The Letterboxd Show 2.11: Jonah Feingold

Episode notes

[clip of When Harry Met Sally plays]

[Casablanca playing, ends with “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”]

HARRY Best last line of a movie ever.

SALLY Hmmm—

[clip of When Harry Met Sally fades out]

[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker fades in, plays alone, fades down]

SLIM Hello and welcome to The Letterboxd Show, a podcast about movies from Letterboxd: the social network for film lovers. Each episode, your hosts Slim—that’s me—and Gemma are joined by a Letterboxd friend for a chat about their four favorite films. That is the four films you choose as your favorites on your Letterboxd profile. As you listen along, we have links in the episode notes to the movies, lists and people we talk about. So there’s no excuse not to add these films to your watchlists. Today, our guest is writer, director, New Yorker, Letterboxd member and rom-com prince, Jonah Feingold.

JONAH Oh my god, what an introduction. I’m like starstruck by the way. You know, like I said, this is one of my favorite podcasts.

SLIM Unreal.

GEMMA Shut up. We got that on the record. We’ll pay you later. [Slim laughs] Hey, the intro is not over yet. It gets better. Jonah’s Letterboxd handle is his name, jonahfeingold, and his four favorites are: Steven Spielberg’s Hook. Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally written by Nora Ephron. The original animated The Lion King with music by Elton John and Hans Zimmer. And the very first Pirates of the Caribbean film directed by Gore Verbinski. We are talking to Jonah this week because his own feature debut Dating & New York is landing in theaters. And I am curious to know how—according to Jonah’s Letterboxd list titled Dating & New York inspo—Jurassic Park became an influence on this very modern rom-com. Explain yourself.

JONAH You know, I’ll jump right into it. It was a movie I was watching quite a bit during the pre-production of our film, because I love the way that score is used in that movie, particularly sentimental cues. The scene where Hammond is explaining his passion for the park and the ice cream is melting and with Laura Dern and that very, sort of like heartfelt scene at the empty table. And I just thought, we have a scene in the movie where Jaboukie’s character—jumping slightly ahead—is looking in the mirror. And our temp music was the music from Jurassic Park in that scene. [Slim laughs]

GEMMA As you do. As you do.

JONAH As you do with a rom-com. And I also want to just highlight some of the blocking techniques and the use of light. And the use of just making a plane with subverting genre and expectation. Jurassic Park has taken more of a horror movie approach these days. But that original first one is such a family film. You know, and it’s about fatherhood, and parenthood and all these other themes. You know, a new form of family. And I just kept watching. It was like my comfort movie. And I think subconsciously, that was why it was there. Also, what I’ll say is, there’s a deleted scene in Dana, New York, where Wendy—one of our main characters—talks about how obsessed she is with Jurassic Park. And that ultimately got cut but it was in the movie.

GEMMA Awww.

SLIM So anyone on the fence that is like a Jurassic Park fan, their eyebrows are now going up, like okay, maybe—maybe it’s time to go theater, check this movie out if that’s the case, I’m down.

GEMMA I talked about this before on the pod. I was on the fence for a long time, I think because at the time that Jurassic Park came out, I was more into the more intellectual Spielberg’s and I just thought ah, dinosaurs. Boys movie. And then I watched it for the first time in lockdown last year. And went, why didn’t nobody tell me that it was a feminist science film? I would have been there on day one!

JONAH You know, I wrote my one of my thesis papers in film school about that movie and about how it was a sort of cross intersection of like Phil Tippett’s puppetry work mixed in with ILM, and how the movie sort of transcends itself because—just to sound as pretentious as possible in the first five minutes here. [Slim & Gemma laugh] It transcends itself because it is—I believe Jurassic Park is a metaphor for the changing blockbuster film industry, wherein you literally, you said bye to puppets, and hello to VFX. And quite literally, in the film, you were saying, you know, hello to this new cloning technology as a way to introduce new spectacle to the very people in the world of the movie. And it sort of like, just levels up the whole point of the film, in a sense? It’s like a metaphor for Hollywood saying hello to VFX, goodbye to the old ways, bringing things to life in like a non organic way. I mean, Spielberg was Hammond in a sense.

SLIM Right.

JONAH With, you know, and ILM working hand in hand. Oof we can go on Jurassic Park for a long time.

SLIM Can we get that added to the Letterboxd list? Can we get that thesis posted in the comments? [Gemma laughs]

GEMMA I don’t want to undercut your intellectualism. But all I’m thinking about as Jeff Goldblum with his shirt unbuttoned, laying on that table, injured.

JONAH What’s that thing? He like purrs? He’s like err. He says like oh yeah. [Slim laughs]

GEMMA Oh my god.

SLIM We will come back to Dating & New York soon. But we have to get started with the main course for now, which is the four faves that you have on Letterboxd. And your bio reads currently: a writer and director with a passion for romantic comedies and the film Hook. So let’s get into it. [music from Hook plays] Robin Williams. This is 1991. What if Peter Pan grew up? Where does your relationship with Hook begin?

JONAH My relationship with Hook begins on a summer night in my basement. And my parents decide—I think I’m like three or four. And my parents decided that it’s time for me to see this movie. And I watched it on a VHS tape. And it’s on the, you know, small little TV screen. And literally as if some sort of weird time multiverse, I just kept watching it. Day after day. I just kept watching it. I was engulfed in this film, something just struck a chord. I said to my parents, I need to do this, whatever that was, and turned out to be filmmaking. And I dressed up as Captain Hook. This is where it gets a little weird. I’ve dressed up as Captain Hook to school up until about second grade. [Slim laughs] This is real, by the way. You know, my parents get a call from my my teacher saying “your son needs to stop coming in with a plastic hook around his hand.” [Jonah & Gemma laugh] And we can laugh about this now. But I would start to eat food that Smee would eat at the, you know, buffet scene. I would double tap the floor to try to get a carpet to come down a flight of stairs and the way that Hook is introduced into the film. And it just immediately changed my life. It was my inciting moment in terms of filmmaking as a career.

GEMMA So would you say it’s the film that made you want to become a filmmaker?

JONAH Absolutely. It’s the film that we want to become a filmmaker, storyteller, probably also has affected the way I sort of view life in terms of like keeping a childlike sense of wonder amidst what could be eventually growing up. I think we all do need to grow up. But that doesn’t mean you need to lose that ability to sort of see the world, you know, and be awestruck by it and be curious. And don’t forget how to fly. You know? Whatever that might be.

GEMMA I love that you are cosplaying at such a young age. [Jonah laughs] And like my parenting philosophy—apart from that I always try to seek delight and joy in everything—is if you haven’t put a costume on in front of your kid lately, you need to go and rectify that.

