H2N Pick of the Week

Weekly reviews from our friends at Hammer to Nail by Hammer to Nail Staff

  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy premiered at the Venice Film Festival. It is being released theatrically by Focus Features on 12.09.11.) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy plays out like a long game of chess whose pieces are constantly being moved across the board without ever reaching checkmate. Each of the many players thinks himself a king, but one by one they’re shown to be little more than glorified pawns. The narrative they collectively form is at once dense but fluttering, broken into tiny fragments whose value as clues and signifiers is constantly being called into question and, once thoroughly vetted, reassembled into something…  Read more

    On Dec 8, 2011
    By on Dec 8, 2011Columns
  • Buck — A Hammer to Nail Review

    On its simplest level Cindy Meehl’s documentary Buck tells the story of the cowboy Buck Brannaman, a horseman who travels the United States conducting clinics for “horses with people problems.” First-time director Cindy Meehl met Buck at one of his clinics, and wanted to share his wisdom with a wider circle than the ardent fans he’s built among “horse people.” A wise cowboy, eh? It doesn’t help that the film opens with iconographic Western shots: a cattle herd, a yellow sun, and galloping cowboys, all underlined by David Robbins’ thrumming score. I admit I was a bit skeptical. The census…  Read more

    On Nov 9, 2011
    By on Nov 9, 2011Columns
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Martha Marcy May Marlene earned Sean Durkin a Best Director award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, where it was picked up for distribution by Fox Searchlight. It opened theatrically on Friday, October 21, 2011. Visit the film’s official website to learn more. EDITOR’S NOTE: HTN co-founder Ted Hope is an executive producer on the film.) Looking at Elizabeth Olsen, you know exactly who she’s related to. It’s a trait that lends the actress both familiarity and strangeness—as though you know her but you don’t. It also makes her perfect for the title role in Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May…  Read more

    On Oct 27, 2011
    By on Oct 27, 2011Columns
  • The Catechism Cataclysm — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Distributed by IFC Midnight, The Catechism Cataclysm opens theatrically at the IFC Center on Wednesday, October 19, 2011. It becomes available on VOD beginning October 26th.) At the heart of Todd Rohal’s work is a very basic concept lost on today’s major theatrical audience who are hypnotized by the tired routine of familiar narrative structure. It’s so simple that it could be lost in the ether of the week’s releases comprised of cults and the continued ascension of the Catfish crew, but I’ll lay it out: Anything Goes. It’s a mindset that will definitely help you take on The Catechism…  Read more

    On Oct 20, 2011
    By on Oct 20, 2011Columns
  • Margaret — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Without any fanfare, Margaret was released theatrically by Fox Searchlight on Friday, September 30, 2011. Visit the film’s official website to learn more.) Oh boy. Oh wow. If your idea of a rewarding time at the movies is a symphonic drama that aches with the blood, sweat and tears of real life while simultaneously upholding the finest traditions of opera, of theater, of poetry, of literature, look no further than Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret. Much has been written about the unfortunate legal brouhaha surrounding the film’s post-production — it was shot in 2005 while here we are twiddling our thumbs in…  Read more

    On Oct 13, 2011
    By on Oct 13, 2011Columns
  • Take Shelter — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Before world-premiering in the dramatic competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Take Shelter was picked up by Sony Classics. It went on to win the Grand Prize at Critics Week, as well as the FIPRESCI Prize, in Cannes. It opens theatrically in New York City and Los Angeles on Friday, September 30, 2011. Visit the official website to learn more.) [DISCLAIMER: I am very good friends with several of the key collaborators involved with the Take Shelter production. Ordinarily, I would absolve myself from writing a review based on far more tenuous connections, but in this particular case, I…  Read more

    On Sep 29, 2011
    By on Sep 29, 2011Columns
  • Nostalgia For The Light — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Nostalgia For The Light is now available on DVD and Blu-ray thanks to Icarus Films. It opened theatrically in New York City on March 18, 2011. Visit the film’s official page at the distributor’s site to learn more.) Writing about masterpieces is always difficult, yet in the case of Patricio Guzman’s Nostalgia For The Light, it’s almost crippling. On the one hand, there is enough information and emotion contained within this film’s 90 minutes to justify several thick, glowing texts of appreciation. It’s not merely that Guzman guides us on a journey that tackles just about every grand issue known…  Read more

    On Sep 15, 2011
    By on Sep 15, 2011Columns
  • Rebirth — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Rebirth is now available on DVD through Oscilloscope Pictures. Visit the official Project Rebirth website for theatrical screening dates and to learn more, and go here to watch a startling video detailing the time-lapse project.) On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, frankly, at the moment, I’m finding it hard not to feel more hopeless than hopeful about things. It’s bad enough that it’s still frighteningly easy to recall the visceral shock of that fateful morning, watching the twin towers crumble to the ground on television before rushing to my Washington Heights fire escape to confirm that they…  Read more

    On Sep 8, 2011
    By on Sep 8, 2011Columns
  • Slacker — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Richard Linklater’s seminal indie feature was released 20 years ago this summer. In celebration, 24 Austin-based filmmakers have crafted Slacker 2011, a collage/montage/homage, which premiered on August 31 at the Austin Film Society. For our part, we’re posting Nelson Kim’s essay on the film, which originally ran at Hammer To Nail on January 5, 2009. Buy the Criterion edition on DVD, or watch it at Amazon Instant.) A young man (the then-31-year-old writer, director, and producer) gets off a bus in Austin, hails a cab, and tells the driver about his theory that every choice we make in life creates…  Read more

    On Sep 1, 2011
    By on Sep 1, 2011Columns
  • Secret Sunshine — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Secret Sunshine is available on DVD and Blu-ray through The Criterion Collection.) The history of Lee Chang-dong’s extraordinary Secret Sunshine is a textbook case of both the problems and the miracles at play in the current marketplace for international cinema here in the United States. The film, which premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival (winning the Best Actress award for Jeon Do-yeon’s devastating performance), was featured in the U.S. that same autumn at The New York Film Festival. But despite critical accolades (the film won indieWIRE’s 2007 Best Undistributed Film poll in a landslide), Secret Sunshine remained in limbo…  Read more

    On Aug 25, 2011
    By on Aug 25, 2011Columns
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