when she chooses to call her Lady Bird knowing that that’s what she wants to be called. And when she chooses to call her Christine, there is a such a focus and strong love there. And I think that that is something that a lot of kids don’t get to grow up fully understanding until you’re an adult. Just like, oh, you think your parents are such assholes because of the way that they treat you. But it’s like, well, what about the little things that they do that you don’t recognize as love because it’s not outward affection or it’s not them treating you like a friend or something. And I think that that was so powerful to see in a way that is not condescending, and sort of has respect for both the mother and the daughter. And I just—I really loved it.
GEMMA Does anybody have Greta Gerwig’s phone number? [Slim laughs] So we can just play that down into her answering machine and she can listen to it every day.
DEMI Greta, I love you! [Gemma laughs]
SLIM Am I adding Lady Bird in my top four right now? [Gemma laughs]
DEMI Yes you are! We Bird! [Slim laughs]
GEMMA I want to add to all of that in a craft sense because I can’t speak more eloquently than you, Demi. And in the sense of how that film recognizes what growing up in the suburbs is like when you are a person who feels a bit weird and a bit different and you know that you’re destined for other things. Definitely been there.
DEMI I think that’s also another connection between Hot Rod and Lady Bird and I, Tonya. The idea of like trying to grow up outside of what you’ve been told, this is how you—this is what you should be. And just sort of the idea of the conflict of those movies being about getting out of that space. Although again, Ocean’s Eleven, complete outlier. [Gemma & slim laugh]
GEMMA But to sort of compare the craft of Ocean’s Eleven and Lady Bird for a minute. I guess, one of the things I love about Greta Gerwig’s work is it’s in the writing, the directing and the editing of the ins and outs of scenes. So you know, you get the knowledge that the lives of these people stretch beyond the beginnings and the endings of the scenes we’re watching and that we’ve just dropped into this moment for a few seconds. As opposed to something like Ocean’s Eleven, where every scene is very much a set piece, you know? And neither is the more correct approach. They both do something wonderfully different on screen. But I think it’s there. And it’s little throwaway lines, like Marion’s finishing her hospital shift and says to her colleague, “Well, I guess we can’t have pencils anymore.” It’s like, well what happened? What happened on the ward today that means you can’t have pencils anymore? That’s sort of stuck in your head, and then you’re on to the next scene. But I love that about it. You know, like Ocean’s Eleven, there’s nothing that is—nothing that feels casual or misplaced. Whereas Lady Bird is full of those moments, but none of them have been put there casually, or by accident.
DEMI It’s a very constructed image of casual life as a way of just being like, the story that we’re seeing is not her whole life. It’s just—it’s the slice of life that you need to see to understand their relationship. And I think it’s so good. I think Greta gerwig is so good at telling stories that are about following people through their personalities and not through like, a very specific conflict or situation. Like, I think that Ocean’s Eleven would be a very different movie if she directed it, because there’s a running plot that they have to focus on. And it’s not just like, I’m trying to tell you who these people are in relation to each other.
SLIM This has 17,000 fans on Letterboxd. So 17,000 people have this in their favorites as well.
DEMI Wow. What’s the average rating of this movie?
SLIM This is 3.9.
DEMI Hmmm. Still could be higher. [Slim laughs]
GEMMA Too low.
DEMI Let’s get that up to a five!
GEMMA Why do you think it’s so low? I reckon it’ll be people saying Chalamet doesn’t get enough screen time. And, you know, the other interesting thing I guess, culturally, sort of in the movie world about this film is that it came out in the same festival season as Call Me by Your Name. Both of those films—and both quite big Timmy moments—landed in theaters at the same time. And I remember from the Letterboxd perspective being—I saw them both at the New York Film Festival and was so pleased and relieved to have seen them A, on the biggest screens possible with the directors talking about them in that moment. But B, as early as possible in their Letterboxd lifecycle. Because those films together have, you know, grown in stature and exploded and then one of them’s taken a dive because Armie Hammer—we don’t talk about him. And you know, on it goes. But it’s just, it’s so interesting when a movie moment hits like that.
