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)

“Imposter” – (Short Film Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

“Imposter” (2018) is among the most relatable, beautifully made, deeply symbolic and personal compositions yet from the incredibly talented writer-director Chris Esper. The nine-minute and fifty-four second short film is a series of three interconnected vignettes. They focus on the inward struggles of anxiety and the idea of the Imposter Syndrome. The latter concept, which was formulated by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes in 1978, concerns the idea that someone who is known for their accomplishments are afraid of being exposed as a con.

This theme is expounded upon early on in the form of an overworked man, Mike (in a powerhouse performance from Tom Mariano). During a meeting, he is plagued by visions of a young jester (in a quietly heartfelt enactment from Brendan Meehan). This figure can be seen as the adolescent side of Mike who simply wants to enjoy life. After his meeting he gets on a bus. From herein, we follow an artist (Sheetal Kelkar) and her counterpart (Jamie Braddy) to an art gallery. Here Esper wordlessly shows that both parties feel like they are embarrassed and on display. Returning to the aforementioned vehicle, Esper goes among the populace of the transport. In so doing, he often utilizes direct imagery to quickly tell many private stories of worry and woe. This ends on a highly effective note of tragedy that involves two military veterans (William DeCoff and Adam Masnyk).

Esper’s latest mechanizes tremendously well as social commentary and as an almost entirely dialogue free character study. His scripting and guidance of the project is masterful and mature at every avenue. The Stories in Motion and On Edge Productions fabrication, potently edited by Esper, is also a triumphant demonstration of Ben Alexander and Bryce Brashears’ sound. The same can be said of the lush cinematography from Rick King. This is also true of the make-up and special effects from Julianne Ross. The gently used music from Steven Lanning-Cafaro is haunting and evocative. It fits the tone of the project exceptionally.

All of these moviemaking ingredients help make “Imposter” a timely and timeless meditation on the insecurities which secretly bind so many individuals. I especially related to the first two segments. They immediately spoke to both the full-time laborer and the part-time writer within me. Yet, what is just as remarkable is how, when viewed as a whole, Esper creates a portrait of our civilization that is as intimate as it is grand. This is cinematic poetry. It is as open to interpretation as it is credible and layered. Esper wants to prove that beneath each person is an entire world of wounded self-doubt that others may never understand. He has done so with intelligence and grace. “Imposter” is a masterpiece. It is also one of the best ventures of its type I’ve seen all year.

(Unrated).

The 60 Greatest Films of 2017

By Andrew Buckner

It has been another remarkable year for cinema. With this in mind, I gladly enclose my list of the sixty greatest films of 2017. The criteria I utilized when putting this composition together is that every picture had a U.S. release date in the aforementioned year. Please note that I have yet to see The Shape of Water and The Disaster Artist. Hence, the exclusion of these features from this article. Yet, make sure to return to this page. I will be adding to this piece once I have had the chance to view these pictures myself. Enjoy!

60. Icarus
Director: Bryan Fogel

59. Marshall
Director: Reginald Hudlin.

58. Wind River
Director: Taylor Sheridan.

57. A**holes
Director: Peter Vack.

56. Land of Mine
Director: Martin Zandvliet.

55. 20th Century Women
Director: Mike Mills.

54. Night Job
Director: J. Antonio.

53. Columbus
Director: Kogonada.

52. 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene
Director: Alexandre O. Phillipe.

51. Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary
Directors: John Campopiano, Justin White.

50. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Director: Noah Baumbach.

49. Okja
Director: Bong Joon-ho.

48. Get Out
Director: Jordan Peele.

47. The Big Sick
Director: Michael Showalter.

46. Fairfield Follies
Director: Laura Pepper.

45. Second Nature
Director: Michael Cross.

44. Baby Driver
Director: Edgar Wright.

43. Gerald’s Game
Director: Mike Flanagan.

42. 1922
Director: Zak Hilditch.

41. A Dark Song
Director: Liam Gavin.

40. Blade Runner 2049
Director: Dennis Villeneuve.

39. After the Storm
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

38. The Lost City of Z
Director: James Gray.

37. The Beguiled
Director: Sofia Coppola.

36. Personal Shopper
Director: Olivier Assayas.

35. Strapped for Danger
Director: Richard Griffin.

34. War for the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves.

33. Alien: Covenant
Director: Ridley Scott.

32. Blade of the Immortal
Director: Takashi Miike.

31. Kuso
Director: Flying Lotus.

30. Anti Matter
Director: Keir Burrows.

29. The Transfiguration
Director: Michael O’ Shea.

28. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Director: Steve James.

