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.

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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’ 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.

25 Underrated Films of the Past 25 Years

By Andrew Buckner

Whether the film received generally negative reactions from critics and audiences upon its initial release or simply didn’t get the proper attention the feature deserved, the past twenty-five years have been filled with underrated gems. With this in mind, I have prepared a list of twenty-five movies from the aforementioned time frame that deserve a second look. They are included below in alphabetical order. Enjoy!

The BFG (2016)
Director: Steven Spielberg.

Bubble (2006)
Director: Steven Soderbergh.

Cosmopolis (2012)
Director: David Cronenberg.

Film Socialisme (2011)
Director: Jean-Luc Godard.

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

The Fountain (2006)
Director: Darren Aronofsky.

The Fourth Kind (2009)
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi.

Gummo (1997)
Director: Harmony Korine

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009)
Director: Rob Zombie.

Julien Donkey-Boy (1999)
Director: Harmony Korine.

Kuso (2017)
Director: Flying Lotus.

Love (2015)
Director: Gaspar Noe.

Machete Kills (2013)
Director: Robert Rodriguez.

Matinee (1993)
Director: Joe Dante.

Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
Director: Spike Lee.

mother! (2017)
Director: Darren Aronofsky.

Natural Born Killers (1994)
Director: Oliver Stone.

Prometheus (2012)
Director: Ridley Scott.

Red State (2011)
Director: Kevin Smith.

Silence (2016)
Director: Martin Scorsese.

Storytelling (2002)
Director: Todd Solondz.

The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (2014)
Directors: Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani.

Tideland (2005)
Director: Terry Gilliam.

What Dreams May Come (1998)
Director: Vincent Ward.

The Words (2012)
Directors: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal.

A Word of Dreams’ 21 Favorite Films of 2018 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

*Please note that the films included are based on a 2018 U.S. release date.

21. Incident in a Ghostland
(Director: Pascal Laugier)

20. They Remain
(Director: Philip Gelatt)

19. The Endless
(Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead)

18. Upgrade
(Director: Leigh Whannell)

17. Unsane
(Director: Steven Soderbergh)

16. My Hero’s Shadow
(Director: Justin Young)

15. Ready Player One
(Director: Steven Spielberg)

14. Thoroughbreds
(Director: Cory Finley)

13. Revenge
(Director: Coralie Fargeat)

12. The Insult
(Director: Ziad Doueiri)

11. The Death of Stalin
(Director: Armando Iannucci)

10. Annihilation
(Director: Alex Garland)

9. A Quiet Place
(Director: John Krasinski)

8. Isle of Dogs
(Director: Wes Anderson)

7. The Tale
(Director: Jennifer Fox)

6. Tully
(Director: Jason Reitman)

5.You Were Never Really Here
(Director: Lynne Ramsay)

4. Loveless
(Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev)

3. King Cohen
(Director: Steve Mitchell)

2.Hereditary
(Director: Ari Aster)

1.Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
(Director:J.A. Bayona)

“My Hero’s Shadow” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

My Hero’s Shadow (2018), the debut feature from writer-director Justin Young, is a fascinating, intimate and in-depth documentary. It explores the themes of family, forgiveness, judgment and perspective to masterful effect. Utilizing one-on-one discussions and a quietly poignant style that works wonderfully for the endeavor, Young crafts an arrangement that is as thoughtful as it is absorbing. There is also a distinct message of unyielding love, and that no one is purely noble or nefarious, at the heart of the piece. Such welcome notions make the exercise evermore timely and resonant.

Young’s configuration is a meditation on the man who struck Nancy Kerrigan with a baton in 1994, Shane Stant. His private accounts, especially when addressing what led him to engage in such an action, are certainly eye-opening. Yet, the brilliance of the film emerges from the story being reflected through the compassionate viewpoint of Shane’s sister, Maile. She was only three years old when the incident took place. In so doing, her memory of her brother is shaped from who Shane became after the previously stated occurrence. The foundation of the undertaking is erected when Maile meets with Shane 20 years after the attack. This is to openly converse on what transpired that day at Cobo Arena.

Such is an undoubtedly gripping topic. It is one which Young handles in a manner that finds poetry in simple sights and communions. For instance, there is a memorable sequence where Maile speaks of an individual who found growth and tranquility in watching a sun rise for 142 days in a row. The glimpses into Shane and Maile’s childhoods that course throughout the project are just as harrowing. Such insights allow audiences to leave the 78-minute venture with a well-rounded sense of who these two people are personally. The bits that go into Shane’s public perception are just as well-done.

With its economical length, efficient pace and technically skillful construction, Young’s exertion is a surefire triumph. Its alternately melancholy and inspiring tones deepen the picture of Maile and Shane that Young thoroughly paints. This is also true of those who have impacted the lives of the duo. In turn, Young formulates an incredibly illuminating composition; a tour de force that compels viewers to see the humanity in others. My Hero’s Shadow, which is currently seeking distribution, is a must-see!

(Unrated).

