Aug 30, 2011

Audience Choice Award @ Sidewalk Film Festival

We're very pleased to announce that A BAG OF HAMMERS just won the Audience Choice Award for Best Narrative Feature at Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham Alabama!

BIRMINGHAM's BLACK AND WHITE Review

A Bag of Hammers (direct- ed by Brian Crano) relates a story of human foibles and unforeseen circumstances from which Michael Ritchie (Smile, The Candidate) and Bill Forsyth (Local Hero, Comfort and Joy) once gleaned comic gems. Like a scenario from an O. Henry or Damon Runyon yarn, two con artists—whose only real talent is for downright theft—find them- selves responsible for a young boy. The somewhat precocious kid has recently moved to the neighbor- hood under the unwatchful eye of his job-desperate, cruelly detached mother (Carrie Preston of “True Blood,” defining white trash). What follows is an intriguing and wholly original study of complex relation- ships, told in an alarmingly offhand and humorous manner, consider- ing the dire nature of what actually takes place. Leads Jake Sandvig and Jason Ritter are a natural pair of tragic goofs, but English actor Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon) owns every scene she’s in, mainly because her eyes own the camera. Johnny Flynn’s marvelous sound- track is a near masterpiece. (A Bag of Hammers, Saturday, August 27, 12:45 p.m., Carver Theatre) 

BIRMINGHAM WEEKLY HEARTS BAG:

A Bag of Hammers—Saturday, 12:45, Carver Theatre Given the title of this film, one might think viewers were in for some violence-laden mafia flick, but the opposite couldn’t be truer. The film, directed by Brian Crano, begins as an off-the-wall buddy comedy about two itinerant, small-time con-men. It’s all snarky dialogue at first, but just when the film has you laughing, it socks you with a surprisingly sentimental core. Forced to deal with the all-too real lives of the collapsing family next door, the two hucksters find their own comfortable existence changing in unexpected ways. It’s a rare film that can make you honestly laugh and cry in the same sitting, but the performances by almost every lead in Bag of Hammers is superb, and tilt this film from good to great. SG

Jun 6, 2011

Variety Reviews BAG

A Bag of Hammers
By JOE LEYDON
First-time feature helmer Brian Crano maneuvers some tricky tonal shifts with impressive ease in "A Bag of Hammers," a droll, quirky comedy with a pleasant amount of heart. Set to start a North American theatrical run in August after months of buzz on the fest circuit, this offbeat indie could nail fair-to-middling B.O. if receptive reviews and word of mouth help spread the word.
 
Longtime buddies Ben (Jason Ritter) and Alan (Jake Sandvig) are twentysomething L.A. slackers who revel in their arrested adolescence, blithely taking risks and cracking wise while operating a valet-parking scam to steal cars. Despite the admonishments of Alan's sister, Mel (Rebecca Hall), who's kinda-sorta sweet on Ben, the two friends are content to remain reckless and irresponsible -- until responsibility is more or less imposed upon then.
 
After leasing their next-door rental house to Lynette (Carrie Preston), a stressed single mom who may be working her own scam, Ben and Alan strike up a friendship with Kelsey (Chandler Canterbury), the new tenant's 12-year-old son, whose maturity level is slightly above theirs. But he's also a neglected latchkey kid, leading Mel to lodge a complaint with child welfare authorities.
 
One thing leads to another, Lynette drops out of the picture, and Ben and Alan wind up accepting Kelsey into their household. And, for a while, into their valet-parking scam.
Working from a witty script he co-wrote with Sandvig, Crano manages the difficult feat of keeping his comedy on an even keel, even during moments that are jarringly serious or genuinely discomfiting.

In the latter category, there's a scene in which Lynette, strapped for cash after failing to find employment, desperately offers sexual favors in lieu of rent to Ben and Alan. There are probably a dozen different ways this scene could have turned crude or smirky or both, and it's a credit to Crano and his actors (especially Preston) that the aud has no reason to laugh, and every reason to expect the worst.

More often than not, however, "A Bag of Hammers" is very funny, with Ritter and Sandvig trading snarky quips to hilarious effect and Todd Louiso ("High Fidelity") periodically swiping scenes as a larcenous garage owner who earnestly but unsuccessfully courts Mel, played by Hall as a woman for whom any intelligent man would risk making a fool of himself.

As Kelsey, young Canterbury initially recalls Francois Truffaut's description of his Antoine Doinel alter ego in "The 400 Blows" -- a child who is not merely mistreated, but not treated at all -- making the character's appreciation of Ben and Alan as surrogate fathers both comical and poignant.

Oddly enough, the pic's final scenes suggest that Crano and Sandvig studied, of all films, Spike Lee's "25th Hour" for inspiration. If so, they learned their lessons well.
An MPI Media Group release of a Manor Film presentation of a Two Ships and a Locomotive production. Produced by Peter Friedlander, Lucy Barzun Donnelly, Jennifer Barrons. Co-producer, Jake Sandvig. Directed by Brian Crano. Screenplay, Crano, Jake Sandvig.

With: Jason Ritter, Jake Sandvig, Chandler Canterbury, Rebecca Hall, Todd Louiso, Gabriel Macht, Carrie Preston, Johnny Simmons
Camera (color), Bryon Shah, Quyen Tran; editors, Brian A. Kates, Travis Sittard; music, Johnny Flynn; music supervisor, Nick Bobetsky; production designer, Bradley Thordarson; art director, Angela How; costume designer, Michelle Sandvig; sound, Robert Sharman, Thomas Curley; supervising sound editor, Matt Vowles; assistant director, Stuart Richardson; casting, Brad Gilmore. Reviewed at Nashville Film Festival (New Directors), April 18, 2010. (Also in SXSW Film Festival -- Spotlight Premieres.) Running time: 85 MIN.

May 9, 2011

Soho House Screenings Announced

Members only.  NYC / Miami May 13, 2011.  Los Angeles May 16, 20111.

Apr 27, 2011

Newport Beach Film Festival Directing Panel

Bag director, Brian Crano, will be a panelist at the Newport Beach Film Festival's Directing Panel.  

Saturday, April 30, 2011 at 1pm Triangle Square.  The seminar is free and open to the public and if we're lucky there will be pamphlets there.

Apr 17, 2011

Sunday's Nashville Film Festival screening SOLD OUT!

Nashville Film Festival Screenings Tonight and Tomorrow!

If you're near Nashville, you should go check it out and enjoy.

Mar 7, 2011

Newport Beach Film Festival 2011

A Bag of Hammers has been invited to screen at the Newport Beach Film Festival 2011.