“Go to School, Kanunu” by Chris Esper (Book Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

Hilarious, heartfelt and deeply personal, Go to School, Kanunu (2019) by Chris Esper is a perfect children’s book. Inventive and lively in its storytelling, with a multitude of terrific illustrations by Cardigan Broadmoor which bring these inherent qualities in the text to eye-popping life, the thirty-two-page tome has a look and demeanor that is easily aligned to the collective works of Dr. Seuss. This aspect can be easily assessed in the colorful and tone-setting cover Broadmoor conceived. It deftly summarizes Esper’s brief saga in a single image.

What further broadens this comparison to the ever-iconic catalogue of Dr. Seuss is how the project moves efficiently, effectively and enjoyably from one smirk-inducing situation to the next. Commencing with an ordinary moment, a mother telling her son to finish breakfast and do as the title of the effort suggests, the narrative becomes increasingly off-the-wall. This is as the mother seeks out inanimate objects as well as household animals to help get Kanunu to listen to her demands. They range from a timeout chair to a mouse.

Yet, what is most admirable about the self-published endeavor, which was released on July 30th of this year, is that it has a wide-ranging accessibility. This is most apparent in its theme of having a sluggish start to the day. Such is a topic guaranteed to ring true for every youth. It’s moral emphasis, the importance of punctuality, is fashioned in an easy-to-understand and amusing manner. It is one which its target audience will retain without difficulty.

As mentioned above, there is a private component to the undertaking which makes Go to School, Kanunu much more than an engrossing chronicle. In the touching Introduction, Esper states that this is a fiction his father would tell him and his sister. It was passed down to his father from his parents. Both of whom receive a loving dedication in the opening of the literature. This intimate connection tightens when we learn that Esper sees the yarn as a link to his Syrian heritage. It is an account his grandparents most likely heard themselves for the first time in the Middle East country. Esper’s hopes that the folk tale “may also shed a different light” on Syria is just as moving as the information garnered in this early passage.

Punctuated by an appropriately pleasant concluding note, Esper’s sophomore trek into the world of the printed word (after his brilliant 2016 debut, The Filmmaker’s Journey: Or What Nobody Tells You About the Industry) further showcases his depth and range as an artist. Whether tackling the subject of anxiety in the fantastic silent short “Imposter” (2018) or penning an engaging item for kids (as he does in his most recent opus), there is a consistently introspective nature to Esper’s material that is as relatable as it is endearing. This element illuminates every page of Esper’s latest venture. With great assistance from this quality, Esper has crafted an undertaking that feels immediately timeless. Go to School, Kanunu is an instant classic.

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AWordofDreams’ 16 Favorite Rap Albums and EPs of 2019 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

16. CrasH Talk by Schoolboy Q

15. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind by Logic

14. Yuck! by ANoyd, Statik Selektah

13. Under Bad Influence 3 (EP) by Ubi

12. Ga$ Money by Lyric Jones

11. Forever (EP) by Jonezen

10. S.P. The Goat: Ghost of All Time by Styles P

9. Of Mics and Men (EP) by Wu-Tang Clan

8. Trunk Muzik 3 by Yelawolf

7. Igor by Tyler, the Creator

6. Demons by Madchild

5. N9na by Tech N9ne

4. Vernia by Erick Sermon

3. Street Urchin 2 by Sean Strange

2. Czarface Meets Ghostface by Czarface, Ghostface Killah

1. Out to Sea by Chris Orrick

A Word of Dreams’ 40 Favorite Films of 2019 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

*Please note that the films included in this list are based on a 2019 U.S. release date.

40. THE CHILD REMAINS
Director: Michael Melski.

39.THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2
Directors: Chris Renaud, Jonathan del Val.

