Oct 2, 2011

LFF 2011: The Future

Dir: Miranda July
Miranda July is a conceptual performance artist. Yes, this is going to hurt. Following on from insufferably twee sounding art projects like Things We Don’t Understand and Definitely are Not Going To Talk About and her insufferably twee feature dĂ©but Me and You and Everyone We Know (whose most memorable storyline featured a six year old boy talking to a woman in a chatroom about his fantasy of 'pooping back and forth, forever'... yes, I'll excuse you while you go and vomit) July has returned with this, her second feature film as writer and director. Guess what? It's twee, and insufferable.

The Future is about Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater); a doppelgänger couple who have decided to adopt an injured kitten they have named Paw Paw, however, they can't take Paw Paw home until his paw heals, in a month. So, entirely logically, they both quit their jobs and decide to do what they want with 'their last month of freedom'. Jason joins a group going door to door selling trees, while Sophie decides to make 30 youtube videos of 30 dances. Eventually, bored, Sophie calls a number on the back of a picture Jason bought for them, and ends up meeting the artist.

It's not that I hate the people in The Future, more that I pity them. I mean, honestly, these people are in their mid thirties, they have nothing to tie them down, appear to be in a stable relationship (yes, with a person who looks creepily like their reflection, but still) and are gainfully employed, and yet these whiny pretentious douchebags have an existential crisis over adopting a cat. Here's a thought... If it's so troubling that you're going to panic about your mortality, call the animal shelter and don't adopt the thing. Or you could make some mind numbing performance art about it, I guess. Guess which way Miranda July goes here.

It's not that I hate the people in The Future, more that I don't believe these people exist. Nobody talks like this. These people don't have conversations, they speak in a series of non-sequiturs, spouting barely connected banalities at each other, as if that way lies profundity (spoiler: they're wrong). I can accept that maybe Sophie and Jason are just odd, maybe they both have aspergers or something, but honestly, everyone in the movie appears to be an alien. Jason goes to buy a hairdryer from an old man, who then becomes his main confidant, because that's what happens when you pick up an EBay purchase. The oddest moment comes when Sophie dials that number on the back of the painting, and talks to the artist. For some reason, during the course of a supremely odd conversation, this guy never says 'fuck off lady, you are crazy', which is the only sane response to Miranda July... sorry, to Sophie, and thus the entire second half of the film is rendered totally unbelievable.

When July wants you to feel something (I think we're meant to be sad when Sophie and Jason split up) you don't, because nobody in the movie seems to have feelings, or when they do they express them by burying themselves in the garden, or pulling a T Shirt over their head and improvising a dance... you know, like normal humans do. This is because July has ideas above her station, and think that her 'art' (and I've defended some things as art that people may shake their heads at, but if this is art then literally anything qualifies. Maybe I'll go and film myself shitting and if I give it a pretentious title like 'I am the void, and so are you', it will be art too) is so provocative and full of ideas that she doesn't need to engage with concepts like plot, character and emotion.

Good GOD this film is boring. It's not even a film, it's just a series of quirky ideas that Miranda July had, but she's got no idea of how to express them in cinema. I don't know what she's saying with this film. It might be about late Gen X/early millennial ennui, equally it might be about a cat with a broken paw. In the film's most sick making device July herself does a squeaky voiceover, narrating the movie, as the cat waiting to be adopted. If that sounds 'cute' to you, by all means go and see The Future, and do feel free never to talk to me. I HATED this film, loathed it on a physical level, everything about it, and everything about the overwhelmingly fake and contrived July made me itch to get out of my seat as fast as humanly possible. I hated July's first film, the equally cutesy, equally vapid, equally insufferable, Me and You and Everyone We Know, but I gave her a chance here, well, this is worse, and I am done, no more Miranda July for me. Ever.

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