H2N Pick of the Week

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

  • Hell and Back Again — A Hammer and Nail Review

    (Hell and Back Again premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Its official theatrical run begins at the Film Forum on Wednesday, October 5th. As a selection in the DocuWeeks 2011 program, it opens theatrically in New York City at the IFC Center on Friday, August 19th, and in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 on Friday, Sept. 2nd. Visit the film’s official website to learn more.) In recent years American war docs have largely moved away from exposés on corruption and bad government policy. Instead, the focus has shifted to small, largely apolitical stories about life in the military and the human cost of war. Hell and Back…  Read more

    On Aug 18, 2011
    By on Aug 18, 2011 Columns
  • Gun Hill Road — A Hammer to Nail

    (Gun Hill Road world premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, which is when the original version of this review was first published at Hammer To Nail. It was picked up for distribution by Motion Film Group and opens theatrically in New York City on Friday, August 5, 2011, and Los Angeles on Friday, August 12th. Visit the film’s Facebook page and official website to learn more.) A late work by the Cuban director Tomas Gutierrez Alea called Strawberry And Chocolate is one of the few films I’ve ever seen to confront the strange relationship…  Read more

    On Aug 4, 2011
    By on Aug 4, 2011 Columns
  • sleep furiously — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (sleep furiously opens theatrically in NYC at Cinema Village on Friday, July 29, 2011. More importantly: FANDOR IS MAKING IT AVAILABLE  FOR 24 HOURS ONLY ON FRIDAY, JULY 29TH! Go here to learn more.) It’s tempting to read Gideon Koppel’s sleep furiously as a bittersweet ode to the antiquated community in which he was raised, or, God forbid, to view it as some sort of call-to-arms to not let this slow, quiet way of life fade into oblivion. The truth is that it isn’t either of those things. By refusing to make any grand, preachy statements, Koppel has achieved something far…  Read more

    On Jul 28, 2011
    By on Jul 28, 2011 Columns
  • The Myth of the American Sleepover — A Hammer to Nail Review

    It’s easy to be judgmental about the characters of David Robert Mitchell’s teen drama, The Myth of the American Sleepover, about the escapades of several adolescents on their last night of summer. You can judge one girl for betraying her friend for their shared object of affection; or one guy for stalking a pair of twins whom he once had a crush on. But to do so would be to sell the film and its characters short. The Myth of the American Sleepover isn’t about actions and events, but moments and gestures. Through the impressionable eyes of a handful of…  Read more

    On Jul 22, 2011
    By on Jul 22, 2011 Columns
  • Convento — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Convento world premiered at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival. It has its New York City premiere on Saturday, July 16, 2011, as part of Rooftop Films. Visit the film’s official Tumblr page to learn more.) Built to house an abbot and 12 monks 400 years ago, the Portuguese monastery Sao Francisco had deteriorated into an unlivable state. But when the Zwanikken family relocated from Holland in 1980 to restore the beautiful but troubled structure, their hard work and dedication turned that once religious house into a happy home. Though their husband and father Kees is no longer with them, the…  Read more

    On Jul 14, 2011
    By on Jul 14, 2011 Columns
  • Project Nim — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Project Nim is being distributed theatrically by Roadside Attractions. It opens in theaters July 8, 2011. Visit the film’s official website to learn more.) In December of 1973, a two-week old chimpanzee named Nim Chimpsky was taken from the arms of his mother and given to a human family in the hopes of settling a raging intellectual debate. In a famous study, the linguist (and now-famous political philosopher) Noam Chomsky had asserted that language acquisition was solely the domain of human beings, an innate quality existing within and discovered by humans through experience and exposure to language, which combined to…  Read more

    On Jul 7, 2011
    By on Jul 7, 2011 Columns
  • Dark Days — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (The 10th anniversary of Dark Days will be re-released through Oscilloscope Laboratories beginning Friday.) Things keep happening that make me feel old. No I don’t have any major age-related illnesses. I haven’t been getting copies of AARP magazine in the mail. “Are you even 30 yet?” is still a legitimate question to ask me upon any encounter. For the record, I’m not (yet) 30, but still I can’t help getting the creeping sense that, in the words of LCD Soundsystem, “I’m losing my edge.” Upon learning that the Cinema Village was going to open British documentarian Marc Singer’s seminal 2000…  Read more

    On Jun 30, 2011
    By on Jun 30, 2011 Columns
  • General Orders No. 9 — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (General Orders No. 9 is being distributed theatrically by Variance Films. It opens at the reRun Gastropub in New York City on June 24, 2011. Visit the film’s official website to learn more.) Deer trail becomes Indian trail becomes County road. General Orders No. 9 is one of those films where the adjectives used to describe it—dense, meditative, reflective, confounding—are intended as compliments, yet they will be mistaken by many for pejoratives. And while it would be stubborn and ignorant to think that everyone will respond to it with open arms, its refusal to speak to anyone except itself is…  Read more

    On Jun 23, 2011
    By on Jun 23, 2011 Columns
  • Reindeerspotting: Escape From Santaland — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Reindeerspotting: Escape From Santaland is the opening night film in the MoMA Presents: DocPoint series and screens daily through Monday, June 13, 2011. Go here to learn more.) In the opening minutes of Joonas Neuvonen’s Reindeerspotting: Escape From Santaland, don’t be surprised if you’re overcome with that “here we go again” feeling, and not in a good way. For the eternal question remains, does the world really need yet another film about junky culture? Yes, we know drugs are bad. Yes, we understand by now that they numb your senses and make you behave in illegal, immoral ways. Yes, we…  Read more

    On Jun 9, 2011
    By on Jun 9, 2011 Columns
  • Out of the Blue — A Hammer to Nail Review

    (Out of the Blue opens at Anthology Film Archives for a one-week run on Friday, July 3rd, 2011. Its home video availability is spotty, though hopefully that will change soon.) American cinema has spoken quite well for itself in the first half of 2011, but watching a new 35mm print of Out of the Blue makes even the most graphic new releases seem so utterly tame. As disturbing today as Dennis Hopper’s 1980 drama presumably was back then, Hopper’s long-overdue directorial follow-up to his grand folly The Last Movie unflinchingly depicts the loss of one young girl’s innocence while simultaneously…  Read more

    On Jun 2, 2011
    By on Jun 2, 2011 Columns
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