‘Spectacular Now’ Director James Ponsoldt Drawn to Complex Themes

‘Spectacular Now’ Director James Ponsoldt Drawn to Complex Themes
Writer-director James Ponsoldt appreciates real damage.

He’s not a fan of what he sees as the safe and easy emotional problems that Hollywood movies typically resolve by the third act. Instead, he prefers the kinds of ugly, messy traumas that endure, whether it’s the legacy of alcoholism in his latest feature “The Spectacular Now” (debuting Aug. 2) or a high-school shooting in his upcoming adaptation of “Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock” (by “Silver Linings Playbook” author Matthew Quick) or the travails of an aspiring female politician in “Rodham,” about the early years of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I do believe everyone has their own scar tissue, and I’m interested in that,” says the 34-year-old filmmaker, who recently adapted and will direct “Pure,” based on Julianna Baggott’s dystopian sci-fi novel for Fox 2000; and is adapting the Broadway musical “Pippin” for the Weinstein Co.

A graduate of Yale, where his thesis
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