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.”
Devi: Seeing and Believing
Considered his first directly political film, Satyajit Ray’s 1960 masterpiece explores how the denial of self-knowledge, a void neither religion nor Western rationalism can fill, takes a toll on women in Indian society.
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