Dir: Miranda July,
Starring: Miranda July, Hamish Linklater
The Film: Miranda July, the writer, director, and star of The Future, is an example of what would happen if Sofia Coppola and David Lynch had a daughter who grew up to make films. While her central ideas are full of thought, it is tough to get into her work (although, I have yet to see her first feature, 2005’s “Me, You, and Everyone We Know.” In this, her second feature that July herself calls a horror story, I have yet to find a character to identify with, and that, my friends, is something that is central to me liking a story. However, you can’t really fault July, a woman from Berkeley, California that is getting a chance to do what she loves. However, in addition to the couple that is central to the story and falling apart in front of us, there is a talking, narrating cat named Paw-Paw (the voice of July herself), a walking shirt, a talking moon, and a girl who buries herself up to her neck in dirt. Oh…and, at opportune moments, Jason, her boyfriend, can stop time by placing his hand on her head. Confused yet?
Before I lay into this film, let me get the positive out of the way. I am a sucker for any movie that has a love story which unravels before the viewers eyes (which explains why I love “Blue Valentine”). So, take the very first conversation between Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater). July shoots it in full light, and makes it a two shot of them on the couch. The conversation is whimsical until Sophie gets thirsty and brings up the fact that she sometimes fantasizes about being able to turn on a water faucet with her mind. I love quirky dialogue (I am a big a fan of Richard Linklater, who is tremendous at this). However, instead of moving the plot and conversation along like that other said director does, it almost freezes. July still cannot frame a shot or tell a story in a way that engages not just a general audience, but ANY audience. I did find her ‘dancing’ (she says on the commentary that she is not much of a dancer, and I admire this bluntness) and way she frames a two shot scene amusing. However, I, a fan of lots of different kinds of movies, can go along with anything. This film lost me real fast, and by the time we got to the affair she starts having with suburbanite Marshall (David Warshofsky), I just stopped caring.
July surrounds herself with a cast that is decent considering the budget she is given. But, I do not know if it is the script, or direction of July, or if they just could not emote the way they should (my guess is a combination of all three), but everyone besides Linklater (Jason) seems to be sleepwalking through their scenes. Now, I do not want this review to come across like there was nothing good in this movie. The way Jason stops time, and the moments immediately thereafter, were pretty well pulled off. Also, I enjoy any filmmaker that challenges the viewer (as Lynch and Coppola do) to come to their own conclusions. But, this film just takes all these aspects a bit too far, and July should have exercised restraint. Restraint in including the narration of Paw-Paw. Restraint in fitting in the ‘dance in the shirt’ sequence. And, restraint in writing full on conversations with the moon that occur. To say this film is interesting would be an understatement. However, interesting should not take the place of narrative. Maybe when the film that launches July’s (who, from certain angles, looks like Tori Amos) career comes out, then, it would be a nice film to look back on. Until then, I recommend exercising restraint.
The Australian DVD
Audio/Video: The video is a 16:9 widescreen presentation. Audio is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1.
* Audio commentary with writer/director Miranda July
* Making The Future
* Deleted Scene
There is a 16 minute making of featurette on The Future DVD. Here, you will see interviews with the majority of the cast, who talk about what a talent July is. There is also footage of the play that the film is actually based on (also written and performed by July) and she reveals where the ‘shirt dance’ within the film came from as well as David Warshofsky (Marshall) talking about the talking cat. Highlight for me was when Hamish Linklater (Jason) describes July as “a superhero that shoots art lasers.” Ooohhh kayyy….
There is a 3:00 deleted scene that feels more like a montage than anything. Skip it.
Audio Commentary with Miranda July: I feel bad bashing this movie, as on this commentary, July proves to be a friendly and surprisingly blunt person. While she does have the valley girl tendency to end her sentences with a lllooonngggg pronounciation and inflection of words, she does reveal bits of trivia such as what the dancing shirt actually says. She is also, as already stated, brutally honest, flat out saying that she didn’t even bother training for the dancing scenes and saying that an extra who goes right by the camera shouldn’t have been hired because they look ‘too much like an actress.’ Ouch. However, too much dead air through the course of the commentary made me almost fall asleep at times and work too hard to pay attention.
Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.
Reviewed by Garrett Collins