Mike Mills' blog of
the film Beginners.

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Some of the Paintings in our film

We were so very lucky to get to shoot some scenes at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – so important to me because my father really was the director of the Oakland and then the Santa Barbara Museums and I wanted to get it right. As my father was in many ways a good modernist, it was especially meaningful to me that our actors got to “interact” with David Smith’s amazing “Cubi XXIII” sculpture, walk past an enormous and gorgeous Clyfford Still “1955-H” (crazily, the same year my parents got married), and even beautiful Phillip Guston and William DeKooning works can be seen. But perhaps the most meaningful is the scene where our characters approach David Park’s painting “Two Women” from 1957. My father knew David Park, wrote a book about him, and organized the first “Bay Area Figurative Show” which was the beginning of a movement that rejected the abstract expressionism you see in Clyfford Still’s painting for a more humble, prosaic, and quotidian subject matter of which Mr. Park was perhaps the leader. As the painting is from right when my father and he were working together, he had to have interacted with it, perhaps even seen Mr. Park work on it. So, you can imagine how slightly magical and just spiritually appropriate it was to shoot in front of this painting. In preparing this entry, I looked up my dad and David Park, and found some recordings of him talking about Mr. Park’s work – oh so spooky and strange to push the play button on that and hear his voice again. To be honest his voice sounds a little compressed or something, not quite like him, but that’s him for sure – very strange.

Here are a couple of videos of my father talking about Mr. Park and the Bay Area Figurative scene. What an articulate man my dad was.

Rejection of Abstract Expressionism

David Park’s Figurative Work

And my father’s book on Mr. Park: The New Figurative Art of David Park.


Mr. Woody Allen

1971 Interview

Oh, in so many ways Mr. Allen has shown me so many things. He did this mostly between 1977 and let’s say 1987, with Annie Hall and Stardust Memories and Manhattan, but how can one leave out Purple Rose of Cairo and Broadway Danny Rose and Zelig and on and on. I found this interview a while ago, and it reminded me of how subversive he could be. There is a delightful and refreshing insolence to this interview – I loved that about him.

And for those of you who love Godard and Woody, here is a very strange little piece Mr. Godard did about Mr. Allen, I think for European TV. I mean, have you seen anything this strange and tension-filled and utterly curious with any contemporary filmmakers?




Dear Strangers, now in NY and starting this Friday in Los Angeles, there is out in the world and our collective consciousness an extremely brave and subtle and mysterious film that I find wonderfully, life-affirmingly hard to describe: I think it’s about hope and fear, all the things we desire but don’t believe we can have and all the monsters these contradictions make inside ourselves –  interior monsters that sometimes come out and run around in our worlds. A film that’s delightfully not afraid to reach beyond what is “possible” in the world, deftly combining things so real and things so otherworldly that it makes one wonder how solid those categories ever were. Beyond being my dear wife, MJ is one of most brave and singular and funny and utterly surprising filmmakers there is. After LA is added to NYC this weekend it will work its way out into the world from there. Run, don’t walk; support small films on their opening weekends because those weekends kind of determine their fate! But most of all enjoy a voice that is just so other from what our entertainment industry provides!