“Gay as the Sun” (2020) – (Short Film Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

“Gay as the Sun” (2020), a thirty-one-minute short film from director Richard Griffin, is a thoughtful and endlessly hilarious meditation on body shaming and acceptance. Cleverly utilizing the basis of a circa 1960’s-70’s educational documentary, the masterfully done exercise also humorously addresses themes such as women’s wage inequality, hidden knowledge, religion (wonderfully exhibited throughout the work under the guise of a randomly appearing U.F.O.) and the mania of current Republican politics. What the piece also does just as successfully through this aforesaid structure is operate as a deeply personal story. It is one regarding two different men at separate periods in history, the beginning of and modern times, who grow to feel uncertain of their forms. In turn, this makes them feel unsure of themselves. This is a topic that many audience members will immediately relate to and find cathartic as it is showcased on-screen. Such a factor heightens the immense and varied appeal of the narrative. The eye-popping visual aesthetic of the effort, immediately showcased in the opening shot of a group of large sunflowers in a field, only improves the easy joy of the endeavor. This is courtesy of the magnificent and undeniably beautiful cinematography from Griffin.

The exercise is divided into two chapters. The first of which, “In the Beginning”, is a gentle and wonderfully diverting twist on the Adam (Ricky Irizarry) and Eve (Sarah Reed) tale. It is a brisk six minutes in length. What follows this is “The Story of Billy”. Implementing the remaining runtime of the venture, the chronicle concerns the title individual (delightfully played by Graham Stokes) who, following the actions of his parents, feels as if he cannot wear enough clothes. This is out of a personal disgrace for his undressed state. Upon being sent to an all-male nudist camp, he gradually learns to embrace and find himself through the loss of this once overwhelming concern.

The constantly charming and uproarious commentary by the wittily named “Psychologist/ Notary Public” Fritz Lang, M.D. (in a standout performance by Bruce Church) is a continuous source of amusement during this concluding account. What is also just as engaging is Griffin’s deft editing and guidance of the cinematic affair. Furthermore, the smartly paced (there is not a filler scene in the entirety of the picture) and arranged screenplay by Robyn Guilford is brilliant. It is filled with sharp, occasionally tongue-in-cheek dialogue, sly and subtle references to past and present issues and people, and wall-to-wall entertaining situations. Likewise, the enactments are all incredible. For example, Alexander Willis is dazzling as Gardner. The depiction by Samantha Acampora of Beatrice, Nolan Burke as Steve and Sissy O’ Hara as Ivy are all terrific. Terry Shea is just as good as The Narrator. Irizarry and Reed are illuminating in their previously stated turns. Ninny Nothin as Snake, Jay Walker as Poet, Robert Kersey as “Gay Dracula”, and Ronald Martin as The Shirt Bandit are all memorable in their brief roles.

Ultimately, “Gay as the Sun” stands alongside “Yesteryear” (2020) by Chris Esper as the single best non-feature film I have seen this year. It is emotionally rousing in a credible and quiet way. The design is also goofy, upbeat fun for the entirety of the arrangement. Well-fashioned and likable central figures are also frequently incorporated into the latest from Griffin. There is also just the right touch of romance peppered into the proceedings. Such an element greatly augments the variety of the development. With the assistance of these highly effective ingredients, Griffin has crafted a bold, unique, and ardent comedy as only he can conceive. It is a quirky, kind, blissful and illuminating masterpiece.

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival – Films 10 and 11: “Re:jected by Reality” (2003) and “Pat and Matrice (2014)”

By Andrew Buckner

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival continues with two excellent works that feature the talents of director Mike Messier. First off, we have “Re:jected by Reality” (2003). It is a twenty-four-minute documentary, directed by Messier, that is as thoughtful as it is purely entertaining. This is especially true when considering how it portrays Messier’s attempts to  conquer the frightening world of reality television. The last entry in this Messier double-bill is “Pat and Matrice” (2014 ). It is a tense and dramatic character study,  strengthened by two fantastic lead performances, that also operates as an eight-minute, seventh episode of the web series In the Bedroom (2014). The project was directed by Audrey Noone.

