Andrew Buckner’s 101 Favorite Films

By Andrew Buckner

101. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Director: Shin’ya Tsukamoto.

100. Network (1976)

Director: Sidney Lumet.

99. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Director: Frank Capra.

98. M (1931)

Director: Fritz Lang.

97. Deep Red (1975)

Director: Dario Argento.   

96. Porcile (1969)

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini.

95. The Changeling (1980)

Director: Peter Medak.

94.  Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Director: Steven Spielberg.

93. The Deer Hunter (1978)

Director: Michael Cimino.

92. The Great Dictator (1940)

Director: Charlie Chaplin.

91. Norma Rae (1979)

Director: Martin Ritt.

90. Taxi Driver (1976)

Director: Martin Scorsese.

89. Clerks (1994)

Director: Kevin Smith.

88. Gone with the Wind (1939)

Directors: Victor Fleming.

87. Suspiria (1977)

Director: Dario Argento.

86. Q: Winged Serpent (1982)

Director: Larry Cohen.

85. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Director: Sergio Leone.

84. Persepolis (2007)

Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi.

83. Videodrome (1983)

Director: David Cronenberg.

82. At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964)

Director: Jose Mojica Marins.

81. Eyes Without a Face (1960)

Director: Georges Franju.

80. Kids (1995)

Director: Larry Clark.

79. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Director: Guillermo del Toro.

78. The Lost World (1925)

Director: Harry O. Hoyt.

77. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Director: Tobe Hooper.

76. The Valley of the Gwangi (1969)

Director: James O’ Connolly.

75. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

Director: Eugene Lourie.

74. Fire in the Sky (1993)

Director: Robert Lieberman.

73. 8 Mile (2002)

Director: Curtis Hanson.

72. Contact (1997)

Director: Robert Zemeckis.

71. The House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Director: William Castle.

70. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Director: Jack Arnold.

69. The Thing from Another World (1951)

Directors: Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks.

68. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Director: Robert Wise.

67. The Muppet Movie (1979)

Director: James Frawley.

66. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Director: Oliver Stone.

65. The Fly (1986)

Director: David Cronenberg.

64. Begotten (1989)

Director: E. Elias Merhige.

63. Gummo (1997)

Director: Harmony Korine.

62. Teorema (1968)

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini.

61. mother! (2017)

Director: Darren Aronofsky.

60. Freaks (1932)

Director: Tod Browning.

59. The Birds (1963)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock.

58. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Director: Roman Polanski.

57. Phantasm (1979)

Director: Don Coscarelli.

56. Holy Mountain (1973)

Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky.

55. Onibaba (1964)

Director: Kaneto Shindo.

54. The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini.

53.  The Best of Youth (2003)

Director: Marco Tullio Giordana.

52. Pi (1998)

Director: Darren Aronofsky.

51. The Dark Crystal (1982)

Directors: Jim Henson, Frank Oz.

50. Enter the Void (2009)

Director: Gaspar Noe.

49. Dead Alive (1992)

Director: Peter Jackson.

48. The Evil Dead (1981)

Director: Sam Raimi.

47. Poltergeist (1982)

Director: Tobe Hooper.

46. Gremlins (1984)

Director: Joe Dante.

45. Ghostbusters (1984)

Director: Ivan Reitman.

44. The Omen (1976)

Director: Richard Donner.

43. Scenes from a Marriage (1974)

Director: Ingmar Bergman.

42. Amarcord (1973)

Director: Federico Fellini.

41. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Director: Robert Wiene.

40. Nosferatu (1922)

Director: F.W. Murnau.

39. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Director: George A. Romero.

38. Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood (2019)

Director: Quentin Tarantino.

37. The Dreamers (2003)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci.

36. Antichrist (2009)

Director: Lars von Trier.  

35. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Director: Steve McQueen.

34. Double Indemnity (1944)

Director: Billy Wilder.

33. Notorious (1946)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock.

32. La Dolce Vita (1960)

Director: Federico Fellini.

31. Fanny and Alexander (1982)

Director: Ingmar Bergman.

30. The Conformist (1970)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci.

29. Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)

Director: Abdellatif Kechiche.

28. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini.

27. Stalker (1979)

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky.

26. Weekend (1967)

Director: Jean-Luc Godard.

25. Persona (1966)

Director: Ingmar Bergman.

24. Haxan (1922)

Director: Benjamin Christensen.  

23. Amour (2012)

Director: Michael Haneke.

22. Away from Her (2006)

Director: Sarah Polley.

21. Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Director: Werner Herzog.

20. 8 ½ (1963)

Director: Federico Fellini.

19. Life Itself (2014)

Director: Steve James.

18. Life is Beautiful (1997)

Director: Roberto Benigni.

17. The Shining (1980)

Director: Stanley Kubrick.

16. Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore.

15. Cries & Whispers (1972)

Director: Ingmar Bergman.

14. Seven Samurai (1954)

Director: Akira Kurosawa.

13. Eraserhead (1977)

Director: David Lynch.

12. Dekalog (1989)

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski.

11. Shoah (1985)

Director: Claude Lanzmann.

10. The Tree of Life (2011)

Director: Terrence Malick.

9. The Seventh Seal (1957)

Director: Ingmar Bergman.

8. Metropolis (1927)

Director: Fritz Lang.

7. Alien (1979)

Director: Ridley Scott.

6. King Kong (1933)

Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack.

5. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Director: Steven Spielberg.

4. Psycho (1960)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock.

3. The Exorcist (1973)

Director: William Friedkin.

2. Schindler’s List (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg.

1. Jurassic Park (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg.

“VHS Forever? Psychotronic People” (2014)- Movie Review

By Andrew Buckner

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

VHS Forever? Psychtronic People (2014) from writers and directors, Darren J. Perry and Mark Williams, is a remarkably fascinating, endlessly enjoyable, and compulsively watchable love letter to low-budget horror films, videos, video stores, and the myriad individuals who understood their endearing appeal. It is also a study in the ridiculous lengths the government, the Motion Picture Association of America, and related personages would go to conceal these daring types of art. The 110-minute documentary is filled with intriguing and intimate true life narratives that revel in the former and rightfully vilify the latter. Yet, it is just as much a riveting glimpse into what goes into the production of the title technology. It also operates just as well as a fantastic glimpse into some of the daily fears video buyers and store owners had during the days of the ‘Video Nasties’. A term coined in the United Kingdom in 1982, this refers to a list of often misunderstood terror and exploitation films, like Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave (1978) and Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981), that were banned for their graphic nature. These previously stated brilliant and bold masterpieces are frequently discussed in the picture. This docket of controversial cinema, and the attraction the record had to collectors, is a subject the bulk of the feature unveils with tremendous depth and insight.

These bits give the project a magnificent symmetry and variety. This is as it expounds upon its core theme of the interest derived from VHS. Particularly, the “dangerous” cinematic wonders that may be held within each one. Yet, what functions just as well in Perry and Williams’ endeavor are the lively and charismatic interviews from the creative minds, many of whom are fellow writers and/or moviemakers, who discourse so passionately on the topic at hand. Their stories are infectiously relatable and always engaging. This is most noteworthy in the segments involving Troma Studios co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman. His consistently amusing conversations on the various releases, promotional methods, and censorship troubles of The Toxic Avenger (1984) are a constant highlight. Another section I vastly relished occurs around the fifteen-minute mark. It is an anecdote involving a VHS copy of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s essential and unforgettable swan song, Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975).

What also heightens my affection, as well as the sheer fun, radiating from the development is that there are even a few successful running gags throughout the venture. Among them is the wind being deemed “Psychotronic interference”. Moreover, the overall aesthetic of the exercise works perfectly in a similar regard. It calls to mind the look of early VHS. This is a dazzling touch. It is one which reiterates the distinct charm found in the cassettes so ardently touched upon in Perry and Williams’ undertaking.

In turn, VHS Forever? Psychotronic People is a must-see for anyone remotely concerned about film, its early home distribution forms, and its history. The labor has obvious esteem for its topic. Regardless, it does not shy away from stating some of the less desirable qualities of VHS with an underlying air of eager reverence. These hints make for an even more open, honest, and varied experience. This refreshing frankness helps make this gem worth seeking out with all the enthusiasm and merriment a collector would search for that one rare, elusive, uncut ‘Video Nasty’ on VHS. Perry and Williams’ feature is pure nostalgic joy.

You can purchase the Blu-ray and DVD of VHS Forever? at http://www.vipcoltd.com!

