“The Silent Corner: A Novel of Suspense” – (Book Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: **** out of *****.

Hindered by a repetition of ideas and scenarios in its midsection, Dean Koontz’s latest work, The Silent Corner: A Novel of Suspense (2017), is at least fifty pages overlong. Likewise, it is oddly fashioned. For example, many of the sequences, especially in the second half, seem unnecessarily drawn-out. Correspondingly, the pace seems to stop and go as it pleases. In turn, the chain of events never becomes as fully encapsulating as one would hope. Furthermore, the characters, though fully realized, are archetypical to tales of this genus. This attribute also encompasses our twenty-seven-year-old heroine, Jane Hawk. Though she is painted with a plethora of engaging personality traits and is designed to make audiences cheer her along, she holds too rigorously to the worn “FBI agent on leave turned rogue” formula. The same can be said of the general story arc.

Yet, Koontz’s rich, musical prose is strikingly beautiful. It is filled with the consistent insights that audiences have come to expect from the best-selling author. Additionally, Koontz successfully keeps the sense of brooding menace, intensity and intrigue cranked up on high through most of the volume. Even when the narrative drags, Koontz does his best to keep the adrenaline-pumping. This admirable act extends to the vividly penned, if relatively underwhelming, finale.

Koontz constructs a uniquely alluring and hypnotic plot. It concerns the gun-toting and recently widowed Hawk exploring a rash of inexplicable suicides. This is after her Military Colonel husband, Nick, suffers the same fate. What is strange about these deaths is that they are all caused without any of the obvious triggers. The victims seem to be happy and well-adjusted individuals. Such a search leads Hawk down a darkening path. It is one where the timely theme of the rich using the less privileged as servants for their own whims and benefit is ever-present. The easily manipulative nature of technology is also effectively explored. Bound by her own impression of righteous duty, Hawk’s discoveries throughout Koontz’s tome are remarkable.

The four-hundred and fifty-four-page opus, published by Bantam Books on June 20th, 2017, is noteworthy for utilizing each detail and observation, however minute, Koontz administers along the way. Evidence of this is seen in how many of the tidbits mentioned early on, even fleetingly, are again addressed in an intriguing latter-presented form. Such is a wonderful display of both Koontz’s meticulous craftsmanship and attentive eye for specificity. Koontz’s effort also immerses itself in a barrage of clever, pop-culture related plot points. The references to Bill Condon’s literary political-thriller The Manchurian Candidate (1959) and John Frankenheimer’s 1962 film of the same name are among the most astute. Such results in a flawed, but challenging and rewarding, read. Ultimately, the missteps of Koontz’s chronicle are well-worth enduring. This is for the numerous passages of awe and humanity Koontz issues throughout the project.

Hawk will return in The Whispering Room (2017). It is scheduled for a November 21st, 2017 release.

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“The Loudest Sound” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

The Loudest Sound (2015), the feature debut from Boston-based writer-director Jason Miller, is a quintessential illustration of what makes independent filmmaking such a singular and uniquely rewarding experience. Emotionally rich and challenging, the one hundred and nineteen-minute drama is also unapologetically open and relatable. Such factors combine to spellbinding consequence with an often painful, yet assuredly cathartic, intimacy. This is visible from the powerful commencing bit, which is made far more jarring by the snapshot-like collection of occurrences that arrive in quick succession directly beforehand, until the gloriously melancholy finale. There is also a high-functioning artistry to the proceedings. For example, the presentation is hypnotically painted with a mixture of alternating color and black and white sequences. This is with the more defining instances of the relationships which are conveyed on-screen frequently framed in the latter quality. When combined with the unpredictable and often unpronounced transitions in time that transpire through the endeavor, which is marked by eight title card triggered sections, Miller effortlessly evokes an impression akin to sifting through memories.