JONAH Woooww. I like the use of cosplaying too. That’s exactly what it was. It was normal. It was cool. Just going to Comic Con.

SLIM You were cosplaying before anyone else was back then. [Gemma laughs] I rewatched this this week. And this feels like a crazy movie for 1991. It just feels like a modern take. Like what if? Like literally the tagline is what if Peter Pan grew up? That feels like, you know, a pseudo A24 big-budget movie that would come out now. And people are like, “Oh my god! Yeah. What a great idea!” Have you watched it recently, Jonah, over the years?

JONAH Yeah, you know, I have a very interesting history with this film. Particularly in that I’ve seen it countless times. I know every single line. I know every single music cue. I know all the fun facts. And I’ve prepared all these for today’s discussion in case some listeners don’t. [Gemma laughs] I also made a fan film loosely based off of the character Rufio.

GEMMA Bangarang! Right?

JONAH Bangarang! It was a whole Kickstarter and I have thoughts about the way that it came out, but it was a dream come true. And, you know, to your point, you know, the premise of the movie came from James V. Hart’s son, Jake Hart. They were literally at dinner. And I think the kid said at the table “what if Peter Pan grew up?” And then James Hart was like, that’s the story! And then, you know, they wrote it and of course Nick Castle was supposed to direct it then Spielberg came in. But that’s funny. You know, it sounds like such a absurd—it’s kind of like a logline. But it literally came from a kid saying that. And shout out to Jake and Jim who are now friends. But you know, to my knowledge, that’s where it came from.

GEMMA Okay, so before you unveil some of your Hook facts, I’m gonna unveil some of ours according to Letterboxd. [Slim laughs]

JONAH I’m really excited.

GEMMA I have to say that this is the first for us on this show. And that this is a film that appears in no significant stats for Spielberg or for any of the actors. It’s not in like the top ten Spielberg movies, it’s not in the top ten Robin Williams movies. It just doesn’t show up anywhere. Where it does show up is on some really fantastic Letterboxd lists. One called Kicked in the Balls: A Cinematic History of Testicular Trauma. [Slim laughs] Say no more. One where—one of my favs—Movies where a character says “Jack” in an emotional way.

JONAH Oh I bet Pirates is on there too. [Gemma laughs]

GEMMA Of which there are many. And then the The Jupiter Ascending Stigma. Have you heard about this?

JONAH No, what’s that?

GEMMA It’s a cinematic event whereas the audience desperately asks for innovative, or simply more creative and bolder movies, under the statement that Hollywood is running out of ideas, but when movies such as these do come out, they are bashed by critics and/or audiences that criticize them based on precisely the reasons why they stand out, and often for doing exactly what they’re setting out to do, i.e “that movie is too corny!”, “this movie has too much comedy!”, “that remake does this thing that’s different from the original”, etc. It is a genius list, which of course is Jupiter Ascending at the top. But Hook’s on there. Resident Evil’s on there. Halloween III is on there. Signs is on there.

JONAH Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. [Slim laughs]

SLIM The one note that I had too—I think I might have put this in my review—but Julia Roberts’ wig in this movie, what an unreal statement that the costume designer made with that way. What do you think Jonah?

JONAH I think it’s a movie that, it’s perfect for backlight. You know, I think Spielberg is obviously a big backlight guy. And so a big wig like that—which by the way might be a theme in today’s discussion, I think. When Harry Met Sally has some wonderful backlight sort of frizzy hair work going on as well. But I think, well, the Julia Roberts of it all, I mean, you know, the dynamic of this set, some of the stories you sort of hear through the myth of Hook, it’s almost as interesting as the movie itself in terms of some of the behind the scenes that happened on this film. And, you know, there’s fun facts—perhaps now is appropriate that I can drop some.

SLIM Let us in.

GEMMA Drop them.

JONAH So you know, let’s start with there’s obviously Glenn Close in this movie.

GEMMA Oh my god.

JONAH Boo Box, right? I mean, iconic Boo Box moment.

GEMMA Did you spot that Slim? [Slim laughs]

SLIM I was watching it and I was like who is this actor as this character? [Gemma laughs] And I must have forgotten to google it but I knew something was going on with that character.

[clip of Hook plays]

HOOK Say it. Yes—you made a boo boo

GUTLESS I did—I did it—

HOOK Mmm—The boo box.

GUTLESS Not that! Not the boo box!

HOOK The boo box.

GUTLESS NOOOOOO!

[clip of Hook ends]

GEMMA So for those who don’t know Glenn Close plays the pirate that you’re watching and going, is that a drag pirate? Is that just a pirate with weird hair? Who is that pirate? That pirate is Glenn Close. And then you were about to say Phil Collins weren’t you? Which is my favorite cameo in this.

JONAH Oh my god! How amazing Phil Collins plays the detective who comes in and sort of perhaps going to help investigate the missing of Robin Williams’ kids, which feels like a spin off ready to be made. I’m watching that.

SLIM Knives Out twenty, thirty years earlier at that point. [Jonah & Gemma laugh]

JONAH Correct. Yeah, so you have those sort of fun casting moments like that. You know, you have the fact that Spielberg takes over directing this movie that Michael Jackson was going to play the lead role, that it was going to be a musical of which I think the blocking and the sequencing of these scenes does feel very inherently musical. And I love that you—I was listening to the episode I believe you guys had with Josh Ruben, who I sought advice from five years ago, emailed him and you know, he’s kind enough to get coffee with me. And I was like, tell me what it’s like to be a director in comedy. And it’s been amazing to see his career just skyrocket. And you guys were talking about the blocking in Jaws. And I think that this is like Jaws 2.0-level blocking where, you know, if Jaws was a result of having not enough money and not enough shooting days, and therefore having to cover your scenes at Warners. Hook is an example of having too much money and too much excess in sort of production design, that it’s this grand sort of theatrical experience, which is part of the reason I love it. But yeah, there’s there’s one story that I don’t know if it’s made its way into the zeitgeist that I was lucky enough to hear from Dante Basco, who played the role of Rufio. And this is about how he got cast in the role. Are you guys familiar with the story?

GEMMA No!

SLIM No.

JONAH Okay, so you know, Rufio, everyone listening?

SLIM Rest in peace.

JONAH Yeah, rest in peace. Spoiler alert. [Slim laughs] Can you can you handle the truth? And so Dante and I are friends, and I’m just in awe, he’s such a kind person, such amazing actor, and he’s telling me the story of how he got cast in the role. And they were trying to figure out who to cast as Rufio and they could not find the character. Spielberg couldn’t find it. Every single kid in Hollywood was auditioning for this role. And Dante comes in and does his bit and does the lines and instantly Spielberg you know, at the end of it goes, classic, “You got the part kid” and amazing, so, so fun. Cut to onset months later, and Dante is like wrapping and he’s like, “Steven, what was it? You know, I heard how many people you auditioned. Why me?” And Spielberg goes, “You were the only person that came in and just scared the shit out of me.” [Slim laughs] And I was like, oh my god, like, it just was like the bully, he was like this guy would have scared me on the playground. And yet there was an element of still a lot of like pathos. There’s a lot of like emotion behind it. And so I love that story because that’s the Rufio character, scary but sensitive on the inside, just looking for a father figure.

