Ed. Note: In “Give it to Jeremy — He’ll Watch Anything,” Jeremy blindly selects a movie from the Netflix “Random Picks” section, watches it, and records his reaction. It’s arbitrary. It’s chaos. It’s awesome. Warning: Spoilers.
Introducing… the truly random Random Pick! Make sure you’re sitting down for this, geeks: to make this selection, I pulled up Interactive Ruby, ran the command “rand 20” and got the response “7”. So I will now dutifully watch the seventh movie in the Random Picks list:
Future Weather: “After her mother abandons her, a 13-year-old girl tries to help thwart global warming while negotiating a difficult relationship with her grandmother.”
This has the potential to be a really interesting, good movie; it also could be a preachy, convoluted trainwreck. Either way, my complex calculations indicate that it runs under 100 minutes, so let’s get to it. (I’m also going to warn you right now: I struggled with the protagonist’s name.)
Is this movie for me? Was that sexist? Should I shut up and watch the movie?
Tough opening scene in which a drunk woman brings a guy home from the bar, then tucks in her tweenaged daughter.
Amanda: “I was really hoping that was her sister.”
The 13-year-old protagonist in a voiceover, reading her science class essay: “Science is also the only way we’re going to figure out how to make our planet safe for future generations.”
The 32-year-old skeptic and curmudgeon, writing this reaction piece: “Prove it.”
Look, a bread box! I’ve never had one of those. That was weirdly exciting.
Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention: The bread box is significant because that’s where Lana-Rey’s (I think that’s what she’s called?) mom put her “I’m abandoning you” note. Sad trombone.
Hey, my mom had that grill. Slightly different color, though. I think it was Weber. The charcoal kind that’s sort of square? You know.
Anyway, before leaving for school, Rey just did a bunch of jumping jacks while yelling frustrated and angry obscenities. Pretty fantastic little scene.
Oh, man. This poor kid (Neil) has a major crush on severe-faced Rey, who is super, super angry about how carbon dioxide is killing off our ocean’s coral. (And probably about some other stuff. Liker her mom leaving. I’m just guessing.)
I’m always impressed when a young actor has to carry scenes by him- or herself. This thirteen-year-old girl is doing a lot of scenes by herself, and really nailing the emotions without being over-the-top. When I was thirteen, I was pretty good at basic algebra, so-so at saxophone, and still shot a basketball with two hands. I mean, I could have carried scenes in a major motion picture, I’m just saying that I didn’t.
Lana’s teacher, talking about biodiversity, just said “This is a big deal.” It felt like she was saying it directly into the camera. Into our homes. Into our souls. I’m a little scared about where this thread of the movie is heading. (Specifically, Preachy Falls.)
I just got I-want-leave-the-room-to-get-away-from-this-scene uncomfortable, which I’ve always accepted as a sign of good acting. In this case, Rey explained her science project to her teacher, who immediately questioned it and cautioned that it was too complex and would not work. Rey’s real discomfort and disappointment had me squirming in my seat.
I wonder what that little metal key is that Lana wears around her neck? Does it open something important? Have I been playing too many adventure video games lately?
Important question: Is the main character’s name Lana? Or is it Rey? Or is it Ray? It’s confusing, that’s what it is.
The science content so far is mildly interesting, but it feels very forced into the dialogue. As if there was a nice coming-of-age script written first, and then a movie exec said, “Have you heard about this global warming stuff? It’s pretty crazy. Hey, why don’t you jam it into your script? You know? This stuff is sellin’!”
Note: My perception of “movie execs” is based entirely on what I’ve seen in TV comedies.
The what’s-working score so far: Awkward Science Content 0, Moody Teenage Girl With Abandonment Issues 100.
I am really enjoying the movie’s direction and how it’s cut together. Nice cinematography and pacing. (I’d be a great film cricket.)
Important question #2: Where does this movie take place? All we know for sure at this point is that it’s not California (that’s where Rey’s mother ran off to), and it’s not Florida (that’s where Rey’s grandmother wants to move her to).