These, we quickly reveal, are the recollections of our conflicted and twentysomething protagonist, Michael (in a brilliant and achingly genuine representation from Michael Reardon). This is as he inwardly ruminates on his ardent affiliations with Alice (in a wonderful depiction from Johanna Gorton), who is sent to rehab for substance abuse in the early stretches, and Nancy (in a layered and transcendent portrayal by Hillary Coughlin). She is a neighbor to Michael. More specifically, one who soon takes the place of affection the now absent Alice once held in Michael’s heart. Yet, there is an unannounced surprise Michael finds shortly after Alice turns to therapy. It is a bind to Alice that will constantly bring into question his feelings for both her and Nancy. Such a sentimental tug-of-war is the crux in which the picture triumphantly stands. The connection to Alice, a pregnancy, augments the immediacy of Michael’s plight. Such results in an underlying intensity that, when intertwined with the episodes of love and grief which compose the bulk of the undertaking, make this beautifully constructed masterpiece as moving as it is fascinating. The result is an unblemished tone poem. It is one which is full of quiet insight and haunting life lessons.

This is undoubtedly a courtesy of Miller’s mature, lyrical scripting and same said guidance of the project. As a matter of fact, the handling of the material is so strong, especially in terms of credible dialogue and characterizations, that one can naturally draw a parallel to Ingmar Bergman’s groundbreaking Swedish Television mini-series Scenes from a Marriage (1973). The focus on how the passage of eras change the leads of each respective opus (with Miller’s labor spanning three years and Bergman’s tour de force encompassing a decade) are where this comparison most rigorously stems. The unflinching concern invested in our flawed and deeply human central figures increases the correspondence between these two photoplays. There is also a deliberate, methodical pace to each orchestration. Such makes this alignment complete.

The technical aspects of Miller’s affair are just as accomplished. Nolan Yee’s consistently impressive cinematography is as immersive and alluring as the harrowing subject matter demands. The music from composer Matthew Whiteside poignantly punctuates every arrangement it is utilized within. Likewise, Emma Freter and Matthew Watkins’ editing is seamless and superb.

Additionally, the previously unmentioned performers are deft in their individual enactments. Vladimyr B. Mondelus is terrific as Michael’s confidant, Nathaniel. Rob Healey is mesmerizing in his role as Alice’s Dad. Danielle Shaina as Jennifer, Ellen Soderberg as Bride and John Weeks as Jeremy are especially good.

Reality doesn’t ask always sway toward easy inquiries. Nor does it offer simple solutions. Miller’s stunning fabrication, a Patricia Films presentation, is well-aware of this struggle. It can be perceived as a thesis statement for the exertion. Such a realization shouts from the most silent corners of Miller’s narrative. It illuminates the many one-on-one, domestic arguments which ensue between Michael and Nancy or Alice within the confines of the story. This can also be unveiled in the pensive air that floods through Michael’s endless introspection and soul-searching. Not only is this riveting, and worthy of recommending the undertaking on the strength of this merit alone, but it further enhances the authenticity and kinship between audience and fictional persona. Such surges unbounded throughout the duration.

What also helps matters is that alongside the bold themes explored, there is an understanding of the complex affiliations of mortal world with one another that is universal. It is delivered with an observant, yet non-judgmental, eye; evidence of Miller’s raw talent and craftsmanship. In an era where stories of passion are largely burdened by cliché and unnecessary heavy comedy, Miller’s attempt avoids these accessible trappings. Because of this, The Loudest Sound, which is currently being submitted to a variety of related festivals, towers above its peers. Consequentially, Miller’s account is a thought-provoking and wrenching wonder; an insurmountable reflection of cinema as a beacon of existence itself.

(Unrated). Contains adult language and sexuality.

The Facebook page for the film can be found here.

“Locked Up (2017)” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

Locked Up (2017), writer-director Jared Cohn’s brilliantly realized take on the women in prison sub-genre of exploitation film, is gritty, unflinching, no-nonsense entertainment. Boosted by a stellar, star-in-the-making portrayal from Kelly McCart as our ruggedly endearing heroine, Mallory, the eighty-six-minute picture is spectacularly well-made on all accounts. For example, the pace is pitch-perfect. The various turns in the chronicle are seamless. Even from a technical standpoint Cohn’s application, produced through The Asylum, is just as spellbinding. Proof of this can be unveiled in Josh Maas’ immersive and brooding cinematography. Maas’ influence compliments the gorgeously dark tone of the manufacture masterfully. The same can be said of the stirring and vastly cinematic music from Christopher Cano and Chris Ridenhour. Rob Pallatina’s editing is just as triumphant. The camera and electrical team is similarly phenomenal. Furthermore, the affair is an exemplary showcase for Cohn’s deft characterizations. Relatedly, it is filled with his trademark ear for rich, credible dialogue. This Thailand recorded endeavor also rises as a bravura demonstration of Cohn’s magnificent ability to instantly transport viewers into the quietly wounded, repressed and aggressive mind-state of his protagonist.