GEMMA Oh my god, one of my favorite Letterboxd reviews actually, it’s a one-liner from Anna Swanson is ’hey does anyone know if a divorced middle-aged man made this movie[Slim & Jonah & Gemma laugh]

JONAH How did the rewatch for you go? When was the last time you guys had seen it? And did it feel nostalgic or magical? Or was it more—was it outdated?

SLIM I actually was shocked to see this on 4K on Amazon Prime streaming. I was like, holy cow. It’s about to get real right now when I fire this thing up. I love the intro to this movie. I feel like the magic is still there. You know, seeing him as an adult. Also the goofy scenes with him doing like the—

GEMMA The quick draw.

SLIM The quick draw with the phones! Oh my god, how dated is that but it’s so funny, still. And just the usage of that flip phone just feel so classic to me. So I really had a lot of fun rewatching this. What about you, Gemma?

GEMMA So I wasn’t a child when I first saw it, I think I might be the oldest person in the room at the age of 27. So yeah, but even when I first saw it, I was probably not young enough to imagine that was magical. But I was a massive Robin Williams fan. So I appreciated it for that. And so I came back to Hook for the first time with the kind of Disney history of Peter Pan and mine. So I was really focusing on the mermaids and Tinkerbell and I did write that in my review that I feel like Hollywood still hasn’t worked out what to do with those female characters. And I kind of hope that—David Lowery is working on the next Peter Pan, and I’m sort of hoping that maybe he’ll nail it. Because what I loved about this as Julia Roberts and this short way again, this kind of boyish Tinkerbell outfit, and not at all obsessed with their body. You know, moved on from that, that was great. But then still having this moment of only defining herself through her relationship with Peter Pan, and having to put the pretty dress on and having to, yeah, have that love story rather than the fact that she’s just this incredibly strong fairy who can flip human sized people over. And yeah, of course, I loved it! I totally enjoyed it. And I think ultimately, for me, what works about the film is the arc of Robin Williams acting in it. How very, very, very staid and sober he is at the start, pays off and how joyful and wonderful he is at the end. Because we all know what he’s capable of, and to see half an hour of a movie go by and not get any of that kind of Robin Williams-ness is extraordinary. He really drew that out.

JONAH He’s so good at that. I mean, the scene where he—I know it’s cliche at this point—but the scene where, you know, ’there you are Peter’ scene. You know, the scene where—

GEMMA Oh my god, the littleless kid kid pulling his skin back! Oh my god, and then that smile! He gets that smile out of him by just—

JONAH You can’t watch, but yeah, we’re all doing—[Jonah & Gemma laugh]

SLIM They’re both touching their faces individually, but you can probably figure that out by now.

GEMMA Slim’s going ’hand sanitizer! hand sanitizer!’. [Slim laughs]

JONAH Slim’s like closing out the app.

SLIM I gotta go. I gotta go.

JONAH But by the way, that’s like the message of the film. That scene I think perfectly encapsulates like, don’t forget, there is that person I lost. We all sometimes feel like, I think maybe we’ve grown up or we change and you want to find that version of yourself that you once were. And gosh, I mean, that scene always brings me to tears. The blocking, staging, the music, the eyes. Spielberg I think has been quoted saying that to him it’s a movie about close ups. It’s all a film about close ups. And that perhaps, is the thesis of that. That scene where the kid rediscovers Peter Pan like right here.

GEMMA Aww.

SLIM We should fly to the next movie on our list.

GEMMA Fly or drive? [Slim & Gemma laugh] We’re gonna get that yellow station wagon out and take a long drive until When Harry Met Sally land.

SLIM 1989. This is a 4.0 average on Letterboxd. And for those of you who aren’t aware, I know there are some out there because I was one of them. During their travel from Chicago to New York, Harry and Sally debate whether or not sex ruins a friendship between a man and a woman. Eleven years later, there’s still no closer to finding the answer. Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, legendary film. Where were you?

[It Had to Be You by Frank Sinatra plays]

JONAH I was watching this one I believe also on either LaserDisc or VHS, I’m trying to remember what the format was.

SLIM Whoa.

GEMMA Whoa!

JONAH And it was yet again in the basement, on the small TV. And that I didn’t really know what dating was at this time in my life. I just saw two characters on screen living in the city that I was growing up and it felt magical. I can’t articulate. I rewatched it in preparation of today, I tried to look at what it is about this film that feels inherently relatable yet magical and mystifying and classic and modern at the same time. And I mean, I’m like, I think it’s just the writing and the performances. It’s like, you really can’t beat it in terms of rom-com world. Where were you guys when you first saw it?

SLIM I have to be incredibly brave right now and say that this is the first time I’ve ever seen this movie.

JONAH Oh my god.

SLIM I’ve finally checked it off my watchlist. Gemma commented on my note in our little doc writing notes. I think she just wrote all in caps WHAT? when I wrote this is my first viewing. [Gemma laughs]

JONAH I think we’re both confused.

SLIM It’s like one of those movies where, you know, you hear about growing up, you see the scene in the diner, you kind of know about this movie, but for whatever reason, it just never was on my weekend plans for whatever reason.

GEMMA You think you’ve seen it when you’ve seen that that scene in the diner, right? But you haven’t until you’ve actually watched the whole thing and you’re like, you haven’t seen the movie if you don’t know that Carrie Fisher’s in it, you know?

SLIM She’s amazing.

GEMMA Oh my god, she’s just perfect as usual!

SLIM Yeah, I didn’t know the format of the movie. I didn’t know that it takes place over the several years. You know, I just thought it was they were together to start, they broke up, they got together. You know, it’s totally not the case. It follows their journey. They grow, they change. You know, they have different hairstyles, different facial hair. Meg Ryan’s hair is unreal in this movie.

JONAH Unreal hair.

SLIM Unbelievable!

GEMMA So we need to talk about Nora Ephron right? So this is directed by Rob Reiner. And here’s a Letterboxd fact from Jack—who by the way, this is our booker Linda, Jack’s wife, this is her favorite movie. It’s the New Year’s Eve standard movie date, it’s their Valentine Day stead of movie date. Directed by Rob Reiner. It’s his third highest rated and third most popular film behind Stand by Me and The Princess Bride. So it’s right up there.

JONAH Wow.

