Get More Than You Bargained for with Miranda July’s New Bag

To be honest, I spend a lot of time thinking about the “curation” of the perfect bag. Given the responsibilities my job includes, I often find myself away from any kind of desk for hours on end, and, try as I might, somehow never quite have the bandaid/granola bar/Tylenol I need when I need it.

With The Miranda bag, a limited edition collaboration between Miranda July and  WELCOMECOMPANIONS, which debuted last night at Opening Ceremony in Los Angeles, some of the stress is eliminated thanks to a host of items Miranda has curated for you herself. The selection is a combination of the obviously practical and dramatically whimsical (a description many of us might apply to July and her work). These items range from a secret pocket for a $20 bill, because “robbers will never take the time to find it,” and an almond pocket–because of course–“always keep almonds on you, even just one could save you from a total low blood sugar spiral/crash/freakout” to Miranda’s multipurpose cards, available separately for $22. Example: “Let’s be honest, the conversation we are having right now is not that interesting for either of us. I suggest we shake hands and go find other people to talk to.” Sure, the bag is a casual $1725, but carrying Miranda July’s signature wit and of course preparedness (the bag also contains homeopathic stress remedies)—is obviously priceless.

Films Inspired By The Work Of J.D. Salinger

Today marks the release of Salinger, a documentary (which A.O. Scott says doesn’t qualify as such) about the author I am contractually obligated to describe as “famously reclusive.” It, and the massive new biography of the same name, represent  just the sort of invasion of privacy he’d deplore—but Salinger equally hated the idea of any adaptation of his fiction to the screen. Even without the rights to those beloved stories, however, filmmakers have found ways to inject his signature blend of sentimentality, idle wealth and acid wit into their movies.

 

Metropolitan (1990) 

Salinger had a way of making his stakes seem simultaneously sky-high and intimately scaled-down. In “For Esmé—with Love and Squalor,” he presents a tale of one girl’s loneliness alongside a critique of American postwar optimism. Likewise, Whit Stillman’s tale of Manhattan at the turn of a prosperous decade, featuring the bluebloods descended from Salinger’s, straddles the subjects of class, morality and tradition, lampooning the rich but not without pity, and managing a believable story of young courtship besides.  

 

 

Igby Goes Down (2002)

Easily wins the award for “most reviewers name-checking The Catcher in the Rye” of any film in the last twenty years, and rightly so. Just check out the IMDb description and see if this doesn’t sound familiar: “A young man’s peculiar upbringing renders him unable to competently cope with the struggle of growing up.” As the troubled Igby, Kieran Culkin must contend with an icy mother in Susan Sarandon as well as ridicule and ostracizing from his peers and the specter of an insane father figure whose footsteps he fears to follow in. The reality, of course, is much worse.  

 

Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) 

Miranda July’s directorial debut earns a spot on this list for two crucial reasons: there’s the nervous breakdown that sets the plot in motion (Salinger peppered such mental episodes throughout his fiction, often at the beginning or end of the action), and there are the supposedly naïve children whose innocence turns out to be a potent antidote for adult neurosis. That one character finds out she’s been carrying on an online affair with a child who seems to understand her more deeply than any man her own age makes us think old J.D. could have written a hell of a story about the Internet.  

 

Interiors (1978)

When Woody Allen set out to make a decidedly non-comedic film about a disintegrating WASP family, dimly lit with what appears to be only natural light, it had a lot of Ingmar Bergman to it. But with Allen a New Yorker, he couldn’t help but in some ways conjure Salinger’s iconic Glass family, with their suicide attempts and uneasy shifting of alliances. The author’s touch is especially evident in how the squabbling siblings can set their differences aside to savage an outsider brought into their midst. Allen even began to appear somewhat Salingereqsque himself during filming, increasingly unpredictable, testy and afraid that his movie would bomb (it was nominated for four Oscars).  

