Sunday, February 16, 2014

When imagination and humor interlock

“The Lego Movie” does justice to the seminal and popular series of toys, and then some! It's an animated flick that's inspired and inspiring—it’s so unrelentingly imaginative, the laughs just keep coming!

Whether you played with the interlocking toy bricks or not, or just have some familiarity with Lego or its related products, the movie is accessible, not to mention visually attractive. Written and directed by “21 Jump Street’s” Chris Miller and Phil Lord, it has colorful and busy cityscapes and connecting realms, and looks like a combination of countless existing toy sets. The characters’ movements are “limited” by their size and lack of articulation, which adds to their charm. Their drawn faces—the squiggly lines and dots—are animated and expressive. And the story? It’s trippy and insane.

A regular guy, Emmet Brickowski (voiced by Chris Pratt) is destined for greatness, according to a mysterious prophecy. He finds himself joining the resourceful Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), her wizard ally Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and her boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett)—yes, Batman and a few other DC characters are in it—to fight the merciless Lord Business (Will Ferell).

Several characters from different universes also appear; there are brief appearances by Han Solo, Gandalf, the Ninja Turtle Michaelangelo—you get the picture. There are Lego people versions of some historical figures alongside those fantasy characters too. It’s a strange and welcome mix of realities, coalescing into this one place where they fight the main villain's subjugating forces. And there are intriguing twists along the way, making the adventure doubly fun.

Parodying the darkness of the Batman mythos; rib-ticklingly joking about Green Lantern’s odd turn as an outcast; introducing cute and crazy characters—“The Lego Movie” has everything covered, and as its permeating song goes, “everything is awesome.” You’ll love it to pieces.

Not-so-secret terrain

The coming-of-age drama “Geography Club” offers the familiarity of self-discovery and the search for identity, its gay teen characters embodying how difficult—and glorious—that time may be for those considered “different.”

Russell (Cameron Deane Stewart) and Kevin (Justin Deeley) are a pair of hunky, closeted gay boys who hit it off quickly, easily passing off as straight and blending in with the cool kids. Their secret is discovered by the Geography Club, actually a cover for a handful of misfit students, gay kids who meet and hang out for support.

“Geography Club,” according to those who read the book, has many details that are different from the source material. As its own entity, it’s a pretty simple, straightforward movie that, while not exactly consistent and solid, manages to transmit obligatory feelgood messages.

Russell comes off as a tangible guy, fearful but hopeful, and fresh-faced Stewart ably makes him interesting through most of the movie. The other characters, Kevin included, are developed, albeit not as much as the main protagonist, and understandably so.

The film, however, feels short and mainly uneventful—the gay discovery situations and their eventual empowerment resolutions are quite predictable, save for a few details like the unusually accepting parent characters, and one teen's decision not to pursue a life of openness. 

Unseen Memento

1995. Art from the unpublished, 13-page "Werewolf" story by Dave Uy, which he wrote for Alamat's Memento Mori.

'Tying the knot was really something bigger than us'

(Feb. 14, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

It was the end of the search for “the one.” Not that now-married filmmakers Rodolfo “Jun” Robles Lana Jr. and Perci Intalan intuited it when they met 11 years ago.

“A friend said one day, ‘I have a friend who has a friend—he feels na OK kayo,’” recounted Lana, script supervisor and creative director for GMA 7 dramas, including “My Husband’s Lover,” last year’s gay-themed hit. “A few days later, I got an e-mail from Perci, introducing himself. It was a funny letter.”

Perci Intalan and Jun Lan (Photo by Kristina Williamson)
Added Intalan, a former TV5 executive, “We met in 2003; I was an executive producer for Disney in Australia at the time, but I was based in Hong Kong.”

That first meeting happened during Intalan’s vacation in Manila, after about a month of e-mailing back and forth. “We hadn’t talked up till then, not even by phone,” Intalan related, “but we hit it off. I stayed in Manila the whole length of my vacation, four weeks. Neither one of us went into it expecting anything, but we were very comfortable with each other. The test was when I had to go back to work. He followed me to Hong Kong soon after. I guess we both realized we wanted to be with each other more often.”

 Lana finished Communication Arts in University of Santo Tomas; Intalan, Communication in Ateneo de Manila University. Similarities in their circumstances, plus the “nurturing” support of friends and relatives, made acceptance of their sexuality easy, the couple said. Before that, they both had relationships with women.

