EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|TINY FURNITURE (director/writer: Lena Dunham; cinematographer: Jody Lee Lipes; editor: Lance Edmands; music: Teddy Blanks; cast: Lena Dunham (Aura), Laurie Simmons (Siri), Grace Dunham (Nadine), Rachel Howe (Candice), Merritt Wever (Frankie), Amy Seimetz (Ashlynn), Alex Karpovsky (Jed), Jemima Kirke (Charlotte), David Call (Keith); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Kyle Martin/Alicia Van Couvering; IFC Films; 2010)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This fine indie won
festival’s best narrative feature prize.
a good mix of romantic
comedy and psychodrama. Its no holds barred satire on
conventions among family members and engaging parody
of New Age
hipsters in Manhattan's Soho, give the film its edge.
The 22-year-old loser, Aura (Lena Dunham), graduates from an Ohio college and returns home to her mom's spacious Tribeca loft in Manhattan. Aura's successful photo-artist mom, Siri (Laurie Simmons, Lena’s actual mother who is an actual Soho photo-artist), whose specialty is taking photos of models posing with props of miniature furniture in her loft studio (thus the title), seems to have little time to warmly welcome her daughter home or listen to her heartbreaking story about her hick college boyfriend who left her for the farm in Colorado. Also living in the loft is Aura's brilliant 17-year-old high school student sister, Nadine (Grace Dunham, real-life sister of Aura's and someone who actually won the prestigious poetry award mentioned in the film), who has recently won a national poetry contest that's referenced as the "biggest high school award for poetry in the United States."
At a party, Aura
with her feisty and dissolute childhood friend Charlotte (Jemima Kirke, her real childhood friend), just out of rehab but
still a pot smoker
and pill popper. Aura mentions she studied filmmaking
in college and
shot a video of herself walking around campus in a
bikini, which got a
lot of hits on YouTube as well as a lot of nasty
comments about her
obesity. Also at the party she meets deadbeat Jed (Alex Karpovsky), a popular YouTube
who is spotted immediately by Charlotte as being a
and not the romantic prospect the desperate Aura
imagined he would be.
When Jed, a
Chicago looking for a TV deal in Gotham, goes out on a date with
Aura with no money,
she takes him home and has him crash in a her place
while mom and sis
are away for the next few days visiting colleges that
interested in attending. Things get twisty when Jed
shows no romantic
interest in Aura, as he's just there to eat all the
food in the fridge
and drink mom's wine and have a place to sleep in for
free. When mom
returns, she's pissed and orders Aura to give the
the boot. This leads to the hysterical Aura giving mom
for not caring about her needs and pain, and a falling
between them that is later awkwardly repaired.
Charlotte, through her
restaurant connections as a hostess, gets
Aura a dead-end job as the day hostess in a
There Aura meets another exploitative dude, Keith (David Call), the full of shit
philandering chef who
lives with his girlfriend but is not averse to
screwing around when he
gets the opportunity. After Keith fails to show up for
a date with
Aura, he gets her so upset that she quits her lousy
job. This leads to
Keith meeting Aura one more time and he screws her
protection in a pipe in the street, and then rushes
home leaving her
deserted in the street to get a taxi on her own. This
for Aura comes with a lecture from mom, but doesn't
seem to register
for this confused young lady who has trouble growing
up into a
responsible adult and is unsure of her future.
Who knows what to make of such an in your face self-effacing display by our protagonist! But we do know Aura is the vulnerable alter ego of Lena's and no matter how she puts herself down for looking so dorky, being so desperate around inadequate men and acting without a backbone, we know she's proud that she got it together to direct this successful mannered comedy. It's a movie that wonders about the fascination over Internet fame among the youth, the difficulty in finding trustworthy friends, the inability of some young adults to let go of their parents' apron strings and how fucked up so many young people are that they can't figure out what to do with themselves. Though it wasn't that pleasant watching all those humiliation scenes, nevertheless there was something perceptive and unsettling about it as it never failed to humanize Aura even in her worst moments. And it never failed to be a fascinating watch, showing us what a promising young director can do with such real-life modern material in such a low-budget film.
REVIEWED ON 12/5/2010 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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