The 21 Best Books of 2022 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

*All the books included herein are incorporated into this list based on an original 2022 publication date.

21. City on Fire

By Don Winslow

20. Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama: A Memoir

By Bob Odenkirk

19. Child Zero: A Novel

By Chris Holm

18. Celest

By Sandy Robson

17. Quicksilver

By Dean Koontz

16. Diablo Mesa

By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

15. Finn

By Stephen King

14. Road of Bones

By Christopher Golden

13. Monstervsion: The Films of John and Mark Polonia

By Douglas Alan Waltz

12. The Girl Who Outgrew the World

By Zoje Stage

11. Fight or Play Basketball: every shot counts

By Mike Messier

10. Gwendy’s Final Task

By Stephen King, Richard Chizmar

9. Sundial

By Catriona Ward

8. Devil House

By John Darnielle

7. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head: Poems

By Warsan Shire

6. Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance

By John Waters

5. Sparring Partners

By John Grisham

4. All the Flowers Kneeling

By Paul Tran

3. The Kaiju Preservation Society

By John Scalzi

2. Feel Your Way Through: A Book of Poetry

By Kelsea Ballerini

1 The Rise and Reign of the Mammals: A New History, From the Shadow of the Dinosaurs to Us

By Steve Brusatte

The 15 Best Short Films of 2022 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

*The inclusion of the short films in this list is based on an official release date of 2022.

15. “Bros for Life”

Director: Leo Powell

14. “New Years”

Director: Kris Salvi

13. “Heart Shot”

Director: Marielle Woods

12. “Life’s Good”

Director: Jackson Tisi

11. “Erax”

Director: Hebru Brantley

10. “When the Daemon Takes Hold”

Director: Jackson Batchelor

9. “The Time Travelers”

Director: Killarney Traynor

8. “Not Waving but Drowning”

Director: Thara Popoola

7. “Briefcase Paranoia 2”

Director: Nicholas Hatch

6. “Wanna Play a Game”

Director: Brad Case

5. “Nightcap”

Director: Sam Mason-Bell

4. “A Christmas Card from a Hit Woman in Leominster”

Director: Kris Salvi

3. “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”

Director: Ashley Eakin

2. “Scribbles After Midnight”

Director: Jeremy Arruda

1.“The Blood of the Dinosaurs”

Director: Joe Badon

Runners-Up:

“Two Wrongs”

Director: Damien Nembhard

“Yo!”

Directors: Hamed & Mal

The 55 Best Albums/ EPs of 2021

By Andrew Buckner

 *The recordings featured in this list are included based on an official 2021 release date.*

