Five Favorite Films

Miranda July's Five Favorite Films

The writer-director of Kajillionaire talks about making up worlds, female filmmaking, and Helena Bonham Carter hair.

by | September 25, 2020 | Comments

Miranda July

(Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images)

Through films like Me and You and Everyone We Know and The Future, director and artist Miranda July has created a signature visual and storytelling style that sets her apart. No one can make a better Miranda July movie than July herself. Whether it’s the off-beat characters or the imaginative situations and the awkward conversations they find themselves in, July gives audiences a different perspective on familiar subjects, taking them along for a ride full of surprises and musings.

July’s latest film, Kajillionaire, is yet another creative adventure into her imagination. The movie follows a family of oddball scammers played by Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins, and Debra Winger who live scraping by on low-stakes schemes. On one of their more ambitious plots, they pick up a newcomer played by Gina Rodriguez who has a few ideas of her own and disrupts the trio’s usual rhythms, prompting some uncomfortable questions about love and family.

Ahead of Kajillionaire’s release, July spoke with Rotten Tomatoes about five of her go-to movies from her childhood and beyond that have had an influence on her work. The movie will open in theaters on Friday, September 25, 2020.


Somewhere in Time (1980)

61%

Sometimes, I like to mention Somewhere in Time because it’s definitely not a good movie in terms of quality, but it had such an influence on me at such a young age. It’s about time travel, starring Christopher Reeves. I think, you know, as a little kid, the idea of entering other dimensions or time travel, it’s almost like that’s a stand-in for being an artist. Like, you’re not yet old enough to conceive of the life you might have as an artist, but time travel implies the magical thing you might want to do through your work. I didn’t end up becoming a time traveler, but I did end up making worlds.

A Room With a View (1985)

100%

When I was a little bit older, I saw A Room with a View, and that was the movie that made me fall in love with love –– the idea of romance. I wasn’t yet having romances of my own, but I think I just spent a whole summer kind of walking around in a dreamy trance hoping that I could have hair like Helena Bonham Carter.

Toni Erdmann (2016)

93%

More recently, [I’ve enjoyed] Maren Ade’s movie, Toni Erdmann. She’s someone I met in Berlin when I was there, I guess when I was there finishing The Future, because I did my post in Berlin. I knew her and I remember her visiting me actually in L.A. and telling me about this movie and about this father. I always keep in mind how — it’s not that she was insecure; she’s a very competent filmmaker — but when she described the movie, it was years from being done, and it then ended up being such a knockout. I mean really one of the best I’ve ever seen. That’s sort of encouraging me to remember, “Oh yeah, every movie before it’s made seemed kind of unwise or unlikely.”

Another one from my childhood, or like from my teen years, is Sex, Lies and Videotape. It’s funny — teenage girls are not exactly the target audience there, but I think one of the things I really like that drew me in was the movies within the movies, which are women talking about sex directly to the camera. I think even though these are not independent feminist art projects, I saw them in that way. Within the narrative of the movie, they’re tools for this man to get off. It was only a few years later that I would start this underground distribution network for women filmmakers called Joanie for Jackie, and in some ways I think those videos would have been good movies for Joanie for Jackie. Of course, they’re not actually made by women, but I guess it sort of proves that if you’re desperate enough for female filmmaking, you can find it even within that Steven Soderbergh movie.

Agnès Varda’s movie Le Petit Amour, or Kung Fu Master! as it’s called in the U.S., was a movie that I saw before I started writing my first feature Me and You and Everyone We Know. It centers on this really unlikely romance between a 14-year-old boy and a 40-year-old woman, and in a very French way that I don’t think she actually got away with even in France, but I remember taking it on as a challenge: How unlikely a couple could you make? It led me down the path of being interested in what was romance or sexuality from a little child’s point of view. Was there a way, with tenderness, to safely explore that because I’m sort of always interested in the personhood of children and their autonomy. So that led to a storyline in Me and You and Everyone We Know.


Monica Castillo for Rotten Tomatoes: The world of Kajillionaire is so distinctive. How did you come up with the idea of a family of misfit outsiders who live in a place devoid of touch and emotional connection?

Miranda July: Well, this is the first movie I’ve made as both a mother and a daughter. I think I was thinking a lot about birth and rebirth and parenting and reparenting. It’s a very heightened world, but I think I was hoping to describe how families are kind of cult-like and how the children have to ultimately betray the cult of the family, rebel against it, and in a way how heartbreaking that is. It’s extra painful for Old Dolio [Evan Rachel Wood’s character] because it’s all she knows, nothing else. That’s where I was coming from.


Kajillionaire is in select theaters on September 25, 2020 and available to pre-order on FandangoNOW.