38. I AM MOTHER
Director: Grant Sputore

37. THE FIELD GUIDE TO EVIL
Directors: Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland, Yannis Veslemes.

36. THE PERFECTION
Director: Richard Shepard.

35. VHS LIVES 2: UNDEAD FORMAT
Director: Tony Newton.

34. THE MUSTANG
Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonerre.

33. WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE
Director: Stacie Passon.

32. STARFISH
Director: A.T. White.

31. ESCAPE ROOM
Director: Adam Robitel.

30. GLASS
Director: M. Night Shyamalan.

29. GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS
Director: Michael Dougherty.

28. BLOOD CRAFT
Director: James Cullen Bressack.

27. PIERCING
Director: Nicolas Pesce.

26. PENGUINS
Directors: Alastair Fothergill, Jeff Wyatt Wilson.

25. THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT
Director: Robert D. Krzykowski.

24. SCARY STORIES
Director: Cody Meirick.

23. THE PRODIGY
Director: Nicholas McCarthy.

22. CHARLIE SAYS
Director: Mary Harron.

21. THE WIND
Director: Emma Tammi.

20. THE HEAD HUNTER
Director: Jordan Downey.

19. ARCTIC
Director: Joe Penna.

18. LORDS OF CHAOS
Director: Jonas Akerlund.

17. DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE
Director: S. Craig Zahler.

16. ON THE BASIS OF SEX
Director: Mimi Leder.

15. EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE
Director: Joe Berlinger.

14. KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE
Director: Rachel Lears.

13. THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK
Director: Henry Dunham.

12. THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUOXITE
Director: Terry Gilliam.

11. VELVET BUZZSAW
Director: Dan Gilroy.

10. ANIARA
Directors: Pella Kagerman, Hugo Lilja.

9. THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND
Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor.

8. BIRDS OF PASSAGE
Directors: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra.

7. APOLLO 11
Director: Todd Douglas Miller.

6. PROSECUTING EVIL: THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD OF BEN FERENCZ
Director: Barry Avrich

5. CLIMAX
Director: Gaspar Noe.

4. US
Director: Jordan Peele.

3. NEVER LOOK AWAY
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

2. THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD
Director: Peter Jackson.

1. THE IMAGE BOOK
Director: Jean-Luc Godard.

A Word of Dreams’ 40 Favorite Films of 2018

By Andrew Buckner

*Please note that the incorporation of the features on this list is based on the criteria of a 2018 U.S. release date.

1. The Other Side of the Wind
Director: Orson Welles.

2. Bodied
Director: Joseph Kahn.

3. Roma
Director: Alfonso Cuaron.

4. Hereditary
Director: Ari Aster.

5. Fahrenheit 11/9
Director: Michael Moore.

6. First Reformed
Director: Paul Schrader.

7. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Director: J.A. Bayona.

8. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Director: Morgan Neville.

9. Sorry to Bother You
Director: Boots Riley.

10. King Cohen
Director: Steve Mitchell.

11. Loveless
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev.

12. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Diectors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen.

13. Annihilation
Director: Alex Garland.

14. BlacKkKlansman
Director: Spike Lee.

15. You Were Never Really Here
Director: Lynne Ramsay

16. A Fantastic Woman
Director: Sebastian Lelio.

17. The House That Jack Built
Director: Lars Von Trier.

18. Blindspotting
Director: Carlos Lopez Estrada.

19. The Devil’s Doorway
Director: Aislinn Clarke.

20. The Death of Stalin
Director: Armando Iannucci.

21. Eighth Grade
Director: Bo Burnham.

22. The Insult
Director: Ziad Doueiri.

23. 22 July
Director: Paul Greengrass.

24. Isle of Dogs
Director: Wes Anderson.

25. A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski.

26. The Tale
Director: Jennifer Fox.

27. Tully
Director: Jason Reitman.

28. Leave No Trace
Director: Debra Granik

29. Revenge
Director: Coralie Fargeat.

30. Thoroughbreds
Director: Cory Finley.

31. The Endless
Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead.

32. Codename: Dynastud
Director: Richard Griffin.

33. Mandy
Director: Panos Cosmatos.

34. Upgrade
Director: Leigh Whannell.

35. Unsane
Director: Steven Soderbergh.

36. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
Director: Gus Van Sant.

37. First Man
Director: Damien Chazelle.

38. Searching
Director: Aneesh Chaganty.

39. Operation Finale
Director: Chris Weitz.

40. Assassination Nation
Director: Sam Levinson.

Honorable Mentions:

All the Creatures Were Stirring
Directors: David Ian McKendry, Rebekah McKendry.

Cam
Director: Daniel Goldhaber.

The House of Violent Desire
Director: Charlie Steeds.

Kiss My Ashes
Director: Sam Salerno.

You Might Be the Killer
Director: Brett Simmons.