55. 30 by Adele

54. Keys by Alicia Keys

53. Cycles (Original Score) by The Alchemist

52. Blacklight by Apollo Brown, Stalley

51. Collapsed in Sunbeams by Arlo Parks

50. Yellow River Blue by Yu Su

49. Bizarre of D-12 Presents Starvin’ Artists (Mixtape) by Various Artists

48. S.O.S (EP) by Rittz

47. Turquoise Tornado by Yelawolf, Riff Raff

46. Bushido by Mello Music Group

45. Imaginary Everything by L’Orange, Namir Blade

44. If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed by Conway the Machine, Big Ghost Ltd

43. Wasteland: What Ails Our People is Clear by Lice

42. Slumafia (EP) by Yelawolf, DJ Paul

41. Squirrel Tape Instrumentals, Vol. 1 by Evidence

40. Mouse on Mars by AA1

39. Mile Zero by Yelawolf, DJ Muggs

38. Shane by Madchild

37. Gary Bartz JID006 by Gary Bartz, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad

36. Maquishta by Patricia Brennan

35. The American Negro by Adrian Younge

34. Milestones (EP) by Skyzoo

33. The Plugs I Met 2 (EP) by Benny the Butcher, Harry Fraud

32. Haram by Armand Hammer, The Alchemist

31. Throw Aways 96 by Goblin

30. Sound Ancestors by Madlib

29. Season of the Se7en by Bronze Nazareth, Recognize Ali          

28. La Maquina by Conway the Machine

27. Word? by Atmosphere

26. An Evening with Silk Sonic by Silk Sonic

25. Shane 2 by Madchild

24. The Blue of Distance by Elori Saxl

23. Lovesick by Apollo Brown, Raheem DeVaughn

22. Onyx 4 Life by Onyx

21. Ghostbusters: Afterlife: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Rob Simonsen

20. Dumpster Juice by Bizarre

19. Exodus by DMX

18. All the Brilliant Things by Skyzoo

17. Autograph by Joell Ortiz

16. The Lost Themes III: Alive After Death by John Carpenter

15. The Last Ride by HRSMN

14. The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy by Rob Zombie

13. Doe or Die II by AZ

12. Big Sleepover by Big Boi, Sleepy Brown

11. Long Story Longer by Swifty McVay, Ras Kass, Yukmouth, MRK SX

10. Mudmouth by Yelawolf

9. Unlearning Vol. 1 by Evidence

8. Gotham by Talib Kweli, Diamond D

7. Super What? by Czarface, MF DOOM

6. Asin9ne by Tech N9ne

5. Call Me If You Get Lost by Tyler, The Creator

4. Summer End Café by Killah Priest

3. A Beautiful Revolution, Pt. 2 by Common

2. King’s Disease II by Nas

1. Remedy Meets Wu-Tang by Remedy, Wu-Tang Clan

The 22 Best Books of 2021

By Andrew Buckner

*The books included in this list are based on the criteria of an original publication date in 2021.*

22. My Heart is a Chainsaw

By Stephen Graham Jones

21. The Final Girl Support Group

By Grady Hendrix

20. The Scorpion’s Tail

By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

19. The Plot

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

18. Getaway

By Zoje Stage

17. Rovers

By Richard Lange

16. Survive the Night

By Riley Sager

15. Sooley: A Novel

By John Grisham

14. The Other Emily

By Dean Koontz

13. Bloodless

By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

12. Jesus: A New Vision

By Whitley Strieber

11. Distance from Avalon: When the Dying and the Young Unite

By Mike Messier

10. Because He’s Jeff Goldblum: The Movies, Memes and Meaning of Hollywood’s Most Enigmatic Actor

By Travis M. Andrews

9. Later

By Stephen King

8. The Judge’s List

By John Grisham

7. These Fists Break Bricks: How Kung Fu Movies Swept America and Changed the World

By Chris Poggiali, Grady Hendrix.

6. Starstruck: My Unlikely Road to Hollywood

By Leonard Maltin

5. Chasing the Boogeyman

By Richard Chizmar

4. Billy Summers

By Stephen King

3. A Bright Ray of Darkness

By Ethan Hawke

2. Project Hail Mary

By Andy Weir

1. Vibrate Higher: A Rap Story

By Talib Kweli

THE 50 BEST FEATURE FILMS OF 2021 (SO FAR)

By Andrew Buckner

*The inclusion of the films in this list is based upon the criteria of an original 2021 release date in the U.S.

