Tag Archives: film

Bach with Greta

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Following the cult of the twenty-something struggles filling our TV and cinema screens recently (GIRLS, Beginners and Tiny Furniture, to name but a few), indie auteur Noah Baumbach returns with the release of Frances Ha – co-written by leading lady, and star of Baumbach’s 2010 Greenberg, Greta Gerwig.

A film about friendship, escape, finding love and growing up, Frances Ha is a surprisingly breezier departure from Baumbach’s past work. And it is clear Gerwig had something to do with this.

For a start we don’t have to try very hard (actually, at all) to fall in love with Frances, played by Gerwig herself. Or any of the other characters for that matter. (A quality lacking for me in Baumbach’s 2005 The Squid and the Whale).

Her willed (and adorable) naivety is at times a little overdone but it is careful not to romanticise too much Frances’ quintessential hand-to-mouth artist struggle in the Big City. And instead interweaves difficult themes in a genuinely funny and lighthearted way.

Like many of the late 90s and 00s characters – in what critics have lumped together as “the new sincerity” – the film reflects a point in all of our lives of wanting to get on in a ways that are true to ourselves, while escaping and minimising the obstacle of compromise. These are raw emotions without the irony of past generations.

And it is sincere and funny in its episodes of reckless childish misguidance – including a credit-card fueled spree to Paris and a first date bought with a tax rebate. There even seems to be a hint that these childish urges are actually the antidote to the falsity (bit strong? okay, expectations?) of adulthood which best friend Sophie, comes to accept. Or at the very least a balance is needed.

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Stylistically I forgot, as did those who I went to see it with, that I was watching a black and white film. And instead it swooped over to create a subtle yet obvious (go with it…) feeling we were watching a ‘story’, Frances’ story. One, which no matter how ordinary, is happening now and most certainly noteworthy.

Sentimental but not soppy, Frances Ha is a real treat. With Baumbach and Gerwig rumoured to be a romantic item also, I’m looking forward to their future together.

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Tiny Furniture

Now, I’m not talking about Sylvanian Families. If I were then I’d definitely feature my only memory of them – my friend Emma who smashed hers up after her parents divorced. If she couldn’t have a family neither could they. She had a point. No I’m talking about the release of actor, director and all round artist and writer Lena Dunham’s first feature film, Tiny Furniture.

Inspired by her own life, the film opens on Aura (played by Dunham) returning from university. She didn’t quite “find herself” there. In fact she seems to have lost herself. Completely. Something her sister Nadine (played by Dunham’s real sister) suggests is her, “epilogue to felicity”.

As well as being in her own self-confessed “post-graduate delirium” this film is about more than leaving university. Themes of becoming an adult but still living like a child with adult problems; sibling rivalry; family life and finding love, are just some of the issues this film so cleverly weaves through; never feeling too heavy but instead very real, full of moments of truth.

Speaking for a ( and maybe not her) generation growing up later, Aura is endearingly hopeless and not always through her own doing. Although it seems to be a somewhat middle class preoccupation (almost luxury), Dunham’s message still works, whispering- it’s ok not to know what you want to do, I don’t either.

Finding yourself and indulging in the getting lost is becoming less uncommon in film. With Miranda July’s The Future and Mike Mills’ Beginners being just two of the many recent films to focus on a twenty – thirty-something crisis. They’re looking at the little things, the everyday.

Sincere and playful, Tiny Furniture is certainly following and extending this wave. What’s more Dunham (or rather Aura) is leading a new slacker generation. Her work colleagues, friends and “little bit famous” on youtube friend, Jed, also relish in doing nothing. Contradictorily it is a necessity to do so in order to get somewhere. And this is where most of the film’s humour comes from. Most accurately summed up as Aura’s mum (again played by her real mum (it’s a family affair)) asks her daughter’s friend, “Do you have the same sense entitlement as my daughter?” To which she replies half naked, “Oh believe me, mine is much worse”.

A moment in life we can all identify with, it is surprisingly funny and compelling to watch. If I could I’d have happily watched Aura’s whole year. It is my year and your year at one time or another. So I urge you, go get lost in Dunham’s Tiny Furniture.

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