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Tiny Furniture [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: R
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Run time: 99 Mins.
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 14, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

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Criterion Collection: Tiny Furniture - Widescreen Subtitle

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Tiny Furniture

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

Young indie filmmaking sensation Lena Dunham made a splash, fresh out of college with this self-financed (read: friends and family) low budget film Tiny Furniture. Shot entirely in the sleek confines of her parents’ apartment in New York, the comedy traces the struggles of a new college graduate trying to reengage with her family and friends in the city when she returns home from her Midwestern school.

Aura (Dunham) has just graduated from her Midwestern university and returned to find a less than warm homecoming from her artist mother Siri (Dunham’s own mother Laurie Simmons) and sister Nadine (Dunham’s sister Grace Dunham). Angst, self-examination, and a host of self-absorbed reflections incur as Aura longs for her college days and tries to break free from her mother’s unwarranted ridicule.

Frankly, although Dunham shows a clear eye for filmmaking – Tiny Furniture despite its low budget certainly looks good, but, you know, shooting in your artsy parents’ well designed apartment can’t hurt there – the film in the grand scheme of things comes across as vapid, self-absorbed, entitled whining. If you can make it through the entire hour-and-half understanding what exactly it is that Aura is so down in the dumps about, then I applaud you. There is one character in this film that shows any sort of dimensionality and that is Aura’s once best friend, the cynical, drug using Charlotte (Jemima Kirke), who has an English accent because her father is British and she went to Fifth Grade in England. Everyone else, especially all of the men, seem like caricatures of what thoughtful people are supposed to be.

Somewhere in Tiny Furniture, the name a reference both to Aura’s mother’s photography of miniatures and her college friend’s hobbies of building miniature furniture sets, there is a Woody Allen film like Manhattan or Annie Hall waiting to break free, but until Dunham breaks free of her privileged, collegiate confines and experiences something true, that won’t happen. Until then, she’ll keep sculpting obnoxious, unlikeable caricatures of heroes and heroins best kept to the tiny confines of You Tube videos where she got her start.

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]

Tiny Furniture was captured using the Canon EOS 7D digital still camera’s 1080p video function with the H.264 MPEG-4 codec, like the recently reviewed I Melt With You, which was done on the Canon EOS 5D MKII. Its AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement from Criterion Collection looks decent given the original source, but it still cannot overcome the inherent flaws in the low budget production and non-cinematographic equipment being used. Contrast is narrow, aliasing is obvious in many places, and detail just isn’t very sharp.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The DTS-HHD Master Audio 5.1 (48kz/24-bit) soundtrack is straightforward and dialogue driven. Much of the dialogue is captured with a lot of natural room ambience on the voices so they don’t have to much fullness and punch. Surrounds are pretty silent throughout.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

Interviews with Dunham, Nora Ephron, and Paul Schrader plus the inclusion of Dunham’s shorts round out this Criterion package, but nothing here will be worth repeat viewings or readings:

  • Nora Ephron and Lena Dunham (1.78:1; 1080p/24) – In this thirty-minute piece, created by the Criterion Collection in October 2011, celebrated writer-director Nora Ephron sits down with filmmaker Lena Dunham for a conversation about Tiny Furniture, autobiography, and Woody Allen.
  • Paul Schrader on Dunham (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:07:41) – The following interview with writer, director, and critic Paul Schrader was conducted by the Criterion Collection in September 2011.
  • Creative Nonfiction (1.33:1; 00:58:26) – Creative Nonfiction is director Lena Dunham’s first feature, made in 2009, during her junior and senior years at Oberlin College. Also presented here is an introduction by Dunham.
  • Short Films:
    • Pressure (2006)
    • Open the Door (2007)
    • Hooker on Campus (2007)
    • The Fountain (2007)
  • Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
  • Booklet: As one might expect for a film from a young director like this, the booklet is rather slender consisting only of one brief essay from Phillip Lopate plus the usual film credits and information on the transfer.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

There are certainly elements of Tiny Furniture that show promise, but the characters in Tiny Furniture are all one-dimensional and obnoxious. Even Dunham’s own alter ego, Aura, conflicts with the comedic intent of the film in such a way that it drags it down the tone of the film, but one can’t figure what has her in such a bad place. She’s given it the good old college try, but Dunham’s Tiny Furniture is not worthy of all the praise it has garnered in some circles.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product]B00687XNVM[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Criterion Collection: Tiny Furniture - Widescreen Subtitle

Purchase Tiny Furniture [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Tiny Furniture

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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