Intalan recalled, “Maliit ang mundo namin. We had girlfriends in college—mine knew one of his!” Lana said, “My exes and I are still friends. One of them is now a lesbian!”

“My [straight relationship] ended because the love ended,” Intalan volunteered. “But I was serious with her. I didn’t have a gay relationship until years later.”

Lana’s story is “the same—parehong-pareho kami.” He offered an explanation: “I believe that sexuality is fluid; you go with the flow. Some people are scandalized by this notion. But that’s how I am… right now, I can’t imagine myself [with a woman].” Of the early days, he remembered, “I was so in love, I had bouts of jealousy. Now, we’re calmer. Each one is able to pursue other passions and interests.”

Intalan agreed, “Yes, those were the fragile years. Now, kung baga sa puno, matibay na.”

Husbands Intalan and Lana (Photo by Alexis Corpuz)
They are both 41. They marked their tenth anniversary in July last year, posting photos of mementos on Facebook. “So many posts,” Intalan recounted. “There was a picture of the old phones we used to correspond with, a picture of rings… Jun suggested the caption, ‘You’re cordially invited.’ It was just a joke [but] a lot of people started congratulating us. We thought, why not [get married]?”

Three months later, on Oct. 14, they tied the knot in one of their favorite places in  the United States, Central Park in New York City. Prior to departure, they hosted a big dinner for their families here, since not all of them could go to the US.

“I was really nervous,” Lana said of the big day. “I suddenly understood why people became emotional on their wedding day—because of what it symbolizes. Being surrounded by those who truly cared about us was quite overwhelming.” Intalan recalled feeling “so much love—even from total strangers who congratulated us!”

The marriage is legal only in the United States, and the couple admitted that residing there one day was not far-fetched.

“I have gay friends in long relationships. One friend was in a 30-year relationship until his partner died,” Lana said. “The surviving one was left with nothing; it was tragic. I certainly don’t want that to happen to us.”

Added Intalan, “Going to New York [to be wed] was a symbolic gesture. We didn’t think of it at the time, but the idea that we were doing it where it was legal and official… it felt good.” They didn’t need to change surnames, he said, “but we did joke about combining them: IntaLana.”

 Lana would find that their wedding was “something bigger than us.” After the ceremony, he said, strangers would come up to him and say how much it meant to them.

Married life has been a breeze, so far. They’ve lived together since 2004, and have two toy poodles named for their favorite Australian cities, Sydney and Melbourne.

They described their domestic setup as “normal.” Intalan admitted that he can’t cook, so his partner does, “sometimes.” (More often than not, though, they have food delivered to their condominium unit.) “In short, we’re really just like any straight couple. We clean the house, take care of the dogs… and the place is just as often messy as it is orderly!” said Intalan. “But Jun is more of a city person,” he said. “He likes the vibe of a lot of people. I’m more introverted. When we take a vacation, his choice is Boracay; ako, sa bundok.”

Lana said he wants a kid “someday.” They’ve discussed it, he said. “When we’re ready… when I can just concentrate on making films and taking care of the child.”

The couple worked together on the award-winning films “Bwakaw” (2012) and “Barber’s Tales” (2013)— Perci was producer and Jun was director. They’ve switched “roles” for “Dementia,” a forthcoming thriller starring Nora Aunor.

They have nothing planned for today, as they routinely avoid crowds. But they’re sure to celebrate Valentine’s on another day.

They both feel “fortunate” that they were already self-aware when they met, and wish for other gay people to be strong and more accepting of themselves. 

Intalan’s counsel: “Don’t feel pressured to come out until it’s time. Don’t feel pressured to find the right one. It takes a while.”

Lana agreed. “And I have a message for anyone [pressuring LGBTs to come out], regardless of whether they’re sure of who they are, or still confused: Be a little kinder.”

Amalgam, 1998

Old drawing of Amalgam characters, merged DC and Marvel superheroes. I was kinda obsessed with this temporary universe back then... well, just like I was with a lot of mainstream comics stuff during that and later eras.

'Naked and Afraid,' castaways survive

(Feb. 16, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Nude castaways are challenged to survive in the wilderness, forced to rely on their wits and a few crucial objects in the Discovery reality series, “Naked and Afraid.” Two strangers are partnered and evaluated before and after they embark on their three-week survival journey—there is no cash prize, but those who survive it are rewarded with “pride and a sense of accomplishment,” according to the Discovery website.

