Page 2 October 1, 2020
Miranda July’s Kajillionaire Sees
Scammers Longing For Connection
Morgan Rojas for Cinemacy.com
I couldn’t believe that I was going to miss the
world premiere screening of Kajillionaire while
I was at Sundance earlier this year. I caught the
flu the night before and was physically unable
to move, bedridden and devastated to miss this
once in a lifetime event. After all, Miranda July
is one of my favorite filmmakers and I cursed
the cruel irony of skipping the only film that I
had really wanted to see at the festival. Fastforward
nine months (and a lot of unexpected
life changes later), I finally saw Kajillionaire, and
honestly, the timing couldn’t have been better.
Writer/Director Miranda July is known for her
charmingly original stories about relationships
and this one is no different. In Kajillionaire, a
family of Los Angeles-based con artists Robert
(Richard Jenkins), Theresa (Debra Winger), and
their daughter, Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood),
makes a life for themselves by stealing from a
society they claim is phony and foolish. During
one desperate “Get Rich Quick” scheme, the
family befriends Melanie (Gina Rodriguez),
a single woman who doesn’t hesitate to help
them with their next scam. However, the trust
between them gets tested after a couple of
shady encounters cause Old Dolio to question
her allegiance to her family and the life she
thought was predetermined for her.
A good film will always have these three
qualities: a strong directorial voice, a clear and
coherent script, and a solid cast. Kajillionaire
has all of these and then some. Miranda July’s
deeply felt and visionary style is undeniable
with its ethereal, yet down to earth charm.
July’s tender feelings seep onto the screen,
creating a universally emotional bond between
the filmmaker and her audience. For as unlikable
as their characters’ actions are, Richard
Jenkins and Debra Winger play Robert and
Theresa with a sense of compassion that makes
us pity them rather than despise them. Gina
Rodriguez gives a complex performance as
Melanie, peeling away more layers as the film
progresses. But hands down, it’s Evan Rachel
Wood who steals the show as the totally awkward,
extremely guarded Old Dolio, a young
woman who ultimately just wants to be loved.
At its core, Kajillionaire is a film about lonely
people slowly letting down their guard to accept
the gift of human connection. Now more
than ever, at a time when human connection
is met with a risk warning, this arthouse indie
comedy feels like a warm, much-needed hug.
Distributed by Focus Features, Kajillionaire
is now playing in select AMC and Landmark
Kajillionaire, courtesy Focus Features.
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Your Neighborhood Therapist
Dear Neighborhood Therapist,
Maybe I spend too much time on social
media, but I’ve been so worked up over the
election lately that I’ve been losing sleep. I’ve
gotten into angry Facebook arguments with
relatives and friends. I cannot believe they
are going to vote for their candidate and I
just cannot reconcile it with what I believe.
How am I supposed to feel about this? I feel
like I can’t even talk to them.
- Election Stressed, El Segundo
Dear Election Stressed,
I agree with your politics. I’m not a bothsides
person who believes that both parties have
a point by virtue of seeing things differently.
I’m not a person who believes that both sides
operate in good faith all the time. But I edited
out the name of the politician you mentioned
because there’s a bigger point: every four years
it seems we elevate people’s political positions
above their positions as people.
I think that’s a big mistake.
I don’t want to minimize the importance of
what is at stake for anyone. If you come from
a group that has been historically subject to
power, instead of a group that is in power,
you may well feel that your very survival
depends on a certain electoral outcome. I’m
not going to disagree with you.
Most of us are daughters, sons, mothers,
fathers, sisters, brothers, coworkers, friends,
neighbors, teachers, students; we are the person
who stops at the crosswalk; the person
who arranges your flowers; fixes your bike;
we are all of these things before we’re any
political party or set of beliefs.
This is why I urge us all to fight the systems
that drive us apart, and not each other.
We care for each other in so many ways that
are unconnected to our politics. We are so
much before we are our political identity.
Everyone grieves at the loss of a parent.
See Therapist, page 7
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UNITED WE STOOD
I’d look up at the flag as a young boy,
And it would bring me nothing but joy.
The son of a soldier who fought for this land,
I felt such pride hearing “United We Stand.”
I look up now and what do I see,
Red, White and Blue looks different to me.
Not in a bad way but we have changed,
Like our morals and values have been rearranged.
The biggest division ever between left and right,
But we are all Americans, black, brown and white.
Can we get back to coming together?
Or will we fight like this forever?
Im not naive, it will be tough.
But at some point, enough is enough.
There’s never been a time where we all have to agree,
But this is supposed to be the land of the free.
If we are not careful we will succumb to disorder,
And our biggest threat will be division within our borders.
Believe your beliefs but do not spread hate,
After all, this country was built on healthy debate.
Republican or Democrat it’s still supposed to be one team,
Fighting to protect the American Dream.
Let’s fight together to try and do good,
Or else one day we will look back and say, “United We Stood.”
Ryan McCarney, South Bay Resident