Film #10: “Re:jected by Reality” (2003)

SYNOPSIS:

HBO. Jerry Springer. WWE. MTV. A young and angry Mike Messier takes on the world of reality television and goes toe to toe with the decision makers and power brokers of the Pop Culture World , including a trip to Las Angeles, not because of family ties to a rich uncle or a Hollywood legacy, but because of his own damn talent and perseverance.

LINK FOR THE FILM IN FULL:

FILM #11: “PAT AND MATRICE”

SYNOPSIS:

A woman dealing with crisis needs the support of her close girlfriend to get her through the chaos.

IMDB LINK FOR THE FILM:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3493590/

LINK FOR THE FILM IN FULL:

*All films shown in this festival are used with the kind permission of the filmmakers.

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Film Festival – Films #5,6,7,8 and 9: “Faux Drive-In Trailers: ‘Poolasaurus!’/’Wrath of the Seagulls!’ (2020)”, “A Drop of Blood With a Comedic Twist (2020)”, “In Conversation With Myself By Andrew Buckner (2020)”, “Eye (2020)” and “Eyes and Bones: A Found Footage/ Audio Short Film (2020)”

By Andrew Buckner

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Film Festival continues with a block of shorts directed by Buckner himself. These terrifying and often intentionally tongue-in-cheek works are: “Faux Drive-In Trailers: ‘Poolasaurus!’/ ‘Wrath of the Seagulls!’ (2020)”, ” A Drop of Blood With a Comedic Twist” (2020)”, “In Conversation with Myself By Andrew Buckner (2020)”, “Eye” (2020) and “Eyes and Bones: A Found Footage/ Audio Short Film (2020)”.

FILM #5: “FAUX DRIVE-IN TRAILERS: ‘POOLASAURUS!’/ ‘WRATH OF THE SEAGULLS!’ (2020)”

SYNOPSIS:

A pair of fake drive-in movie trailers created by director Andrew Buckner, “Faux Drive-In Trailers: ‘Poolasaurus!/ ‘Wrath of the Seagulls’ ” is a one-minute and thirty-four second project that plays like an old-fashioned ad for a double bill of imaginary black and white films. The fun, campy and funny work proclaims that both features will be released in drive-ins during “Summer, 1957”.

YOUTUBE LINK FOR THE FILM IN FULL:

FILM #6: “A DROP OF BLOOD WITH A COMEDIC TWIST (2020)”

SYNOPSIS:

A serious three-minute and thirty-eight second horror short with a humorous post-credits bit, “A Drop of Blood With a Comedic Twist” (2020) concerns a man who attempts to document what happens when the sky blackens during midday and conflicting reports of both a dragon and a UFO take over the news.

After finding a drop of blood on the concrete outside, he finds himself being stalked by the malevolent creature in question.

YOUTUBE LINK FOR THE FILM IN FULL:

FILM #7: “IN CONVERSATION WITH MYSELF BY ANDREW BUCKNER (2020)”

SYNOPSIS:

“In Conversation With Myself By Andrew Buckner” (2020) is a black and white, faux documentary that runs 3 minutes and 45 seconds.

Staged as the first episode of an audio program, it showcases writer-director Buckner finding out his theory of publicly discussed ideas taking on a life of their own is true in terrifying fashion.

YOUTUBE LINK FOR THE FILM IN FULL:

FILM #8: “EYE (2020)”

SYNOPSIS:

“Eye” (2020) is a three-minute short film by Andrew Buckner. It is about an “energy” creature that brings the dead back to life and feasts on eyes. It is also told by entirely showing the eye of the protagonist.

YOUTUBE LINK FOR THE FILM IN FULL:

FILM #9: “EYES AND BONES: A FOUND FOOTAGE/ AUDIO SHORT FILM (2020)”

SYNOPSIS:

“Eyes and Bones” is a found footage/audio short horror film by Andrew Buckner. The fictional work chronicles an unnamed individual who tries documenting his strange encounters the morning after he sees a light streak through the sky. From herein, the beings behind the light start to relentlessly pursue him.

YOUTUBE LINK FOR THE FILM IN FULL:

*All films shown in this festival were used with the kind permission of the filmmakers themselves.