Sans clothes, the “survivalists” are marooned and tasked with making the most of a given location. They are accompanied by a camera crew but are given their own recording devices. Should the pair decide to quit for whatever reason, they can be taken off the location by the crew.

The episode “Island From Hell” epitomizes the way an unexpected environment can pinpoint the vulnerabilities of normally strong individuals. Jonathan Klay is a former Marine and bodyguard, while Alison Teal is a surfer and frequent traveler. Immediately, Jonathan is almost incapacitated by the heat, his body getting heavily sunburned just a few hours after his arrival on a small island.

This makes Alison take over, whipping up a makeshift minishelter and foraging for food for herself and the reeling, immobilized Jonathan. Eventually, he is well enough to help out and digs up an area for potable water. Impatiently, he drinks the   unboiled water but later has to deal with the disastrous and embarrassing consequences!

Alison, while strong-willed, is tested when she experiences pain brought about by her monthly cycle. The isolation also affects her during this vulnerable period.

A producer denies that the show is “exploitative” but the title does get people curious. Certain body parts are blurred accordingly and the uninhibited castaways sometimes wear pieces of clothing that they discover at the locale.

As a “survival” series, “Naked and Afraid” adequately shows the importance of resourcefulness and practical skills, while reiterating that unexpected factors can just as easily render its subjects inactive or uncooperative.

Transformations are jarring, as drastic weight loss and a generally unkempt, desperate appearance marks the end of the survivalists’ grueling adventure. Nevertheless, there are lessons to be learned on teamwork, planning and practicality.

For a show that takes place in a span of several weeks, only the most important events are encapsulated in hourlong episodes. It rapidly shows the changes in the participants’ bodies and behavior, while singling out the necessary developments.

(“Naked and Afraid” airs Wednesdays, 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Discovery.)

Textbook Case

Me as a grade school student, sneaked into an elementary textbook by a friend. Circa 1997.

Objectifixation, Eleven

Kang the Conqueror actually defeated the Avengers in this special "Nuff Said" issue, a story without words. Kang destroyed Washington DC, but George W. Bush was whisked away before that attack. The failure to save countless civilians sent Thor crying, his pain manifesting a storm. The Wasp, the team's leader, officially surrendered after the devastation. From Kurt Busiek's long "Kang War" arc.

Witty Waterstones plastic bag. Wonderful Piccadilly bookstore. 

Too many New Warriors! A couple of the members eventually "graduated" into the Avengers and X-Men. Firestar joined both teams.

We got fortune cookies at the eve of the Chinese New Year. Fortune cookie wisdom’s interesting.

Lego Movie folder. The movie was great. Awesome, even! Loved Benny. "Spaceship!"

Coffee! Thanks, Sir Mag.

Jellybeans! Bought this at Heathrow Airport.

Wiccan and Sub-Mariner.
“King Namor, would you be interested in a date with a nubile Young Avenger like me?”
“You mistake me for my bisexual friend Hercules, Wiccan. Namor the First only fraternizes with females, whether they be human, Atlantean, or Plodex--or a tentacled fish queen from Tabula Rasa! But I draw the line at redheads.”

'Girls' star finds show 'like life'

(Feb. 10, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

LONDON—“It’s such a gorgeous city but we’re not here for long,” said “Girls” actor Allison Williams at the start of a roundtable interview. The third season of the popular HBO series was launched here; most of the main cast members and executive producer Jenni Konner participated in separate group interviews.

Williams plays Marnie, the disillusioned young woman who keeps experiencing romance and career foibles. “Luckily, mistakes that Marnie made are ones that I don’t have to make,” the actor-singer said. “I also learn a lot from playing her.”

The daughter of “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams and TV producer Jane Stoddard-Williams, she graduated from Yale and was a member of the university’s improvisational comedy troupe. Williams appeared as Duchess Kate Middleton in a humor website’s sketch series, “Will & Kate: Before Happily Ever After,” shortly before getting the “Girls” gig two years ago.

At the launch, Konner described Williams as a “control freak” who made her a packing list for London. “I can write a gazillion packing lists for Jenni until I’m blue in the face,” Williams said, mentioning that it suggested the type of pants to wear during a long flight, among other things. “But when it comes to my own packing, I crumble. It’s embarrassing.”

Have you experienced Marnie’s problems?
Not all at once, but definitely in bits and pieces. There were moments when I first moved out to LA. I would walk around the ocean and weep. I quickly auditioned for “Girls”…I didn’t know it was going to work out the way it did.