Such is established in an equally jarring and captivating five-minute opening sequence. It takes place in Mallory’s soon to be ex-school in Southeast Asia. The succession concerns Cohn’s lead violently attacking a peer out of vengeance and frustration. This is after the continual taunts of a group of young women become too much for our lead to bare. Such an act gets Mallory sentenced to two years in a reformatory. Yet, there is a horrific underbelly writhing beneath the sanitized veneer Mallory’s uncle, Tommy (in a terrific and charismatic turn from Cohn), whom Mallory is currently residing with, spies. This is as he explores the area Mallory will be staying to pay her debt to society alongside the soon-to-be inmate. What Mallory has yet to discover is that there is a sadistic side to the institution. It is one where the guards rape and abuse Cohn’s central figure. She is also forced to fight fellow detainees. When the promise of her freedom is introduced by a malicious higher-up in the third act, Mallory’s stakes and necessity to win increase dramatically. But, is this reward simply a ruse to get her to become more brutal and relentless in her combat? Or is this nefarious keeper simply providing another in her long line of lies to see a genuine showcase of Mallory’s conflict-oriented skill? These inquiries only add to the nail-biting attention Cohn fluently generates throughout this top-notch invention.

As can be ascertained from the plot description above, Cohn weaves an intriguing plot. It is one that revolves around the expected tropes from similar tales. Regardless, the fiction hardly comes across as anything less than groundbreaking. This is because Cohn’s execution of the piece, particularly in his mesmerizing scripting and behind the lens contributions, pushes audiences immediately into Mallory’s corner. Throughout the labor we find ourselves cheering her on to rise above her overwhelmingly grim surroundings. This as we glimpse the extent of her victimhood. Correspondingly, we impress upon ourselves her intensity and passion to do so. Such occurs via the physically and emotionally compelling components of the narrative. All of which are proportionately balanced. Likewise, the riveting incidents of hand-to-hand combat, from which every action scene in the flick is composed, ring with a teeth-gnashing authenticity. Such factors build up an ever-accruing wall of fascination. It is a captivating allure that effortlessly pulls bystanders through the runtime. It also makes the tremendously fashioned concluding twenty-minutes especially thrilling.

Further assisting matters are the electrifying performances. Katrina Grey is exceptional as Mallory’s trainer and eventual love interest, Kat. Christiana Chaiwanna as Nenita and Anastasia Maslova as Mallory’s final opponent, Riza, are terrific. Maythavee Weiss is incredible, memorable and enthrallingly nefarious as The Warden.

Packed with a relentless barrage of moments so explicit they call to mind frequently banned, cult classic features such as Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1975), Cohn’s creation is harrowing even in its bleakest segments. A midway arrangement which details an attempted suicide in the shower is proof of the effectiveness of such elements. Yet, there is a layered artistry to the fabrication. Such makes the undergoing much more than an assembly of engagingly nerve-frying and fist-flying flashes. This is because Cohn administers a concern for Mallory. It pulsates resplendently from the first frame to the last. He also augments an always in bloom curiosity as to her plight. This extends to those who fill the screen with her. Such prevalent attributes are as noticeable in the quiet instances as they are in its rowdier episodes.

In a year that has repeatedly showcased Cohn as one of the most talented and exciting figures in independent cinema, Locked Up stands among his best work to date. The labor is uncompromising, ever-serious and powerful. Best of all, it doesn’t give into the tongue-in-cheek trappings of far too many related entries in this storytelling genus. The result of these forever welcome qualities is a superbly accomplished, adrenaline-pumping masterpiece. Cohn has crafted a must-see for fellow B-movie admirers and sincere cinephiles alike.

