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Thursday, June 13, 2024
'Tiny Furniture' features massive amount of talent

Tiny Furniture

'Tiny Furniture' features massive amount of talent

Lena Dunham. Make sure you remember that name because she's going to be big. When I say big, I mean in a big fish in a little pond kind of way. Dunham is the writer, director and lead actress in her new film ""Tiny Furniture,"" and as I walked out of the showing, I realized I've never been more excited about the future of a specific filmmaker.

The film's story follows a girl named Aura (Dunham), who is basically trying to figure out what to do with her life. Aura returns home to her artist mother's loft with a useless film theory degree and a burning desire to float through Brooklyn until she finds a direction in life. Luckily, the film drifts along in the best kind of way, in the Benjamin Braddock kind of way. The film is a bastard child of ""The Graduate"" and ""Annie Hall"" with a pinch of hipster identity that you would find in any project by a New York based film grad like Dunham. The film seems to be at least partially autobiographical, and you certainly get a strong sense of realism in the film because Dunham casts her actual mother and sister to play the mother and sister of her character. The entire 90-minute film centers on Aura trying to find herself, but since she's such an interesting individual it's a fairly easy watch.

Dunham isn't your typical leading lady, but hey, Woody Allen isn't your typical leading man. Woody carved out a new cultural personality that is still recognizable today, and I think Dunham has the same kind of potential. She's got a lot of power because she's got a strong self-evaluation and even stronger control over her craft. Much like Allen, she could spend the rest of her career in her small niche area (though I hope she doesn't) and still make impressive work for years to come. When you can make a film like this on a Canon 7D camera with just a $45,000 budget you're going to get a lot of crappy student art. However, you're also going to get voices like this. Dunham's voice would likely never have been heard in the classical Hollywood system.

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Lena's character Aura is interesting enough, but she wouldn't be much without her surroundings. The decision to shoot the film almost entirely in a Tribeca-styled loft was a beautifully minimalist idea. You never see the same setup twice even though you're dealing with only a handful of different rooms.

Dunham's cinematography is extremely intimidating for a twenty-four year old. She's obsessed with giving you multiple things to look at within the frame. The film is smart enough to never break out the big stereotypical shots of New York. It knows that it's better to feel the city in the movie than to actually show it like we've seen a million times before.

While the film loves to place its main character in a complex frame, it also knows that one voice isn't going to be enough to hold our attention the entire time. The film's cast consists simply of the mother, the sister, two girlfriends and two ""love"" interests. Each character has their own voice and each of them is a pleasant twist on cardboard cut-outs of people you regularly see in this type of hipster universe. By the time all these characters have said their peace with each other the film is almost over, and while the story might end on a bit of a dud, it's an appropriate dud that shows a key moment of self-realization that the film would leave the film lacking if absent.

I know it's starting to become hip to shit on boring indie film crap that pretends to be high-brow. For the most part, I like partaking in that activity. However, ""Tiny Furniture"" is not one of these imposters, despite what the trailer may make the film look like. A few of Dunham's attempts in the film may fall short but I think it's more important that she's taking some big risks. She's asking interesting questions and doing it with a sense of style and wit that is admirable. It's the funniest film I've seen in months and if its intended audience can find it, ""Tiny Furniture"" will undoubtedly become a cult classic.

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