By Colin Covert
Miranda July and Hamish Linklater in July's "The Future."
Friday's Walker Art Center premiere of her latest feature film gave Miranda July an opportunity to talk to her fans about love, loneliness and the perils of being prolific in multiple mediums.
Her sophomore effort, a fantasy/comedy/romance titled “The Future” screened to an enthusiastic sellout audience. In remarks following the film, July acknowledged that movie followers expected a quicker follow-up to her 2005 Cannes Palme d’Or winner "Me and You and Everyone We Know."
They think she’s a slow worker because It took her half a decade to complete. But as Walker’s associate curator of film and video Dean Otto pointed out, between projects she was working continually on off-screen projects, among them her book of short stories, “No One Belongs Here More than You,” and a series of sculptures for the 2009 Venice Biennale “I have always done a few different things as well as make movies,” said July, a multidisciplinary author/dancer/singer/sculptor/actress/director.
After finishing a film the last thing she wants to do is make another, she said. “I feel like I’ve been playing hooky in terms of writing and the other things I do.
"It’s not a shrewd career move. Everyone thinks you’re slow in each individual medium. But it’s a good life.” She recently finished “It Chooses You,” a book of nonfiction based on interviews with individuals she found through their “for sale” listings in the Los Angeles Pennysaver advertising circula. She’s currently “attempting” her first novel. Her writing income supports her, she said. So far she hasn’t earned anything from her independent films, “but they have that power to reach so many more people.”
While on her publicity tour for “The Future,” she has been posting twice-weekly videos on her blog, http://mirandajuly.com/. The entry for Minneapolis was an encounter between July and a speeding treadmill in her hotel gym. The zooming track almost throws her off, a nice metaphor for her zoom-zoom state of creative overdrive.
“The Future” stars July and Hamish Linklater as 35-year-old L.A. slackers who test their capacity for commitment by adopting a shelter cat, with comically disastrous results. “I was thinking about the way we kind of wait for someone to come for us and save us. For a long time I was waiting for my parents to come before I realized they wouldn’t and that’s fine, plus I’m in my mid-thirties. So what does it mean when you let go of that, your parents aren’t going to come, no man is going to come. Before I met my husband, I’d been [feeling like] the most alone person in the world for a long time, no matter who I was with. In order to become domesticated I had to lay down that story and believe in the story that you can be loved and that was okay.”
Making the movie “scared the hell out of me,” she said, because she felt there was no way she could meet the level of expectation set by her first success. “I felt I was taking off all my clothes and throwing myself to the lions. Of course for everyone else, they’re just going to see a movie and either they like it or they don’t. It’s no big deal.”
July said the idea for the pessimistic love story of “The Future” came to her while she was creating her first film, a cheerful ensemble story about adults and children in a Los Angeles neighborhood. “That was an upbeat movie but I was going through as pretty rough time, a breakup, and I was in a pretty dark place. I thought it would be amazing if I could capture that feeling in a movie.” Over the next five years her view of the future changed because “I met someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. And that means you start thinking about death a lot. If you’re vowing to be with somebody until you die, it feels like you just vowed to die.”
She also said she struggled with issues of identity. “If I’m not creative and interesting every minute, who am I? There’s something that’s propelling that, maybe a fear of, ‘If I stop doing that, who would I be?’ That’s kind of embarrassing but maybe that’s worth looking into.”