Tiny Furniture is the 2010 independent film by Lena Dunham, that lead to her hit HMO series Girls. It takes a humorous but loving look at the “artistic” people in Manhattan.
Lena Dunham is Aura, a young woman who has just graduated from college and now has absolutely no idea what she is supposed to do with her life. Like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, Aura finds herself surrounded by people who all seem to know exactly what they want and are successful at getting it.
Tiny Furniture is populated with characters that are uniquely New York. Aura’s mother Siri is a successful artist, who makes a good living photographing tiny furniture. Siri is played by Lena Dunham’s real mother Laurie Simmons. (In fact, this independent film was so low budget that many of the characters are friends and family of Lena’s, who worked for no pay).
Aura’s high school aged sister (played by her real sister Grace Dunham), had just had a poem published nationally. The sister’s success only makes Aura feel more depressed about her own lack of direction.
Tiny Furniture is very much a female-centered world. The men come across as selfish takers, who only pretend to be interested in the women so that they can have sex. (Unfortunately, this profile of men is all to often completely accurate in the real world).
Tiny Furniture is a great film and it is fascinating to see the origin of many of the characters that Lena Dunham would later flesh out in the series Girls.
The beautiful Jemima Kirke plays Charlotte, a role she would continue in the series Girls. Charlotte is basically crazy, but unlike Aura; she does know how to get exactly what she wants.
If you love independent films and like quirky humor, you will enjoy Tiny Furniture.
3 AM is a documentary series on Showtime that focuses on the strange lives of New York City night people. Their jobs begin long after most of us have gone to sleep. In this Brave New World of ours, it is interesting to note that their livelihoods exist totally because of the internet.
We see a self-proclaimed “party photographer” who runs a website called Krill Was Here. Basically, he goes to nightclubs and waits until young women get drunk enough to start doing crazy things. Then he photographs them and posts the photos on his website. The goal of each evening is to try to get women to reveal their naked breasts for the camera. As moronic as it sounds, he actually makes a living doing this. “Krill” is a well spoken intelligent young man, who is well aware of the toll his lifestyle is taking on his personal life. The biggest problems are the fact that he ends up drinking huge amounts of alcohol each night, and that his live-in girlfriend is jealous of all the other women. He ends up being pretty miserable for a guy who spends his nights photographing half naked gorgeous party girls.
Another night person featured goes by the name of The Fat Jew. His real name is Josh Ostrovksy, and he also makes a living filming his strange antics for the internet. He does such weird things as climbing into a bathtub filled with Spaghettios. However, at 33 he seems to be getting a little too old for this grade-school type of humor.
One also gets the feeling that The Fat Jew is not quite as laid back and easy going as he pretends. If you ignore the funny hairstyle you can see that he is actually a very tough guy who one day might do some damage to a fan who decides to push a prank a little too far.
The saddest person featured is Samantha, who makes her living having “dates” with men she meets on Craigslist. She has sex with these strangers but somehow never actually uses the word “prostitute” to describe herself. She seems completely unaware of how dangerous her lifestyle is. Any one of these strangers could end up giving her an STD, beating her up, or even killing her. She does not have the protection of an escort service or even a pimp. Samantha thinks of herself as a free-spirited independent woman, while in reality she is a vulnerable target.
Still, you don’t have to like or admire the people profiled in 3 AM in order to find them fascinating. It would be great to see a follow-up show 5 years form now to see what happened to each of them. Somehow, we get the feeling that their lives will be astoundingly different in the very near future.