50. Benny Loves You

Director: Karl Holt

49. Lucky

Director: Natasha Kermani

48. Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell

Director: Emmett Malloy

47.  Jakob’s Wife

Director: Travis Stevens

46. PG: Psycho Goreman

Director: Steven Kostanski

45. Shadow in the Cloud

Director: Roseanne Liang

44. Saint Maud

Director: Rose Glass

43. The Courier

Director: Dominic Cooke

42. Raya and the Last Dragon

Directors: Carlos Lopez Estrada, Don Hall, Paul Briggs, John Ripa

41. Honeydew

Director: Devereux Milburn

40. Nobody

Director: Ilya Naishuller

39. Wrath of Man

Director: Guy Ritchie

38. Godzilla vs. Kong

Director: Adam Wingard

37. Oxygen

Director: Alexandre Aja

36. Lapsis

Director: Noah Hutton

35. In the Earth

Director: Ben Wheatley

34. Violation

Directors: Dusty Mancinelli, Madeline Sims-Fewer

33. Identifying Features

Director: Fernanda Valadez

32. Tina

Directors: Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin

31. Seaspiracy

Director: Ali Tabrizi

30. Malcolm & Marie

Director: Sam Levinson

29. I Blame Society

Director: Gillian Wallace Horvat

28. 17 Blocks

Director: Davy Rothbart

27. Falling

Director: Viggo Mortensen

26. The Dig

Director: Simon Stone

25. One Night in Miami

Director: Regina King

24. Test Pattern

Director: Shatara Michelle Ford

23. Slalom

Director: Charlene Favier

22. Spoor

Directors: Agnieszka Holland, Kasia Adamik

21. M.C. Escher – Journey to Infinity

Director: Robin Lutz

20. About Endlessness

Director: Roy Andersson

19. The Man Who Sold His Skin

Director: Kaouther Ben Hania

18. Sator

Director: Jordan Graham

17. Climate of the Hunter

Director: Mickey Reese

16. Dementer

Director: Chad Crawford Kinkle

15. Jumbo

Director: Zoe Wittock

14. Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

Director: Marilyn Agrelo

13. In Search of Darkness: Part II

Director: David A. Weiner

12. The Mauritanian

Director: Kevin Macdonald

11. Judas and the Black Messiah

Director: Shaka King

10. MLK/ FBI

Director: Sam Pollard

9. Nomadland

Director: Chloe Zhao

8. Wojnarowicz

Director: Chris McKim

7. A Glitch in the Matrix

Director: Rodney Ascher

6. The Father

Director: Florian Zeller

5. Quo Vadis, Aida?

Director: Jasmila Zbanic

4. Acasa, My Home

Director: Radu Ciorniciuc

3. Minari

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

2. Bring it Home

Director: Carl Kriss

1. This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection

Director: Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese

Runners-Up:

Earwig and the Witch

Director: Goro Miyazaki

Land

Director: Robin Wright

The Night

Director: Kouroush Ahari

Son

Director: Ivan Kavanagh

The 10 Best Short Films of 2021 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

*Please note that the short films included in this list are based on an official 2021 U.S. release date.

10. “The Nurturing”

Director: Alex DiVincenzo.

9. “Meet the Author”

Director: Steve Blackwood.

8. “Heart Wreck”

Director: Gabrielle Rosson.

7. “Stay Inside, Michael”

Director: Jeremy Joseph Arruda.

6. “A Concerto is a Conversation”

Directors: Kris Bowers, Ben Proudfoot.

5. “The Present”

Director: Farah Nabulsi.

4. “Trigger Warning: The Life and Art of Chrystal”

Director: Chrystal Shofroth.

3. “The Dreamer”

Director: Jeremy Joseph Arruda.

2. “Come Rain or Come Shine”

Director: Mark Maille.

1. “The Last Cruise”

Director: Hannah Olson.

“A Distance from Avalon” (2021) By Mike Messier – Book Review

By Andrew Buckner

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

A Distance from Avalon (2021), the debut novella from fellow filmmaker and critic Mike Messier, is a refreshingly subtle and philosophical take on the vampire saga. In a compact and complex ninety-seven pages, Messier weaves the tale of two educators, Joe Humble and a young music instructor by the name of Shadow. Pairing up to enjoy a late October Friday Night, the duo arrives at an ominous mansion entitled Avalon. From herein, the hosts seduce and separate the guests. Immediately afterward, the visitors willingly follow the mysterious figures to separate rooms. At a point near the central mark, the narrative crafts a superb balance of introspection and intrigue. It is one which lasts the remainder of the volume. This is as the leads and their partners for the night gradually unveil secret and sentimental elements of themselves.

What is immediately striking about the tome is that Messier’s screenwriting roots are much intact. For example, the whole book is composed of brief chapters. These sections range mainly from one to two pages. They are so vividly written, yet efficient, that they could easily be scenes in a film. Additionally, every scrap of dialogue reads like a line of poetry: Beautiful, thoughtful, and as economical as the segments in which they are unified.

