Thursday, February 17
Ghost World editor Michael R. Miller will appear IN PERSON, schedule permitting, on Thursday to discuss!
Finally, yet another 2010 release that didn't get a fair-shake theatrical run writer-director Lena Dunham's shoestring debut feature Tiny Furniture nonetheless captivated critics to a certain degree even if audiences had no idea that it was even playing, let alone where. The central idea sounds almost forbiddingly familiar: a recent college grad, played by the auteur herself, returns to her claustrophobic home world without a clue as to where to direct her life. Ostensibly a piquant addition to the D.I.Y. Mumblecore aesthetic, Dunham's picture is more assured than what usually comes from this neck of the woods, offering a certain comic charm and naiveté to replace what some might call the calculated restlessness of the typical Mumblecore character type. Ultimately, Tiny Furniture is more satisfying than what you might expect because Dunham herself is as sharp a writer as she is a somewhat recessive camera subject, and you get the sense that she's critiquing her character's self-indulgence a touch more than she celebrates it. Tiny Furniture may be most valuable, however, for the glimpse it affords into the promise of even more lovely and detailed comedies to come from this talented navel-gazer. On the same bill, more youthful attitude, suppressed uncertainty and way-cool blues (among a multitude of off-the-chart musically hip selections) by way of Terry Zwigoff's brilliant observed, sensitive recreation of the too-cool-for-school (or anything else) outsiders at the beating heart of Daniel Clowes' Ghost World (2001). Here is the rare graphic novel adaptation not centered on superheroes or displaced noir tropes or even a particular visual signature. Clowes' panels are clean and completely unfussy, and Zwigoff has translated that sense keenly without tipping into the mundane. And his actors-Thora Birch and Scarlet Johanssen-communicate the fear barely contained beneath their snarky indifference and the sense of their insecurity at the prospect of having no idea how to adapt to a world that won't slow down. Best of all is Steve Buscemi, who becomes a cultural and emotional touchstone for Birch, a real person conjured from what would have only previously been the object of her ridicule. Ghost World plays with hilarious specificity in its design and satirically youthful bent, but there's sadness about its reconciliation with maturity that is surprisingly, though never sentimentally heartfelt.