GEMMA But it’s Nora Ephron, right? It’s about her. You asked me where I was when I first saw it. Maybe the first time I saw it was on television—probably? Which it sort of really was suited to in the late eighties, early nineties. It’s quite episodic. So it’s one of those rare films it’s okay to break up with an ad break, possibly. But I reckon where I really saw it would have been in the Academy cinema when it was shown a few years later, after Sleepless in Seattle had come out and I had been to the cinema probably twenty times to watch that film.

JONAH Sleepless or When Harry Met Sally?

GEMMA Sleepless! Obsessed. Completely obsessed at the time with Sleepless. Thought was pretty much how my romantic life is gonna pan out and weirdly 100% met husband in New York. Not at the Empire State Building and Prospect Park, was a beautiful thing. Anyway, very faithful. So it all panned out. I was right, Nora Ephron wrote my life, but because of her relationship with that film, I went back to see When Harry Met Sally in a cinema and then it all made sense.

JONAH It’s a lovely extension I mean, Sleepless in Seattle. I also love that movie, they spend they spend so much time apart and not actually talking to each other that yet still somehow you really feel like they’re together. I mean, that movie, sometimes I feel like executives in our industry will give the note in a script for rom-com like I want to see your characters in more scenes together. And I always think of Sleepless in Seattle where I’m like, they have like three scenes together and it’s at the very end of the movie, but it works. I mean, that’s Nora Ephron, master filmmaker, so different story. And Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

GEMMA Yeah, but what I love about the combo of Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron is she’s all about the dialogue and in fact, sort of owns itself at one point when the character Jess, who’s Harry’s best friend, he says the words “I know dialog, you know, I’m a writer, I know dialogue” and that is a harsh line. And you’re like that is Nora just celebrating herself on the page. I love that. But you combine that with with Rob Reiner who’s very good at doing the kind of shots that—she’s she’s a more intimate director—but he thinks nothing about let’s get the chopper out and get the shot of the car driving across the Brooklyn Bridge arriving in New York. And then we’re gonna double down at Washington Square Park with a lifting crane shot with sunrise flare coming in as Billy walks away, as Harry walks away from Sally for the first time. So you get a bit of, you know, the grandness with a lot of the intimacy of her dialogue. I love it.

JONAH It does feel so inherently cinematic. And I also think Barry Sonnenfeld, the cinematographer of that movie, who would go on to direct Men in Black and who shot for the Coen Brothers for many years. He’s bringing a level of let’s elevate the rom-com genre. Let’s pump the backlight in testament of Meg Ryan’s hair, used to have these scenes with this amazing glow behind her head. [Gemma laughs] Which, like unreal glow, but it adds to the magic of it. And again that somehow links back to the Spielberg conversation. But also the outfits in this film.

GEMMA Oh my god. Can we talk about Billy Crystal and denim?

SLIM Those tights?

GEMMA Oh, those tights!

JONAH The jogging scene?

GEMMA No, no, speed walking!

SLIM The power walking scene.

GEMMA Yeah, I had forgotten that walking was trendy as exercise for a while there. Those tights are wild. But no, the jeans, the sweaters. I mean, if we’re going to rank the sweaters, have you ever done that? As a When Harry Met Sally exercise?

JONAH That’s a brilliant idea. You know, I haven’t, but I did see a Letterboxd comment on our movie that said “take a shot for every sweater you see.” [Gemma & Slim laugh]

SLIM I was going to bring that up.

JONAH Yeah, but I think that I will be doing that Harry Met Sally ranking for sure. Have you ever done a sweater ranking?

GEMMA Not before, but I did last night when I was rewatching it and I think that Meg’s red one is up there, it’s number one. Closely followed by Billy’s the white, the creamy white Aran knit. I think they’re in the same scene together.

JONAH The same two shots. Yeah, they’re looking at the floor, crouched down looking the floor. Yeah.

GEMMA But what I love is that, you know, a lot of movies, people don’t wear the same thing twice. But a few of these sweaters come up several years apart, which I really appreciate from a costuming perspective. That’s like, that’s real life.

SLIM Good eye. What struck me after watching When Harry Met Sally, I loved the writing. I watched Dating & New York right after that. So perfect back to back movies. And this struck me was the writing in both movies. So how inspirational to you was that kind of repartee between two potential lovers, two friends. I mean, this movie obviously had to really play into what you wanted to do with your own work.

JONAH I think first of all, honored. That’s an insane back to back, almost too pressured. [Slim laughs] I mean, that’s like eating like—because obviously, Dating & New York is a celebration of all the rom-coms from the past and some new ones and some old ones. When Harry Met Sally, of course, it’s shot New York, it’s in the fall. I really loved the idea that one of the things that I think Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner would always talk about was like, they wanted to make a movie that wasn’t action scenes. It was two people walking around the city, talking about their love life. You know, talking about a city—and this is a Nora Ephron quote, I believe where she’s like, “The primary motion is just unrequited love. And that’s how difficult dating in New York can be.” And I wanted to do that. I wanted to make a movie that portrayed how complicated dating in the city can be, but also make relatable characters that felt like people we know, it felt like people talk how we talk. And, of course, there’s added elements of like fairytale and like all this sort of fun stuff that we do in the film, but at its very core, it was just two people that you feel like you’ve known or that you want to be friends with or that you’ve talked to and that’s what When Harry Met Sally does so well. I mean, Billy Crystal’s character is very depressed. I don’t think Milo, Jaboukie Young-White, in Dating & New York is depressed. I think Milo is actually very optimistic character. But that is to say that their conversations about, you know, life—I guess they don’t talk about death as much as they do in When Harry Met Sally. Our characters talk about the social norms of Instagram and texting etiquette, and their favorite movie. But, you know, it was certainly inspirational. I read that script—When Harry Met Sally script—ten, twenty times, you know, just in preparation. Just to see how the rhythm of how Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner, what it looked like on the page versus what it looked like—it sounds cliche, but like, watch your favorite movie, and look at the script at the same time and it’s film school in a nutshell. It’s so fun to do that.

GEMMA I’m just thinking about the moment when they’re on the plane, and he’s negging, like he’s nagging her the whole time, right? Harry—if you want to see what negging actually looks like, it’s Harry saying things like, ’ah, you’re actually quite an attractive person, you’re actually quite a good looking person.’ Like a compliment that also cast shades of doubt. And the best comeback to negging ever, that I’ve ever heard, is in When Harry Met Sally when she turns to him the plane and says—

[clip of When Harry Met Sally plays]

SALLY You look like a normal person. But actually you are the angel of death.