Thumbnail image: Cinecom International courtesy Everett Collection, ©Sony Pictures Classics, Outlaw Productions, ©Expanded Entertainment courtesy Everett Collection

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

Calendar Turner Classic Movies Starz dceu Amazon Prime screen actors guild Universal name the review ABC Signature transformers Best and Worst casting DirecTV Binge Guide 2017 new york critics franchise YouTube Red television Peacock rotten Masterpiece kaiju binge Paramount Network Trophy Talk finale hist kids New York Comic Con APB anime screenings BET Awards Hulu Red Carpet Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt MCU witnail Pet Sematary National Geographic TV movies SDCC Freeform Star Trek new star wars movies HBO Go Martial Arts Comics on TV directors boxoffice DC Comics sequel CW Seed dogs Nat Geo 99% Election Syfy comic books stop motion Mudbound Mary Poppins Returns Sundance Now Tubi TCM Amazon game show latino robots American Society of Cinematographers Logo Disney streaming service kong Women's History Month MSNBC news Marvel 93rd Oscars NBC Emmy Nominations LGBT crime drama Television Academy miniseries canceled TV shows Comedy Central CBS All Access President TCA 2017 fast and furious IFC Certified Fresh TCA Winter 2020 award winner Crackle Action Valentine's Day 2018 cinemax Elton John sag awards spinoff politics Teen canceled Western Amazon Prime Video Brie Larson composers reviews indiana jones batman Crunchyroll CMT festival Discovery Channel Country Star Wars Funimation international concert space ESPN Chernobyl animated unscripted Grammys Ghostbusters Pop adaptation aliens Polls and Games Image Comics hidden camera south america See It Skip It Baby Yoda Cosplay black 2019 australia Ellie Kemper cartoon FX on Hulu Reality sequels 24 frames zero dark thirty VOD Paramount Plus Adult Swim serial killer women singing competition Video Games thriller 20th Century Fox Netflix cancelled TV shows science fiction Film Festival documentaries strong female leads christmas movies target USA DC streaming service USA Network Shondaland teaser RT History Awards Tour golden globes based on movie political drama james bond aapi Nickelodeon First Reviews twilight FX classics VH1 Tomatazos films Ovation Columbia Pictures BBC America 2015 slashers blockbusters El Rey Black Mirror renewed TV shows E! pirates of the caribbean ghosts criterion Fox News video on demand quibi Film supernatural venice CBS Christmas The Walt Disney Company reboot trailers Amazon Studios TIFF superman Apple TV Plus Oscars Marvel Studios BET Lucasfilm YA Schedule Hallmark prank jurassic park richard e. Grant zombies Television Critics Association X-Men stand-up comedy TV One Rocky Rocketman 4/20 best Disney Nominations Mary Tyler Moore justice league disaster rt archives Year in Review parents Academy Awards Reality Competition toronto 2020 sitcom golden globe awards Broadway cancelled Summer Mystery 2016 war revenge spanish know your critic jamie lee curtis dc TV Land dragons Epix 45 natural history lord of the rings Pride Month superhero ratings Trailer Winners Stephen King ABC 71st Emmy Awards psycho TruTV Bravo cancelled TV series discovery Acorn TV Avengers Lionsgate toy story versus green book Opinion zombie OWN halloween tv japanese Apple satire telelvision cults streaming Pixar Premiere Dates comic dark Alien rom-coms Showtime Heroines technology Pacific Islander Paramount festivals comics scorecard series Hear Us Out child's play Tarantino new zealand period drama Esquire Food Network Podcast Set visit Comic Book psychological thriller SundanceTV asian-american werewolf Comedy nfl book adaptation biography a nightmare on elm street facebook archives breaking bad nbcuniversal TV renewals RT21 blaxploitation Disney Channel ABC Family Netflix Christmas movies stoner Writers Guild of America Rock Britbox Sundance TV Sneak Peek FOX HBO dramedy A&E police drama Turner cars halloween obituary The Witch E3 mockumentary spain Vudu Emmys Thanksgiving NYCC TNT comiccon football Sony Pictures Exclusive Video 72 Emmy Awards independent Spike Awards Chilling Adventures of Sabrina saw universal monsters PlayStation Drama Cannes Captain marvel high school Fantasy theme song WGN WarnerMedia YouTube Apple TV+ Tumblr Interview hispanic cops TCA Endgame Holiday GoT Music crime The Walking Dead spy thriller ITV live action chucky TV tv talk mutant cancelled television movie Pop TV Rom-Com video medical drama indie OneApp Holidays heist movie historical drama game of thrones die hard Anna Paquin Horror 21st Century Fox PBS SXSW talk show Musical A24 Quiz comedies Superheroe BBC IFC Films ViacomCBS docuseries laika Superheroes Mindy Kaling monster movies Marvel Television remakes diversity what to watch First Look Sundance worst movies cats Super Bowl Dark Horse Comics AMC book cooking adventure Spectrum Originals The Arrangement 007 Mary poppins Lifetime Christmas movies Extras spider-man Legendary razzies Disney Plus rotten movies we love scene in color social media Shudder Black History Month french popular BAFTA marvel cinematic universe anthology harry potter YouTube Premium nature Winter TV HBO Max TLC vampires doctor who GIFs CNN Animation Sci-Fi Lifetime Travel Channel godzilla movies travel deadpool fresh Spring TV Hallmark Christmas movies Countdown crossover Kids & Family GLAAD blockbuster worst boxing Trivia DC Universe Fall TV romance Family The Purge Photos Warner Bros. VICE Fox Searchlight children's TV 2021 Pirates sports scary movies Disney+ Disney Plus FXX Musicals Walt Disney Pictures crime thriller BBC One PaleyFest San Diego Comic-Con Cartoon Network Classic Film Arrowverse docudrama History DGA emmy awards free movies king kong all-time MTV 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards mission: impossible Box Office italian Marathons hollywood Biopics foreign Creative Arts Emmys LGBTQ Watching Series true crime The CW Song of Ice and Fire The Academy joker streaming movies Character Guide documentary ID romantic comedy TBS TCA Awards spanish language Toys elevated horror Infographic