The 40 Best Albums of 2020

By Andrew Buckner

40. ADHD by Joyner Lucas

39. Detroit 2 by Big Sean

38. Evolution by Joyner Lucas

37. The Devil Hates Sundays by J’L

36. Molocular Meditation by Jan St. Werner

35. Versus (EP) by Jonezen

34. After Hours by The Weeknd

33. Mystic by Mackenzie Nicole

32. Ceremony by Phantogram

31. Closer Than They Appear by Lyric Jones

30. Cut Throat City Soundtrack (EP) by Various Artists

29. My Brother’s Keeper by Kuniva & Swifty McVay

28. The Allegory by Royce Da 5’9

27. EnterFear by Tech N9ne

26. Fear Exodus (EP) by Tech N9ne

25. Guided Meditations (EP) by RZA

24. Pray For Paris by Westside Gunn

23. Who Made the Sunshine by Westside Gunn

22. The Food Villain by The Alchemist

21. Picture Perfect by Rittz

20. Your Birthday’s Cancelled by Iron Wigs

19. RTJ4 Run The Jewels

18. Gorilla Twins by Ill Bill & Nems

17. Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist

16. No Hermano by Sean Strange

15. Loud Is Not Enough by Public Enemy

14. Felt 4 U by Felt

13. Detroit Life by Swifty McVay

12. Alpha Underdog by Kuniva

11. Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God by Busta Rhymes

10. Seven Times Down, Eight Times Up by Elzhi

9. What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down? by Public Enemy

8. From King to a God by Conway the Machine

7. Summer of Sam by Serial Killers (Xzibit, B-Real, Demrick)

6. Flag by Kxng Crooked

5. Streams of Thought, Volume 3: Cane and Abel by Black Thought

4. King’s Disease by Nas

3. All My Heroes Are Dead by R.A. the Rugged Man

2. A Beautiful Revolution (Pt.1) by Common

  1. Music to Be Murdered By and Music to be Murdered By: Side B by Eminem

The Ten Best Books of 2020

By Andrew Buckner

10. Crooked River
     By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child.

9. Survivor Song
    By Paul Tremblay.

8. Wonderland
    By Zoje Stage. 

7. Devoted
    By Dean Koontz.

6. The Living Dead
    By George Romero, Daniel Kraus.

5. Ready Player Two
    By Ernest Cline.

4. Home Sweet Home
    By Riley Sager.

3. Chasing the Light
    By Oliver Stone.

2. A Time for Mercy
    By John Grisham.

1. If It Bleeds
    By Stephen King

Runners-Up:

Camino Winds
   By John Grisham

Elsewhere
   By Dean Koontz

The 21 Best Short Films of 2020

By Andrew Buckner

*The inclusion of the short films on this list is based on the criteria of an initial 2020 U.S. release date.

21. “For Milo”
Director: Matthew Gilpin.

20. “Rotten Magnolia”
Director: Tracy Huerta.

19. “Hollow”
Director: Max Buttrill.

18. “Private”
Director: Steve Blackwood.

17. “The Nurturing”
Director: Alex DiVincenzo.

16. “A Rock Feels No Pain”
Directors: Gabrielle Rosson, Kris Salvi.

15. “The Never Was”
Director: Mike Messier.

14. “Exeter at Midnight”
Director: Christopher Di Nunzio.

13. “Waffle”
Director: Carlyn Hudson.

12. “Dear Guest”
Director: Megan Freels Johnston.

11. “Thankless”
Director: Mark Maille.

10. “Wives of the Skies”
Director: Honey Lauren.

9. “Stuck”
Director: Steve Blackwood.

8. “The Dirty Burg”
Director: John Papp.

7. “Being Kris Salvi”
Director: Gabrielle Rosson.

6. “Voices from the Invisible”
Director: Miriam Revesz.

5. “Salvation”
Director: Gabrielle Rosson.

4. “Priest Hunter”
Director: Skip Shea.

3. “Fire (Pozar)”
Director: David Lynch.

2. “Gay as the Sun”
Director: Richard Griffin.

1. “Yesteryear”
Director: Chris Esper.

Andrew Buckner’s 100 Favorite Feature Films of 2020

By Andrew Buckner

*This list is dedicated to the many theaters that were closed or permanently shutdown this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Without your ever-comforting presence a pivotal part of the one-of-a-kind artistry, understanding, and universal joy inherent in the cinematic experience will be forever erased.

*Please note that the inclusion of the films in this list are based on an initial 2020 U.S. release date.

100. Cadaver
Director: Jarand Herdal.

99. Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight
Director: Bartosz M. Kowalski.

98. Vampires vs. the Bronx
Director: Osmany Rodriguez.

97. Unhinged
Director: Derrick Borte.

96. Nocturne
Director: Zu Quirke.

95. Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics
Director: Donick Cary.

