By Amy Nicholson
By LA Weekly critics
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Anthony D'Alessandro
In a queasy limbo between childhood and adulthood, Sophie and Jason are ostensibly free of parental minders but far from ready to do their own minding. As July puts it over lunch, "One friend of ours became a mom. We still think of ourselves, the rest of us, as daughters, but our friend is a mom — you know, like, she graduated. I know people whose parents are dead, and on some level they're still doing things to impress their parents, you know? It's like you don't ever have to stop that."
Sophie and Jason's campaign to make the most of "our last month ever" leads to Jason bonding with a dirty limerick–writing, happily married elderly man whom he meets through the classified rag Penny-saver, played by an actual elderly man whom July met through the Pennysaver while working on a project documented in the book It Chooses You, to be released in November by McSweeney's.
Meanwhile, left a month to pursue her heart's desires, Sophie first attempts to launch a bid for YouTube stardom. When that proves to be a nonstarter, she falls into an irrational affair with older, single dad Marshall (David Warshofsky).
The affair is one element of The Future that went through several iterations via previous July creations. In a short story in July's 2007 collection No One Belongs Here More Than You, "Mon Plaisir," a wife compiles a list of topics that she and her husband do not broach: "Important Things We Don't Understand and Definitely Are Not Going to Talk About." That story foreshadowed July's live performance piece, Things We Don't Understand and Are Definitely Not Going to Talk About, which she mounted at the Kitchen in New York in 2007. Every night, July would "cast" a real couple and a single guy in the audience to play the troubled couple and the wife's lover. It gave her an opportunity to workshop some of her less conventional ideas (like the T-shirt and the anthropomorphized cat) before writing The Future's screenplay.
July's scenes with Warshofsky can be painful to watch. The characters have little chemistry, and physically they look as odd together as July and Linklater are an obviously matched pair. But it was important to July that this not be an evenly balanced love triangle.
"I really wanted him to seem so wrong," she says. "In the performance it was often, like, a really cute guy. At that point I was still interested in it as an affair. I think I was just committing to this big relationship [with Mills], and still kind of freaked out, whereas by the time I got to the movie I was, like, whatever."
Though Sophie and Marshall do have sex, physical attraction is clearly not the key motivator for her — in fact, she seems fairly repulsed by his "sleazy" style. One of their dialogue exchanges cuts right to the heart of the affair's appeal:
Marshall: "It would make me very happy to watch you all the time."
Sophie: "If it was really 'all the time,' I wouldn't even have to try!"
Marshall [shaking his head]: "I had you totally wrong. I thought you were more ... independent."
When I ask July what Sophie gets from the affair, she describes Marshall's gaze as "like fame."
"Ten years ago, wanting attention was still shameful and getting it was hard for most of us," July writes in her director's statement for The Future.
Despite her seemingly naive persona, July has always treated her career as serious business. She was born Miranda Jennifer Grossinger and adopted her stage name in high school. She was raised in Berkeley by publisher parents who taught her to be comfortable with intimate expression. "My dad expects, when we talk on the phone, that I'm going to tell him about my internal world," July says. "And if I don't, I've kind of, like, failed a little bit in the conversation. It's a little superficial."
She dropped out of UC Santa Cruz at age 20, in part, she says, to force herself to make art without a net. "That was exciting because whatever I made would be real. It wouldn't be a student thing, it wouldn't be like an internship."
She moved to Portland, Ore., put on plays in punk clubs and hooked up with the K Records scene in Olympia, Wash., performing in the mid-'90s with a band called The Need and recording two experimental solo records. She became a big fish in these proudly countercultural ponds, but she always wanted more.
"The first play that I did, I was probably just as into making the poster and putting the ad in the paper as writing the play. Those activities were part of the reason to make this stuff," she recalls. "Maybe it seems sort of self-promoting, but to me it was like, well, on the other hand, isn't it kind of silly to just expect people to show up to this?"
Ten years ago, July was best known as a video artist. Her 2001 short Getting Stronger Every Day, starring Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein, plays today as a vague aesthetic precursor to The Future. July also was renowned as a small-batch film distributer, having launched a project called Joanie4Jackie, which compiled short films made by women and created an infrastructure through which they could be sent around the country, chain-letter style.
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