Jan 14, 2012

On DVD: The Future

I remember reading sundry reviews about this second movie by professional hipster Miranda July, all of them emphatically caveating how you had to endure a lot of twee, mumbling, pointless hipster anomie to finally come to some arty epiphany about the nature of time. Well, Marcel Proust this isn't. I tried, readers, to sit through this thing with an open mind, in the hopes that the epiphany would change my mind about Miranda July, only to stare in disbelief at the interminable sight of two fully competent adults (July and Hamish Linklater) deliberately behaving like childish retards.
The plot: These two live together, each fixated by his laptop. Their cat is very sick so they decide that when it dies, they will go their separate ways because the relationship is not working any more. They quit their jobs and pursue the most deliberately annoying version of carpe diem ever known to man. He volunteers for some kind of environmental organization where he accosts people by wearing a vest and holding a clipboard, and she has an affair with some guy who is, OMG, a normal. This they do by figuring out over the phone if they are actually staring at the same cloud. Of course, they have never spoken to one another before.
This is as much as I could take. If this is what it takes to receive an epiphany, I'd rather live in eternal darkness.
This new kind of pretentiousness, sprung from the precious heart of American hipsterism, makes me pine for the kind that at least has the guts to be pretentious, like Godard's or Jodorowsky's. Because at least those guys are having FUN. They have a blast throwing their intellectual superiority around. They know they know better. But this entitled, milquetoasty, whispery dreck will not even own up to it,  hiding instead behind talking cats, cute haircuts that could only possibly belong on Shirley Temple, and people who are so arty, they are incapable of articulating one sentence without breaking into spastic dance moves or staring wide eyed at their own quirks. They are so very hip that each word of of their mouths feels like it's going through an occluded birth canal. In this world, articulation and wit, charm and intelligence, and most importantly BALLS, or ovaries, if you insist on being politically correct, are out of fashion.
But Miranda July is not alone. This is some sort of aesthetic movement, and it raises some nagging questions: Is the idea behind the hipster/mumblecore aesthetic to present a precious, sensitive America to the world? An America so pure and misunderstood it breeds wallflowers and nerds instead of G.I. Joes? Do these people think that those who resent America and its power will be swayed by this ridiculous pretense of righteous innocence?


  1. Miranda July, despite whatever reservations one may have, is not mumblecore.

  2. I quite enjoyed this movie. I don't want to say more about this movie as I would recommend everyone to watch it to know about it. I must also say that you have written an amazing review.
    The Future Photo

  3. (Anonymous, this film is absolutely mumblecore, it's one of the most mumblecorian films I've ever seen. It's a mess, it's amateurish, it makes you squirm, it makes you cry and wonder what the h*ll is wrong with you that you are falling for it, it defies comparison. It's unforgettable in a squeamish back-of-the-brain kind of way. It's quintessential mumblecore.)

    And it's become one of my favorite films, actually, because I just can't look away. I've wanted to brush it off and I can't, and now I don't want to anymore. I'm ready to love it.

    To respond this very good review, I think that you are nostalgic for modernism, but this is a postmodern film: a reflection in a mirror that is reflected back on itself, warping and transfiguring as it goes, until the vapor of reflection is the only substance. It's about spying on the voyeur who is exhibitionist enough to suspect that someone is watching them watching. So the film is less a commentary on or depiction of America than it is a reflection of Americans looking at themselves and reacting to the layers of revelation that appear, testing themselves because they want to know, but only able to peek at the shadow between their fingers or interpret, like tea leaves, the mess that is left behind.

    Human psychology is like an onion; postmodernism is the discovery and process of peeling off the layers. Altman, Lynch, Herzog... all postmodern artists who have confessed that they didn't really know what art they were making and don't really understand it even after they feel it's finished. Kind of like life.