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Tiny Furniture: Life After Graduation is Bleak
Semi-autobiographical Tiny Furniture tells the story of Aura (Dunham), a fresh graduate who, due to the dismal job market, has moved back in with her mother and overachieving younger sister. Tiny Furniture shows how she readjusts to her old life, tackles her crummy first job and starts dating again after being dumped by her college boyfriend.
The film is an interesting as a companion piece to Girls, writer/director Lena Dunham’s TV show, which shares similar preoccupations and themes with her debut film.
The film suffers from a low budget and the lack of experience of those involved. The camera work and lighting are reminiscent of student films and the script rambles and is sometimes inconsistent, yet there are a few really great lines that point to potential. The supporting characters exist solely in relation to Aura and drop out of the film whenever they fulfil their purpose. Despite the limited material they’re given, the actors do a good job with their roles. Kirke and Karpovsky in, both of whom also star in Girls, particularly stand out.
The film’s strength lies in how it portrays the feeling of being stuck between childhood and adulthood. Technically, Aura has finished college and is thus an adult. What actually happens is that by moving into her childhood home again, she regresses back to her old life. It’s much harder figuring out who you are when you don’t have to worry about surviving and there’s someone coddling you all the time. It’s definitely a very privileged problem to have, which the characters are aware of, but it’s also one that many of us can relate to.
There’s a lot of great material and ideas here, ones that will strike a chord with people going through the same phase, but they’re drowned in both the inconsistent and crowded nature of the film. One idea that could have been far more resonant was how Aura, in her loneliness, clung to new friends with both hands and became far too attached far too soon. However, the characters are too broadly drawn for that.
Nonetheless, Dunham shows a flair for finding humour in the awkward aspects of life. When it clicks, you’ll be laughing your head off, only it won’t necessarily be a happy laugh; it’ll most likely be because what’s on screen is painfully real and you’ve gone through it before or know that it’s coming up in the near future.
The first half focuses far too much on Kelsey and Lynette and not enough on say, Rebecca Hall who plays Alan’s sister Mel. In fact, the film in general is pretty light on Hall and she just randomly drops out of the film without having her arc tied up, even though she’s the most magnetic performer in the whole thing. Canterbury, on the other hand, has far too big a part and while he’s decent as Kelsey, his pouting does become a bit one-note after a while.
The second half is, thankfully, far superior, mainly because Alan and Ben grow out of their immaturity and are forced to make some big decisions that shed some light on their relationship and back story. This is also where Sandvig and Ritter’s chemistry shines. They really nail the old friends dynamic and it stretches and warps as a wedge is driven between them, challenging their entire way of life.
Following his successful breakthrough comedy-drama, In Bruges (2008), writer-director Martin McDonagh is reunited with Irish bad-boy, Collin Farrell, for another crack at dark comedy.
Seven Psychopaths follows struggling Irish screenwriter, Marty (Farrell), who is experiencing every writer's nightmare – a severe case of writer's block. So far, he's only got the working title for his next film project worked out – Seven Psychopaths – but, the rest of the story isn’t so forthcoming. With nothing but a few measly ideas scribbled on scraps of paper, Marty's personal hell soon sees the writer sinking deeper and deeper into anxiety and alcoholism.
He finds encouragement in his best-bud Billy (Rockwell), who along with his partner-in-crime, Hans (Walken), makes his living in the dog-pinching business. Unfortunately, stealing dogs from their wealthy owners – and later returning them for the reward money – goes awry when Billy nabs a dog belonging to murderous gangster, Charlie (Harrelson).
Before long, the fictional story of Seven Psychopaths – the one Marty has been struggling to bring to life – becomes real and the careworn writer soon begins to live right in the middle of his own story.
Set in the seedy Hollywood hills, before moving on to the Californian desert, Seven Psychopaths is presented as a film about making a film, when in actual fact, it's a film about not making a film; the obstacles to success are not overcome and there is no triumphant final act bringing all of the elements together. Although the story's unusual premise offers a few rather amusing moments, there isn’t much else to hold onto.
Seven Psychopaths also feels a little too self-conscious and restrained. McDonagh – just like his central character – has some serious struggles of his own; a lot of the sequences feel forced and after a banging start, the film loses momentum and withers away as it gets lost in its own self-referential pseudo-philosophy.
The film furthers its suffering by not taking full advantage of its star-studded Hollywood cast. Cameos from Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton are completely wasted and Rockwell's verbal diarrhoea is a little too much to take. On a positive note, Farrell has no problem in nailing the good-for-nothing drunk, while Harrelson and Walken deliver like the pros they are.
On the whole, Seven Psychopaths is meta-gangster film wannabe – if even that. Over-written and a little too aware of itself, the film never develops into anything more than an occasionally amusing mishmash. What starts of as an intricate narrative descends into absurdity very quickly.