Miranda July is a writer-director-actor, short story writer and visual artist with a very odd sensibility and view of the world. And it's a sensibility and view which I happen to enjoy. July's film debut, Me And You And Everyone We Know (2005) was a small gem of a film and one which I loved, so I was very much looking forward to The Future.
LA couple Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) have their four year relationship sorely tested when they decide to adopt a cat which they found injured. With 30 days until Paw-Paw (as she is dubbed by the couple, and who acts as an omnipotent narrator throughout) is to be released from the animal shelter and into their care, Sophie and Jason reassess everything of importance to them and just what activities they should be devoting their time to.
They both quite their jobs (she as a children's dance teacher; he as telephone IT support) and even cancel their internet - oh, the humanity! While Jason becomes a volunteer for an environmental group, going door-to-door selling trees, Sophie has set herself the goal of posting 30 YouTube clips of herself dancing over those remaining 30 days of freedom. And it is Sophie who can't handle this new direction in their lives, commencing an odd relationship with a man whose drawing they purchased at the animal shelter.
Some may find all of this twee, precious or just plain annoying (and they could be right), but not me. I thoroughly enjoyed The Future, even if I didn't understand the need for every tangent it goes off on. And I loved Paw-Paw's narration (voiced by July), and the irony that while Sophie and Jason sweat the small stuff (and isn't it all small stuff?), the somewhat wisened Paw-Paw is literally living with a death sentence.
Here's hoping Madman Distribution release the film into Australian cinemas, so a far greater audience can enjoy The Future.
I hadn't planned to see Hanna as part of the Sydney Film Festival - the Universal title will receive a general release in Oz July 28 - but the opportunity arose to catch it this rainy Sunday afternoon and so I did, in lieu of my original film of choice Life, Above All. And I wish I hadn't.
Not that Hanna, directed by Joe (Atonement) Wright and starring Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett, is a bad film but it simply didn't work for me. Those elements that did - Ronan's lead performance as a teen assassin, and The Chemical Brothers' pumping score - weren't enough to overcome those that didn't, namely the heavy-handed allusions to fairy tales, the campy henchmen, and Cate Blanchett's god awful Southern accent; proof-positive that Queen Cate's not only human but as capable of suffering a bad day as the rest of us.
I'll publish a full review of Hanna closer to its Australian release. Fingers crossed I will be able to catch Life, Above All at another screening this week. I nominated the South African film as my most eagerly-anticipated of this year's Festival, so I'll beat myself up, Hanna-style, if I've missed my chance.