“Los Angeles is just Detroit by the ocean.” – A Wise Man
In such not normal times, chances are that you are too busy watching John from Cincinnati on HBO, or binging on 25 other shows, to even realize that new films are actually being released, the latter hoping to make you shake loose some of those pandemic savings and plunk down for a looksy. To wit, the upcoming new Miranda July directed flick, intriguingly titled Kajillionaire (which has a theatrical release date of September 18).
The first trailer has arrived, and it kicks off in Detroit…we mean Los Angeles. We can tell where we are by those famously washed out California colors: the public buses are a lovely shade of orange, the buildings are a shade of aquamarine stolen right off of J. Mascis’s Jazzmaster. You are wearing blue and the Germans are wearing grey.
Speaking of which, one of the first comments we saw about this trailer on the film’s site was “BEN” from Orange County, who screamed all in caps : “WHAT THE FUCK DID THEY DO TO ERW’S HAIR?”
(Full disclosure, when we first saw all those guys referring to ERW online, we started scouring Urban Dictionary trying to figure out what an ERW was. When we finally figured out it’s shorthand for Evan Rachel Wood, we proceeded to LOFAO. So we are going to follow their lead and refer to her henceforth as ERW.)
Director Miranda July (left) and actor Evan Rachel Wood (right) on the set of Kajillionaire, a Focus Features release. Credit : Matt Kennedy / Focus Features
And indeed, ERW is sporting one of those hairstyles favored generally by one of the offbeat denizens of Wes Anderson films, or maybe someone out of a 1950’s Driver’s Ed instructional. Her weirdo hair is complemented by another of our favorite offbeat movie tropes, the Catholic School Girl uniform. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, you, dear friends, are in for some quirk.
Then quicker than you can say “Parker Posey,” there is a flash card which reminds us we are watching a new comedy from indie darling Miranda July. (Sundance! Cannes! Montclair! Exclamation!) And before we get too distracted by ERW’s hair, or revisiting Miranda’s IMDB page, we get the unmistakable voice of Richard Jenkins monologging:
“Most people want to be Kajillionaires, that’s the dream, that’s how they get you hooked, hooked on sugar, hooked on caffeine, hahaha, cry, cry, cry. Me, I prefer to just skim.”
Richard Jenkins has one of those wonderful voices that we all recognize. He’s the dad in about half a dozen quirky indie movies. He dresses like a dad. Hell, he has probably been playing a dad since he was doing Our Town Jr. in high school. Guess what he plays here? A dad.
Then we have Debra Winger, who like ERW has been given a very unfortunate haircut. Still, we managed to recognize her under all that character dressing due to our once non-stop viewing of An Officer and a Gentleman every time it was on cable.
Gina Rodriguez (left) stars as “Melanie” and Evan Rachel Wood (right) stars as “Old Dolio Dyne” in director Miranda July’s Kajillionaire, a Focus Features release. Credit : Matt Kennedy / Focus Features
After doing some fancy acrobatics to avoid detection by our nation’s eagle-eyed postal service workers, we see ERW robbing P.O. boxes. Jenkins continues to monologue, telling us about ERW: How she was “raised to hustle,” how “she learned to forage before she learned to write.” He then passes the expository baton over to Gina (Jane the Virgin) Rodriguez.
It’s Rodriguez’ Melanie who gives this crew a bit of much needed normalcy. July has allowed her to have a regular haircut, and dress in age appropriate clothes. Judging by all the different montages Melanie and ERW’s character Old Dolio have, she seems to have been put on this earth with one purpose: to become OD’s new bestie (we’ve just switched over from ERW to OD), and help her escape her overbearing grifter parents.
Meanwhile Debra Winger’s Teresa seems to be channeling Margot Kidder to the point that she should be expecting a cease and desist order from the latter’s estate.
“You want us to be false fake people. We aren’t a normal family, we don’t make pancakes, wrap up little presents or call you sweetheart or baby,” she informs OD.
We thought this would, in non-pandemic times, be the perfect film to be watching on a Saturday afternoon at the Angelika, whilst eating Chinese food out of a carton. And, certainly, wondering how much time Miranda July has spent with the work of the Coens, Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson (that’s a compliment, btw).
So what is the final rub on Kajillionaire for all those not possessing of a Master’s Degree in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research? We defer to one of the many ERW fans who posted comments on the aforementioned message board:
“Evan Rachel Wood brought me here, but this trailer makes me really want to see this freaking movie!”
We would have said it if he hadn’t.
Director Miranda July on the set of Kajillionaire, a Focus Features release. Credit : Matt Kennedy / Focus Features