 

The Squid and the Whale (2005) 

Another bad New York family to be in, Noah Baumbach’s Berkmans are literary, smart, and utterly failing. Jeff Daniels, as the patriarch, is a novelist of squandered gifts, in a bitter rivalry with Laura Linney, his estranged wife, who is now publishing in the New Yorker (which ran most of Salinger’s short work after rejecting dozens of early manuscripts). But again, it’s the children who strike the most familiar chord, experiencing a pain so acute that grown-ups have forgotten what it’s like, lashing out in nonsensical, self-destructive ways, never quite sure what motivates their hopeless rage at the world.

   

Rushmore (1998) 

This feature wouldn’t be complete without a nod to boarding school culture, or Wes Anderson, for that matter, any of whose films might have qualified. Anderson clearly feels a resonance in Salinger’s work, and his prim sense of mise-en-scène often harks back to some classical postwar setting—just try to imagine the hotel room in “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” without using Anderson-brand pale yellow. Anyway, Max Fischer is an intelligent loser who is flunking out of his prep academy and pines after a woman twice his age. It was likely only the addition of Bill Murray that staved off an intellectual property lawsuit.    

 

 

Salinger Stats – The Catcher in the Rye

Copies of sold per year: 250,000
Sales to date: 65 million
Number of reprints: 8
Week on the New York Times Best Seller List: 30
Translations: The novel has been translated into almost all the word’s major languages
 

Would You Like to Receive Intimate Emails from Rodarte and Lena Dunham?

If eavesdropping on private emails from powerful people excites you, sign up for Miranda July’s new project, WE THINK ALONE. Commissioned by Magasin 3 Stockholm Kunsthall for its On the Tip of My Tongue exhibition, the intriguing initiative only exists in your inbox, where a themed email will be sent to you on each Monday between July 1 through November 11. By the end of the project, you’ll have collected ten candid notes from notables like Girls star Lena Dunham, Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy and NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  

"I’m always trying to get my friends to forward me emails they’ve sent to other people — to their mom, their boyfriend, their agent — the more mundane the better," the stylish actress/artist explains. "How they comport themselves in email is so intimate, almost obscene — a glimpse of them from their own point of view. WE THINK ALONE has given me the excuse to read my friends’ emails and the emails of some people I wish I was friends with and for better or worse it’s changed the way I see all of them. I think I really know them now."

In addition to the three mentioned collaborators, other email writers include actress Kirsten Dunst, Canadian writer Sheila Heti, Israeli writer Etgar Keret, American photographer Catherine Opie, Canadian-American theoretical physicist Lee Smolin and Danish-Vietnamese contemporary artist Danh Vo. 

Want in? Submit your email addy here now to receive the first note, which July reveals is "an email about money," on July 1st.

Hamish Linklater on Bonding with Miranda July, Visiting a Psychic, & Rihanna

Hamish Linklater was feeling talkative when I called him earlier this month, but I get the feeling he’s always feeling talkative. The 35-year-old actor was making the rounds to talk about his role in Miranda July’s The Future, in which he plays July’s very July-ian boyfriend Jason (they have matching haircuts). It was a role he says he “stalked” her for. After that, he segued directly into Peter Berg’s tiny movie about a battleship, and he’s currently starring in the Off-Broadway play School of Lies. Here are some entertaining and slightly off-beat tales from Linklater, who’d just returned from seeing a psychic when we spoke.

I heard you had a pretty emotional experience at the psychic. Yeah! It was such an actor morning because it was like, “Well, I’ll do therapy and then I’ll call the psychic and squish in a little voiceover audition in between.” That’s like your perfect morning. And then of course, I spend like two hours sobbing to the universe and the future, all those past lives. And then I’ve got to go say hi to magazines with my eyes all swollen up like I’ve been stung with bees.

Do you go to the psychic often? No! Certainly not, this was like my first time. I didn’t know how rewarding it would be. I’m turning 36 this year, so maybe that felt like I should find out if I’m going to die soon and get my affairs in order.