94. His House
Director: Remi Weekes.

93. The Phenomenon
Director: James Fox.

92. Notzilla
Director: Mitch Teemley.

91. May the Devil Take You Too
Director: Timo Tjahjanto.

90. Impetigore
Director: Joko Anwar.

89. Relic
Director: Natalie Erika James.

88. The Rental
Director: Dave Franco.

87. Dead Life: Wormwood’s End
Director: William Victor Schotten.

86. Antebellum
Directors: Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz.

85. Host
Director: Rob Savage.

84. The Mortuary Collection
Director: Ryan Spindell.

83. The Honeymoon Phase
Director: Phillip G. Carroll Jr.

82. Skyman
Director: Daniel Myrick.

81. Bill & Ted Face the Music
Director: Dean Parisot.

80. Tesla
Director: Michael Almereyda.

79. Porno
Director: Keola Racela.

78. Save Yourselves!
Directors: Alex Huston Fischer, Eleanor Wilson.

77. Cut Throat City
Director: RZA.

76. Alone
Director: John Hyams.

75. Elephant
Directors: Mark Linfield, Vanessa Berlowitz, Alastair Fothergill.

74. Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun
Director: Michael Mazzola.

73. Why Don’t You Just Die!
Director: Kirill Sokolov.

72. An English Haunting
Director: Charlie Steeds.

71. The Gentlemen
Director: Guy Ritchie.

70. VFW
Director: Joe Begos.

69. First Love
Director: Takashi Miike.

68. Extra Ordinary
Directors: Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman.

67. Bit
Director: Brad Michael Elmore.

66. Gretel & Hansel
Director: Oz Perkins.

65. #Alive
Director: II Cho.

64. The Invisible Man
Director: Leigh Whannell.

63. Come to Daddy
Director: Ant Timpson.

62. Snatchers
Directors: Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman.

61. We Summon the Darkness
Director: Marc Meyers.

60. 1BR
Director: David Marmor.

59. The Lodge
Directors: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz.

58. Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time Volume 1 Midnight Madness
Director: Danny Wolf.

57. Comic Book Junkies
Directors: Lenny Schwartz, Nathan Suher.

56. Sputnik
Director: Egor Abramenko.

55. Tigertail
Director: Alan Yang

54. A Secret Love
Director: Chris Boln.

53. Far from Perfect: Life Inside a Global Pandemic
Directors: Lenny Schwartz, Nathan Suher.

52. Blow the Man Down
Directors: Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy.

51. Uncle Peckerhead
Director: Matthew John Lawrence.

50. Rent-A-Pal
Director: Jon Stevenson.

49. The Platform
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia.

48. Scare Package
Directors: Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar, Anthony Cousins, Emily Hagins, Aaron B. Koontz, Chris McInroy, Noah Segan, Baron Vaughn.

47. Bacurau
Directors: Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonca Filho.

46. Scare Me
Director: Josh Ruben.

45. The Hunt
Director: Craig Zobel.

44. Da 5 Bloods
Director: Spike Lee.

43. Possessor Uncut
Director: Brandon Cronenberg.

42. Time
Director: Garrett Bradley.

41. The Vast of Night
Director: Andrew Patterson.

40. Frank & Zed
Director: Jesse Blanchard.

39. The Swerve
Director: Dean Kapsalis.

38. The Trial of the Chicago 7
Director: Aaron Sorkin.

37. First Cow
Director: Kelly Reichardt.

36. The Social Dilemma
Director: Jeff Orlowski.

35. The Assistant
Director: Kitty Green

34. Vivarium
Director: Lorcan Finnegan.

33. Emma.
Director: Autumn de Wilde.

32. Strapped for Danger II: Undercover Vice
Director: Richard Griffin.

31. Family Romance, LLC.
Director: Werner Herzog.

30. The Assassination of Western Civilization
Director: Nathan Suher.

29. Seeds
Director: Skip Shea.

28. Before the Night is Over
Director: Richard Griffin.

27. Rewind
Director: Sasha Joseph Neulinger.

26. The Other Lamb
Director: Malgorzata Szumowska.

25. Color Out of Space
Director: Richard Stanley.

24. Planet of the Humans
Director: Jeff Gibbs.

23. Totally Under Control
Directors: Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, Suzanne Hillinger.

22. Shirley
Director: Josephine Decker.

21. Vote Motherf***er
Director: Lenny Schwartz.

20. Swallow
Director: Carlo Mirabella-Davis.

19. Beastie Boys Story
Director: Spike Jonze.

18. Fulci For Fake
Director: Simone Scafidi.

17. Gremlins: A Puppet Story
Director: Chris Walas.

16. Circus of Books
Director: Rachel Mason.

15. Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story
Directors: Ron Cicero, Kimo Easterwood.