27. We Are the Flesh
Director: Emiliano Rocha Minter.

26. Rat Film
Director: Theo Anthony.

25. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Directors: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk.

24.. The Lure
Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska.

23. Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond- Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton
Director: Chris Smith.

22. Mudbound
Director: Dee Rees.

21. A Cure for Wellness
Director: Gore Verbinski.

20. Colossal
Director: Nacho Vigalondo.

19. Spielberg
Director: Susan Lacy.

18. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Director: Richard Griffin.

17. A Quiet Passion
Director: Terence Davies.

16. David Lynch: The Art Life
Directors: Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, Olivia Neergaard-Holm.

15. My Pet Dinosaur
Director: Matt Drummond.

14. Strong Island
Director: Yance Ford.

13. Leftovers
Director: Seth Hancock.

12. The Phantom Thread
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson.

11.Loving Vincent
Directors: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman.

10. Last Men in Aleppo
Directors: Firas Fayyad, Steen Johanessen, Hasan Kattan.

9. All the Money in the World
Director: Ridley Scott.

8. Long Night in a Dead City
Director: Richard Griffin.

7. Raw
Director: Julia Ducournau.

6. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos.

5. Endless Poetry
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky.

4. Detroit
Director: Kathryn Bigelow.

3. A Ghost Story
Director: David Lowery.

2. The Post
Director: Steven Spielberg.

1. mother!
Director: Darren Aronofsky.

“My Pet Dinosaur” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

Charming, playful and awe-inspiring, My Pet Dinosaur (2017), the second full-length feature from writer-director Matt Drummond, brilliantly evokes the essence of the early efforts of Steven Spielberg. This ninety-seven-minute triumph, distributed through Empress Road Pictures, has the heart and innocence of E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Such is manifest in its vastly compassionate and kind, child-mirroring perspective. Drummond’s latest masterpiece also shares a notable similarity to the afore-mentioned behemoth of popular culture. This is present in its general plot. The major difference of this being the exchange of an abandoned, otherworldly entity for a spontaneously growing, Styracosaur resembling fossil reptile named “Magnus”. There is also a continued comparison visible between these two photoplays. This resides in the varied small-town characterizations, structure and overall atmosphere of each presentation. Yet, Drummond’s exertion has the thrills, magic, adventure and respect for science that made Spielberg’s groundbreaking adaptation of Michael Crichton’s same titled 1990 novel, Jurassic Park (1993), an unparalleled movie-going experience. There are also elements of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) sprinkled throughout the proceedings. This is evident in the exciting and beautifully crafted final forty-minutes. They call to mind the last act of the latter stated opus splendidly. It is also inherent in the ongoing belief of space invaders in the region.

One of the funniest moments in the offering also occurs in this section. It involves Magnus taking down a military drone. Such is ingeniously framed to look comparable to a giant U.F.O. There is also a similar gag involving an underwater menace, which is glimpsed earlier in the labor, which is just as victorious. Such signifies a mere example of the successful and clever use of humor which runs through the photoplay. Much of this is also overheard in the witty banter among our lead, Jake Emory (in an exceptional turn from Jordan Dulieu), and his likable and courageous band of friends. Among them are the ever-hungry Max Merriman (Sam Winspear-Schillings) and the young alien enthusiast Charles Altman (Tom Rooney). There is also the highly-intelligent Dylan Finkelstein (in a stellar performance by Jack Mars). His general demeanor is equitable to an adolescent version of Egon Spengler (1984’s Ghostbusters and 1989’s Ghostbusters II). This only enhanced my nostalgia-infused enjoyment of the fabrication. Their chemistry, especially in the many sequences where they are all present together, is infectious. It helps Drummond’s emotionally layered, yet joyous and endlessly entertaining, affair become ever more transcendent. In turn, it will assuredly resonate with audiences of all ages. The result of these high-caliber attributes is the greatest cinematic love letter of this genus since J.J. Abrams’ breathtaking, 1979 set Super 8 (2011).