DEMI Yeah. I wonder what my relationship to I, Tonya would be if I had seen it later. Because I was lucky enough to go to a WJ screening with a friend. And I remember just sitting there being like, wow, that movie was really good. And then I was like, I can’t stop thinking about the movie. I want to go see it again. So I went to another WJ screening before it came out publicly. And I was like, that movie is really, really good. And then it came out and I saw it twice again in theaters. And I was just like, man, I love this movie! And it just felt like I was able to form my own feelings about it before other people could. And I think because of that—I think that’s why I have this residual feeling of like, you know, I’ll just wait until cultural consensus comes in and then tells me whether it’s okay to like this movie when it’s actually like, no, I like it. I love it! [Gemma laughs]
GEMMA We looked it up. And you have seen I, Tonya—well, according to Letterboxd—you’ve seen it eight times. Is that an accurate number?
DEMI No, I have seen it one more time than that. And that is because I watched it in pieces once with someone over the course of several days and then just didn’t log it, because I was like, I don’t know how to log this and also it doesn’t matter. But yeah, I’ve seen it at least nine times. [Gemma & Slim laugh] And I was talking the other day with a friend about it. And I think we’re making plans to watch it again soon. So I’m like, alright, number ten coming up!
SLIM The long thought processes with logging or not rating or logging—just cracks me up. We have—my circle of friends are also on Letterboxd. I’m lucky enough to have a group of friends on Letterboxd. And whenever I log a movie without a star rating, everyone’s like “Ohhh. What’s wrong with that movie? What happened with that viewing?” [Demi laughs] “Oh, what’s going on here?” You’re like, alright, I was watching during work. It’s just funny the intricacies of how people use Letterboxd, it always cracks me up,
GEMMA I was gonna say, can we ask about your star rating system, Demi?
GEMMA Because your histogram is curious.
DEMI That’s right! I basically just—I was like, I think there’s a lot—it’s so loaded to rate a movie publicly and then have people feel like “It should be higher! It should be lower!” And then also sort of think about like if I have to meet with someone who worked on this movie or like a company that made this. And just get all in my head about it. And I was just like, I don’t want to do this. And also, sometimes it’s fun to just write a joke about a movie and not have it feel like “Oh, he’s writing that joke, because he didn’t like it. He doesn’t want to say that.” So I just cleared all of my star ratings aside from anything that was four and a half or higher. Which is just my way of being like, I need you guys to know that I really, really loved this movie. And everything else, I’m like, I don’t care. I like it or I don’t like it. It’s a binary system. And even there are some movies that I don’t have as likes that I still am like, it’s really good. It just didn’t hit me. And I just feel like it was helpful for me in making it clear that I not using Letterboxd more for the front facing rating aspect of it as much as I am as a journal for myself to just be like, here’s a movie I saw. Here’s kind of what I vaguely thought about it or what I care to say about it. And outside of—and it just also makes me feel a lot less pressured to say the right thing about a movie. Being like, people will interact with it no matter what. So I just don’t have to worry about the hassle of people taking it too seriously, or whatever.
GEMMA As a writer, is writing on Letterboxd important to your writing practice?
DEMI I don’t know if I’d say important, but it is the most freeing form of writing where I still feel like I get to put in the voice that I want to extend to my professional writing. And I think a lot of times I write a Letterboxd review, and I will just sort of be loose with it and just sort of be like, I can’t figure out the words, so I’ll just kind of say this. But then I’ll other times just be like I want to get across an idea. And I’m sitting there after the movies done. Just being like, here are my thoughts right now. But I also feel like I want to construct this. And I don’t like this sentence structure. And I said this two times in a sentence, so I gotta edit it. And it feels like my brain is in a similar mode as when I’m writing professionally when I’m just journaling something on Letterboxd. Which is very helpful to me, because a lot of times I’ll watch a movie and just be thinking about how it’s constructed, and then go into movie mode—or like writing mode and sort of keep that going when I’m actually writing feels like—for my brain at least—like I’m writing so much more than I am. And so it just helps it feel more natural to me getting to be like, oh, I watched this movie, I’m going to write a thing about it that feels like it’s not just a joke. And then I’m like, well, I am writing. I’m convincing myself while I’m writing and it’s not hard for me to write. And look at this Letterboxd review I wrote that feels like an earnest piece of, you know, writing. I can write! And then I go off and write and I’m like, yeah, I shouldn’t be so nervous about doing this. I do this all the time. So it is very helpful.
