Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Tiny Furniture

Title: Tiny Furniture
Director: Lena Dunham
Released: 2010
Staring: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham, Rachel Howe, Merritt Wever, Amy Seimetz, Alex Karpovsky

Plot: Aura returns home from college to her artist family’s TriBeCa loft, with nothing but a degree in film philosophy, a failed relationship and generally no idea on what to do next with her life, while her personal life issues only continue to throw her into a further tailspin.

Review: For those of you who follow either my Twitter or Facebook feeds, you will know already what a big fan I am of “Girls” which I've already proclaimed as being “one of my first must see's of the autumn TV schedule” while also a show also created by and staring Dunham and which now also seems like an expansion on the ideas explored in this film, for here once again Dunham gives us the counter to the NY fantasy of “Sex and The City” as she instead gives us the reality of life in the city or perhaps more accurately life in lower Manhattan than perhaps one of the more sleazier neighborhoods of the city.

While mumblecore (uber low-budget comedy-drama films) as a genre is supposedly dead, this is still one of the more fun additions to this frequently over looked (often with good reason) genre, especially after the mind numbing banality of “Hannah Takes The Stairs” which until now had been the last of the handful of films which I had seen from this genre and which honestly had not exactly had me rushing out to see more, especially when the main focus is often on college kids sitting in front of the camera and having supposedly riveting conversations, while in many ways trying to emulate the same dialogue driven film making which made “Clerks” so memorable. However that film is a fitting starting point when it comes to describing this film, as this is essentially a film were nothing really happens much like “Clerks” only this time we get to see more than three locations, as Aura attempts to get her own life in check, only without none of the “were did it all go wrong” lament that Dante became such a memorable character for. Aura on the other hand is instead more lost, having left college with no real career plans, a useless degree in film philosophy and boyfriend who ended their relationship in favour of returning home to Colorado to see about the spirits of his ancestors. Still like Dante, Aura has her own group of social misfits to deal with only this time disguising themselves as members of the Tribecca art crowd rather than New Jersey slackers, with Aura finding herself with a ever increasing list of problems often without trying as she has contend with her permentley distracted photographer mother and pretentious younger sister (played by Dunham’s real life mother and sister). Her social life is non the less chaotic, as she switches between two potential suitors, Jed (Karpovsky) a minor internet celebrity who like Aura has clearly bought into his own band of bullshit as he deludes himself constantly that he is on the verge of making his big break while freeloading of Aura, despite having zero intrest in having any kind of relationship with her. Her other potential suitor is Keith, a chef at the restaurant Aura takes a hostess job at, who is frustrated with the porn obsessed antics of his fellow chefs, disgusted by their attempts to show him a video entitled “Cum Omelette” while at the same time openly admitting to a love of tentacle rape porn. Still compared to Jed he is easily the lesser of two evils even though he has a girlfriend, which ultimately has zero effect on things here, especially as she is only ever mentioned but never actually seen.
The cast are all likeable enough with Dunham proving herself to be an equally engaging and charming lead, while her her average looks only further plays to her advantage, as she is not just another pretty leading lady, bumbling from situation to situation before finally finding her prince charming, even more so as by the end of this film very little is actually resolved if at all, somthing which will no doubt irritate those who prefer thier endings alittle more closed than the one you get here and as such it reminded me of the likes of "Ghost World" and "Welcome To The Dollhouse" both of which make for excellent further viewing, even more so when they seem to explore similar themes with thier own directionless girls.

Ultimately the film like so many other examples of the Mumblecore genre frequently can seem like a string of seemingly random encounters and conversations strung together with the loosest of plotlines, with Dunham relying more on the appeal of her characters and their frequently random conversations to drive the film, rather than any kind of drama or action, something which will no doubt be the tiping point for most, especially those of you who like your films with alittle more action than you certainly get here. Still despite this, I found myself immersed in this film, perhaps largely due to my love of well written dialogue, but needless to say I found it anything but a boring experience, perhaps outside of the occasional irritance at characters like Jed, who is continually such a pretentious douche, yet at the same time it was hard to figure out if he had been intentionally written this way or not.
While many of the critics who commented on this film upon its original release were quick to declare Dunham the voice of this generation, I can't help but feel that it is a label which was given slightly misguidedly, for while Dunham is certainly a new and exciting voice, somthing which has only been further grounded by her show "Girls", she is not perhaps the voice of this generation,but instead a voice of note instead if only as the validation that the mumblecore genre is infact capable of more than pretentious ramblings.

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