How real do the show’s situations feel to you?
If it didn’t feel real, no one would pay any attention. But it feels like life. I watch it with my friends. There [have been] some scenes where one of them goes, “You have to pause it! I need a second.” Because some [parts] feel too real, even to me. That’s one of the goals of our show, to feel real.

What does Marnie’s taste in men say about her— and do you see it evolving?
It says a lot about her in that she’s utterly unpredictable. Booth Jonathan (Jorma Taccone) is one of the most abhorrent people I can imagine. And yet there’s something in him that almost every girl I know can [find] annoyingly attractive.
Charlie (Christopher Abbott), I think, is an easier explanation. They met in college; he makes her feel comfortable…and she enters a phase where she’s not interested in that anymore.
There’s a really good one in the third season. That’s all I can say about that.

What changed after the success of “Girls”?
Not as much as you probably think…It’s so manageable and sweet when people come up to me. At the end of events, we go home, get to bed at a reasonable hour, I think by 11. Our ideal evenings are so lowkey that I shrink back down to size and stay grounded. Friends and family help us not to lose our minds or get big heads.

Did you have a backup plan?
I didn’t. I grew up with two parents who were like you guys; they wanted truth, fact, information. When I understood what they did and wrapped my head around it, I thought, “Oh my gosh, what a cool profession that I could never do, and I will leave to you to do.” My brother (Douglas) is a sportscaster so he’s kind of a shade away from what my parents both do. I think it happened quite naturally formyself. I had to make it work. It was fundamental to my success. It was very scary and a lot of pressure.

(“Girls” airs Sundays, 10 p.m. on HBO Signature.)

Jack Jones promises 'beautiful ballads, true stories'

(Feb. 7, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Grammy-winning American singer Jack Jones is doing two Valentine shows in Manila. The 76-year-old crooner performs at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Feb. 13, and at the Manila Hotel Tent on Feb. 14.

Jones got his big break in the late 1950s, when he was signed by Capitol Records, which released his debut album. By 1961, he was signed to the label Kapp Records, which produced his next albums. Two songs from that era, “Lollipops and Roses” and “Wives and Lovers,” earned him Grammy awards for Best Pop Male Performance.

Jones has recorded over 50 albums. Some of his other hits are “The Impossible Dream,” “Lady,” “She,” “Let Me Be the One” and “Love Boat Theme.”

He has appeared in TV shows, musicals and movies, and most recently had a cameo in “American Hustle.”

Jones granted the Inquirer  this brief e-mail interview: 

How did your involvement in “American Hustle” come about?
I flew to Boston, where we recorded the soundtrack and shot the scene over the last Easter weekend. Director David O. Russell had me sing “I’ve Got Your Number.” He wanted me physically in the scene, saying he had written the story with the song in mind.

What elements combine to make the perfect love song? Which song embodies that?
Passion, sensuality, and commitment. “If,” by David Gates (of the band Bread).

What gestures may be described as romantic?
Taking my wife all the way to the Manila Hotel for Valentine’s Day and singing to her!
What is the most important lesson that performing has taught you?
Don’t get lost in your own world! When you’re on stage, the world belongs to your audience.

What can fans look forward to in your Manila shows?
Beautiful ballads, true stories, hits. I was nominated for five Grammys, won two, and all of them were romantic songs—many of them are in my latest CD “Live in Liverpool,” which has a bonus track, a new recording of “The Lorelei.” This version will be available only in the Philippines.

(“Jack Jones in a Valentine Concert” tickets are available at Ticketnet Online and Viva Concerts. The Manila Hotel show will benefit “Yolanda” survivors. Tickets are available at Manila Hotel. Call 5270011 for information.)

Brick by Brick

Lego Movie shirt! Awesome. Thanks for sending, Jay G and Warner!

Dreams Go Bouncing in Your Head

Microblogs, compiled!