14. Cleaning up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Director: Anthony Bueno.

13. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Director: Jason Woliner.

12. Hamilton
Director: Thomas Kail.

11. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Directors: James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham.

10. Spaceship Earth
Director: Matt Wolf.

9. Luz: The Flower of Evil
Director: Juan Diego Escobar Alzate.

8. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Director: Charlie Kaufman.

7. Tommaso
Director: Abel Ferrara.

6. Slay the Dragon
Directors: Chris Durrance, Barak Goodman.

5. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Director: Eliza Hittman.

4. Beanpole
Director: Kantemir Balagov.

3. Sister Tempest
Director: Joe Badon.

2. The Painted Bird
Director: Vaclav Marhoul.

1. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Director: Celine Sciamma.

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival- Film #13: “Root of All Evil” (2016)

By Andrew Buckner

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival concludes with its thirteenth short project: “Root of All Evil” (2016). Smartly written and stylishly directed by Alex DiVincenzo, the seven-minute and thirty-four second work is inventive, entertaining and well-acted. The effort also wonderfully personifies the fun and ominous spirit of the Halloween season, when the narrative takes place, in both atmosphere and in the general chain of events which craft the exercise. Winner of Best Film, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Costumes, Best Use of Prop, Best Special Effects and Most Lifelike Severed Part at the 48 Hour Film Project, the masterful exercise is a perfect cinematic treat for fellow horror aficionados.

SYNOPSIS:

After disrespecting an ancient tradition, a Halloween gala featuring a group of friends takes a terrifying and fatal turn.

LINK FOR THE IMDB PAGE FOR THE FILM:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6692292/

YOUTUBE LINK FOR THE FILM IN FULL:

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

 

Andrew Buckner Wins Best Dramatic 180 at Avalonia Festival V With “The Man Who Fears the Rain (2020)”

By Andrew Buckner

AWordofDreams.com owner and sole writer, Andrew Buckner, has received his first laurel for moviemaking yesterday. He won Best Dramatic 180 at Avalonia Festival V for a his short film “The Man Who Fears the Rain” (2020). The two-minute and fourteen-second project concerns a man who attempts to find the deeper meaning in the apprehension stated in the title of the project. Filmed completely for free and almost entirely in his home and backyard, the introspective work was both cathartic and emotionally satisfying for the Ohio resident to create.

This is the second film festival in which Buckner’s work has been showcased. The initial gala occurred last Saturday, October 24th, 2020 when his fake B-movie trailer entitled “Mower Vengeance: From Grass to Flesh (2020)” was a part of the B-block of the Weird Local Virtual Film Festival #3.

You can find out more about Avalonia Festival V, where the project will be screening, and view the award-winning short “The Man Who Fears the Rain” in full at the link below.

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival – Film #12: “The Actor” (2013)

By Andrew Buckner

The twelfth film in The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Fall 2020 Short Film Festival is an emotionally gripping, beautifully acted and constructed glimpse into personal fears. It is a 14-minute and 38-second drama starring David Graziano in the title role of “The Actor” (2013). Masterfully directed by Skip Shea and Mike Messier, the project immerses the audience in its thoughtfulness, central love story and its magnificent black and white cinematography.

Short Film: The Actor (2014) |

SYNOPSIS:

“The Actor” is a story about love lost, love regained, and the regret that comes with decisions made. This is The Actor’s story, one of a struggle to come to terms with himself and the woman he loves, The Muse.  The plot is based on David Graziano, The Actor, and Christine Perla, The Muse relationship. How they met, fell in love and why David left only to begin a downward spiral. This journey comes to light in an acting lesson with The Coach, played by Diana Porter.

PRODUCTION TEAM INFO:

Christine Perla – Executive Producer

Mike Messier – Producer

Skip Shea – Producer

Skip Shea & Mike Messier – Director

Skip Shea -Editor

William Smyth – Cinematographer

Steven Lanning-Cafaro—Original Score

Roland Khorshidianzadeh – PA

Chris Hunter – Audio Supervisor

Christine Perla – Script Supervisor

THANKS:

Loraine Craig Resniak and Tony Demings

Filmed at Courthouse Center for the Arts–West Kingston, Rhode Island

TRAILER FOR THE FILM:

YOUTUBE LINK FOR THE FILM IN FULL:

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

“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.