Mike Mills is passionate about children, and those children affect his work, too. His 2012 film “Beginners” followed the experience of a man who discovers his father is gay and starts an act of love for his son. He followed it up with his Oscar-nominated screenplay for “20th Century Women” that features a teenage boy adjusting to life as a man with new breasts.
“The scripts I like are like two movie-going moments, in a sense,” he says. “One is the movie itself — where the story is happening. The other is how it makes me feel. It’s like a sense of observation that these things are the way they are. And I’ve tried to imitate, like a manic scavenger finder, the behavior that comes out when the viewer appreciates those things.”
In “C’mon C’mon,” Mills brought all those elements together. It follows Randy (Phoenix), a struggling New York rap artist who is getting eaten alive by this life. Each day, his ex-girlfriend helps him avoid paying alimony for the six years he was out of the picture.
“I am fascinated by how people cope with shitty conditions in life,” Mills says. “I do think that it’s very interesting when you consider if the best way of coping with that kind of thing is to run away and then go to a better place, or to face the situation and move forward. If you want to call that a strong vision of the world, it’s a really interesting question because as I mention in the film, life is harsh and there’s an amazing amount of resilience. That’s something I think all of us who study art should really understand better.”
Mills and Phoenix sat down with the Post for a sit-down about authenticity and the new movie.