Miranda July, or more specifically of her last film Me and You and Everyone We Know then make some time on your calendar now to catch her latest effort when it hits SIFF. If not, well read on - but honestly it's gonna be hard to make a call if you're not just willing to trust me.
I really enjoyed both Me and You and Everyone We Know and The Future (which also screened at SXSW). The problem is that I'm somewhat hard pressed to truly explain what I liked about them as a whole. I can certainly point to little moments, such as the bizarrely effective voice over given to a cat who forms a critical keystone in the lives of July and her boyfriend (Hamish Linklater). Normally the vast majority of films which go so hard directly at the "quirky" label get under my skin. For whatever reason though this film consisting of nearly 100% quirk wraps around full circle. Skipping annoying and ending up back at funny, weird and rather charming. That said, I'm not so sure that if Ms. July made more than two films a decade that the zen of the films wouldn't begin to rub me the wrong way. At present though I think the critic who suggested Ms. July is a sort of slacker hipster Woody Allen may in fact be on to something credible.
The film begins with voice over from Paw-Paw, a stray rescued by the couple. The feline is the epitome of wild and lonely, never having had a home. With an injured paw and health problems too numerous to count paw-paw is left at a shelter by July and Linklater. Told the cat has but six months to live the couple decides to adopt him. An event they soon begin to see as the natural endpoint of their freedom and the start of a long slow ark towards old age and stagnation. Seems overly dramatic in the re-telling but to this pair it's the gospel truth. This leads them both the try and live the 30 days they have until picking up Paw-Paw to the fullest, quitting their jobs and "remaining open" to the possibilities of the universe. Which they do, for the good and the bad - and the occasional warping of the time-space continuum. It's deliciously ridiculous even if considerable parts don't make conventional sense at first viewing.
Unfortunately I'm expecting to be out of town when The Future plays again - but if I wasn't I'd likely go back a second time. The luxury of having already heard the funny lines, been charmed to the point of tears by Paw-Paw's narration and having said WTF a few times on the time warp stuff would free me up (I believe) to really focus and pay attention to the underlying themes. Which I'm sure if I stopped to really think about it would have to do with relationships, barriers between people and how we see cling to our childhood potential even when that time is past. Or other girly stuff - I did mention there's a talking cat, right? ;-)
In closing - I recommend the film. But I expect a reasonable fraction of folks reading would, if they were to take the suggestion not be altogether pleased with the direction. Can't help it if you all are wrong from time to time...
[The Future plays at SIFF on May 21st and May 23rd]