Well it seems like this is the perfect time for you to have been in The Future. Exactly! I texted Miranda before and was like, “I’m about to talk to the psychic in ten minutes,” and she’s like, “Where are you, can I come?!” and I was like, “No you can’t come, it’s mine!” and I was just like, “I’m just going to ask what The Future’s domestic box office will be and that’ll be it.” But that never came up, I totally forgot because it was more about me. She loves a good psychic, she’s an aficionado.

Did you take the cue from her to go? I think she was talking about it and it whetted my appetite.

What was your relationship with her prior to the film? Um, you know, sort of like avid rabid stalker fan to genius artist gorgeous lady. That was the relationship. When I heard about the script I told my agents I was going to fire them if they didn’t get it for me. It’s pretty bold, but I sent her a love letter, I sent her all this crazy material, I sent her chapters from my unfinished, unpublishable memoir, and then eventually wore her down, and she agreed to meet me for coffee, and then a month later an audition, and then years later she gave me the part. But it took a long time and all the effort I had in my body.

What did you like so much about her work? Because of the first movie and then her short stories, too. And also the script for The Future, it’s just really rare when you get a script with a voice that’s so clear, and you can, and it’s also very intimidating when the voice is so clear and you know how it’s supposed to sound and you can sort of see the scenes. You’re trying to figure out with a script like this how to be the silky glove that can fit on that kind of hand. It’s a very beautifully fingered hand. That’s a wonderful metaphor.

Was it difficult to be working with someone who’s the star of the film and also the director? Yeah, sometimes I would ask if she was off camera, I would be like, “You know what, can I just do the scene with the stand in instead,” because it’s a little hard looking at your director and writer, and boss ,and saying, “I love you so much,” We had this really long take where she was off to the side and it was like the very end of the movie, and she was like, “You just have to look at me with total openness and total giving of yourself and you just realized you really love me,” and I kept looking over and she’d be like, “Ugh, oh, ugh, no,” and you just see her face shrinking up.

What kind of things did you do together to bond? I took her to a Clippers game and made her eat a burrito, and we shouted at the players. It was so empty the players could really hear us. And she came to the playground once to hang out with me and my daughter, but I think that was a little sandier than she expected.

And you lost a bunch of weight to play the role? It was so funny, Miranda totally didn’t realize she kind of hired her male, but not more masculine, doppleganger. And then we were working on what we were going to do with my hair, and she was like, “Oh my god, I hired my twin all of a sudden! But I think that works, that works!” I went to a trainer and I tried to just get as close to twinning up with her as much as possible.

And you’re happy with how everything turned out, now that you’ve seen it? I’ve never been prouder, I can’t believe it; I can’t believe that she swooped down and picked me up and put me in this picture and it came out so beautifully.

How’s your experience with School for Lies been? Just great. It’s a really funny play, and it’s a really funny cast and we love each other a lot.

Tell me about your friendship with your costar Mamie Gummer. Awesome. I’ve basically been trying to get an invitation to her wedding, which she has been refusing to give me. So then I’ve been making her go out drinking every night to make her gain a lot of weight so she won’t fit into her wedding dress as my revenge. But now she’s finally relented and given me a ticket to the wedding, which I like to call a ticket instead of an invitation, and now I don’t know what to do. I’m going to have to change hats and turn into her personal trainer because she is not fitting into her dress in that condition. I need to cut her off from the booze, from the wings, from the pigs in a blanket.

How do you go from doing a film like The Future to doing a film like Battleship? Pete Berg, the director, is like one of the great directors of all time, so it was just awesome. It was three weeks of shooting a two hundred million dollar movie in Hawaii, which really doesn’t kill one’s soul as it turns out, it makes you feel kind of good. The way Pete works is so visceral. He came up as an actor and has worked in every department on a film set, and probably to be in the crew for Pete is not so awesome, because he’s always screaming, “You lazy bastards, faster, faster, these actors are in a zone you will never even approach,” which makes you feel like you should get in the zone too, as an actor. But then there’s like four cameras rolling and he’s screaming at you all the time, and it’s just like go, go, go, and it’s all just action.

