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Interview: Filmmaker James Ponsoldt Talks ‘Summering’ and Growing Up

James Ponsoldt is an underrated filmmaker. His directing on The End of the Tour and The Spectacular Now doesn’t quite get the acclaim that he deserves. So, whenever Ponsoldt has a new movie, I do smile a bit. Interestingly, he was also one of the directors I interviewed years ago, back in my earlier days at this gig, when The Spectacular Now was about to come out. So, when Summering was announced, I knew I wanted to speak with him again. Luckily, after seeing the film and confirming that it was good, I made sure to secure an interview. We recorded it about a week ago, prior to its release. Now, with Summering in theaters, I present our conversation to you today.

In my review of Summering (found here), I had this to say about Ponsoldt’s latest flick:

I like James Ponsoldt a lot as a filmmaker. He may not have a perfect resume, but he’s an enjoyably old-fashioned director. His throwback qualities and focus on character have led to an undisputed bit of brilliance with The Spectacular Now, but also an incredibly underrated flick in The End of the Tour. A Ponsoldt project is going to focus on the characters he’s showing off to you all, as well as an understanding of who they are. With Summering, his latest film, that’s again the case. He’s gone with a much younger group of protagonists this time around, but the movie ends up with several of the same interests. It’s kinder and gentler than usual, which is a bit of a mixed bag, but his heart is decidedly in the right place here.

Co-writer/director James Ponsoldt keeps one foot grounded and one foot firmly planted in the fantastical here. Summering doesn’t always feel at its best with that decision, but it’s one from Ponsoldt and co-writer Benjamin Percy that definitely sets it apart. You never doubt that the feeling and vibe are intentional. It won’t be everyone’s style or to everyone’s taste, but it’s a slyly bold move in a movie that always could have played it safe. 

Bleecker Street

Below, you can see my conversation with Ponsoldt. We talk about Summering, for sure, but it was also good to just chat with him again. As mentioned above, we did an interview many years ago for The Spectacular Now and have followed each other on social media since then, so it was a mini reunion of sorts. Ponsoldt does a very specific kind of film, so it’s great to see him still at it. The movie is a lovely little effort, so be sure to check it out once you watch us discussing it…

Here now is my interview with Summering filmmaker James Ponsoldt. Enjoy:

Summering is in theaters now!

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Written by Joey Magidson

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