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival – Film #4: “A Tricky Treat” (2015)

By Andrew Buckner

Film #4: “A Tricky Treat” (2015)

The winner of multiple awards from film festivals across the United States, director and editor Patricia Chica’s “A Tricky Treat” is a brilliant, seamless blend of genuinely effective horror and magnificently macabre dark comedy. The quite graphic effects and makeup work is an impressive highlight throughout the three-minute and 11-second project. Moreover, the performances, script and perfectly constructed tone help make this wonderfully warped narrative a true gem for the Halloween season. It’s endlessly intriguing and efficient; wall-to-wall entertaining and delightfully bizarre.

Synopsis:

A man is kidnapped by an unusual family. Things get even worse when he realizes that two children are in control of his fate. It is, as the YouTube description for the work states, “A shocking tale of the unexpected with a twist.”

26-Second Trailer for the Film:

YouTube Link For the Film in Full:

* All films shown in this festival are used with the kind permission of the filmmakers themselves.

“Exeter at Midnight (2020)”- Short Film Review

By Andrew Buckner

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

“Exeter at Midnight” (2020), a twelve-minute and thirty-one second short film from director Christopher Di Nunzio and screenwriter Kris Salvi, is a superb dialogue and character-driven gangster tale. It is also a fantastic performance piece for its two leads, David Graziano (as Anthony Fechetti) and Salvi (as the “Recently Made” Vincent). Much of the sheer effective force of the undertaking lies in the banter and highly credible turns of Graziano and Salvi. On this front, the pair certainly deliver.

The project concerns Anthony being approached by Vincent in his home. Vincent offers Anthony a chance to come out retirement for one more job as a hitman. Regardless, Anthony is haunted by the violence he has seen. This element is derived particularly from one masterfully done sequence. It launches the exercise with high-intrigue and emotional intensity. The act of brutality in question occurred in Fitchburg, Massachusetts in 1978. This segment provides an engaging commencement to Anthony’s uncertainty towards the proposal from Vincent. The bulk of the plot and the way audiences get to know Anthony revolves around this internal struggle.

From this angle, the chronicle is consistently meditative. It readily allows viewers to slip into the ever-deteriorating mind-state of Graziano’s character. This also adds to the intimacy of all that transpires on-screen. Such an aspect is especially noticeable in the commencing moments of the endeavor. This is where Graziano seems to be talking to himself as well as the viewers. Such is a wonderful and wise touch. It is one that makes the attempt evermore open, insightful and, for some, relatable.

The venture is all-around beautiful in its construction. Di Nunzio offers taut, atmospheric direction that oozes organic underlying power and tough guy attitude. His cinematography is also striking. It perfectly reflects said tone. The editing by Amanda Faughn, sound work and score heard only in the sharp end credits are all equally good. Moreover, Audrey Noone is excellent in her brief turn as Maria. Teddy Pryor as Young Anthony and Di Nunzio as Petey fare just as well. Additionally, the script from Salvi is smartly paced. It is also filled with sharp and realistic banter and convincing central figures.

In turn, “Exeter at Midnight” is a marvelous reflection on crimes of the past and future. It has a lot to say about how such acts eternally afflict the spirit and weigh down the mind. Di Nunzio’s narrative is profound in an organic, earthy way. This is in a manner that many cinematic showcases attempt but often fail. The story has often been told, but rarely with such inherent poignancy. It is also effortlessly entertaining too boot. Simply stated, “Exeter at Midnight” is a knockout.

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival – Film #3: “Next/Door” (2015)

By Andrew Buckner

FILM 3#: “NEXT/ DOOR” (2015)

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival continues with the third of thirteen films in the series, “Next/Door” (2015). Deftly written by Brian Pickard and directed Nathan Suher, the 17-minute and 21-second work is a masterfully acted, Hitchockian thriller filled with sharply honed suspense.

HERE IS A LINK FOR MY FULL REVIEW OF THE EFFORT:

https://awordofdreams.com/2015/11/13/nextdoor-short-film-review/

SYNOPSIS:

Average schlub, Otto Wells, lives in an apartment adjacent to the woman of his dreams, Patty, who is in a relationship with her abusive boyfriend. One night Otto hears through the thin walls something that ignites his obsession to terrifying heights.

YOUTUBE TEASER TRAILER LINK FOR THE SHORT:

VIMEO LINK FOR THE FILM IN FULL:

*All films used in this festival are shown with the kind permission of the filmmakers themselves.

Andrew Buckner’s “Mower Vengeance” Fake Trailer Accepted Into Weird Local Virtual Film Festival

By Andrew Buckner

AWordofDreams.com site owner and writer, Andrew Buckner, has just received his first acceptance into a film festival!

