Lena Dunham – Creative Nonfiction (2009)

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David Lowery wrote:
What is it about the sexualization of English professors that irks me so? I think of the cliche of the sturdy, masculine educator bewitching his female pupils with silver-tongued erudition on the works of Percy and D.H Lawrence and I wonder: what of their poor colleagues, the mathematics professors? Can’t fractal equations be as erotically stimulating as the breakdown of Pyrrhic verse? The answer, as any English major knows, is not likely-there’s little that can so easily compound the psychological dynamics between teacher and student like the aphrodisiacal qualities of language-but it was nonetheless a gust of fresh air to see Lena Dunham so precisely pierce this stereotype in her debut feature, Creative Nonfiction. Dunham stars in the film as Ella, a freshman student at an unnamed Midwestern college, who is working on a screenplay for a creative writing class that, in its early stages, could be synopsized by at least three sentences of this very paragraph. Continue reading

Joe Swanberg – Alexander the Last (2009)

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Director Joe Swanberg (Nights and Weekends) goes beyond the mumblecore movement with this revealing drama about marriage. For Alexander the Last, Swanberg reigns over an experienced cast of actors — including Jane Adams, Jess Weixler, and Josh Hamilton — but still incorporates his usual improvisational techniques. Margot at the Wedding director Noah Baumbach serves as one of the film’s producers. —IFC Films Continue reading

Lena Dunham – Tiny Furniture (2010)

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Lena Dunham got her start making YouTube videos, but she emerged as a major talent thanks to the breakthrough success of this exceptionally sharp comedy, which garnered the twenty-four-year-old writer-director-actor comparisons to the likes of Woody Allen. Dunham plays Aura, a recent college graduate who returns to New York and moves back in with her mother and sister (played by the filmmaker’s real-life mother and sister). Though Aura is gripped by stasis and confusion about her future, Dunham locates endless sources of refreshing humor in her plight. As painfully confessional as it is amusing, Tiny Furniture is an authentic, incisive portrait of a young woman at a crossroads. Continue reading

Frank V. Ross – Quietly on By (2005)

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“Two months ago, his girlfriend left him. One month ago, he lost both of his jobs after a nervous breakdown. He can’t work in his mom’s flower shop because he’s allergic to pollen and paperwork. Single, lonely, and jobless, Aaron expends his time and energy nurturing a long standing crush on his best friend Sara. Meanwhile, his other best friend, Erik, sells pot to his kid sister Erin (behind his back, naturally). If he manages to get out of bed, Aaron may mow the lawn, or he may reconstruct Stonehenge with a set of encyclopedias. To avoid embarrassing himself, he makes sure to rehearse all of his conversations in advance. Aaron sees something approaching on the horizon. Whether it’s his future or his doom, apparently it drives a white SUV ” Written by Frank V. Ross ( IMDB) Continue reading

Aaron Katz – Cold Weather (2010)

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Synopsis

Rovi wrote:
Aaron Katz wrote and directed this mumblecore comedy drama in which a guy with more ideas than experience plays private eye. Doug (Cris Lankenau) has long had a passion for classic detective fiction and enrolled in a college in Chicago to study forensic science with an eye toward someday working with the police. But after a few months, Doug’s ambition runs out of steam, and he leaves the Midwest to move back to his hometown of Portland. Doug ends up moving in with his older sister, Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn), and taking a variety of odd jobs that won’t tax his energy or intelligence. However, Doug unexpectedly gets another shot at becoming a detective when his former girlfriend disappears and he’s asked to help track her down. Doug joins forces with his pal Carlos (Raúl Castillo) and starts smoking a pipe so he’ll feel more like Sherlock Holmes, but as the search goes on the case becomes more complicated (and potentially dangerous) than expected. Continue reading

Jay Duplass – Baghead (2008)

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Quote:
Following up on the surprise success of their micro-budget production THE PUFFY CHAIR (2005), brothers Jay and Mark Duplass turn their handheld DV camera toward skewering the pretentiousness of the independent film world while tossing in a few horror film scares for good measure. The result is entertaining and unique, with enough laughs, insight, and excitement for adventurous viewers. After seeing the accolades heaped up on a colleague for his laughable film (WE ARE NAKED) at a Los Angeles film festival, Matt (Ross Partridge) decides that he can do better. With his sometime girlfriend, Catherine (Elise Muller), and friends Michelle (Greta Gerwig, HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS) and Chad (Steve Zissis) in tow, they immediately set off to a cabin in the woods for the weekend to create the film that will make them all famous on the festival circuit. While Chad focuses his energy on winning the affections of uninterested Michelle, Matt comes up with the cinematic construct of a stranger with a paper bag on his head terrorizing a group of people in the woods. After the initial evening of alcoholic brainstorming, though, the idea becomes reality, and the friends’ relationships are tested as they find themselves in a truly scary situation. The idea for BAGHEAD was hatched on the set of the THE PUFFY CHAIR when, during a discussion requesting those involved to think of the scariest thing imaginable, someone said, “A guy with a bag on his head staring into your window.” Though it may be a flimsy starting point for a film, the Duplasses surround the idea with a believable cast, truthful insight into relationships, and a few genuine chills. The result is clever, funny, and refreshingly difficult to classify. Continue reading