I first fell in love with Miranda July’s work with her strange, wild, poignant short stories; her stories led me to her novel and first two feature films, which I watch so often that they have over time become spiritual comforts. In late 2019, I was staying in the guesthouse of a Benedictine abbey in wintry Connecticut, feeling like an alien fumbling around on a planet distant from my own. I am not Catholic—I am not even religious—but every day I went to Mass in the morning and vespers at twilight, and during the daylight hours between the services, I worked beside the nuns out in the November cold, splitting wood with sledgehammers and wedges or yanking tomato cages from the beds of dead plants. At night, frozen to my marrow, I fell into my bed to read a book or to rewatch July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005). Maybe it was because the abbey is a place of ritual and song and vast and openhearted generosity—maybe because July, who also acts in the film, has a face with the intense radiance of a medieval saint, all carved ivory and lapis lazuli—but it was only there, surrounded by plainchant and prayers, that I saw for the first time how carefully this astonishing film had been built around the characters’ longing for a sort of radical, near religious, and ungraspable vulnerability.
“In the world of the film, only those at the beginning and end of life inhabit a sort of genuine openness.”
“The recurrent motif of all this longing and vulnerability in the story is the color pink; once you look for pink in the film, you see it everywhere.”
Mean Streets: Rites of Passage
Martin Scorsese’s breakthrough feature—a rare example of a work of personal cinema with broad popular appeal—delivers all the elements of his future career in one spectacular, bravura throw-down.
Bugs Bunny in the Shaolin Temple
In a string of wildly entertaining films released between the late seventies and the mideighties, Jackie Chan paved the way to his international stardom by turning himself into a real-life cartoon character.
Nanny: Troubled Water
With the full force of her imagination, director Nikyatu Jusu examines the complicated nature of Black motherhood, as well as the importance of Black communion as an antidote to racial oppression.
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