“Mower Vengeance: From Grass to Flesh” (2020), a fake black and white movie trailer about a murderous lawn mower that runs 41 seconds and was made entirely by Buckner in his backyard, will be a part of the Weird Local Virtual Film Festival’s latest gala of “super short films” (all a minute or less). It will play with the other selected projects for said cinematic celebration starting at 8p.m. on October 24th, 2020. The event will be online at Weird Local Virtual Film Festival’s YouTube channel. A link for which can be found at the link below.

Weird Local Virtual Film Festival YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_wNIRdF1iyVlXUWmup1aaw?fbclid=IwAR1s0atfHhnZC-vpUoRhWcEAVqy9NjsGH2j_7lFjbTeaiADb9-UvoXyylvI

#weirdlocalfilmfestival

The Andrew Buckner/AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival- Film #2: “Scary Little F*****s (A Christmas Movie)” (2015)

By Andrew Buckner

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival continues with the second project in the thirteen-part online collection: “Scary Little F*****s (A Christmas Movie)” (2015).

Cleverly directed by Nathan Suher and written by Lenny Schwartz, the 23-minute and 33-second work is a tremendously entertaining riff on Joe Dante’s endearing masterpiece Gremlins (1984). It features enjoyable and all-around terrific lead performances from Anna Rizzo,  Josh Fontaine and Rich Tretheway.

My full review of the film can be found here at the link below.

https://awordofdreams.com/2015/11/14/scary-little-fckers-a-christmas-movie-short-film-review

Synopsis:

It’s Christmas eve. An inebriated dad brings home to his adolescent son a gift he hopes will mend their faltering relationship, a Fookah, a devilish and disgusting creature that in turns wrecks havoc on their lives.

Official Trailer:

Vimeo Link for the Film in Full:

*All films in this festival were used with the kind permission of the filmmakers themselves.

31 Years of Horror in 31 Days: A Halloween Must-Watch List

By Andrew Buckner

The following is a list of thirty-one horror films. This is with one genre selection, some independent and some mainstream, from each of the past thirty-one years. Each feature, all of which comes with my highest of recommendations, is supposed to represent one of the thirty-one days in October. It is also meant to be a must-watch horror list where one movie is viewed per day of the month. This is to create the ultimate AWordofDreams/ Andrew Buckner approved Halloween film festival.

Without further ado, here is the list in its entirety.

Tetsou: The Iron Man (1989)
Director: Shinya Tsukamoto.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Director: Joe Dante.

Nekromantic 2 (1991)
Director: Jorg Buttgereit.

Dead Alive (1992)
Director: Peter Jackson.

Fire in the Sky (1993)
Director: Robert Lieberman.

Serial Mom (1994)
Director: John Waters.

Castle Freak (1995)
Director: Stuart Gordon.

The Stendhal Syndrome (1996)
Director: Dario Argento.

The Wax Mask (1997)
Director: Sergio Stivaletti.

Bride of Chucky (1998)
Director: Ronny Yu.

Stir of Echoes (1999)
Director: David Koepp.

Ginger Snaps (2000)
Director: John Fawcett.

Frailty (2001)
Director: Bill Paxton.

May (2002)
Director: Lucky McKee.

High Tension (2003)
Director: Alexandre Aja.

Saw (2004)
Director: James Wan.

Land of the Dead (2005)
Director: George A. Romero.

Bug (2006)
Director: William Friedkin.

Inside (2007)
Directors: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury.

The Strangers (2008)
Director: Bryan Bertino.

Antichrist (2009)
Director: Lars von Trier.

The Loved Ones (2010)
Director: Sean Byrne.

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (2011)
Director: Tom Six.

Sinister (2012)
Director: Scott Derrickson.

The Conjuring (2013)
Director: James Wan.

Goodnight Mommy (2014)
Directors: Severin Fiola, Veronika Franz.

The Witch (2015)
Director: Robert Eggers.

Raw (2016)
Director: Julia Ducournau.

Mother! (2017)
Director: Darren Aronofsky.

Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made (2018)
Director: David Amito, Michael Laicini.

Doctor Sleep (2019)
Director: Mike Flanagan.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
Director: Charlie Kaufman.