(Unrated). Contains graphic violence, nudity and scenes of sexuality.

Available now on FlixFling, Netflix and Vudu.

“Bonejangles” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: **** out of *****.

Bonejangles (2016), the second full-length feature from director Brett DeJager, is the perfect midnight movie. It is campy, creepy, uproarious and outrageously entertaining. The affair is also lightning paced and energetic from the get-go. The script, from Keith Melcher, vastly enhances the lean seventy-seven-minute project. This is with clever, tongue-in-cheek dialogue. Melcher also incorporates an abundance of equally witty parallels to time-tested slasher franchises. The most notable of these involves Bonejangles’ father, Edgar Sr. (in a phenomenal turn from Reggie Bannister). It is glimpsed solely in flashback. This early bit oversees Edgar Sr. motivating our engagingly engineered antagonist to kill. The primary reason to do so is one repeated, memorably hilarious line. Such a segment easily calls to mind the legendary slasher, Jason Voorhees, being similarly roused by his mother, Pamela (Betsy Palmer), in the Friday the 13th series. Such winks at the audience only amplify the fun factor DeJager’s triumphant horror/comedy produces immeasurably.

What also assists matters is that the movie ingeniously finds a way to respect the clichés of its sub-genre. This is while giving us a plot that is assuredly amusing and strikingly original; a perfect pulpit for a film of this ilk. It concerns a gathering of police officers. They are transporting our title villain to an asylum. Upon doing so, they find themselves in a town that is simultaneously cursed and being taken over by the living dead. Quickly hatching a plan to rid said municipality of their zombie problem, the cops unleash their once captive madman onto the surrounding area. This results in a wildly enjoyable ride; a side-splitting, in all senses of the word, tour de force.

Lesser efforts would’ve used this intriguing evil vs. evil concept to craft a parade of violence that runs the entirety of the picture. Though DeJager’s effort will assuredly please those who like to indulge in cinematic bloodshed, the labor one-ups this excellent narrative backdrop by going in several wholly unpredictable places. This is most evident in the second and third acts. More specifically, when a certain ominous, plot-serving character is introduced. The aforesaid section also proves the captivating and inventive means of exposition DeJager’s photoplay conjures. This is when dealing with a situation as that which was previously addressed.

Besides opening with one of the most terrifying and attention-garnering instances in the picture and concluding on an equally well-done note, DeJager’s undertaking is graced with incredible performances. Everyone involved takes the wide range of serious to comic on-screen personalities to entertaining extremes. Elissa Dowling is especially good as the no-nonsense Rowena. Additionally, the cinematography from Shaun O’ Connell is illustrious. It amplifies the seamless mood of the exertion beautifully. Ben Gersch’s special effects make-up and DeJager’s wardrobe work are just as spectacular. When combined with imaginative bouts of slaughter and central figures that rise above their deliberate familiarity through sheer prowess and charisma, BoneJangles emerges as an a uniquely effective B-movie. DeJager has crafted an all-around winner.

Bonejangles will be unleashed on Video on Demand July 18th, 2017 through Wild Eye Releasing.

(Unrated). Contains graphic violence, adult language and nudity.

“Bad Frank” – (Capsule Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: **** out of *****.

Fierce in attitude and execution, co-writer-director Tony Germinario’s Bad Frank (2017) is an all-around exceptional thriller. Germinario chronicles the manner our central figure, Frank Pierce (in a spellbinding and aggressive enactment from the Robert Pastorelli Rising Star Award-winning actor Kevin Interdonato), distributes his own brand of revenge. This is after the kidnapping of his wife, Gina (in a layered and harrowing depiction from Amanda Clayton). The source of such a horrific happenstance is a mysteriously fashioned individual with which Frank shares an equally cryptic history.

Germinario rigorously holds onto the formula of prior entries in this sub-genre. Yet, the production is so masterfully fashioned at every turn that such criticisms hardly register. This is until long after the carefully paced one-hundred and two-minute runtime has passed. The feature is also brilliant in the credible and often physically expressed fashion in which the internal struggles and initially same said aggression Frank is undergoing throughout the account is conveyed.

