Miranda July Is Totally Not Kidding

Mag-17July-t_CA1-articleLarge Katrina Onstad in the NYT Magazine:

Miranda July stood in her living room in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, apologizing for the sunflowers. It really was a copious amount of sunflowers.

They sprouted from Mason jars and vases, punctuating the austere, Shaker-like furniture in the sunny home that July, who is 37, shares with her husband, the filmmaker Mike Mills, who’s 45. Noticing me noticing the sunflowers, she interjected: “We just had a party. We don’t usually have sunflowers everywhere.”

In person, July was very still, with ringlets of curly hair falling over her wide blue eyes like a protective visor, and she seemed perceptively aware of the “precious” label that is often attached both to her and to her work. At a different point in our time together, I followed her into a hotel room in San Francisco, where Mills had left her a knitted octopus wearing a scarf and hat on the couch. She laughed when she saw it but also appeared a bit mortified: “Oh, God,” she said. “It’s kind of a joke. . . . It’s not. . . . Really, this isn’t us at all.”

At their house, Mills emerged from his office; in contrast to July’s measured composure, Mills seemed in constant motion, often running his hands through his Beethoven hair. Both he and July have directed new films being released this summer. His film, “Beginners,” is loosely based on the true story of his father’s coming out at age 75. July’s film, “The Future,” is her second feature as a director, and it’s a funny, sad portrait of a couple at a crossroads. Sophie, played by July, works at a children’s dance school, and Jason, played by Hamish Linklater, provides tech-support by telephone from their sofa. The couple is weeks away from adopting Paw-Paw, an injured cat and a symbol of impending adulthood who is also the film’s narrator. A talking cat is exactly the kind of detail that might endear people who are endeared by Miranda July and infuriate people who are infuriated by her. There are plenty of both.