In Manhattan, Woody Allen’s middle-aged Isaac quits his TV writing gig to write the Great American Novel. Graced with a preternaturally perceptive 17-year-old girlfriend, Isaac trades quips with his amusingly pretentious writer friends and engages in excessive navel-gazing where name-dropping, wine-sniffing, and psychobabble are mistaken for maturity. Of course, it’s the Babe-in-the-Woods girlfriend, whom Isaac presumes to mentor, that ultimately ends up schooling him.
Tiny Furniture, Lena Dunham’s first feature (the genesis of her HBO series, Girls) is set in NYC featuring a very specific milieu for the rich, privileged, wannabe-artsy-but-YouTube-relevant post-college millennial as she shambles toward adulthood — making some insignificant and horrific missteps along the way.
The jokes in Manhattan arrive as zingers; the humor in Dunham’s film derives from her characters’ deadpan posturing. We congratulate ourselves for getting Manhattan’s in-jokes; Tiny Furniture makes us wince in recognition.
Kim Faulkner — Rita Haywire, San Diego Roller Derby