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A recent college grad returns home while she tries to figure out what to do with her life.
For more about Tiny Furniture and the Tiny Furniture Blu-ray release, see Tiny Furniture Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 27, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Alex Karpovsky
Director: Lena Dunham
» See full cast & crew
Tiny Furniture Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 27, 2012
Winner of Best First Screenplay Award at the Independent Spirit Awards, Lena Dunham's "Tiny Furniture" (2010) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original trailer; four short films directed by Lena Dunham; video interview with writer, director, and critic Paul Schrader; and more. The disc also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip Lopate. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Aura (Lena Dunham) has just graduated from college and returned home to New York City. Now she must figure out what to do next – find a new boyfriend or get a job. Her mother (Laurie Simmons), a successful artist, hopes that she won't interfere with her work while she is trying to make up her mind. Her sister (Grace Dunham) does not care what she does.
At a party, Aura's best friend Charlotte (Jemima Kirke), a trendy young woman who lives with her father's precious credit card, introduces her to Jed (Alex Karpovsky), an up-and-coming filmmaker whose YouTube videos have become a big hit. He is in town to get a deal with someone, possibly the Comedy Channel, but there is something wrong with his ATM card and he does not have a place to stay. A couple of days later they meet and Aura invites Jed to crash at her mother's apartment while she is away on business.
Soon after, Aura gets her first job – answering the phone and making reservations for a small restaurant. This isn't her dream job for but it is a good start – or maybe not. After her first check arrives, she immediately quits and goes back to doing nothing.
Before Aura quits her job, however, she befriends one of the restaurant's chefs, Keith (David Call), who is in love with various pills and has a girlfriend who drives him crazy. They go out, get stoned, have sex, and then part ways. The experience forces Aura to reconsider her priorities and talk to her busy mother.
It is difficult to tell whether Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture was meant to be funny. It isn't difficult to tell that it was meant to be realistic. The dilemmas Aura faces after she returns home are painfully familiar and her frustration very easy to understand. There are undoubtedly thousands of young people with worthless college degrees in America right now who probably feel exactly like she does – disillusioned, depressed, lost and hurt.
The 'funny' in the film comes from Aura's misery. There are a number of extremely awkward sequences in which she does things without thinking about the consequences that remind about Woody Allen's work. A few of these sequences, however, have some very dark overtones that none of Allen's films have. (Aura's misery is a byproduct of her worthless education. Her communication skills are great, her instincts are excellent, but it is clear that she has been effectively reshaped into yet another dull and docile consumer without serious goals who predictably gets lost in the real world).
The film is choppy and disorganized for a reason - Aura's life is a series of episodes rather than an exciting journey. Each of her days is filled with meaningless conversations, cheap thrills and various minor disappointments. This is exactly the type of life that makes some people addicted to Prozac.
The actors are incredibly believable. Lena Dunham, who wrote and directed the film, is terrific as the disillusioned Aura. By the time she goes out on a date with the chef, it is absolutely impossible not to truly feel sorry about her. In fact, she is so good it makes one wonder what her real life was like before she made the film. Alex Karpovsky is also great as the ambitious and seriously irritating YouTube sensation. Laurie Simmons, who is Lena Dunham's real mother, is pitch-perfect as the successful artist who does not have enough time for her daughter.
Note: Last year, Tiny Furniture won Best Screenplay Award Best First Screenplay (Lena Dunham) at the Independent Spirit Awards.
Tiny Furniture Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
I did not see Tiny Furniture theatrically and therefore do not know exactly how it looked projected, but its transition to Blu-ray is quite pleasing. Shot with a Canon EOS 7D camera, the film often looks notably bright and vibrant, to the point of occasionally looking sterile (see screencapture #2). Detail is consistently excellent but shadow definition occasionally fluctuates. Colors look rich and mostly natural. It takes some time, however, to get used to the 'digital' qualities the film has - often times the ultra smooth and fluid image is borderline distracting while the strong edge definition could be mistaken for edge-enhancement (see screencapture #18). All in all, there is no doubt in my mind that fans of the film will be impressed with the solid presentation. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Tiny Furniture Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The audio has been optimized as best as possible - the dialog is so crisp and clean that quite often it literally feels like we are in the same room with the main protagonists - but surround activity is very limited. Teddy Blanks minimalistic score also only occasionally comes alive. There are no sync issues, distortions, or audio dropouts.
Tiny Furniture Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Tiny Furniture Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Tiny Furniture is an ambitious but very difficult film to like. It seems like it was meant to be a quirky comedy, but I thought that it was incredibly sad, often to the point of being unbearably depressing. The film gets quite a few things right, but I side with those who believe that there is nothing in it that we have not seen before done a lot better. As expected, Criterion's presentation of the film is impressive. RENT IT.
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The Criterion Collection has posted their full roster of Blu-ray releases for February 2012. Titles include Chris Marker's La Jetée & Sans Soleil, Hideo Gosha's Three Outlaw Samurai, Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's World on a Wire, Otto ...
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