Drummond centers his action in the fictional district of Brightwood. Prone to making trouble to break up the monotony of his surroundings, Jake finds himself dealing with the passing of his father. Such causes a rift in his relationship with his mother, Jennifer (in a credible and well-wrought depiction from Beth Champion). With Jake’s older brother, Mike (in a terrific representation from Harrison Saunders), this familial problem is even more aggressive and verbalized. Yet, when a science project goes awry, the potential for these aforesaid difficulties to turn worse is amplified. This is as Magnus, who is initially shown at twenty minutes into the production, is accidentally created in Jake’s bedroom. Swearing to secretly keep the small, puppy-like creature in his room and study him, his promise to keep Magnus’ presence unknown to others quickly falters. As Magnus accrues in size, pandemonium reigns down on Jake’s once peaceful neighborhood. This is as a combative governmental squad, headed by Cornel Roderick (in an intense and commanding exhibition from Rowland Holmes), quickly takes over the area. As Officer Alan Farraday (in a riveting portrayal from Scott Irwin) fights this team for authority, tales of monstrous animals seize the area. It is a truth Jake and his school partner, Abbey Tansy (in an engaging and proficient enactment from Annabel Wolfe), are forced to face for themselves. This is all in an act of keeping Magnus safe.

Such a story is the perfect recipe for an exhilarating, robust arrangement such as the one Drummond cooks up here. He excels at this from the cryptic and visually alluring opening, which would be at home in any of the previously addressed Spielberg pictures, until the sweet and uplifting conclusion. Drummond, via his marvelously honed scripting skills and guidance of the project, handles the material in a manner that is occasionally tense, but never frightening. There is a necessary maturity to the more dramatic segments. Still, a sense of adolescent wonder, joy and even anguish is ever-present. This is observable in the treatment of the various types of relationships in the narrative. This makes for a certainly well-rounded and satisfying account. Such also issues a tone that only punctuates the Spielbergian feel.

Also, assisting matters is Drummond and Hive Studios International’s impressive and lively effects. They make Magnus lovable, curious and adorable throughout the endeavor. This can be spied in a memorable configuration near the half hour mark. It involves Magnus comically roaming his new owner’s home when no one else is around. The outcome of this is simply adorable. It is utilized with abounding slapstick. Even when Magnus reaches adult size in the second half, and is notably more massive and powerful, this unthreatening sensation remains true. This is also a courtesy of Drummond and Bradley Betts’ seamless animation. Chris Wright’s music is, akin to the images they accompany on-screen, ceaselessly daring, sentimental and magical. There is a certainly appropriate John Williams-esque sensibility derived in the scoring. Additionally, the sound and camera and electrical department offer mesmerizing work. Tina Boody’s make-up contribution is fantastic. This general magnificence is also augmented in the sleek and immersive cinematography. It is also summoned in the previously unmentioned roles. For instance, David Roberts is terrific in his brief bit as Doctor. The same can be stated of Joanne Samuel as Doris Mercher. Tiriel Mora as Trevor Brown and Christopher Gibardi as Dr. Fred Tansy are also spectacular. Congruently, Stephen Davis is astonishing as Will Spencer. He is one half of a pair of intrepid local fishermen whose screen time is consistently comic gold.

My Pet Dinosaur is the perfect companion piece to Drummond’s astounding, Jules Verne reminiscent debut, Dinosaur Island (2014). Both presentations are wide in scope. Still, they are surprisingly intimate. They also showcase a strong focal point on their incredibly developed protagonists. There is also a palpable affinity for the subjects as well as the subject matter. These qualities make each respective undergoing increasingly illuminating. Correspondingly, they are genuinely good-natured and deftly constructed. These are the types of sincere and quietly moving children friendly ventures that infuse great lessons of life. This is while appealing to the often courageous spirit of youth. We rarely get these types of epic, blockbuster re-defining journeys anymore. Such provides more reasoning as to why Drummond is a talent to be watched. With My Pet Dinosaur, which was recorded partially in New South Wales, he has again provided audiences with an instant classic. This is the best family film of the year.

(PG). Contains some profanity.

In Australian Hoyts Cinemas theaters today. It will expand to New Zealand on May 27th.