Hammer to Nail Review: Before the Sun Explodes

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“Nobody means to be horrible. They just are horrible.” This observation by a minor character could be the thesis of Debra Eisenstadt’s emotionally challenging third feature, Before the Sun Explodes.

Ken (Bill Dawes) is a middle-aged stay-at-home parent and stand-up comedian who had a taste of notoriety in the 90’s and has been struggling to reclaim it ever since. Diana (Christine Woods), his wife and the family breadwinner, has given up on him. And it’s hard to blame her, since he’s still peddling the same tired, misogynistic material he used when he was single. His b.j. jokes do not land anymore; even the crickets remain awkwardly silent when he’s on stage. He barely even believes in himself, as he argues with Diana about following his dreams of pitching a TV show based on his stage persona. So when Diana kicks him out of the house in a drunken rage, he’s completely at a loss about what to do…

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Hammer to Nail Review: Sleeping with Other People

(The 2015 Seattle International Film Festival started May 14 and runs all the way until June 7. Keep an eye on HtN for several reviews like this one, the latest from Writer/director Leslye Headland).

Writer/director Leslye Headland’s Sleeping with Other People is a Rom-Com that exists in the space between sincerity and satire. It’s hard to top Headland’s own description: “When Harry Met Sally for assholes.” But if you were truly an asshole, you’d be annoyed by the film’s frequent moments of earnestness. Moreover, fans of that saccharine, genre-defining film might have trouble empathizing with Headland’s deeply flawed protagonists. With its sexual implicitness, casual swearing, and unabashed recreational drug use, Sleeping with Other People is more akin to the films of Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller than to Rob Reiner…

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Hammer to Nail Review: Glassland

(The 2015 Seattle International Film Festival started May 14 and runs all the way until June 7. Keep an eye on HtN for several reviews like this one, the latest from Irish filmmaker Gerard Barret).

Irish filmmaker, Gerard Barrett  follows up his acclaimed first feature Pilgrim Hill with Glassland, another peek into the hardships of life in working-class Dublin. John (Jack Reynor, Transformers: Age of Extinction) is a young man struggling to hold his family together thanks to his mother, Jean’s (Toni Collette), full-blown alcoholism. She drinks like it’s her job and so it becomes John’s job to keep her alive and the family above water. He occasionally attempts to blow off steam in the company of his best friend, Shane (Will Poulter), who is going through some heavy stuff of his own regarding his estranged newborn son. Glassland is an incredibly bleak and intense 90 minutes that haunts you for days after. The lasting impression it leaves is especially remarkable considering the budget and time constraints under which Barrett worked…

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