Autumn is now in full effect — the carefree days of summer are behind us and we’re left to ponder the oncoming cold and the meaning of our existence as we watch campaign ad after campaign ad. To us, that makes the season all about two things: complicated relationships… and elections. Thankfully, we’ve got the appropriate films for any occasion. We’re an all-season network!
Sundance fave Miranda July’s latest book It Chooses You will probably end up in a few cool kids’ stockings Sunday morning. And why shouldn’t it? The book had its own SoHo storefront! Check out what the filmmaker-writer-performance artist has to say on theme at the heart of It Chooses You, meeting strangers.
Illustration via ROOKIE MAG
“It’s not easy, in this world, to learn how to navigate our anger and attraction, to learn how to be strong, sexual women and kind, gentle men.” This is a quote from our friend Michelle Chihara’s essay, “Pieces of the Past,” published this week on her blog This Blue Angel. On the surface this essay is a response, a clarification of sorts, to an essay the filmmaker Miranda July — Michelle’s former high school classmate — published on the teen website Rookie, about what she calls her feminist action, twenty years ago. But at its heart Michelle’s essay is about feminism, activism, sympathy, motherhood, adulthood, sex, sexuality… you know, the little things.
Let’s rewind a little: Miranda July’s essay describes how a boy at their high school made an announcement in assembly: “Someone spilled their Coke on my BMW. If this happens again I’m going to be forced to sue for damages. Keep your hands off my car.” In other words, he was a rich asshole — either that or he did a pretty good impression of one.
Even though Miranda July’s new nonfiction book It Chooses You isn’t inextricable from her latest film, THE FUTURE, the two could easily be called companion pieces in that having some knowledge of one only adds to your experience of the other. And it makes sense that July, who’s a writer, performance artist and filmmaker wouldn’t just make a film when she makes a film – she creates a whole world that manifests itself in the various mediums in which she works. There’s performance art in the film, there’s pieces of the book in the film and there’s the story of making the film in the book. That’s what this book really is, the story of how July finished her film, an unexpected and arduous task that took her on a journey all over Southern California.
When she was close to finishing the screenplay for THE FUTURE, July was hit by a major case of writer’s block. As any writer knows, sitting at your computer and Googling stuff related to your work instead of actually writing it is a completely normal and acceptable form of procrastination. But ravenously reading the Pennysaver and calling the people who placed the ads not to buy what they were selling but to interview them about their lives, their hopes and dreams, is another form of distraction altogether. But to July it wasn’t a distraction, at least not entirely; It was a vision quest.
In It Chooses You, July weaves her interviews with the Pennysaver people into her own personal narrative about her struggle to finish writing her film in a voice that’s so honest and humble, so yearning and without pretense that I think even her detractors would get sucked into the power of her story. From the outside what she’s doing is such a small and seemingly trivial thing, but from the inside of it, it’s absolutely everything. It becomes grand in scale and importance. Everything hinges on July’s ability to not only make it through the Pennysaver obstacle course she’s set up for herself, but to make sense of it at the end…
On Wednesday night I saw an early screening of Miranda July’s second film, THE FUTURE, an event I’ve been anticipating for months. Let it be known that I’m a true and unabashed fan, and while I don’t align myself with the brand of fangirl that accosted July after the screening armed with happy smiles and cute haircuts, I did indeed sign up for her biweekly life forecasts, which arrived in my inbox with the subject, “Your Future.” Though one prediction was actually dead on, mostly the emails were charmingly inaccurate, like yesterday’s, which read: “You become aroused in a new way. I don’t mean poetically – it will happen in the genital area. But not how it usually does. Good luck, Miranda.”
The title of this post is the message that pops up when you register your email at Miranda July’s website for her upcoming film THE FUTURE, which premiered at Sundance this year. The film, like all of her work, polarized audiences. There are the fervent July fans who find her work – in all mediums, I should add – quietly insightful, understated, poetic and razor sharp. Her critics, on the other hand find her overly poetic, even precious. One film critic at The Hollywood Reporter called THE FUTURE “a film as fragile and miniaturist as its title is grandiose…just too terribly twee to readily embrace.” I’ll reserve my own commentary for when the film is released “July 29th-ish,” according to July, but I’m going to have to disagree with twee right now.
