Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Repost: Tiny Furniture (June 3rd and 4th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[TINY FURNITURE screens Friday June 3rd at 5:30pm and Saturday June 4th at 7:40pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio
TINY FURNITURE is a dramedy about a self-absorbed artist type living in New York who whines a lot while looking for love and some kind of direction in life.  Young would-be filmmaker Aura (Lena Dunham) has attained some small measure of fame, at least as the word is understood these days, from a video she posted on Youtube in which she strips down to her underwear. After graduating from college in that vast cultural wasteland known as Ohio and breaking up with a long-time boyfriend, she moves back home to Tribeca and her slightly dysfunctional family: photographer mom Siri (Laurie Simmons), whose portraits of doll furniture give the film its title, and overachieving sister Nadine (Grace Dunham).   Aura at first wants to move out with one of her college friends, but whatever independence she might have learned at college begins to evaporate as she slips back into the routine and comfort of being a child living at home. While trying to figure out her next move, Aura becomes interested in fellow Youtube star Jed (Alex Karpovsky), as well as Keith (David Call), a chef at the restaurant where she works as a hostess.
Writer/director/star Lena Dunham's film feels absolutely honest and heartfelt; it's well acted, and Dunham has an artist's eye for composing her shots.  There aren't so much laughs to be had here as there are little witty moments that bring a smile to your face, but that's fine.  My problem with TINY FURNITURE is that I wouldn't want to spend five minutes with any of these people, let alone an hour and a half. All the beautiful shots and witty quips in the world can't make up for that.  And to be perfectly honest, I'm just tired of indie films about young, upper-middle class, pseudo-intellectual angst.  Maybe I'd feel differently if Aura had more of a character arc, but she basically spins her wheels for the whole movie. Which I think is exactly what Dunham is going for. It's meant to be a snapshot of a character whose life is stuck in neutral and who maybe, just maybe, is beginning to shift into first gear by film's end.  If my description of this film sounds interesting to you, you should disregard my star rating (always the least useful part of any review) and go see it anyway.  It's not a bad film, it's just not for me.  2 ½ out of 4 stars.

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