GEMMA I’m yet to meet a writer who likes writing. [Gemma laughs]
DEMI Oh, yeah, no, it’s the worst thing about it.
GEMMA It’s the worst! Writing’s the hardest, man, it is the hardest.
DEMI I love when I finish writing something and then I send it off and like, wow, I’m really happy with that. And someone’s like, “This is great. I have a few notes.” I don’t respond for two weeks. Because I’m like, I don’t want to. I don’t want to look at it! [Gemma laughs]
GEMMA I like your Letterboxd reviews that are more like stories, moments that happen in your life. And I guess because Knives Out 2 is very much in the ether. Can we revisit your Knives Out review of the original, which is about the notebook?
DEMI Oh yeah, the one that has since been deleted, because I was embarrassed. [Gemma laughs]
GEMMA You deleted it? Ah!
DEMI I delete a lot of reviews because I start to just get anxious about the way that people interact with them. And then also just feeling like agh, am I caring too much about this thing? I’m like, I don’t want people to yell at me. I don’t care. Just get out of here! And it’s like helpful for my brain. But then I also am like, hmm, I wish that I had an archive of that. And it’s whatever. I think it’s—
GEMMA We can maybe help you with that. I’m sure that data exists somewhere. [Slim & Gemma laugh]
DEMI I downloaded my archive, and it’s still in there as a deleted post. And I was like, okay, so all of these are saved. That’s nice. But then I also was like, it’s nice to have those and still be like no one else is seeing this and that’s fine.
GEMMA So the point being that this review I’m talking about is no longer available. But you ran into Rian Johnson and he had a little notebook. And that notebook turned out to be maybe the beginnings of Knives Out?
DEMI It sure was.
GEMMA Oh my god! Only in LA. [Slim laughs]
DEMI Yeah, only in LA.
GEMMA Well, look, before we wrap up, we’ve got a few other tasty deep dives that we’ve done into your Letterboxd account.
DEMI Ohhh boy.
GEMMA Here are some movies that you have rated higher than the Letterboxd average. Peter Jackson’s Tintin.
DEMI Oh yeah.
GEMMA Did not land necessarily well at the time. But you love it and you want a sequel?
DEMI Oh yeah, it’s the number one thing that I’m just—every time Peter Jackson’s like "I’m doing this!" I’m like, don’t! Do the Tintin movie!
GEMMA The Beatles are old.
DEMI The Beatles will be just as old now as they are in ten years. Do Tintin!
SLIM Can you imagine like them doing a CGI Indiana Jones franchise as good as Tintin was? When I saw Tintin, I was like, this is what I need from any Indiana Jones properties feature. That’s how good I thought it was.
DEMI It’s fantastic. And it’s just so artfully designed and like played out in a way, where I’m like this storytelling can only be done in animation. And I’m so glad that they nailed it. So I’m just sort of like, I guess it was probably a stressful process. And everyone’s probably so busy with a million different things. Because it’s like, that team is truly just like, every heavy hitter in Hollywood. And yeah, you’re not gonna get them together to do another one of these. But I’m like, pass it on to someone and just have them as producers or guidance or something, because I just felt like I need so much more of that movie.
GEMMA I agree. And I think it must have been a box office thing, because I feel like when they first announced that they announced three. And that Jackson would do one and Spielberg will do one and then I think they’d tossed for the third. I don’t know. But we only got one. I wonder though if it’s Tintin in general being of, you know, Belgian or US property and not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I don’t know.
DEMI It’s just too niche.
GEMMA But I loved it. And then another one is—Game Night.
GEMMA You rated that way higher than the Letterboxd average.