“Hide in the Light” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

Hide in the Light (2018), the debut feature from co-writer and director Mikey McGregor, is moody, spectacular supernatural horror. The efficient and well-mounted 80-minute film effectively utilizes the time-honored device of the sinister being lurking unseen in the darkness. This is most noteworthy in the tense and exciting second half of the arrangement. Yet, the feature is so well-made, paced and tense that it never ceases to feel fresh and exciting. Richard Albert’s wonderfully creepy music, McGregor’s brilliant behind the lens work and Gonzalo Digenio’s rich cinematography only make the production evermore haunting and memorable. These qualities are enhanced by the stunning performances present throughout the endeavor. For example, Eric Roberts offers a phenomenal depiction as Father Wes. Additionally, Jesse James is terrific as Todd. The same can be said of Lindsay Lamb’s engaging depiction of Becca.

McGregor’s movie tells the tale of a group of thrill-seeking friends. They break into the fictional Saint Petersberg Orphanage in hopes of exploration. In so doing, they find themselves being stalked by paranormal forces. Eventually the credibly etched and relatable protagonists on-screen unveil that they can only find safety by doing as the title suggests. The symbolism of such an act, especially in a religious sense, is applied intriguingly to the project. This is without the notion ever being overdone.

Such a solid narrative foundation calls to mind David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out (2016) in its concept. Yet, McGregor’s fabrication is comparable to James Wan’s modern haunted house masterpiece The Conjuring (2013) in its ability to unnerve. This is evident in the chilling five-minute prologue of the endeavor. It is set in 1966. In turn, McGregor and his fellow scripters Cynthia Bravo (who deftly plays Karen) and Digenio craft a tale that is as scary as it is entertaining. Hide in the Light is imaginative and harrowing; an instant genre classic! It will be released by High Octane Pictures later in the year.

(Unrated).

“Hell’s Kitty” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

Hell’s Kitty (2016), the 98-minute sophomore feature from writer-director Nicholas Tana, is an affectionate and wildly hilarious sendup of the ardent bond between owner and pet. It also successfully operates as a loving parody of the horror genre. Particularly, the compositions of literary maestro Stephen King. Additionally, sly references to classic films rooted in this genre abound. Nods to Ghostbusters (1984), Poltergeist (1982), Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), Halloween (1978), the Friday the 13th franchise (1980-present), The Fog (1980) and The Omen (1976) are all cleverly woven into the fabric of the narrative. Yet, the most brilliant of these bits is a black and white lampooning of the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho (1960). It occurs near the one-hour mark. Heightening the enjoyment of this factor is an all-star cast of categorically related cinematic veterans. All of whom have small roles throughout the picture. They are also frequently named after personas from the opuses of terror mentioned above. Nina Kate’s amusing representation of Dr. Laurie Strodes is a wonderful example. Similarly, Doug Jones (2017’s stunning The Shape of Water) is terrific as Father Damien. Dale Midkiff (1989’s Pet Sematary) is engaging as Rosemary Carrie. Continually, Lynn Lowry is a delight to watch as The Medium. Courtney Gains is exceptional as Mordicia. A late sequence that kids the original adaptation of King’s Children of the Corn (1984), which Gains appeared in as the antagonistic Malachi, is another memorable highlight of the exercise.

Based on both the web series and the comic book of the same name, the production is inspired by Tana’s own personal experiences with his cat, Angel. Such is a moniker shared by the feline cited in the title of Tana’s tale. In the affair, Nick (in a lively and charismatic depiction from Tana), is a Hollywood screenwriter. He is one whose attempts at romantic entanglements are constantly cut short. This is by Angel’s violent outbursts when women are around him. As these murderous eruptions increase in number, Nick believes his cat has been possessed by a demon. Seeking help from a variety of individuals, Nick attempts to stop the body count by getting his beloved companion exorcised.

Such is a fun and inventive concept. It also works tremendously well. This is especially evident when combined with the proudly tongue-in-cheek execution of the exertion. Tana’s witty, heartfelt and skillfully paced script makes the most of this idea. The arrangement is complete with felicitous humor and dialogue. Correspondingly, the characters are just as smartly crafted and relatable. Furthermore, the sharp storytelling abilities in Tana’s screenplay are made increasingly alluring. This is via Tana’s charming and stylish guidance of the project.

Assisting matters is the visually impressive opening and closing credits. Richard Albert’s music, with supplementary material from Wolfgang Lackner, is certainly tone-fitting. The most memorable and side-splitting of these selections is a number that sounds like a moggy-driven rendition of Jerry Goldsmith’s “Ave Satani” (1976). The playful effects, striking cinematography, excellent sound and proficient editing enhance the immersive pleasure derived from the undertaking.

Produced by Denise Acosta, Hell’s Kitty is grand, 1980’s influenced entertainment. The intermittent sequences of gore are effectively constructed. Still, the labor is never overly reliant on these instances. This can also be said of the spirited scares Tana compiles throughout the endeavor. In so doing, Tana erects an impeccable atmosphere that mixes laughter with the paranormal. It is one that never wavers from commencement to conclusion. Highly reminiscent of Tim Burton’s timeless Beetlejuice (1988) and Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (1996) in both quality and sheer rewatchability, Tana’s configuration is destined to be a cult classic! I recommend checking it out when it arrives on video on demand on March 13th, 2018.

(Unrated).