This is especially evident in the opening forty-five minutes. In this section, Germinario, via his deft guidance and collaborative scripting with performers on the project Russ Russo and Interdonato, potently focuses on the damaged association between Frank and Gina. Such makes Frank’s plight endlessly dramatic, powerful, compelling and intense. These aspects are augmented as he violently attempts to retrieve Gina in the later stretches of the piece.

The result of such smartly honed moves is a picture that is as primal, raw and stirring as it is memorable. We find ourselves cheering as well as relating to the visibly flawed, yet uncompromisingly human and relatable, character of Frank. This is even when his actions are at their most reprehensible. These attributes are made ever-more envy-inducing. This is as Germinario utilizes our invested sentiments in his lead to hone a riveting finale. The most interesting aspect of this conclusive bit is how it cleverly reconfigures an especially common narrative element to feel inspired and new.

In turn, audiences are delivered an electric experience. This is a brawny, bold and brutal cinematic exercise. It is one that simultaneously embraces and rises above its categorical trappings. This is without ever becoming overblown. When combined with Tom Sizemore’s incredible depiction of Mickey Duro and Mike Hechanova’s gorgeously gritty cinematography, the effort is ever-more encapsulating. Such qualities augment the spectacular nature of Bad Frank. Germinario is assuredly a talent to be watched.

(Unrated). Contains violence, language and adult themes.

Releases on Video on Demand in the United States on July 4th. The movie will be available worldwide in the previously stated platform on  July 7th.

A Gravitas Ventures release.

 

“The Answer” – (Capsule Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***1/2 out of *****.

The Answer (2015), the debut feature from writer-director Iqbal Ahmed, is a successful genre crossbreed. Merging elements of romance, mystery, thriller and science-fiction, Ahmed weaves an engaging, if familiar, tale. The fiction concerns a man, Bridd Cole (in a solid performance from Austin Hebert), who sets out to unveil his identity after an unexpected attack. This is with the utilization of a series of cryptic clues left behind by his deceased parents.

Iqbal’s picture opens with an assuredly attention-garnering bit. It is as well-made as it is unnerving. From herein, this quick-paced and efficient, eighty-two-minute film is further strengthened by the chemistry laden relationship between Cole and his co-worker turned girlfriend, Charlotte Parker (in a knockout portrayal from Alexis Carra). But, the most notable component is the way Ahmed keeps this human focus at the center. This is while introducing a variety of alternately enigmatic and cerebral notions into the plot. Such makes this beautifully shot production consistently gripping.

Regardless, much of the second act, which intimately develops the ever-budding rapport between our protagonists, ultimately offers nothing new in terms of character development. Still, the satisfying and grounded finale, as well as the general can-do attitude of the affair, more than makes up for this slight storytelling hiccup. All-in-all, this is a strong work of independent cinema. Erick DeVore’s spellbinding music, as well as the sparsely used special effects of the effort, back this statement magnificently. Though the sum of the labor never exceeds its many intriguing parts, audiences of all interests will assuredly be hypnotized by the cinematic web Ahmed weaves.

(Unrated). Contains violence and some terrifying moments.

A High Octane Pictures release.

Premieres on Video on Demand on July 11th, 2017.

A Brief Word On New/ Upcoming Releases: “Alien Convergence”, “Death Pool”, “Dragon Teeth”, “Full Wolf Moon”, “Gremlin”,”Gwendy’s Button Box”, “Karate Kill”, “Leftovers”

By Andrew Buckner

Alien Convergence

Rating: *** out of *****.

Alien Convergence (2017), from director Rob Pallatina, is a fun, if familiar, creature feature. The light echoes of the Godzilla films only help matters. Nonetheless, the chronicle itself, which revolves around a crew of jet fighter pilots banding together to fight a reptilian monster which is terrorizing the surrounding area, is thin. Continually, the special effects leave much to be desired. Moreover, the leads and their relationships aren’t developed in any new way. Yet, the project has an antiquated sensibility towards entertainment. Such a quality is sure to prove endearing for those of us who grew up on similar cinematic experiences. This factor, combined with its quick pace and efficient eighty-seven-minute length, is more than strong enough for us to forget its shortcomings. Now available on Video on Demand from The Asylum.