DEMI Which makes sense. But I love that movie. So I watched that again—I’ve watched almost all of these movies since the pandemic began. And each of them only sort of raises in esteem in my mind. Game Night is just—it’s great! It’s a comedy that is clearly thought out more than any of the modern studio comedies. And by that nature alone, I’d give it so many more points, but then all of the jokes hit for me. So I’m just like, that’s great. What’s to hate?
SLIM Check the numbers again. Something’s wrong there. [Gemma laughs]
DEMI Yeah that sounds like a mistake. Grease for me is such—I could never look at it without a bias. I talked about how I didn’t really watch movies as a kid. I watched Grease repeatedly. They played it so much at this daycare that I went to.
GEMMA At a daycare? Wait. When you were like, four, three?
DEMI No, I want to say from six to ten.
GEMMA Okay. More like after school. Okay.
DEMI Yes, yeah.
GEMMA I’m like, they’re playing Grease to three year olds?
DEMI No, that place should be shut down if so. [Gemma & Slim laugh] But they played it so much for us. Like they put together medleys for us to perform in shows at the local mall. It just was like a thing that I knew so well. And I didn’t see it for years. And then rewatching it, it just felt like oh, I remember all of this. It’s so much a part of me. My love of musicals is probably entirely attributed to Grease. It’s just like, I could never be—look at that objectively. I love it so much, as problematic as it objectively is.
GEMMA And thank you for including—well, you didn’t know you included it. This is just how our rated higher than average magic machine works. But I’m so glad to see another Mary Poppins Returns fan in there!
DEMI Ugh! Controversial one for me.
GEMMA Yeah, is it? Slim?
SLIM I’d say! [Slim laughs]
DEMI Well anytime I’m like, that’s controversial for me. I’m like, well, no, I’m me. So everything I see is like, whoa, I’ve seen a lot of that. It’s like, yeah, well, of course you have, from your perspective. I loved Mary Poppins Returns when I saw it, I was blown away. And then I saw it in like a screening. And I just had to sit on it for a while being like, I can’t talk about this movie that I saw, but I loved it so much. And people are gonna freak out when they see it and I loved it! And I remember saying something like, "I think I just saw the best movie of the year." And then being like, “It was Mary Poppins Returns!” And everyone being like, “Hmm—” and then them watching it and being like, “Oh, yeah, it was nice. I mean, I didn’t like—it was nice.” And then when the WGA sent out screening DVDs, I held a screening for my friends at my house. And I was just like, “I love this movie, you’re gonna enjoy watching it.” And they were like having fun watching it and like talking amongst themselves and making jokes. And I just got so like, like, grumpy, like they’re not paying attention to the movie that I love! I was just sitting in a chair silently watching it.
GEMMA What did they not get? And I guess part of the question is how recently had you seen the original Mary Poppins and how much do you love the original Mary Poppins? Because I think knowing that it’s the children and, you know, and knowing also that the dad is played by the voice of Paddington. And I don’t know, for me, there’s just all these things that tie in so beautifully together. And also The Place Where the Lost Things Go is one of the best songs ever written. I’ll say that till the end of time. It makes me cry every time.
DEMI That whole movie worked for me. And it’s just like, I look back at just being so grumpy. And it’s funny to me and I make fun of myself because I was like, what a babyish way to react to someone not liking the thing that you like. [Slim & Gemma laugh] But also it was just like, having a very—it’s such a strange sensation to feel so strongly about a movie that when you watch it with someone else, you sort of are like, "No, I need you to—I need you to feel the same way that I do about this thing!" And it’s like why I don’t—it’s always so stressful to watch a movie I love with a group. Because I’m just like, one person, I can understand them, they’ll like take it on, and I can take whatever reactions they have. A group, they’re gonna have fun with each other. It’s not about the movie anymore. You’re not gonna get whatever response you want. And like that movie, I think it’s another scenario where seeing it early means that I didn’t take on the cultural perspective of how everyone had seen that movie. And so I went in with absolutely no expectations. And I came out just thinking it was so special, and so well crafted, and just basically not having to have any sort of preconceived notions about it. And then everyone else didn’t get that chance. And so it felt like I was just constantly fighting this idea of like, oh, it’s fine. It’s a perfectly fine Disney movie. But just my own preconceived notion of like, no, it’s actually better than all of these!