 

A Word of Dreams’ 11 Favorite Rap Albums of 2018

By Andrew Buckner

11. Planet – Tech N9ne

10. The Notorious Goriest – Necro

9. Czarface Meets Metal Face – Czarface & MF Doom

8. The Book of Ryan – Royce Da 5’9

7. Mona Lisa – Apollo Brown & Joell Ortiz

6. Weather or Not – Evidence

5. The Lost Tapes – Ghostface Killah

4. Mi Vida Local – Atmosphere

3. Portraits – Chris Orrick

2. Everythang’s Corrupt – Ice Cube

1. Kamikaze – Eminem

 

A Word of Dreams’ 10 Favorite Books of 2018

By Andrew Buckner

10. HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD: DISCOVERIES FROM A LIFETIME OF FILM FANDOM by Leonard Maltin

9.WADE IN THE WATER: POEMS by Tracy K. Smith

8. WARLIGHT by Michael Ondaatje

7. ELEVATION by Stephen King

6. THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Paul Tremblay

5. TRUE INDIE: LIFE AND DEATH IN FILMMAKING by Don Coscarelli

4. THE RISE AND FALL OF THE DINOSAURS: A NEW HISTORY OF A LOST WORLD by Steve Brusatte

3. THE RECKONING by John Grisham

2. GHOSTBUSTER’S DAUGHTER: LIFE WITH MY DAD, HAROLD RAMIS by Violet Ramis Stiel

1. THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King

A Word of Dreams’ 25 Favorite Horror Films of 2018

By Andrew Buckner

Note: The criteria for all films included is a 2018 U.S. release date.

25. Halloween
Director: David Gordon Green.

24. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
Director: Ari Sandel.

23. Hell Fest
Director: Gregory Plotkin.

22. Incident in a Ghostland
Director: Pascal Laugier.

21. Cargo
Directors: Ben Howling, Yolanda Remke.

20. The Heretics
Director: Chad Archibald.

19. Mom and Dad
Director: Brian Taylor.

18. They Remain
Director: Philip Gelatt.

17. Terrified
Director: Demian Rugna.

16. Unfriended: Dark Web
Director: Stephen Susco.

15. Upgrade
Director: Leigh Whannell.

14. Blood Fest
Director: Owen Egerton.

13. Veronica
Director: Placo Plaza.

12. Unsane
Director: Steven Soderbergh.

11. Mandy
Director: Panos Cosmatos.

10. The Endless
Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead.

9. Satan’s Slaves
Director: Joko Anwar.

8. Terrifier
Director: Damien Leone.

7. Ghost Stories
Directors: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman.

6. Revenge
Director: Coralie Fargeat.

5. The Strangers: Prey at Night
Director: Johannes Roberts.

4. The Devil’s Doorway
Director: Aislinn Clarke.

3. Annihilation
Director: Alex Garland.

2. A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski.

1. Hereditary
Director: Ari Aster.

“One Last Coin” – (Short Film Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

“One Last Coin” (2016), from writer-director Skip Shea, is achingly beautiful. The seven-minute and fourteen-second short film, a case of neorealism that would fit perfectly alongside the associated developments of such masters of Italian cinema as Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini, is especially gorgeous in its profundity. More precisely, that which it derives from everyday simplicity. For example, the endeavor is content to merely showcase the breathtaking natural elegance and allure of the streets of Rome (where Shea recorded the article entirely on his iPhone 6). Such occurs as we follow an individual who decides what to do with his title object. This is right before Christmastime.

As the wordless tale unfolds, the piece speaks emotive volumes. This is largely a courtesy of Shea’s indelible imagery. Such a facet becomes collectively brilliant when glimpsed through the marvelous black and white cinematography he incorporates into the labor. These triumphant qualities are made increasingly potent by Shea’s decision to score the exertion with a single lovely and evocative piece of music. It plays to grand consequence throughout the undertaking. The gentle sound of water heard in the final moments enhance the Zen-like sense of calm and first-person perspective which ultimately courses throughout the production. These touches also spectacularly augment the previously addressed notion of authenticity and finding poetry in the commonplace.

What also strengthens the piece, and further helps it to become such an unforgettable opus, is that Shea offers no background information about his unnamed lead character. Is he homeless? Is he merely a curious visitor in Italy’s capital city? Maybe he could be a bit of both. Either way, the audience is forced to relate. In so doing, we see the lovely vistas Shea stunningly brings to the screen through the visage of our own thoughts and experience. This also makes the haunting sights spied along the way, such as a few instances around the mid-section where we spy crowds of people walking past those who appear lifeless on the ground, evermore effective. These quick bits, as well as the unique storytelling elements Shea integrates into the affair, make for an illustration of moving art that is as credible as it is unforgettable.

Another item that is equally astonishing, aside from the high-quality of the chronicle itself, is that Shea is a one-man moviemaking crew on this venture. In turn, the narrative has the sharp focus and radiate intimacy of a passion project. Shea’s editing is stalwart. Additionally, his sound work is crisp and incredible. It compliments the components of realism and quiet splendor that are in perfect symmetry through every frame of the effort.

“One Last Coin” is a masterpiece. It is impossible to not be moved.