(Unrated). Contains violence.

Death Pool

Rating: **** out of *****.

Death Pool (2016) is another knockout thriller from writer-director Jared Cohn; tense, tough, well-made and endlessly entertaining. Randy Wayne is terrific as Johnny Taylor: a young man who evolves into a serial killer, and later a pop-culture icon in Los Angeles, after drowning his babysitter as a child. Cohn keeps the suspense hard-boiled and the stride pitch-perfect. The dialogue is also crisp and believable. He also keeps the eighty-nine-minute affair from becoming repetitive. This is by finding new ways to utilize Taylor’s obsession with murder via water. This is while avoiding many of the clichés common in related slasher fare. The result is consistently seductive and intriguing throughout the entirety. Furthermore, Josh Maas’ cinematography is gorgeous. Chase Kuker’s music punctuates the piece powerfully. Reportedly based on a true event. Releases on Video on Demand and DVD on June 20th from MTI Home Video.

(Unrated). Contains graphic violence, nudity and sexuality.

 

Dragon Teeth

By Michael Chrichton

Rating: ***** out of *****.

Dragon Teeth (2017) is Michael Chrichton in top form; an irresistibly entertaining, perfectly paced and vividly written mixture of Paleontology and the Old West. It is also every bit as inventive and intellectually stimulating as you would expect from a work by Chrichton. This twist and adventure filled wonder, which concerns a thousand-dollar bet turning into a test of how far one young man will go to save a batch of recently uncovered dinosaur fossils, is an ingenious showcase for Chrichton’s cerebral and compulsively enthralling writing. This instant classic is undoubtedly one of the year’s best novels!

Length: 295 pages.

The volume was published by Harper Collins on May 23, 2017.

 

Full Wolf Moon

By Lee Child

Rating: **** out of *****.

Lee Child’s fifth Jeremy Logan novel, Full Wolf Moon (2017), adds nothing new to the supernatural murder mystery sub-genre. Still, it is a briskly paced, entertaining and well-written horror tale. Additionally, Logan is as likable and engaging as ever. The plot, which concerns Logan going to a wooded retreat to finish a paper and becoming entangled in a potentially werewolf related series of killings, becomes tedious in the mid-section. Regardless, there is an old-fashioned sensibility pulsating beneath the surface, common with tales from Child, that makes it easy to overlook these flaws. Such makes this detailed and character-oriented work altogether charming. Fans of Child’s prior works should certainly be satisfied.

Length: 258 pages.

The volume was published May 16th, 2017 via Doubleday Books.

Gremlin

Rating: ***1/2 out of *****.

Boosted by an interesting concept and some sly nods to a similarly titled Joe Dante venture from 1984, director and co-scripter Ryan Bellgardt’s Gremlin (2017) is a thoroughly engaging mini-monster movie. The moral dilemma brought forth by those who are in possession of the title creature-in-a-box, who terrorizes one family until it is passed off onto someone said kin admires in a ceaseless cycle, is especially interesting. Still, the protagonist-oriented, eighty-eight-minute photoplay is held back by less than stellar effects. It also suffers from a talkative second act and an all-too-abrupt finale. Releases July 11th, 2017 on Video on Demand.

(Unrated). Contains violence.

 

Gwendy’s Button Box

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.

Gwendy’s Button Box (2017), a novella from Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, is brilliantly told. It is an engaging, inventive concept that is rich in moral message and power struggle symbolism. King and Chizmar chronicle our title heroine becoming in power of an odd contraption that is gifted to her by an unusual gentleman at an early age. At first, it seems to help her get her life on track. This is through its production of an unusually savory chocolate. This helps her diet and gain the popularity she desires. The item also disperses coins which will assist her financially as time passes. Yet, the switches, which are representative of different counties, give the object a shadowy persona. It is a means of responsibility that Gwendy only comprehends the significance of as she gets older.

Such begins a genuinely gripping narrative. It is one that is told in an unmistakably masterful manner. This is as only King and Chizmar could weave. As can also be ascertained from these two authors’ prior literary contributions, the personas found within the fiction are credible. Likewise, they are likably fashioned. The outcome is thoughtful and haunting; a must-read!

