Tag Archives: Indie

41. Tiny Furniture – Lena Dunham (2010)

First viewing.

“He’s really famous, in an internet sort of way.”

As I’ve mention previously on this semi-narcissistic blog of mine, I do love a mumblecore film. And, as is my love for said genre, I’ve been waiting to catch the much hyped Tiny Furniture for the best part of  two years. Finally Criterion have done the decent thing and given it a DVD release. I know, Criterion DVD, that’s fancy talk for arty/international/damn-fucking-good. (delete as applicable)  So, the question on all of your lips, the one that you’re all desperate to ask is this; “How good is it?” The answer, I’m saddened to report, is as follows, it’s rather underwhelming. And that’s despite it being shot in Tribeca. Was there too much expectation on my part? Perhaps. But I did start off loving the opening 30 minutes. It’s witty, hipster-ish in a good way, and rather entertaining. Then it falls into the trap of becoming, what we bloggers in the underground cinemas who smoke our American spirits, drink our black coffee and never leave our house unless it’s to go to the movies call “up it’s own arse.” It’s a technical phrase. It stops being witty and, instead, starts whining about how shit everything is. Now I love a bit of whining, it’s cool with me when others do it even, but this is the cinematic equivalent of that annoying girl we all knew who moans that daddy won’t buy her a new pony. What’s wrong with the pony you already have? I had to make do with a postcard of a horse. Not that I ever wanted a pony in the first place, I just like postcards. I’ve started to digress, but, my point is this, it becomes hipster cliché 101. It’s like every bad article you’ve read on Vice, but filmed, and with a bunch of annoying actors, minus the wonderful Jemima Kirke. Kirke really is the best thing on screen, she’s got a certain self aware charm that all the others lack. (Nothing to do with her being from London, honest….) I really couldn’t believe how much my initial enthusiasm for the film had waned by the time the closing credits arrive.

Now what I do really love about the movie is the cinematography, it’s rather elegant. It’s shot on a Canon 7D, which, as you may know, is a stills camera. And not the most expensive camera in the world either. It’s a great piece of equipment, and, with some nice lenses, you can make a fantastic looking movie that won’t break the bank. So Lena Dunham deserves praise for the film’s quality production, sadly her acting and scriptwriting skills really aren’t as good.

As I’ve said, the opening works wonderfully, but it just can’t sustain it. Dunham certainly showed some potential for future movies, but this ain’t so great…

Marks out of ten  – Six

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38. Chronicle – Josh Trank (2012)

First Viewing.

This first thing you’ll want to do after seeing this movie is google how much the budget was, well, I can save you the trouble, it was just $15m. Yep, that’s it. It looks a hell of a lot more expensive. It puts Hollywood movies, with their bloated $100m+ budgets, to shame.  So now, we’ve established it looks great, but is the actual movie any good? Yep, it’s definitely not a let down. It works on two levels, the primary one being an old fashioned ‘I’ve-got-me-some-superpowers-what-shall-I-do-now’ thriller/white-knuckle-ride genre flick, but also it works as an observation of human morality. It asks questions of what we, the average morality obedient viewer, would do if we had the power to change our life, how far would we go? Could we control ourselves? The three main characters who receive these “powers” are faced with that dilemma. Naturally the film needs to push the characters in question to extreme choices, but, you can’t help thinking, what would I do if I were in the same situation as them?

Another element I enjoyed immensely about the movie is the brevity of it all. We’re not bogged down with endless scenes involving the characters using their powers for good/bad, or them arguing about what they should do with said powers, or even the tiresome Hollywood-esque boy-pining-after-girl drama. I’m always one for seeing the growth/change of a character throughout a movie, but Chronicle isn’t really one that needs to concern itself with that too much. With the limited scope for character arc Dane DeHaan does a fine job of taking his character, Andrew, into an Anakin Skywalker-esque meltdown, even if it does happen at rather breakneck speed. The movie, as a whole, should be the benchmark for contemporary sci-fiction/superpower movies, it’s not all about big budgets, it’s how you use it, you know…

Marks out of ten – Eight

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36. Cold Weather – Aaron Katz (2010)

First Viewing.

This movie has all kinds of ingredients I love; hipsters, baseball statistics, Sherlock Holmes, some mystery and a trip to a tobacconist to buy a pipe. It can’t fail with content like that! In all seriousness though it’s a very good movie that’s been made with very little money. Katz’s last flick, Quiet City, was one of my top five movies from 2007 and, if I had to pick, the best of the mumblecore bunch (although Mutual Appreciation, Nights & Weekends, Baghead, and My Effortless Brilliance are all contenders, despite averaging less than six out of ten on the useless IMDB rating system.) There’s some debate, sparked by Katz’s comments during a Q&A session, regarding whether this is a hipster-mystery-movie or a story about sibling relationships. Both elements are valid and engaging, making for a good genre movie. The scenery is fantastic, one really gets a feel for the landscape of Portland, and also the downtown urban scene, it’s an interesting juxtaposition of settings – I’m itchin’ to visit Portland now. Surprisingly, for a mumblecore film, this has a pretty strong story running throughout, the “mystery” surrounding the movie isn’t exactly of Hitchcock standard, naturally, but it works well against the usual reserved dialogue of Katz’s films.

If you’ve not seen any of Katz’s films then this is his most accessible work so far and also a good place to start if you’re a mumblecore virgin.

Marks out of ten – Seven

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