[clip of When Harry Met Sally ends]

GEMMA That’s a beautiful thing. Like she felt it right away. And she calls him. Anyway, it comes up in a Letterboxd list called men get pegged. [Slim & Gemma & Jonah laugh] But also there’s a list called The City is a Character and I was thinking that Dating & New York absolutely must be added to that. How did you go about choosing all the spots and the moments and the people and the places and the activities? You know, the rooftop bars and all the beautiful New York-ness of it?

JONAH It’s a fantastic question. I think there’s two answers to that. One is the logistics of production, of the idea of making a movie in New York on an indie sad ultra low budget for. You know, two weeks of shooting, and where can I go that I’m going to get multiple locations out of one location? And do I happen to know somebody who works there or owns that place? And the simple construction of like an indie film. But then there comes places that are linked to memories of New York, and links to our characters’ memories. So, Tompkins Square Park, where everyone goes to get broken up with, it’s like something we invented. You know, I’ve walked that park all the time and I always see people getting into fights, and like breaking up. And I’m like, that needs to be a thing. And then in our characters story, that’s of course, where our character goes and misses the relationship they once had. Bryant Park Grill was one of our producers’ friends, you know, knew somebody who worked there. And you look at Washington Square Park, which, I mean, that was probably our most intensive shooting day. And that’s a really hard place to shoot a movie because so much is happening. And you wanted to find places that felt like busy New York, but didn’t have giant crowds that are just going to make your life that much more difficult.

SLIM There’s a certain visual snap to this movie that I find hard to explain. Like When Harry Met Sally is revered for its look and feel of like fall movies, that probably appears on every fall Letterboxd list. But there was a certain like visual flair when watching this and I was just like, man, I would love to watch this in 4K with HDR popping all over my TV. But how much of that was your thinking when putting the movie together? You wanted to present a New York that not only follows today’s version of dating, but also just enhances the look and feel of New York itself too?

JONAH You know, Maria and I—who’s my cinematographer—the first references we talked about were the When Harry Met Sallys and the You’ve Got Mails. We said this needs to look like a commercial film. It’s funny. By the way, being a filmmaker on Letterboxd is a whole new thing.

GEMMA Oh, yeah. [Gemma laughs]

JONAH I need to like go to therapy. [Gemma & Slim laugh] I actually called my friend Aneesh Chaganty, he made a film called Searching

GEMMA Oh my god! Okay, can we just stop there for a moment? Because that’s maybe the answer to the question I had. There’s an opening montage of a dating app that sort of runs all the way through dating in New York. And I’m watching it, I’m like, this is a cute movie—what the heck is Aneesh Chaganty doing on this fictional dating app in this movie?! So, explain.

JONAH He’s my best friend from film school. We met on day one at USC in production.

GEMMA Ahhh.

JONAH And we’ve been there for each other ever since then. Which comes with putting each other in each other’s movies and helping each other on cuts. And it’s kind of that relationship that you always hear about existing. But it’s real with him and I. And I called him I was like, hey, so like when people gave Searching a like half star review, what did that make you feel? [Gemma laughs] And by the way, Searching in my mind is a perfect film. It’s a flawless film.

GEMMA Oh my god.

JONAH And I’m like, if Searching has half stars, I’m screwed. But he calls me and he said, look, people get really—people for like, Run would get very personal. Like “Chaganty should never make a movie again.” And it’s like, that’s not cool. You know, people are trying their best to make to tell stories. But this is all to say that—and I celebrate all the reviews of our film. And I love some of the five star ones make me cry. Some of the three star ones make me cry. And then some of the half star ones are still strangely complimentary. But you know, it’s just all people can interpret. But to speak to the visual style of the movie, we wanted something commercial, we want to feel magical. We want it to be feel like a proscenium, like you’re watching a play. You know, you’re watching a Broadway musical where the scene where they’re kissing in from the trash can, you know, it looks like a background, it looks sort of like something that you would just take the characters out of it and you could still sort of feel like something needs to happen in the space. And that’s a big shout out to Maria who, the way she lit them, we shot anamorphic. We have no handheld shots, this thing was all done on sticks to create a storybook feel. And the direction that the characters move is purposely congruent to their linear progress as a couple, which is like this super strange, like easter egg where like they move left to right when they’re progressing. They move right to left when they’re not progressing. And when of course everything ends happily ever after they crane—digitally crane out because we didn’t have a real crane.

GEMMA Stop it!

JONAH Yeah, so that’s that’s where some of that aesthetic comes from. Also lots of Pro-mist filter.

GEMMA This is what the Letterboxd one star reviews are missing. They have to go back and rewatch it from a technical standpoint. [Jonah laughs]

JONAH Yeah, exactly! [Gemma laughs]

GEMMA That’s beautiful. So we haven’t even really talked deeply about the premise of the film but in a way, the best way to explain it, I think—and this is from my experience living in New York watching it. Thankfully I was never fucking single in New York. And there’s actually a line in When Harry Met Sally, between Carrie Fisher’s character and Jess.

[clip of When Harry Met Sally plays]

MARIE Tell me I never have to be out there again.

[clip of When Harry Met Sally ends]

GEMMA And I felt that soo badly. I think I literally said the same thing to my partner in New York after yet another girlfriend had come over to cry and get drunk and sleep on our couch. Because I think it’s like the nature of a really big city that is full of the hottest people in the world, sort of turns a city into a supermarket where you can window shop forever and sort of fail to commit. And so Milo and Wendy in the film—Jaboukie Young-White and Francesca Reale—have basically agreed that this is the state of things in the city. So let’s bypass all the dating pallava by coming to an agreement, essentially a kind of short term romantic contract, where we do all the things that a relationship does, but we’re not in a relationship.

[clip of Dating & New York plays]

WENDY Here’s the broad stock. Basically, we don’t get jealous of each other. And for every night that I spend at your place, you spend two nights at my place.

MILO How is that fair?

WENDY Well you live with your parents.

MILO I don’t live with my parents. I live with my mom and Larry. And they travel a lot. So I’m being financially responsible. I’m not even going to consider signing that until you add—cuddling.

WENDY Add cuddling?

MILO Yup! And none of that on opposite sides of the bed stuff. I need— boom—75% of the night together at least. At least! Separation makes me think of divorce. I don’t like it.

WENDY Most marriages end in divorce anyway.

MILO No Deal.

[clip of Dating & New York ends]

GEMMA So that’s the premise of the film, right? Which of course it’s going to go spectacularly wrong. It’s exploring the what it takes to commit. What it takes to kind of finally stop shopping.

JONAH It’s interesting because they start off with the benefits and lean into friendship. Which in When Harry Met Sally, they start off as friends and then it becomes more complicated. In this one, we like to say that they start off with that sort of potential one nightstand and that turns into more of a how can we turn this into a friendship, which I think is challenging. But as you said, it’s the supermarket. It’s the paradox of choice in New York City. Our generation is so plagued by apps and what if I could be with this other person? And oh, they check off one thing goes wrong, then I can go find somebody else.

