DID YOU READ

In Dependence: “Tiny Furniture,” Reviewed

In Dependence: “Tiny Furniture,” Reviewed (photo)

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This review originally ran as part of our coverage of the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

Honestly, “Tiny Furniture” should be intolerable. It’s about post-college malaise, the type of topic that becomes exponentially harder to relate to as you get distance on it. It’s about the added doldrums of figuring out a career when you come from the kind of privileged background where you’re not actually required to get one, which is the type of topic that’s hard to relate to at all. And it’s semi-autobiographical, with writer/director Lena Dunham starring as Aura and her mother and sister playing Aura’s artist mother and younger sibling, respectively, a set-up that implies all sorts of navel-gazing self-indulgence.

That’s it’s not at all intolerable — it’s actually quite funny and charming — is thanks to Dunham’s nigh-majestic lack of vanity. Aura, who’s moved back into her mother’s ridiculously hip all-white Tribeca loft after four years of college in Ohio, is a doughy mass of uncertainty, defensiveness and neediness. Her undergrad boyfriend broke up with her to head home to a nouveau hippy life in Colorado, her only friend in New York is Charlotte (Jemima Kirke), a chain-smoking, needy flake in search of a sidekick, and her overachieving sister and impatient mother are too consumed with their own lives to give her the attention she feels she deserves. Aura loafs around the apartment, not bothering to wear pants. Her mother gently suggests she take a shower. She finds a job as the “day hostess” at a restaurant that isn’t actually open during the day — she’s basically a receptionist, answering the phone for $11 an hour.

Aura’s problem is that she doesn’t have what most people would consider a problem — her life is so comfortable, her dilemmas so luxurious (she explains that she doesn’t want to go into the art world, because that’s her mother’s territory, but effortlessly ends up with a YouTube video in a show in DUMBO anyway) that no one will sympathize with the fact that she feels genuinely lost and depressed. She latches on to two men so openly disastrous that her interactions with them have a sort of comedic suspense — which will mistreat her first?

03162010_tinyfurniture2.jpgThere’s Jed (Alex Karpovsky), the passive aggressive, freeloading would-be comedian (“He kind of a big deal on YouTube,” she tells someone) who ends up crashing with her while rebuffing her awkward romantic overtures. And there’s Keith (David Call), the sous chef at the restaurant with the high cheekbones and the girlfriend troubles, who’ll flirt and offer comradely complaints about the sleaziness of the other employees, but who ends up being just as much of an asshole.

Aura’s vulnerability and the often bitingly funny series of humiliations that stem from it make her sympathetic, but she also does some awful things — screwing over a good friend, stealing her mother’s diary, brandishing an off-putting sense of entitlement. It’s a disarmingly open performance, and it’s not one capped with an obvious comeuppance. I don’t know that I buy the film’s underlying intimation that all women succumb to and learn to navigate internal storms of self-doubt and identity crises through their 20s (itself a kind of privilege) but I like that Aura isn’t necessarily on a firmer path at the film’s close, and that the lessons she’s learned aren’t necessarily good ones. As Charlotte tosses off, “no one’s financially independent until they’re at least 25. Or 30!” It could be that Aura has a long way to go before becoming a fully functioning human being — if she does.

“Tiny Furniture” opens in limited release November 12th.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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