Released via Cemetery Dance Publications on May 16th, 2017.
Length: 180 pages.

Karate Kill

Rating: ***1/2 out of *****.

Writer-director Kurando Mitsutake’s Karate Kill (2016), which will be released in the United States on July 18th via Video on Demand and DVD/Blu-ray, isn’t quite as outrageous as its intriguing cover art and obvious grindhouse roots may suggest. Furthermore, its endless barrage of fist-flying action scenes, though accomplished, are never as jaw-dropping as one might expect. Additionally, the villains are one-dimensional archetypes. They are also underwhelming and not entirely memorable. Not to mention, the story arc and exposition are all delivered in an all-too-familiar manner. The plot is also not entirely novel. It involves our ruggedly charismatic and engaging hero, Kenji (Hayate), trying to save his kidnapped sister, Mayumi (Mana Sakura), from a cult of snuff filmmakers in Los Angeles. Still, the flick delivers just what fans of B-movie martial arts pictures demand in spades: bloody, brutal, fast-paced and occasionally hilarious fun. All of this is incorporated in a relatively brief, eighty-nine-minute runtime. Such is more than enough to make up for its former addressed shortcomings. The result is a genre entry that will assuredly please fans of similar works.

(Unrated). Contains graphic violence and nudity.

Leftovers

Rating: ***** out of *****.

Writer-director Seth Hancock’s Leftovers (2017) is an undeniably powerful, ever-fascinating and insightful eighty-minute documentary. It boldly addresses a potent and timely subject: hunger and food insecurity among senior citizens. The movie is just as much about the necessity of the Meals on Wheels program. What assists matters is that Hancock’s style and voice-over is appropriately straight-forward. As this is incorporated with a series of poignant interviews and reinstated with effective information to back up its thesis statement, the sheer impact of this unforgettable endeavor is undeniable. The result is tightly paced and endlessly moving; one of the best accounts of its type I have witnessed all year! Do yourself a favor and seek this one out! Hancock’s picture releases on Video on Demand on July 11th. It will be available on DVD on August 29th.

(Unrated). Appropriate (and recommended) for family viewing.

A Word of Dreams’ 15 Favorite Films of 2017 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

Since we are nearly halfway through 2017 already, I have decided to put together a list of my favorite films of the year so far. And the awards go to…

15. FAIRFIELD FOLLIES
Director: Laura Pepper
Genre: Comedy

14. GET OUT
Director: Jordan Peele
Genre: Horror

13. A DARK SONG
Director: Liam Gavin
Genre: Horror

12. NIGHT JOB
Director: J. Antonio
Genre: Comedy

11. MOM AND ME
Director: Ken Wardrop
Genre: Documentary

10. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Director: Bill Condon
Genre: Fantasy/ Romance/ Musical/ Family

9. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO
Director: Raoul Peck
Genre: Documentary

8. ALIEN: COVENANT
Director: Ridley Scott
Genre: Horror/ Science-Fiction

7. THE LURE
Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
Genre: Horror/ Comedy/ Musical

6.A CURE FOR WELLNESS
Director: Gore Verbinski
Genre: Horror/Drama/Fantasy

5. MY PET DINOSAUR
Director: Matt Drummond
Genre: Family/ Adventure

4. GARDEN OF STARS
Director: Pasquale Plastino, Stephane Riethauser
Genre: Documentary

3.  RAW
Director: Julia Ducournau
Genre: Horror

2. DO YOU DREAM IN COLOR?
Director: Abigail Fuller, Sarah Ivy
Genre: Documentary

1. LONG NIGHT IN A DEAD CITY
Director: Richard Griffin
Genre: Mystery

RUNNERS-UP: LEFTOVERS (Director: Seth Hancock), 7 WITCHES, SPLIT, VOODOO, THE VOID, XX.

*Please note: MOM AND ME and THE LURE premiered in 2015. GARDEN OF STARS played in Italy in 2016. Yet, these pictures were not released in the United States of America until 2017. I am utilizing this latter-stated factor in my inclusion of these movies in this list.