GEMMA Ahh. Speaking of finding love—a young lion— [Slim laughs]

JONAH Really good segue.

SLIM Add it to the top ten Gemma’s Segues list on Letterboxd. [Gemma laughs]

JONAH Speaking of young love—a father, son story of a young prince soon be king.

[The Lion King theme plays]

SLIM 1994. 4.2 average. I don’t even think I need to give this synopsis of The Lion King necessarily. But a lot of people grew up on this movie. A lot of people grew up on that clamshell VHS. What about you? How did you connect with Lion King first?

JONAH It was the clamshell VHS. It was the Simba costume. It was the, you know, the Timon and Pumba action figures, that little shaving kit you could buy that as like an eight year old—

GEMMA The what?!

JONAH Do you remember this? Does anyone remember this? It’s a shaving kit.

GEMMA No!

JONAH Okay. They used to sell it like toy stores. It was like foam and like—this is so weird to say that they sold but they sold it for like children. And they had Simba on it. And it was like, I’ll find—I can send the link. It exists. [Slim laughs] People listening, if you know what The Lion King shaving kit was, please back me up here. [Gemma & Slim laugh]

SLIM Tweet at us to confirm this is real, please.

GEMMA Oh my god.

JONAH It was eventually turned into a passion for Disney films for animation as a prop. I worked briefly at DreamWorks Animation with a lot of people that actually worked on that movie. Chris Sanders, Brenda Chapman and then of course I interned for Hans Zimmer.

SLIM Excuse me?

GEMMA Wait, what? How does he take his coffee? How does Hans Zimmer take his coffee?!

JONAH Okay. That’s such a crazy question because I think I didn’t sign an NDA, but they did swore me to secrecy, but I’m going to tell everybody how he does it. So here we go. [Slim & Jonah laugh] I think enough time has passed. Whatever. What’s going to happen? Maybe I didn’t actually work for Hans. Who knows? But Hans drinks his coffee—[The Lion King theme ramps up over Jonah’s voice, then fades down]—then you pour in the hot coffee and then you sprinkle some more sugar on that. He takes one of these about every four hours. And just also to go on the record, Hans Zimmer is the nicest, best person in the world and I felt so lucky to be able to make him his coffee because I would walk in there with the tray. And in there as Jerry Bruckheimer and Rob Marshall and we’re looking at Pirates 4.

SLIM Cripes!

JONAH And I’m like tripping over the wires in his office, which if you’ve ever been there, looks like a room at a Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s got skulls and technology and all this—it’s actually in his Masterclass. You can kind of see the way his office looks.

GEMMA You’re like, don’t drop the coffee, don’t drop the coffee!

JONAH Oh, I dropped the coffee for sure. I’ve done it many times. And amazing job. And it was I was very passionate about film scores. And it was a great way to learn about that process.

SLIM Wow.

JONAH It was a cold email, by the way.

SLIM Cold email got you—

JONAH I had cold emailed his assistant at the time or his coordinator and I said I was a USC student who was incredibly passionate about film scoring. And I was a director and I would just do anything to work for Hans. And, you know, I wasn’t paid, it was like, I showed up—I’m definitely one of the only directors, I think mostly people work there when they want to be in the music world, composers or orchestrators. But very cool scene of people, for sure.

GEMMA Oh my god, this soundtrack is one of the best soundtracks of all time.

JONAH The score is incredible. I mean, the music is incredible, but the score itself, you know, the use of theme when Simba is looking into the water and sees Mufasa’s reflection, which I think is probably one of most brilliant scenes in cinematic history, just in terms of the way they use nature and water and the reflective element of James Earl Jones’ voice. How often do you guys listen to, like, you know, anything from Lion King score?

SLIM You have a young one in the house, Gemma, maybe this is an often thing?

GEMMA I have a young one in the house. So this is another early nineties film that for whatever reason, I did not see at the cinema in the early nineties when I was at film and television school. Again, pretty much the same reason as Jurassic Park. Not for me. I was busy, I don’t know, trying to watch classics and be intellectual or obsessing over Sleepless in Seattle. And then I had a child and it’s been interesting what’s hit with him and the ones that we rewatch over the last year again and again and again to the point where I’ve stopped logging them on Letterboxd are all of the Cartoon Saloon feature films Song of the Sea, Wolfwalkers, My Neighbor Totoro, Raya and the Last Dragon he’s become obsessed with. But number one, above all, is The Lion King.

SLIM Wow.

GEMMA And he will Lion King his way around the house, we sing the song, he sings I Just Can’t Wait to be King. But more than that, like this movie has a special place in my heart alongside films like Inside Out. Any film—Totoro is another one where he, if we’re walking through a forest or even past one tree, he’ll stop and say, we need to give thanks to the forest spirits. But with The Lion King, he never met my father, but he’ll often point out at the stars—oh my god, I’m gonna cry. He will often look at the stars and go “There’s Mufasa and there’s Papa Wallace.”

SLIM Wow.

GEMMA And I’m like, just stop it.

SLIM Sheesh.

GEMMA Thank you movies. Thank you movies, for giving my child the language to understand the universe around him. And the people who brought him into this life.

SLIM This is obviously the top of like everyone’s list, but for whatever reason, my son didn’t fall in love with this movie. So this is the first time I watched it in a very long time. I’m like, oh, Lion King. Yeah, this is on everyone’s list. But as I’m sitting down and watching like, there’s so many banger moments in this movie, where it just solidifies, oh yeah, that’s why this is like everyone’s list ever! And it brought me back to thinking of in theaters seeing these movies, these Disney movies. And I have this vague memory of seeing, you know, the big previews beforehand. You would see next year’s Disney movie. And you’d have to wait a year pretty much to see anything else. It was so different back then. Like you get like this brief trailer of whatever the year after Lion King was. You were like ’oh my god, I want to see this movie right now!’ And you’d have to wait. It just feels so different. Going back and watching this. These incredible backgrounds, incredible music. It kind of hits on a time that a lot of people maybe forget about.

JONAH Yeah, it was that sort of nineties period. I mean, I think Pocahontas came next. But this was like Little Mermaid was out and they were just kind of, you know, going through the hits. And then this movie dropped and when I watched it, it’s perfect storytelling, but it’s also very fast. It’s a short movie.

SLIM Yeah, it’s ninety minutes.

JONAH Ninety minutes. And it just hits the story beats. Toy Story too—sorry, I mean Toy Story as well, well also Toy Story 2 [Gemma laughs]—Toy Story as well came out a couple of years later. Very quick, short movie but masterful storytelling to the Lion King point. That moment you were describing with your son, like that’s, I think what the beauty of that film is, is it teaches us about family and about the way that we can imagic and like the way like our imaginations and memories work and humor, Hakuna Matata, you know, just living life to the fullest and jam. It’s just, it’s funny.