Jan. 23. Blogged again after weeks of not posting anything. Anyway, the old blog turned nine earlier this month. Time flies at superspeed when you're having fun. And even when you're not.
Jan. 26. Loving the cold weather. And I bought a tub of chocolate ice cream. #frozendelight
Jan. 26. Day of the Doctor! It's like Legion of Three Worlds. Except with Doctors. Spectacular team-up.
Jan. 27. Love this cool weather. Just... perfect.
Jan. 27. "People have to come to things on their own term. You have to learn when honesty is righteous, and when honesty is nothing more than a parlor trick." -- Jasper (Richard E. Grant), 'Girls' Season 3, episode 1. Love Lena Dunham for writing this.
Jan. 28. Haven't had a drop of alcohol in about a month.
Jan. 30. Staff currently eating fortune cookies. Lotto numbers behind the fortunes. #woodhorse
Jan. 30. Three issues done! Yay, team!
Feb. 1. Parang gusto ko ng pizza. Pero walang bukas nang ganitong oras...
Feb. 4. Lego Movie. So trippy and insane. Love it to pieces!
Feb. 6. Caffeinated. #soawake
Feb. 8. Eating Cheap Kit Kat, a.k.a. Pik One.
Feb. 9. Interviewed filmmaker spouses Jun Lana and Perci Intalan earlier. Smart, compassionate guys.
Feb. 10. Walking Dead. Salamat at bumalik ka na.
Feb. 11. Ayos.
Feb. 11. Getting used to five-hour sleeps. Not good.
Feb. 12. Yey. Natapos din. Gusto ko manood ng Community.
Feb. 12. 'Twas an Amy Grant pop album kinda day. In a good way.
Feb. 13. Proofreaders. They're cool. They see stuff that I miss.
Feb. 13. Oh, man. Found an ancient Word document where I compiled a few Friendster testimonials. This has gotta be my fave:
"I don't have friends, only lovers."
That's my favorite Oliver quote.
Oliver is an editor's dream. He writes well, submits on time and basically kicks major ass.
Oliver is one of the coolest people in my book.
(Pam P.)
Just to clarify, I remember that she was texting me to pick up some concert tickets at the office. I just finished an assignment in Laguna (or Batangas, I can't remember) so I told her I couldn't drop by. "Can your friends get them?" I think she asked. And I dunno why (maybe I was sleep-deprived) but I joked, "Sorry, I don't have friends, eh. Only lovers. :)" Yikes.
Feb. 15. Time to regroup, reboot. I'm not feeling tense and anxious anymore; I drank nightly for weeks after work, just to help me sleep. But I haven't had a drop in a month and a half. Just need to sleep for more than five hours. #deskconfessional
Feb 15. Rediscovering push-ups and other exercises, before renewing the gym membership. The rusty old dumbbells are helpful, too. I miss my gym machines.


1993. Zerzakis. From my comic book thesis Dark Utopia. Painted on a 15" X 20" board, mixed media.

Grammy-nominated group merges music with flashy imagery

(Published Feb. 2, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

"We loosely call ourselves a pop band,” said singer-songwriter Ryan Merchant, cofounder of the rising American band Capital Cities, during the press conference for its Ayala Malls shows last month.
“We can be a rock or an indie band,” he added. “The music has to speak for itself. We categorize ourselves but if it’s accurate or not, we don’t really know.”

Capital Cities was cofounded in 2010 by Merchant and Sebu Simonian, who were jingle writers two years prior. The Los Angeles musicians’ 12-track debut album “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery” was released last year.

Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant (Photo by Oliver Pulumbarit)
A video for one of its songs, “Safe and Sound,” was recently nominated in the Grammy Awards’ Best Music Video category. The video directed by Grady Hall features a chronological gathering of different dance styles, with Merchant and Simonian grooving alongside professional dancers.

The duo revealed enthusiasm for imagery that complements their music. “We like to create little worlds around the songs… we’re bringing a visual component that connects more with the music,” Merchant said. “When I was five years old, the first music video and song I connected with was ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson. The video was so iconic and it made me obsessed with music. With ‘Safe and Sound,’ we wanted to tell the story of the song and visually represented that.”

Merchant and Simonian got to be more involved with the video for “Kangaroo Court,” where they wore cartoon animal masks. “That was an idea Ryan and I came up with together and we actually codirected that video with another director, Carlos Lopez Estrada,” Simonian said. “That was exciting because we got to dress up in animal costumes.”

 As for the band’s music, Merchant said that working together on commercial jingles ultimately helped in creating new material for their own collection of songs.

“Music is music… once in a while you come up with something interesting and catchy,” he explained. “Some of them didn’t get used in commercials and ended up in a library or in the back of our minds. So we had a lot of material, all original work.”

Fans have responded favorably to their work, Simonian said. “Each show that we play is as exciting as the previous one. We’ve been blessed to have the kind of fans who are just always smiling, supporting and encouraging us.”

