DID YOU READ

Miranda July discusses “The Future,” voicing a cat and why adults should use their imagination

Miranda July discusses “The Future,” voicing a cat and why adults should use their imagination (photo)

Posted by on

Artist/writer/filmmaker Miranda July has been on my radar since 1999, when I discovered her spoken word album The Binet-Simon Test. It includes the track “Lena Beamish,” which is about a talk show about siblings who do daredevil stunts because they can’t feel physical pain. This is the sort of thing I liked listening to on my boombox as a teenager, while I lay on the floor waiting to grow older so my real life as an interesting person could begin.

July’s new film, “The Future,” is all about this waiting game, and the milestones we set for ourselves that we may never reach. Sophie, a dance teacher (played by July), and her boyfriend Jason (the dreamy Hamish Linklater), have been dating long enough that they’re ready for the next level of commitment: they’re going to adopt an injured cat (voiced by July). But Paw Paw isn’t ready to come home just yet, and in the interim, the couple’s life changes dramatically.

IFC: I think something you’ve done really well in your work is conveying the theme of growing pains. You’ve done it with children, and in “Me and You and Everyone We Know” with the teenage characters, and now it’s the growing pains of being in your mid-thirties. It never ends.

MJ: Yeah, and you think…there’s a point at which you become adult.

IFC: And you can stop projecting into when it’s going to be “better.”

MJ: Exactly. I do think I’m hopeful, and there is a sort of buoyancy to that, but I also am thinking the good thing is about to happen and I get there and I’m like, “Oh, this is what the good thing feels like?” I always have to remind myself: when the good thing happens, remember that you may feel bizarrely empty. (laughter)

IFC: You have symbols for growing pains, like in this movie it’s Sophie’s dance with the yellow shirtie, and in “Me and You” when he lights his hand on fire…and there’s this idea of having to exaggerate it so that it can really reach. Even the wig in your story “Something that Needs Nothing.”

MJ: Yeah, it is true that I like, especially for these ideas that are kind of esoteric, to have it be an object, or something that you can fill with meaning, and then the object is that, and you don’t have to keep talking about growing or anything.

IFC: Like you give it weight and mass.

MJ: Yeah. Exactly.

video player loading . . .

IFC: I like how you do so many voices. I think that’s what drew me to your CDs back when I was in my bedroom as a teenager.

MJ: Yeah, so for you the cat is not…

IFC: I totally get the cat.

MJ: That’s nice. When I was doing that, I was like, “What am I doing?” This is going to be confusing: I’m Sophie/I’m the cat. And a few people said, “Miranda, this is so what you do. This is connecting it to past work.” And I was like, Oh…is that a good thing? But ultimately, if anyone was going to pull that off, at least it would be someone who wasn’t doing arbitrarily. It comes from a real comfort. I like doing that.

IFC: I was an only child until I was eight, so I used to make radio shows and I would do all the parts…

MJ: I just found one of those tapes actually, of mine, doing the same thing: a radio show. It’s really bad because I’m trying to involve my mom while she’s making dinner and she’s trying to cook and entertain me and…

IFC: And you were being her director.

MJ: Yeah, and she’s like, “Back to you, Sam,” and I’m like, “I’m not Sam, I’m Joe!” And I’m really angry and she’s like, “Oh, sorry, Joe…”

IFC: Do you feel like the way you lived in your imagination then has never stopped? Like some people stop playing make-believe or playing dress-up and they grow up, and for you, you just kept performing?

MJ: To some degree that must be true, but I resist the idea that it’s so childlike, because God, it takes such diligence, you know? And I would like to think that it’s an adult way to be also. So I’m trying to espouse that.

IFC: That it’s a skill and a craft…

MJ: Well that, but also I mean that these things, what if we thought of them as adult things? This kind of curiosity or playing, what if we shifted and thought, “Oh that’s a really mature, thoughtful and appropriate thing to do.” I actually think it’s good for my relationships; it helps me understand myself. I think the way it’s good for children, it’s also good for adults.

IFC: You’ve said that part of your career is about forming this intimacy with your audience, and I’ve noticed that in how you title things for your audience, or you include your audience in your title.

MJ: I use “you” a lot. I know. I think it’s because it works on me. I put this on my blog, but I had passed some graffiti that said “YOU WOULD,” and I felt very called out by it. That pulled me right in. I got away from it with this title (“The Future”), but I have a book coming out in the fall called “It Chooses You.” So now I’m falling back in.

IFC: I also think of your short film, “Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?” When I heard that title, I thought, “Am I?” And then you see the movie and you’re like, “Whose favorite person am I?”

MJ: I know.

IFC: Like the graffiti, it calls you out.

MJ: It’s trying to use self-interest, all of our self-interest, as a tool in a way. A useful tool.


Leigh Stein is a writer and teaching artist. Her first novel, The Fallback Plan, is forthcoming from Melville House in 2012 and can be pre-ordered here.

Neurotica_105_MPX-1920×1080

New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

IFC_CC_Neurotica_Series_Image4

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

Neurotica_series_image_1

IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

via GIPHY

Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

via GIPHY

And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

PL_409_MPX-1920×1080

Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

via GIPHY

Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

via GIPHY

Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

via GIPHY

Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

via GIPHY

Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

via GIPHY

If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.