The reflection of a dusty computer monitor showing a middle age man playing a command and conquer style video game. The colors are muted and what draws the eye is the reflection of the digital world in his glasses. This image sums up Kazik Radwanski’s second feature How Heavy This Hammer quite well as it’s about the grey times in life where people just keep moving forward, somewhat miserably. Erwin is married with two boys but the only thing that seems to be able to hold his attention is drinking and his computer games. How Heavy This Hammer is a pissed off and angry examination of the placid and mundane quality of living that is in overabundance in Toronto. There has to be more from life?
Where Radwanski’s first feature Tower extended the anxious close-ups of his earlier shorts into a feature, with this new feature these techniques are refined as there are more main characters and situations which create more complex confrontations and settings that lead to new affects. So if Radwanski’s cinema is the hybrid of Allan King (A Married Couple) and John Cassavetes (Husbands) – that of a réel with stylized natural performances – then its through its capturing in extended scenes of silence and an inarticulateness and through personal gestures (both of humans and animals) that it gets to the heart of its characters and its story. With the online launch of the earlier short film Princess Margaret Blvd. (one of the catalyst of the Toronto DIY Filmmaker movement) there is a new motivation to dig into Radwanski’s work: muted characters, walking through a haze, trying to figure out what’s going on, and not sure what’s going to happen next. Not necessarily an optimistic lesson but perceptive for its story and influential for leading to what is still to come.
How Heavy This Hammer begins its theatrical run this Friday at 7PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox where it’ll be playing for a week.