Rey’s grandmother, Greta, lays down the truth like only a grandmother can: “Everybody’s doing the best that they can, and you better rise to the occasion, hon.”
In a very short montage, we see Rey help an ant into its hill and remove a plastic grocery bag from a tree branch overhanging the sidewalk. Just call her Johanna Appleseed.
And whatever you do, don’t call her Lana, or Rey. I finally looked it up quick, and it’s Lauduree. (So close.)
I’m really digging the understated music in this film.
The only name and face I recognize so far is Lili Taylor, who plays the science teacher, Ms. Markovi. I’m actually least impressed with her. It may just be the writing, of course, since most of her dialogue is explaining how we the people are destroying the earth. Her scenes feel more like a reporter doing a news report for TV than a teacher talking naturally to her students.
Amanda reacts to Lauduree reacting to her grandparents’ tomfoolery: “So angsty.” The actress really does hit it perfectly.
The science tie-in awkwardness continues, as Lauduree tries to explain to her teacher why Ms. Markovi has allergies and/or was crying: “Global warming’s increasing pollen count.” Can’t a person just sniffle anymore?
Greta, to her granddaughter: “I’m really tired of this Miss Know-It-All attitude.” I second that notion. Though, I also wonder how many people said that when I was thirteen. Or, if I’m being honest, when I was between ages thirteen and twenty-two. Ok, ok. Between thirteen and present.
MISTER, I mean. Obviously, Mister.
Greta sure is one manipulative old lady. In fact, she reminds me of Jenna Maroney’s mom a little bit. It all comes back to 30 Rock, doesn’t it? Life, I mean.
Important question #3: No, seriously. Where does this movie take place?
Lauduree sleepwalks/talks. It happened once briefly earlier in the movie, and now again. It seemed kind of creepy and random at first, but in this scene the sleeptalking Lauduree thinks that Greta is her mother and it’s allowing Lauduree to share some stories about Tanya that neither us nor Greta knew about. It’s a pretty slick storytelling device.
Whoever plays Greta is really good. Acting the crap out of a lot of scenes, and smoking cigarettes like a pro.
Minor spoiler alert: Greta just told Lauduree that Tanya begged her to have an abortion. Is that a thing to tell a thirteen-year-old girl? I am horrified. She’s basically talking to Lauduree like she’s just some person. “Hey, young girl, nobody wants you, including me.” Holy shit, this scene hurts to watch.
A really painful scene in which Lauduree loses her temper on the world around her through the we’re-destroying-the-world metaphor culminates in this well-delivered line to Greta: “I’m not getting in that car. It’s poison. YOU’RE poison.”
I’m rewinding (I’ll use that word until the day I die, when I’m rewinding my virtual reality tapes), because I think I just missed a chance to see some license plates, and, hence, a clue to where this movie takes place.
Nope, no help there.
Amanda: “Illinois. I just looked it up.” A wise woman once told me, why spend time trying to figure something out yourself when you can just ask somebody. (Amanda. It was Amanda who said that. And not just once. Repeatedly. Listen to your wives, gentlemen. They’re smart.)
Again, the music. Understated, moody. Reminds me a little bit of what Last Of Us was able to do. (Yep, I just used a video game to compliment a movie. Ladies and gentlemen… the 2010s!)
“I like science because it helps me measure changes.”
There it is. There’s the tagline.
Clearly, I enjoyed this movie. To the point that I cut out most of my real-time thoughts from the final scenes to spare you any emotional spoilers. The awkwardness of the science/doomsday/ripped-from-the-headlines content in Future Weather was adequately counteracted by (1) not being a huge part of the movie and (2) successfully working as a metaphor for Lauduree’s doomsday fears about her personal life. This was just a really solid story — well-acted, well-written, well-directed, well-scored — that left me mulling the character’s journey well after I was done watching.
Speaking of the writing and directing, I’d never heard of the writer-director, Jenny Deller. Turns out: This is her first and only feature-length film so far. Well done! A name to watch out for. I’d definitely recommend this one to just about anyone.
I’ll be coming of age with another Random Pick soon. Stay tuned!