Counting Jackson, Air, Pink Floyd and Jeff Buckley as some of their inspirations, Merchant and Simonian admitted that they have mostly similar tastes and artistic tendencies. Simonian and Merchant treat each other “like brothers,” which made crafting music—whether it’s a commercial jingle or a pop song—smoother.

“It’s 50-50,” Simonian told the Inquirer after the conference. “We pretty much do everything pretty equally. In terms of writing melodies, production, mixing—in fact it’s part of our signature, the idea of dual vocals. We kind of have a chorus.”

“That’s how it works,” Merchant agreed. “We do a lot of the same things, sit down and do parts. It’s [an equal] collaboration.”

Creator of hit series hopes it reflects generational issues

(Feb.2, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

LONDON—“You have to figure out a way to just tune out the attention and keep doing your work—so far, we’ve been able to do that,” “Girls” creator-actor Lena Dunham said in a roundtable interview held at the Soho Hotel, the morning after the show’s third season was launched here.

HBO’s sex comedy-drama series “Girls,” about four struggling twentysomethings in New York, was created by Dunham, 27, who plays aspiring author Hannah Horvath. Hannah works in a coffee shop and suffered from OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) in the second season.

“We told a heavy story at the end of season two,” she said. “There were so many stories there, that were so meaningful for me to tell. I just felt very lucky that we got to do it.”

Asked by the Inquirer if the new season would focus on the recovery of the reeling main characters, she responded, “Yeah, I think that’s a great way of putting it. Everyone’s [gone] through really dark things… God, that’s so helpful. I’m gonna steal that from you!”

On juggling multiple responsibilities—she writes, directs and is among a number of executive producers—Dunham said she also “feels lucky” to multitask. “Writing is my first love and where it all comes from, a really important part of my self-expression. Sitting down and writing the story is what makes it all clear to me. But I really love the craft of directing. I really like the part of my brain that acting exercises.”

She related that she has learned to “shut down” when the demands threaten to overwhelm her. “I meditate, which is helpful. I make sure that I have those breaks even when I don’t feel like I want them because I do think when you’re getting so much feedback on your work, it’s so easy to collapse.”

 Counting filmmakers Nora Ephron and Jane Campion and poet Dorothy Parker among her idols, Dunham said writing female characters that some have described as “real” doesn’t necessarily speak for anyone else in her generation.

“Our generation’s so multifaceted and no one person can speak for [another] person, a gender, or political issue, so I never claim anything like that,” she explained. “[But] we hope we reflect generational issues.”

On fans confusing her with Hannah, Dunham said she isn’t bothered. “She has a funny, anxious posture that’s a little bit different than my own…but we both love writing. We both have passionate relationships and ask stupid existential questions.”

The show has gotten its share of accolades, including a Golden Globe award for Best Television Series, as well as a Best Actress award for Dunham in 2013. In 2012, she won a Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directing (Comedy Series).

Apart from penning the characters’ destinies, she is involved in creating mood for her stories. Dunham gushed about being able to work again with trusted collaborators: “(Singer-songwriter) Michael Penn still writes our entire score and Manish Raval is our music supervisor. The guys who work on music with me are so smart and they understand my taste!”

Playing Hannah requires Dunham to bare her buxom figure in intimate scenes. She praised her frequent screen partner, Adam Driver, who plays her “sociopath” lover Adam Sackler. “I’m so comfortable with him; we’ve done so much together—sex scenes, fight scenes, casual scenes. He’s such a talented person and I’ve learned so much from him. I adore him,” she said.

Viewers’ reactions to the show vary, but Dunham said that some stand out. “[They’d say,] ‘this gives me a better understanding of what my daughters are going through.’ On the other hand, there have been guys who said the characters terrified them, and others who said ‘I personally relate to them because they’re just people. It’s not about them being women.’ All those reactions are wonderful to me.”

 Dunham is on the cover of Vogue’s February 2014 issue. The magazine dubbed her “The New Queen of Comedy.”

“It makes me feel like a slightly more acceptable-looking person for one week,” she said, smiling. “It’s really an amazing opportunity and it made my mom very happy. We always subscribed to Vogue. It was present in our house.”

Despite the busy “Girls” schedule, she revealed that other things are being worked on and talked about. “I have the best job in the world…I have a book coming out this year. I hope to do films…People have been asking about a [‘Girls’] film. It’s hard to imagine that right now, but never say never,” Dunham said.

(“Girls” airs Sundays, 10 p.m., on HBO Signature.)