GEMMA There’s a moment in that film, it lands on a Letterboxd list called The Good Dads Cinematic Universe for a really good reason. [Jonah laughs] There is a teachable parenting moment in that movie that I don’t think has appeared in any other film, which has the way that Mufasa reacts to the kids going into the elephant graveyard. Is that right? Yeah, yeah. And the so called punishment, which, which really isn’t any—it’s just a talk.

[clip of The Lion King plays]

MUFASA Simba. I’m very disappointed in you.

SIMBA I know.

MUFASA You could have been killed. You deliberately disobeyed me! And what’s worse, you put Nala in danger!

SIMBA I was just trying to be brave like you.

MUFASA I’m only brave when I have to be. Simba, being brave, doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.

SIMBA But you’re not scared of anything.

MUFASA I was today.

SIMBA You were?

MUFASA Yes. I thought I might lose you.

[clip of The Lion King plays]

GEMMA And it’s so beautiful. That is a scene that’s worth pulling out and putting into parenting guides for the rest of time. We just do need to acknowledge that the casting was pretty insane for Disney, even for Disney who are, you know, pretty racist at the best of times.

JONAH Sure.

GEMMA It’s like just a bunch of really super white voices on these gorgeous African characters. But we all know that. And Jon Favreau attempted to correct that in the recent—

JONAH Attempted to remedy the situation. Which the remake—where do you guys stand on the remake?

SLIM I have not seen the remake.

GEMMA It’s fine. It’s fine. [Slim laughs]

SLIM It’s fine!

GEMMA It’s fine. It’s interchangeable. Well, no, that’s not true. That’s not true. Backgrounds in the first one, I think Slim, you’ve noted that as well.

SLIM Yeah, I wanted to point out, you mentioned the graveyard. I mean, the animation in the graveyard and when he returns, years later, like that is some all time activation in those scenes. It’s bonkers! Like you don’t see that stuff. It’s so dark. I love when animation just gets really dark. And like almost borderline PG-13. Like god forbid. Like the end of The Black Hole is something that jumps to mind when I think of like weird dark, like PG movies, in my opinion.

JONAH Well, I mean, the visual intent of some of the Scar sequences, you know, with his army of hyenas is very directly implying something, you know, in terms of their marching and whatnot. But that’s the level—I think they just were like, let’s just go in. And I do believe that Lion King was the sort of B movie in terms of like, they weren’t focused—they were like, this movie’s not gonna be as big as perhaps Pocahontas. I believe that was what I remember hearing. So they were kind of left to their own device. And they’re all trying to prove something. But you look at that team, Andreas Daja, who did the Scar animation, who’s like the most famous villain animator of all time. You know?

GEMMA Oh wow.

JONAH Oh, it’s so good.

GEMMA I did have a question about Dating & New York in relation to musical animations. And that is, you told one of our writers during Tribeca that another influence on Dating an New York was the Emperor’s New Groove?

JONAH The Emperor’s New Groove, yes!

GEMMA And I just, I’m like, once again, explain yourself, Jonah.

JONAH Oh, I’m here for this. I’m gonna say some ridiculous things throughout the career. And I’m here to back them up. I’m curious, have you seen the Emperor’s New Groove?

SLIM Mega underrated Disney movie. Mega underrated.

JONAH Thank you! Thank you!

SLIM It’s an amazing movie. Let it out.

JONAH It’s an amazing movie. And here’s the thing about that film that directly influenced our movie. When we were trying to figure out the narrative device that was going to be our narrator and the way that we’re playing with storytelling, especially the first five minutes in the movie. And like the meta, self referential sense of the movie existing, I watched Emperor’s New Groove because he’s narrating that entire story. Yet, he’s also living the story. And I think they did an amazing job of that, of Cusco, breaking the fourth wall, and that movie’s like way better than needs to be. And so we were watching that and saying, how are they doing it here? And how can we sort of learn from that in terms of how our voiceover is going to work with our story? Because voiceover is really hard to fit, to get to get even remotely close to where it needs to be to be good. And I think that movie does it perfectly. That’s that was the Emperor’s New Groove reference.

GEMMA You have one more favorite. The very first Pirates of the—now, I say Caribbean, do you say Caribbean?

JONAH I say Caribbean. Slim, what do you say?

SLIM I say Pirates of the Caribbean. I have to say the whole sentence to confirm how I pronounce it. [Slim & Gemma laugh]

GEMMA So we’re all on the same page, The Curse of the Black Pearl. 2003. Directed by Gore Verbinski. And once again talking about Disney. This is based on a Disney ride that was then brought to life. And is this the best entrance in a film by a leading character ever?

JONAH Yes.

GEMMA Jack Sparrow in the bird’s nest of his pirate ship, and in the reverse shot, showing that it is very rapidly thinking, and it is a mere dinghy.

JONAH With some version of the score as well to hear his entrance, and he’s sinking and but he perfectly lands. It’s just his luck that he perfectly stops right at the dock.

SLIM Did you grow up loving Disney the parks itself and this ride? What was your connection to the ride itself before the movie? How did they gel?

JONAH So I grew up going to Disney World once in a while, not often, but once in a while. And I love the ride. I love pirates. Obviously. We’ve talked about the Hook. And I remember seeing the trailer for this movie. And the trailer for this movie was simply a fake CGI, music was playing. It was like Johnny Depp! You know, a pirate adventure! It was just like over the sea. And it was no footage from the movie. I’d never seen a trailer that had footage from the film. And I need to go back and look, they might have not even released anything. It was just very secret. So then one day 2003, summer, I get taken to see this movie. And I knew nothing going into it. And the movie ended. And I went right back outside, got another ticket, went right back in like I went for the ride. [Slim laughs] And I just, I bought the soundtrack that day. You know, to me that movie, beyond the ride itself, it was the swashbuckling adventure film that I think we have long been waiting for since his Zorro, you know, came out.

SLIM I actually just rewatch Dead Man’s Chest for the first time in a long time for my other podcast—plug. [Gemma laughs]

JONAH 70mm, right?

SLIM Hey! Thank you very much!

GEMMA Oh my god!

SLIM I didn’t even have to do it. Jonah officially my new favorite guest on The Letterboxd Show.

JONAH To get ten percent off Squarespace, use code 70mm. [Slim & Gemma laugh]

GEMMA What are you doing next week, Jonah?

