Thursday, August 25, 2011

Movie Review: The Future

The Future *
Directed by: Miranda July.
Written by: Miranda July.
Starring: Miranda July (Sophie / Voice of Paw-Paw), Hamish Linklater (Jason), David Warshofsky (Marshall), Isabella Acres (Gabriella), Joe Putterlik (Joe), Angela Trimbur (Dance Studio Receptionist),  Mary Passeri (Animal Shelter Receptionist), Kathleen Gati (Dr. Straus).

Poor Paw-Paw. He is the cat who narrates much of Miranda July’s new film The Future. He tells us that he has never spent a day indoors in his life - has never been petted, never been loved. He has a broken paw and renal failure, yet if he gets regular injections, he could still live for years. He just has to wait for his paw to heal, and then the people who found him are coming to adopt him. He spends his days in his cage at the animal shelter counting down until he gets to go home and be loved. Unfortunately, he was found by Sophie (July herself) and her boyfriend Jason (Hamish Linklater), which is worse for his health than homelessness, broken paws and renal failure put together.

Had July not included Paw-Paw in her movie, The Future, I may have enjoyed it. After all, I enjoyed her first film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, which was also about her navel gazing. Her character in The Future is even more self involved than she was in that movie, but it has the same tone. But this time, I just couldn’t forgive her for being as self involved as she is because of Paw-Paw. Jason at least has an excuse for not showing up to pick up Paw-Paw in time - he has stopped time to try and hold onto to what he loves (long story), but Sophie is just plain selfish. And I found that unforgivable. Had July viewed things similarly - as Todd Solondz may have done had he made a film about two 30-something naval gazers whose selfishness leads to the death of a cat - the movie may well have worked. But July insists on trying to make her character sympathetic and lovable. But Sophie is just pathetic.

The movie is about Sophie and Jason who find out they have 1 month before they can pick up Paw-Paw. Realizing that having a sick cat, who could last another 5 years, means a commitment (the horror), they decide to live life to the fullest in that time. Sophie quits her job as a dance instructor for five year olds, and decides to do “30 Dances in 30 Days” and post them on YouTube, which she feels will lead her finally to her career as a real dance artist (never mind she’s 35, and has no discernable dance talent). Jason quits his job as a tech support worker (they still have those not based in India?) to try and find what “he is supposed to do”. What he settles on is volunteer work going door to door in LA trying to collect donations for trees. But he soon gets tired of that, and tries to quit that as well - but is quilted into staying on. So instead of quitting or staying on, he spends his days hanging out with an old inventor who likes to write dirty holiday cards for his wife of 60 years.

The Future tries too hard to be hip and clever, and to me, the whole movie just fell flat. I didn’t like Sophie at all, and worse yet, she isn’t very interesting either. I’m not sure why Jason loves her, and I certainly don’t see why another man falls in love with her and asks her to move in with him almost instantly. She doesn’t say or do anything interesting for the entire movie. It’s not that Jason is much of a prize either, but at least he seems to care about something - perhaps just himself and Sophie, but that is one more thing than she does.

For the most part, I found The Future insufferable. Sometimes movies that try to be this hip and clever work. Yet sometimes, the movies become so self referential and needlessly hip and clever, that I simply cannot stand. Miranda July plays a character in this movie who is 35 years old, and yet she acts with about as much maturity as a 15 year old. It’s time to grow the hell up. Poor Paw-Paw may well have been better off where he ended up than with these two.

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