Miranda July (Photo credit: Yvan Rodic/FaceHunter).
One of the latest films to land a distribution deal is Miranda July’s THE FUTURE, the filmmaker’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2005’s ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW. On Friday, it was announced that Roadside Attractions will be releasing THE FUTURE.
But despite Indiedom’s worship of all things July, and the mania stirred by ME AND YOU, THE FUTURE was one of those films that scratched, as opposed to scorched, the Earth in Park City. Reviews were mixed—”bleak but charming” was an oft-heard refrain—with much fuss made over the fact that the film is narrated by a cat; a device that people we spoke to, anyway, found either brilliantly imaginative or bizarre.
Sometimes, love is all you need.
“Watching two movies in a row in which adolescent girls cut their bodies with a razor was a reminder of all the dark places the Sundance Film Festival takes you,” writes Ruthe Stein in the San Francisco Chronicle. “This time there were movies featuring drug addicts, abusive cults, a drunken driver who wipes out a family and Saddam Hussein’s sadistic son.”
Stein says she found “a welcome reprieve” from all that in three festival movies about love: Drake Doremus’ LIKE CRAZY, Braden King’s HERE and Miranda July’s THE FUTURE.
What is the Sundance Film Festival’s “buzziest film (so far)”? Miranda July’s THE FUTURE, according to The Week. These three rave reviews alone would seem to prove the point: “Miranda July’s THE FUTURE is narrated by a stray cat that mid-thirties couple Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) take in, and like that fragile kitty,…
Marthalicia Matarrita in the Sundance Channel HQ studio.
Harlem-based artist Marthalicia Matarrita specializes in a very specific medium, one that mixes street art, hip-hop and performance into what can best be described as live painting. She currently represents New York City at ART BATTLES, pioneers of the Live Art Movement. Often called the “Iron Chef” of the art world in that it’s a live, timed competition, ART BATTLES pits artists who favor bold, graphic, street-style visuals in theme-based showdowns. In Matarrita’s latest battle (which you can see still images from above), the artists were asked to interpret Picasso’s “Guernica.”
Miranda July. Painting by Marthalicia Matarrita.
But before the next round of battles begin, Matarrita is stopping by Sundance HQ in Park City, UT this week, where she’ll create live illustrations of festival-goers who drop in. Whether she’s painting on a large canvas backed by loud DJ music at a battle or working on smaller-scale illustrations, Mataritta maintains the same hip-hop-inspired fluidity in all her pieces. In fact, music has been such a major part of her life that she founded M-Squared Art Productions in 2006 with her brothers Tomas aka Atomic and Jorge based on what she calls “the four elements of hip-hop: music, graffiti, art and dance,” especially breakdance. “What hip hop does for breakdancers is the same for graffiti-writers and painters. My performances are influenced by it.” Performance, or process, is key for Matarrita. “The process in creating the artwork is both therapeutic and meditative. The end result is the satisfaction in my labor of love, my art.”
Miranda July, director and star of THE FUTURE.
Yvan Rodick of Face Hunter is running all over Park City finding the fashionable, the famous, the vain and the glorious.
Check out his latest galleries and the interesting eye candy that makes Sundance a head turning and inspiring experience!
It must be January. Having packed the Golden Globes, the AFI luncheon, the Broadcast Critics Film Association awards, and a zillion other galas and parties into one weekend, it’s now on to the next thing: Sundance, which kicks off on Thursday, meaning Hollywood has exactly three days to get over their hangovers, charge a few more North Face puffy jackets to the AmEx, and figure out how, exactly, to fit in three movies, four dinners, and two after-parties into one Saturday night.
At the 53rd International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale which opens this Sunday, thirteen American artists (John Baldessari, Tony Conrad, Spencer Finch, William Forsythe, Guyton/Walker, Richard Harrison, Joan Jonas, Sherrie Levine, Arto Lindsay, Gordon Matta-Clark, Amy Simon, and Pae White) will show their work and compete for the much coveted Golden Lion. Among the…