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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Embracing The Post-Collegiate Malaise: A Tiny And Personal Indie Comedy For The Right AudienceFeb. 14 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
When Lena Dunham's "Tiny Furniture" debuted in 2010, it became somewhat of a critical darling with near unanimous praise from mainstream outlets. Heck, Dunham even won an Independent Spirit Award for its screenplay. While the film is an interesting, if somewhat slight, indie--it probably plays to a more niche market than the critics would have you suspect. Dunham's work (she is its writer, director, and star) and characters ably showcase a combination of post-collegiate ennui and over-educated (and pseudo-intellectual) entitlement. Set in a fashionable New York City young, artistic and urban environment--the film's sardonic tone and cultural critique was sometimes reminiscent (to me) of the works of Whit Stillman (Metropolitan) but with an edgier and more modernized vibe. But the quirky story, which can be quite funny, also achieves a quiet poignancy when you least expect it. I suspect that, in many ways, "Tiny Furniture" will be fairly divisive when discovered by a wider audience. While I do think many will embrace its plentiful charms, I think it will have just as many detractors who might not connect with its core characters.
Dunham plays a recent film school graduate who returns home to live with her mother and sister in New York. Reeling with uncertainty, she has no idea what to do with her life. She reconnects with old friends, take a entry level job, spars with her sister and generally just goes with the flow with a rather apathetic view toward the future. Some of the film's funniest moments are provided by the almost elitist and superior set of friends that Dunham weaves throughout the picture. Kids who have more confidence and entitlement than ambition or talent. This is a world where YouTube has become a proving ground of celebrity, where reading a book is the height of intellectual status. It is a subtle skewering of a generation yet to find a purpose. But although I really enjoyed some of the offbeat humor in these sequences, it is rather stylized and probably not for every taste. The segments of home life are just as interesting, and the final quiet moment between daughter and mother is, perhaps, the film's strongest and most memorable scene.
"Tiny Furniture" is, in no way, a plot-driven piece. If you need a big story, this won't please you. This is a character driven indie that creates a mood and allows its characters to grow and shift in slight, but significant, ways. Dunham, as a writer, has a very specific voice. As an actress, she is unafraid to showcase (and expose) a very personal, and oftentimes unpleasant, side to her persona. And yet, she remains eminently identifiable. I also really liked Laurie Simmons, as her mother, who provides quite a few laughs throughout but whose complexities provide a lot of the film's shadings. While "Tiny Furniture" is not perfect, I really liked its sensibilities which were simultaneously absurd AND real providing for a winning combination. KGHarris, 12/11.
46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
An amusing movie about ANNOYING people.Nov. 29 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I FULLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I HAVE NOT SEEN THE CRITERION BLU RAY. THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE MOVIE ITSELF. I PUT IT OUT HERE, BECAUSE I THINK SO FEW PEOPLE HAVE HEARD OF IT OR KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT. TO THOSE WHO THINK WRITING A REVIEW FOR A PRODUCT THAT ISN'T OUT YET IS "BAD"...I APOLOGIZE.
Aura has just finished college in Ohio. Her major is Film Theory. Her boyfriend of 3 years has broken up with her, however. With no job prospects and no love life, she returns to the NYC home of her mother and her gifted younger sister Nadine. She spends a lot of time moping and she half-heartedly restarts a friendship with the far perkier, but clearly spoiled and selfish Charlotte. She takes a low paying job as a day hostess. She half-heartedly dates a Youtube star she meets at a party and she half-heartedly flirts with a good-looking but attached chef at her restaurant.
Aura is utterly aimless...and it is her aimlessness that is the focus of director/writer/star Lena Dunham's TINY FURNITURE. It's a very low-budget film that depicts lots of listless young people doing a lot of whining, navel-gazing and engaging in sharp-edged banter. The movie shows us a very tiny little particular sub-culture of humanity (bored, over-educated, under-employed New York City residents with artistic pretensions). It feels very real and specific...yet the people we meet are extremely aggravating. Some will find them actively upsetting. I found most of them to be beneath getting worked up about...but just low-grade annoyances. And absolutely NOT people I'd want to spend time with.
Aura makes mistakes with both men...but neither of them was right for her anyway. She irritates the heck out of her successful artist mother and has a volatile relationship with her high achieving and oh-so superior teenage sister, who seems to have the drive her intelligent but aimless older sister lacks. She drives away one "good" friend and spends too much time with a "bad" friend.