SLIM What I said on that podcast was Disney has lightning in a bottle with this movie with Jack Sparrow, the character, I mean, this could have been so bad. And you know, maybe a movie that had come out recently about a ride and not worked as well. But everything worked in this movie. Gore does amazing work. It looks legit. It looks timeless. The music. Rewatching it, it just feels incredible!

GEMMA Oh my god, the pirates moving from human to skeleton, back to human, back to skeleton is still flawless twenty years on, nearly twenty years on. This came out interestingly, the exact same year as Master and Commander.

JONAH Oh, I didn’t know that.

SLIM Wow! [Slim laughs]

GEMMA So this was a big year for nautical films. One of my favorite Letterboxd reviews of this, from cowboy is “watching this as a kid and seeing elizabeth save will’s ass every five seconds and take zero shit from any men turned me into the hard-headed bitch i am today”

JONAH Love that. [Slim laughs]

GEMMA Yeah, I love that. I think for me, you know, the presence of Keira Knightley and Zoe Saldana is what has helped these films because the problematic men in the leading roles especially in this movie, Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp, certainly don’t help giving giving it longevity but definitely the presence of a—I was going to say a decent number—two kick ass female characters is important.

JONAH Elizabeth Swann, I mean, incredible character and ultimately the Pirate Queen I believe. You know, also Slim, to go back to what you were saying. I actually saw Dead Man’s Chest sixteen times in theaters.

SLIM Holy cow.

JONAH I was obsessed with that movie. And you look at the movie, the longevity of the film, I’ve watched countless behind the scenes, I’ve asked everyone I know about Gore Verbinski. He is apparently just—I mean, he’s a very serious filmmaker. I mean, if you look at the behind the scenes footage of him working with ILM to make Davy Jones’ tentacles look good. This guy is ruthless. I mean, almost to an extent where you’re like, I don’t know if I could ever really push someone that far. But you look at the effect and it holds up. I also want to say that to speak to the Jungle Cruise if at all. [Gemma laughs] And I’m a big Disney fan and I feel comfortable enough to say it. I love Jungle Cruise. I had a lot of fun there, but it certainly gives you a lot of respect towards Gore Verbinski, and you know, The Mummy and these Indiana Jones, of creating spectacle and stage theatrical sequences. You know, having a scene where Jack Sparrow lands perfectly on the dock with the music like they didn’t really do that kind of stuff in Jungle Cruise. Not to say the Jungle Cruise isn’t amazing in its own right with The Rock and Emily Blunt having amazing chemistry. But I also have a fun—just a quick fact, I have a fun fact about the making of that film. And the score of that. Because, you know, Hans Zimmer did not technically get credit for that score. This is probably new information for the internet, but I’ll give the quick story. Hans Zimmer was under contract to do another movie called Gladiator. And I think that Jerry Bruckheimer was not 100% on board with the original score, they got, for course, The Black Pearl. And to my knowledge, and this actually does not come from the internship. This is just what I’ve heard throughout the industry and through research, that basically Jerry calls Hans and says, “Hans, I need your help with the score. Like I didn’t get what I wanted from the original composer, I actually don’t know who that ever was.” So Hans Zimmer goes away for a weekend, comes up with all the themes for this movie says, I can’t take credit for this. But I had this wonderful younger composer, Klaus, who can work with you to do this. And very last minute, they came up with all these amazing themes. And you know, I almost listened to The Medallion Calls is the name of the score. I listened to that theme almost every single day. You know, so fun fact. That’s why Hans Zimmer is credited in the second two movies, but not in the first to my knowledge.

SLIM Wow.

GEMMA I just got two really quick questions. One is in your time on Letterboxd, is there a film you’ve discovered through other Letterboxd members that you had never seen before and that blew you away?

JONAH That’s a great question. Um, so here’s one. It’s called The Watermelon Woman by Cheryl Dunye, I believe it’s pronounced.

GEMMA Ohhh yeah! Oh my god, what a great call.

JONAH Yeah, a really amazing movie that I would have never heard about. 1996. New York-y kind of, you know, just not even mumble core vibe. But it’s a wonderful film and I wouldn’t have never known about it had not been for Letterboxd.

GEMMA Excellent videos store scenes, Slim. You’ll love it.

SLIM Ohhh okay! Alright, I’m listening.

GEMMA And final question. You had Letterboxd in an early cut of your film Dating & New York, which is now in theaters. But some exec gave you a note that it was too niche. When will you release the Letterboxd cut?

JONAH Oh yeah, the Letterboxd, the scene! That’s like the Snyder cut, right? I don’t know if it’ll ever get released. But there was a scene where, you know, every character has an introduction in the movie from the narrator where it’s like, this is this person and they met up because they’re on the subway. There was a scene where it was like they fell in love over Letterboxd over their, you know, contradicting opinions of like, you know, the French New Wave and Jean-Luc Godard films.

GEMMA Oh my god.

JONAH Someone was just like, what’s Letterboxd? I’m like, what?! That’s your problem! [Gemma & Slim laugh]

[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker plays alone, fades out]

SLIM Thanks so much for listening to The Letterbox Show and thanks to our guest this episode, Jonah Feingold, for taking us on a crunchy walk through the falling leaves of rom-coms. Dating & New York is in select theaters and everywhere films are rented digitally in the US from Friday September tenth, through IFC Films.

GEMMA You can follow Slim, Gemma—that’s me—and our HQ page on Letterboxd using the links in our episode notes. Thanks to our crew, composing dynamos, Moniker for the theme music Vampiros Dancoteque. Thanks to Jack as always for the facts, our booker Linda Moulton, glad we could talk about your favorite movie. And Sophie Shin for the episode transcripts, and to you for listening.

SLIM The Letterboxd Show is a TAPEDECK production. And if you are enjoying the show and have guest ideas, be sure to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. Shout out to Elaine Paladino for her Apple Podcasts review and I quote, ’Season to relaunch is incredible. Slim and Gemma are excellent interviewers. And I find myself hanging on every word.’ End quote. [Gemma gasps] Can we get that on a t-shirt on the Letterboxd store at some point?

GEMMA Oh my god. Yep. 100%. And that’s the show. I’m off to sit at my wagon wheel coffee table and drink my coffee with nine seconds of sugar in it.

[clip of Dating & New York plays]

MILO A couple hours ago, I thought that you were ghosting me. I was ready to cut you out of my life. Forget about you. Move. Honestly. Then, you text me out of nowhere. “hey, we need to talk. it’s very important.” All lowercase. You can understand I’m freaking out, right? I’m like, okay, she’s pregnant. She’s pregnant. And if you are pregnant, then I’m ready.

WENDY Um, we use like so many condoms. Oh man, I know, I know. Wouldn’t that be terrible?

MILO Woo!

[clip of Dating & New York fades out]

[TAPEDECK bumper plays] This is a TAPEDECK podcast.