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 (1986)

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.

Kung Fu Master! (1987)

100%

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

Television Academy versus biopic golden globes biography Captain marvel docudrama Reality Competition Writers Guild of America DC Comics blockbuster dc movies GoT The Purge kaiju The CW Schedule 4/20 99% rt labs Watching Series Cannes remakes Comedy Tomatazos diversity The Arrangement concert cartoon zombie women Mystery book worst movies hist Dark Horse Comics The Walking Dead Action hidden camera PBS Bravo Amazon Prime game show Lifetime Christmas movies ESPN BBC One Biopics ABC Crackle prank NBA Animation nbcuniversal sitcom stop motion deadpool Peacock WarnerMedia best composers Extras IFC Films rotten movies we love stand-up comedy Rock serial killer LGBT chucky Alien 2021 strong female leads RT21 Podcast FXX Comic Book japan joker Crunchyroll quibi spider-man BBC Amazon A24 medical drama Marvel Studios 2018 binge news Mary Poppins Returns Travel Channel Vudu space Turner Lifetime latino Disney Channel Film Festival Christmas Year in Review Rocketman ratings finale Super Bowl marvel comics USA Network anthology Rocky Pacific Islander sequel asian-american rotten spanish Apple TV+ Acorn TV BET Awards richard e. Grant OneApp Funimation free movies know your critic ABC Family TV One wonder woman Shudder Pride Month SundanceTV Adult Swim slashers American Society of Cinematographers Polls and Games Star Wars sag awards game of thrones dragons Amazon Studios History cancelled television YouTube Red Summer king arthur TruTV Columbia Pictures theme song black toy story IFC Amazon Prime Video award winner Film DGA RT History docuseries San Diego Comic-Con Netflix Christmas movies marvel cinematic universe Epix crime drama pirates of the caribbean saw feel good documentaries festival See It Skip It CW Seed Fall TV laika universal monsters DC streaming service Warner Bros. CBS All Access Election kids hollywood comics Trivia international Sundance TV political drama book adaptation romantic comedy directors ID 2019 Star Trek Black History Month foreign Pet Sematary cinemax DC Universe rt archives TCM Valentine's Day Fantasy VH1 mockumentary canceled Nickelodeon Comics on TV adventure suspense The Academy dexter fast and furious canceled TV shows Superheroe TV movies Infographic nature spinoff casting President fresh indie what to watch Hallmark Christmas movies parents festivals FOX screenings Fox Searchlight VICE independent Song of Ice and Fire mcc robots slasher criterion Rom-Com comic TV Land batman superman Superheroes adenture Winners Reality boxoffice BAFTA animated sports razzies toronto sequels 45 thriller dramedy television Certified Fresh Britbox dceu emmy awards nfl basketball franchise reviews Awards Tour police drama MSNBC Esquire crime TNT mutant classics Brie Larson true crime Grammys movie streaming movies crossover Baby Yoda The Witch Wes Anderson Freeform 007 TIFF social media Video Games PlayStation superhero twilight Spike Endgame tv talk Thanksgiving Trailer Television Critics Association Food Network Avengers godzilla APB spain justice league trailers heist movie GLAAD south america new star wars movies kong Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Pop Discovery Channel psychological thriller Black Mirror AMC New York Comic Con lord of the rings 20th Century Fox Legendary Musicals rom-coms children's TV scary movies Creative Arts Emmys El Rey based on movie YouTube Heroines spy thriller Holidays Disney Plus 71st Emmy Awards TCA Winter 2020 LGBTQ psycho Sony Pictures CBS ghosts stoner critic resources jamie lee curtis Toys Universal olympics popular Starz zero dark thirty high school teaser Turner Classic Movies YouTube Premium 2016 PaleyFest TCA royal family 2015 unscripted Drama Paramount Plus Opinion venice comic book movie Pop TV Chernobyl Western Anna Paquin cults Women's History Month NBC A&E name the review 72 Emmy Awards action-comedy series Emmy Nominations historical drama 73rd Emmy Awards science fiction Comic-Con@Home 2021 japanese TBS comic books singing competition ITV Elton John Nat Geo werewolf Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Spectrum Originals Trophy Talk comiccon aliens Family Spring TV 90s NYCC obituary Countdown scene in color discovery adaptation crime thriller Sci-Fi Music Broadway YA witnail Arrowverse Fox News Lucasfilm Exclusive Video ABC Signature Showtime Ovation young adult Ellie Kemper romance worst cancelled TV series Calendar SXSW dogs monster movies SDCC Photos TLC period drama new york TCA Awards Best and Worst Martial Arts First Reviews revenge Kids & Family indiana jones Marathons Mudbound Cosplay archives facebook Hallmark streaming blockbusters Walt Disney Pictures dark halloween tv Mindy Kaling Tokyo Olympics hispanic heritage month posters cancelled Pixar DirecTV travel Set visit TV Cartoon Network Hear Us Out Winter TV 2017 VOD satire HBO Go legend cancelled TV shows cooking blaxploitation Quiz scorecard football all-time politics supernatural james bond Interview telelvision Disney Horror Country golden globe awards mission: impossible Red Carpet disaster critics First Look Nominations renewed TV shows films halloween christmas movies talk show Musical boxing Disney+ Disney Plus CMT FX target Teen X-Men Pirates elevated horror cats Classic Film a nightmare on elm street Masterpiece video on demand 1990s hispanic anime Mary poppins australia USA Shondaland ViacomCBS TCA 2017 The Walt Disney Company debate harry potter war Syfy miniseries king kong 21st Century Fox Mary Tyler Moore cops documentary Logo Netflix Marvel 24 frames BBC America french comic book movies Comedy Central Lionsgate child's play breaking bad Box Office new zealand Paramount Network Sundance Apple spanish language Disney streaming service zombies rt labs critics edition HBO reboot technology Tubi CNN Holiday aapi E! MCU Ghostbusters Stephen King green book die hard HBO Max Sundance Now jurassic park comedies doctor who cars transformers Hulu National Geographic GIFs live action Image Comics Awards Marvel Television Binge Guide Apple TV Plus Character Guide Tumblr Emmys OWN vampires Academy Awards Premiere Dates video Oscars italian Paramount gangster FX on Hulu MTV 93rd Oscars TV renewals 2020 BET Tarantino Sneak Peek WGN screen actors guild E3 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards natural history