As I write all this, I realize it makes the movie sound darn near unwatchable. This is not true. Dunham has crafted some very funny dialogue for her characters...and to her credit, the witty remarks actually sound like something these people might say. They are so full of disdain for the world around them, but clearly feel the lack of belonging to that world. The Youtube artist that Aura spends some time with has become "famous" because he's made a series of videos depicting himself riding on a rocking horse while reciting Nietzsche. This has gotten him an agent and some appointments with producers in NYC. Yet it's also earned him no money, and he's essentially homeless in the city while making his rounds. Aura has a degree in film theory, a very passive degree indeed. Not in film production...theory. God forbid she should actually MAKE something. These modest plot turns and observations make TINY FURNITURE some fun to watch.
Dunham does an amusing job playing a character that I sincerely hope is not much like her. She has no shame as an actress...she spends much of the movie lying around her house in a shirt and panties, with her hair unkempt. She just can't make an effort to be presentable...even when she goes out, she appears to deliberately wear unflattering clothing. She has cast her real-life mother as her movie mother and her real life sister as her movie sister. Both performers are okay, but nothing great. But it's amusing see the physical similarities and differences.
TINY FURNITURE is a tiny film (reported budget is $45,000). While only 98 minutes long, it drags in places. Nothing much happens, and next to nothing is resolved. But it's got some wit and a good control of tone. I'm certainly impressed enough to at least be interested in seeing what Dunham does next. This is not a movie for everyone. If you shy away from "indie" or "quirky"...stay far away. But if you're always looking for something new(ish) and offbeat, I think you'll find at least a few satisfying nuggets here.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Pretty mediocre despite the glowing critical reviews...June 2 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
When Criterion announced this title, I was intrigued. The film generated some good buzz at Sundance (or SXSW), and Lena Dunham has a show on HBO now. After seeing this film, Criterion should rethink their criteria after this film because this film doesn't belong in the same catalog as masterworks of Fellini, Kurosawa, Antonioni, Visconti, Ford, etc., etc.. It doesn't even come close, and it's an insult to every serious film goer on the planet.
I don't think this film is the worst thing I've ever seen, but it is not a very good film, either. It's barely a mediocre one. It becomes more and more boring as it progresses, and aside from a few funny lines and good widescreen framing, it's an immensely dull exercise. Most of the acting borders on grating, and many of the characters are just dull and very uninteresting. The characters may be aimless, but the filmmaking is also aimless as well. It's shapeless and formless, and feels like a student film more than anything. Some people have called it a glorified home movie, and in some ways, they're right. Lena Dunham's cast consist of her sister and mother (her mother is a famous photographer in NYC, which may explain why Lena is getting a lot of breaks in her career after one mediocre film).
Trendy critics who are praising this film to the hilt should really reconsider their opinions next time. It is more important to look at a film objectively and criticise it on its merits than being part of the next hip, trendy thing. While Tiny Furniture is not as amateurish as other films of its type (Tiny Furniture in in some ways a "mumblecore" genre, and it's more professionally polished than most of those films are), it is by no means a great film, and should not be praised as one. Always remember. Just because a film is an indie film doesn't automatically make it a work of genius or even a decent film.
There are some shorts on the DVD as well, and one of them, Pressure, has to be one of the worst shorts I've ever seen. Criterion received a lot of criticism for including this film in their collection, and they deserved it in my opinion. They should not worry about trying to reach the "hip" audience and worry about releasing high quality works on their label.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Brush your damn hair.June 2 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm so confused by Lena Dunham. As a third generation post-feminist, I have a knee-jerk reaction to defend her. But, her shtick is just so tiresome. Maybe it's b/c I'm 40 and I no longer feel the need to over-intellectualize every single experience in my life. Existential crisis as art doesn't appeal to me now. I kind of liked this movie, just like I kind of like Girls. It's a little gross and irritating and desperate, which is the point... ? Is this mumblecore? Awkwardness as an affect? I don't know. The shots are framed beautifully. Put some pants on.
46 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Avant-garde caricature of post-collegiate soul-searchingJuly 9 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
If you've enjoyed GIRLS, you will also enjoy this film. I respect what this movie is trying to do, but I cannot endorse it.
This movie is trying to explore the angst and sadness that comes from leaving college and entering the real world. A protected undergraduate world full of academic concerns and intellectual friendships transitioning to an awful job, moving back in with one's family, a realization that the real world is not ivory towers and existential debates. It's a common plight in modern times, and surely many can relate.
I have to say, though, this movie impossible to watch. The characters are "real" in the sense that they are deeply pathetic and depressed. The dialogue is sharp and biting and blatantly (disgustingly) poetic. Mostly the dialogue is awkward, but moreover is incredibly disrespectful and antagonist. The characters are so thoroughly misdirected and unpleasant, it's not worth describing them as "real". Rather, they are caricatures of angst, depression, and loneliness. I have never met "real" people who are as consistently making such stupid decisions and who have such little respect for other human beings. Also, "real" people smile sometimes.
The whole movie is ugly: wallowing in pathos with no real plot or direction. And that's the whole point.