How was working with Rihanna? I only had one day with her, and I think I made her laugh a couple of times. She’s pretty ferocious and gorgeous. I actually was so square that I had heard of Rihanna but I didn’t know her music or anything, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t terribly intimidated. Not knowing her or being a huge fan before, just sitting across from her, like just a stranger, like if she was on a subway and she was anonymous, she would be the person you would look at on the subway. She glows with some fierce mischievous beautifulness.

And did you have any other fun experiences on that set? I was the NASA guy, so I had huge amounts of exposition, so everyday it was like some new thing they had sort of Wikipedia’d the science of, and I would get this new mouthful of craziness each day. And Pete likes playing with the props, and the rain would come in and we’d be sitting in a jeep with the rain pounding down, and he’s playing with the shot gun and he’s like, “Let’s just run these new lines I just made up and every time you fuck up,” he would cock the shotgun.

So you liked the big budget? I’m just desperate for someone to hire me again.

And what do you do when you’re not working? Call your agent and say, “How is this happening? Isn’t there anything coming along?” And you pace and pace and you’re pretty much a miserable person to be around, but you spend time with your daughter and that’s pretty good.

After Making ‘The Future,’ Miranda July Considers Her Recent Past

In The Future’s opening sequence, we’re introduced to Paw-Paw, the shelter cat who narrates Miranda July’s second feature, the follow-up to her award-winning 2005 film, Me and You and Everyone We Know. In less skilled hands, a philosophizing feline (voiced by July herself) might seem too precious, but the 37-year-old filmmaker elevates the twee aspects of her film into a grandiose allegory for embracing the future, no matter what it might bring.

July also stars in her new movie as Sophie, a children’s dance teacher, who, along with her hapless boyfriend, Jason (Hamish Linklater), decides to turn off her laptop and open herself up to the outside world. When a series of events causes Sophie to take an immoral detour, the two young lovers call into question what they think they know about themselves, each other, and tomorrow.

Time has flown by for July—she’s written a collection of short stories, 2007’s No One Belongs Here More than You; created the collaborative sculptures that made up Eleven Heavy Things, which debuted at the 2009 Venice Biennale; and gotten married to acclaimed director Mike Mills—so we asked the auteur of The Future to write a brief essay taking stock of her recent past. —Nick Haramis

I flew to Boston yesterday. While I was waiting for the bathroom, I chatted with the woman standing next to me. She mentioned that she was an airplane crash survivor. It was a British Airways flight that crashed into Heathrow. I asked her if she was scared to fly and she said she figured that the odds of it happening twice were very low. For a little while this calmed my usual fear of flying, but then I wondered if the reverse could also be true: maybe the odds are greater if it’s already happened once, because who really knows how math works.

Two weeks ago, I got poison oak all over my legs. Instead of itching them, I lay in bed and imagined shooting them with a gun, or sawing them off and throwing them out the window, or having them gored by an animal with horns. This helped a little bit because it was like itching them with my mind. Since the mind has a very light touch, you have to go to extremes to feel anything at all. image

I’ve become more conscious of money lately, after not thinking about it for the last 37 years. In poor times and in flush times, my goal has always been to put a minimum of thought toward finances. I thought I would be this way my whole life, like it was a part of my artistic temperament. But, actually, I was just young.

I wonder what other things come from youngness and are almost over. This makes me hopeful. It reminds me of being almost an adult, being 18 or 19 and knowing that a new way of life was coming.

Sometimes I still get excited about the fact that I can buy anything I want at the grocery store, and no one can stop me. In truth, though, I stop myself. I am like a very unfun, controlling parent, almost as bad as my own. My reward for finishing my movie was supposed to be a box of Wheat Chex. I still haven’t made good on that—every time I go to get the Wheat Chex I end up reading the list of ingredients and being horrified by the high fructose corn syrup. I end up buying lesbian Kashi, or a bag of barley.

The upside to being this strict with myself is that when I go wild, it’s really, really fun. And my mind is blown very easily; just knowing that pot exists is kind of thrilling.