SLIM Watch it again.
SLIM I was gonna say I had a similar feeling to a follow up movie in your higher rated than average, which is, Last Jedi is in here. So I was the first person in my group of friends to see The Rise of Skywalker.
SLIM Amped. So pumped after Last Jedi. I loved Last Jedi. And I was the first person to see Rise of Skywalker, came out, wrote my Letterboxd review, shared with my friends, and I had to wait like, hours before they were able to see it. I had such a bad experience with Rise of Skywalker [Slim laughs] that everyone else—it was the opposite of yours. Every one of my group of friends, like didn’t agree with me. Like, “Oh, it was fine. It was a good ending.” I was like, oh my god, no! What’s happening?
DEMI I think sometimes, even if you’re not trying to, you can set expectations for the way that people see a movie. And because of that, they will either come out liking it more or not liking it more. And it’s such a tricky thing to do, especially on a website where the whole idea is you’re telling people what you thought of a movie. And oftentimes, I’ll just like, I’ll say that I liked it or didn’t like it. But I don’t want to say anything too strongly. Because I do not want someone to see this and then go, “Oh, he liked it. I guess I’ll go see it.” Because then I’m like, I might ruin it for you in that.
SLIM Right, yeah.
GEMMA And I also love that, you know, coming full circle from the beginning. When Demi you watched F9 with real people together for the first time in—I don’t know—a year and a half. And then so we’re back in that world, we’re moving slowly back into that world, which is great. But it also brings with it this anxiety of watching movies you love with people who maybe don’t appreciate it. So it’s sort like a double edged sword. Do we go back to the cinemas or better group viewings? Or do we hold these things close to us?
DEMI I think it’s about recognizing the difference—just sort of recognizing the difference between appreciating a movie and making it something that is part—that you feel is personal to you. And is like a part of your personality. Because I think if you make a movie a part of your personality, people not appreciating it does feel like a slight against you. But if you’re just like I love this movie and my relationship to it is not about how other people feel. It’s such a healthier way to enjoy things. And you get a very fun sort of dynamic of getting to talk about a movie with other people and getting new perspectives on it and not feeling like you are having to challenge or correct or feel like you’re coming to a conclusion about what’s correct. You just sort of getting to experience the movie in a new way. And I love seeing movies with friends even if I don’t love the movie—or even if I do or don’t love the movie myself, because it feels like I’m getting to watch it again through fresh eyes. And that’s always so exciting. And I don’t know, I think I’ll always enjoy watching movies with people more than I do alone.
SLIM Let’s go Hot Rod with Tonya Harding together.
DEMI If she doesn’t like it, I’m gonna scream.
[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker plays alone, fades out]
SLIM Thank you so much for listening to The Letterboxd Show and thanks to our guest this episode, Demi Adejuyigbe, for sharing his love of his favorite movies. You can follow Gemma, Slim—that’s me—and our HQ page on Letterboxd, using the links in our episode notes. Also, maybe follow 70mm pod—my other podcast—while you’re there. Thanks!
GEMMA Wait, did you write that or did I write that? [Slim laughs]
SLIM You wrote that! [Gemma laughs]
GEMMA Ohhh, okay, fine, it can stay. Don’t edit that part out. I forgot to take it out from last week.
SLIM Live no editing in the outro. And thanks to composing dynamos, Moniker, for the theme music Vampiros Dancoteque
GEMMA If you are enjoying the show and have guest ideas, be sure to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. The Letterboxd Show is a TAPEDECK Production. We’ll be back next week because we’re too legit to quit. [Slim laughs]
[clip of Lady Bird plays]
MARION Hey, wait, wait. Let’s just sit with what we heard. [Lady Bird sighs]
[clip of Lady Bird plays]
[TAPEDECK bumper plays] This is a TAPEDECK podcast.