SXSW 2011 – Day 5

More film news from SXSW, including 'Detention', 'A Bag of Hammers ' and 'Hit So Hard'.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

The music festival has started so 6th Street is closed to automobiles. You can hear music playing from inside the bars, and all the little college girlies are out in their shorts during the day, clubwear at night. It makes getting cabs harder but I made it to every screening just under the gun.



Joseph Kahn has made the ultimate meta movie. A self-referential horror movie about self-referential horror movies, Detention goes to meta levels beyond the audience itself. A group of teens gets Saturday detention on prom night after a killer mimicking a popular movie takes out some students. References are packed into sharply written dialogue and fast paced editing. The slasher scenes are really strong too, chasing through environments they use to the fullest. Kahn shoots steadily so the quick cuts reflect a deliberate pace, and the camera tracks and focus racks reveal the scene skillfully.


A Bag of Hammers 

For a first time feature, A Bag of Hammers tells a solid little story and keeps it entertaining. Two car thieves (Jason Ritter and Jake Sandvig) pose as valleys but never return the vehicles. Their tenant leaves behind a young boy which tests the brothers’ relationship. One wants to take care of the kid and the other doesn’t. It’s never sappy heartwarming drama but the emotional moments work. The characters keep a sense of humor about things. It won’t be quoted on college campuses but to give a filmmaker a chance, it delivers as much entertainment and heart as a Hollywood movie, so these guys are onto something here.


Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death of Patty Schemel 

The story of Hole drummer Patty Schemel is typical of the music industry. An enthusiastic young woman, Schemel turned to drugs to cope with the pressure. Living through the deaths of both Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff and Kurt Cobain himself exacerbated things, and the producer of the Celebrity Skin album was just too much. At one point Schemel ended up homeless, but now she’s recovering and using her experience to help others. The documentary incorporates firsthand interviews with Schemel, Courtney Love, Melissa Auf der Maur and other musicians with perspective. Some of Schemel’s home videos from the ‘90s give a taste of their behind the scenes life, and Cobain shows up on the road and at home. It’s a solid, complete biography.