Good things: Lydia Davis (the writer); I have more women friends today than I did a year ago; I finished the movie and it got sold; Mike; good health so far.

Things to worry about: that I don’t have what it takes to write a novel; cancer; that I’m going to come off badly in all the press I’m doing now; that life might get boring.

That last one just popped out. I didn’t know I was worried about life being boring, but now that I mention it, I see that’s a big part of what propels me, every day. The fear of being bored. Why would this be? Was my childhood traumatically boring? If I explored this more, the meaning of boredom would probably expand into something more kaleidoscopically profound.

Must everything be explored until it gets profound? Maybe some things are better left shallow. Actually, this is definitely true. The phrase “heavy-handed” wouldn’t exist if there weren’t some things that required a lightness of thought. Thank god for those things. Along with being more aware of money, I’m going to be more light-handed with my mind’s hands, now that I’m 37. Except when I’m mentally itching my legs, which requires the heaviest of hands, even a weapon.

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Nicholas Hoult Covers BlackBook’s ‘Outsiders’ Issue, Feat. Odd Future, Ewan McGregor & More!

Tomorrow, British actor Nicholas Hoult’s pristine visage will sweep across movie screens worldwide as budding genius Hank McCoy in X-Men: First Class. But as every good fanboy and girl knows, Hoult will mutate before our eyes into the monstrous creature known as Beast (proof is in the trailers, kids). But before those lagoon-blue eyes and razor-edge cheekbones vanish under bytes of CGI and mounds of prosthetic fur, check out Hoult on the cover of our June/July Outsiders issue, looking every bit the dapper young man he’s become since first melting our hearts in 2002’s About a Boy. But that’s not all, folks.

Ewan McGregor, who’ll join Hoult in next summer’s fairy tale blockbuster Jack the Giant Killer, gives an astonishing performance in the familial drama Beginners, which opens tomorrow and you can read about here; The Tree of Life star Jessica Chastain, once a discovery waiting to happen, talks about the birth of her Hollywood career, here; Aaron Paul, back this summer as the drugged-out bad boy Jesse Pinkman in the fourth season of AMC’s smash hit Breaking Bad, proves just how grounded he is; With her latest turn in J.J. Abrams’ alien odyssey Super 8, Elle Fanning graduates straight to the A-List; Los Angeles-based rap collective Odd Future have been called every name in the book, but they’ll quickly prove that the labels just don’t fit (check it out here); After taking a deep, disarming gaze into The Future, filmmaker, author, and performance artist Miranda July considers her recent past; Errol Morris discusses the biggest outsiders of them all, tabloid celebrities; Hayley Atwell makes her blockbuster debut in Captain America: The First Avenger; Plus, we check in with The Lonely Island, Rose McGowan, Elijah Wood, Tyler Posey, Gina Carano, and more!

Object of My Affection: Miranda July

Miranda July is a Los Angeles-based performance artist, writer, actress and film director. Her 2005 feature, Me and You and Everyone We Know, won the Caméra d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Two years ago, she released No One Belongs Here More Than You, a best-selling collection of short stories. July recently completed Eleven Heavy Things, a series of sculptural, interactive works that will be shown at the Venice Biennale, which opens next month.

This is a picture taken by the artist Will Rogan. I first learned about Will’s work from another of my favorite artists, Harrell Fletcher. Then, a few years later, I met a man with blue eyes who invited me to a show of Will’s art. I was very impressed that he knew about Will, but I declined the invitation and told him I had a boyfriend. (It’s best to be clear about that sort of thing, or people can get the wrong idea.) A lot of Will’s work concerns circles of all sizes — meteors, loops and dots. I’m a big fan of the circle, too; I like it when things come around again. I finally met Will not too long ago. We talked about Harrell Fletcher and the blue-eyed man, who was by now my fiancé. A few days later, I got this photograph in the mail and hung it right away. I straighten it every few days, because nothing makes you seasick quicker than a crooked picture. Except the sea.

Photo by Amy Adrion.