Messier’s characters, all of whom are terrifically formed and whose monikers greatly enhance the figurative essence of the effort, are equally captivating. They are all distinct, yet intelligent and credible. The individuals who dominate A Distance from Avalon are also enigmatic and insightful. They are well-established components that constantly elucidate the classic, sophisticated atmosphere of the project in spellbinding fashion. Messier uses them to discourse on religion, love, time, mankind, art, and a myriad of related subjects. This is in a way that is intellectually stimulating without appearing unnatural. It is also executed via a method that does not take away from the propulsion of the smoothly paced narrative.

I admired the manner with which Messier frequently avoids the tropes often attributed to such tales of bloodthirsty creatures. What is utilized of these bits is enough to establish a knowledge of the lore of these nocturnal entities. Instead of relying on this heavily, as an easy act of recognition hinging on events the audience has perused in other such exercises, Messier uses this foundation to forge his own path. In turn, this helps build a far more surprising and satisfying story.

In the work, Messier showcases a deft command of tying together all the fine details he has dispersed throughout the enterprise. This is most notable in the finale. In this climactic bit, Messier brings all the cumulative mystery, symbolism, and restraint that he exhibited throughout the endeavor to a compelling and appropriate punctuation point. It is one of the various signs ceaselessly at play of his knack for spinning an exemplary account.

There are also many sly references to the cinema of Messier expertly woven into the volume. The most obvious of these is his phenomenal forty-minute short documentary on the creative process, “Disregard the Vampire” (2017). His brief, and equally good, Fantasy tale, “The Nature of the Flame” (2014), are just as cleverly addressed. These winks at the reader are incredible. This is especially when considering how they organically derive from the attempt. They also operate just as significantly as world-building in the collective universe of Messier’s artistic ventures.

Graced by eye-popping and gorgeous cover art from Nazar Germanov, A Distance from Avalon is an all-around brilliant publication; a literary four-course meal. It is driven by a fantastic plot. Such is one that is given depth and dimension by Messier’s cerebral and refined writing abilities. The piece is intimate, open, ambitious, smartly structured, and perfectly told. Messier has constructed a sensational world of nuance and underlying fear. Masterful in all arenas, the power of this dignified beast is impossible to ignore.

A Distance from Avalon can be purchased in Kindle eBook or paperback format here.

Press Release: Andrew Buckner Releases Third Feature, “The Silent Journey of the Page”

Filmmaker, author and musician Andrew Buckner has released his third feature film, The Silent Journey of the Page (2020), via YouTube. The 51-minute work utilizes black and white, repeated images, silence and poetry to represent the creative process. It is an abstract piece which is also aesthetically unique and daring. The effort, which Buckner made entirely by himself for free, can be seen in full at the link above.

Press Release: Andrew Buckner “Eyes and Bones” Short Found Footage/ Audio Film

Filmmaker, author and musician Andrew Buckner has released a four-minute short film entitled “Eyes and Bones” (2020) via YouTube. The work, which can be seen in full at the link above, is a found footage/ audio work directed, edited, recorded and produced by Buckner. The piece involves an unnamed individual who sees lights in the sky one night. The next morning he decides to document what is occurring. This triggers a series of events where the beings behind the light seem to be repeatedly following and tormenting him. Utilizing no special effects or human faces, the endeavor is another example of Buckner’s ability to make high-quality films in his backyard that are completely free of cost.

Press Release: Andrew Buckner Releases “Big Screen Memories” Short Film

Director, author and musician Andrew Buckner has released his third short documentary film via YouTube, “Andrew Buckner’s Big Screen Memories: A Short Film Retrospective on Family, Midnight Movies and the Theater Experience” (2020).

The 14 minute and 45 second project contains unscripted audio of Buckner speaking on some of the memories he has with local theaters and drive-ins throughout his life. Filled with nostalgia and a love for film, the work also showcases how the theater experience has brought him many wonderful times with his family. Buckner also reminisces on some memorable midnight movie premieres he attended. The endeavor is also broadened by Buckner discoursing on how the recent theater shutdown his altered his current feelings about motion pictures.

In turn, this is a glorious love letter to movie theaters and the connection one individual has had with them throughout the years.