Loving the Future

Today I’m obsessed with the Future by Miranda July.  I have loved her since loving her film  Me and You and Everyone We Know, which led me to her website learningtoloveyoumore.com, on which members of the general public would take assignments given by Miranda, and post the results, usually as photos or written documents, other times as video or audio. The assignments ranged from mundane  (“Fix something”), ironic fun (“Make a gallery out of art from your parent’s house”) to truly crafty (“Make a paper replica of your bed”). The results ranged from hilarious to heartbreaking. The website accepted submissions for years, until it was acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as a permanent archive.

It took me awhile to finally see the Future. I don’t know why. Sometimes I buy books and don’t read them for years, when the time and circumstances are finally right. Today I was nursing my body back to health after a bout with food poisoning, so dreamy contemplative July style seemed tonic.

At one point I almost fell asleep, the movie was so slow. But it was also because I had to skip the coffee this morning. I’m glad I stayed with it, because I got to wrap my mind around this trippy story and its sad characters the whole day.

Since Ms. July is an artist who likes to challenge people in a friendly way, this movie provokes viewers to engage in the story and wonder why characters do the things they do without getting the benefit of a direct answer. Just like with our friends and family, who sometimes make choices so mysterious to us, in spite of our knowing all the backstory and advice that’s been given to them. Maybe they can’t answer why. But if we care enough to really think deeply about it, we might feel some understanding. Without knowing. The Future is not a movie to be consumed, but to mull over like a dream.

At one point after watching for awhile I thought, why make a film about these characters, Miranda? Why not a novel or story? But then I saw her do something so sensual and strange and physical, it could never be described in words, like that famous quote “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture” (Laurie Anderson?). It is a dance, a special special dance of a dancer who wants to be seen but doesn’t want to be seen, wrapped in a haunted security blanket. And if you really notice the details of this movie, you might see that it is all a dance. Check out those moves. Does the character Sophie want a viewer? Or a partner? Will she ever get either? Will her partner ever be a father, or does she need her partner to act like her father? And if so, does she want a father figure who will let his daughter bury herself up to the neck like a tomb in dirt?

Sophie can’t say what she wants. Even in her head. That’s why Miranda had to film her. Because who dreams in text?

Check out www.mirandajuly.com

imgres-2 imgres-4imgres-5


Bad Ass B!#ches in Abbottabad

Got to see Zero Dark Thirty today, which is still in limited release in my town. The theater is showing it every 50 minutes on one of its smaller screens, and today it was pretty well attended.

Yeah, it’s great. I’ll admit that during the first 20 minutes before the caffeine kicked in, I was a little drowsy and not keeping all the acronyms straight. The main character, Maya, was so timid that I wondered when she and this movie would grab me by the throat. Would it be all of a sudden, like Hurt Locker? No. Shrouded in Kathryn Bigelow’s moody atmosphere of foreboding, this movie required patience, perseverance, hope, belief–just like the agency expert needs to get the bad guy.  We see Maya grow and mature in her role, figuratively and– Jesus, it took 10 years to get that UBL–literally.

2 years ago, I dismissed Chastain along with the movie the Help when I turned it off about halfway through.  But today, I didn’t even realize she was the heroine until after the movie ended.  There were moments in the movie when I thought someone in that position might be tougher than Maya seemed. But real-life heroic women don’t kick their leather-clad legs in the air to bring down villains. They’re smart. They believe in themselves. This was brought to light when Maya has to justify the operation to one of the Navy Seals–his gigantic muscles practically bursting the seems his fatigues. It’s one of many times when she has to defend herself to one of the guys either above or below her. Her confidence, intelligence and chutzpah meet the energy of this soldier.


Like in the third act of Thelma and Louse, Maya eventually dons the accoutrements of the men whose macho have seeped necessarily into her attitude. All swagger and aviator shades, she mingles with the hulking tactical heros that would ultimately pull off this historic operation. When she finally gets the call that it’s go, a shadow of somber reality falls over her face. But we can be assured–as if we didn’t know how this story ends, one of the guys lands a lucky horseshoe around the stake, and another intercepts a football from nailing his buddy’s face. It bodes well.

I’m Loopy over Looper

The new year is a great time to reflect on our obsessions: did they cause regret? Joy? Do we need to refocus? Will they win awards?

My current obsession is the movie Looper.  I believe it is perhaps the best of 2012. I watched it a second time recently and it holds up to the epic pictures that I loved last year, including Django, Life of Pi and the Master.

A time travel movie that doesn’t get caught up in the gobbledy-gook of its own invented mechanics (Primer) or dwell on fish-out-of-water aspects for yuks (no DeLorean?), Looper doesn’t imagine the future as totally different with regular people wearing stupid fashions. After all, we keep going back to the past for style, don’t we? We take what works, and modify it–cars, guns, buildings.

Looper’s a movie with great characters, believable moral dilemmas and conflicts, a great story and acting, real stakes, and a profound message. If you are a mother, you will feel particularly rewarded.

Looper gives us much to ponder for time to come and to revisit in our past.