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Shown in Pittsburgh: ‘The Future’ (2011)

The following post is the first in a series I’m calling Shown in Pittsburgh. The entries in this series are meant to examine in 250 words or fewer various films I’ve seen in the greater Pittsburgh area. Each is meant to be frustratingly partial. Miranda July’s The Future (2011) taps into some of the stranger frequencies buzzing around the lives of grown-up children. More specifically, July seems interested in exploring the fantastical possibilities related to the prolonged adolescence of many American adults. Perhaps it’s old hat to bring up the fact that The Future features a talking cat, a talking moon, and a character able to manipulate time. But what is surprising is that these become purposeful and sustained artistic decisions, weirdly suited to the insipid and breathtaking dilemmas of being just under over-the-hill. The scene in The Future that both demonstrates this suitability and remains tangential to fantasy is that in which Sophie ensconces herself in an oversized t-shirt for the sake of performing some expressive dance. Previous to this point, the shirt has acted as a blankie for Sophie (she holds it to herself) and as a living creature, squirming down the street toward Sophie’s new and adulterous abode. Eventually the t-shirt makes its way inside and to a spare room bathed in yellow light, where Sophie—computer in tow, iTunes set to the same Beach House song Sophie tried to dance along with earlier—puts her legs through the sleeves and takes on the shirt as a costume, a creaturely disguise, and furls/unfurls her body to the song’s rhythms. This performance, captured for the most part in a single take, is both the expression of Sophie’s inmost desire and her complete disappearance. She moves in material as another being. C’est la nuit.