“Salvation” – (Short Film Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

Stylishly and strikingly directed by Gabrielle Rosson, “Salvation” (2020) brilliantly captures the look and feel of its summer of 1957 setting. Based an original script entitled “Fink” by actor Kris Salvi, the twelve-minute short film never wavers as a masterclass in elegant Martin Scorsese-like mood. Briskly paced and fluently entertaining, the project benefits from the natural on-screen chemistry, likability, and overall marvelous performances from leads Justin Thibault (as Santo) and Salvi (as Salvatore). Further benefitted by often cryptic dialogue, especially in the masterfully done diner sequences which take up the bulk of the effort, Thibault and Salvi command every bit they are in together.

The plot revolves around the consequences of a grim past affecting the present state of long-time friends Salvatore and Santo. Rosson’s rich screenplay takes what could have been a relatively straightforward narrative and gives it intimacy, depth, and complexity. The endeavor never loses its eye on the central figures. Best of all, it smartly develops Salvatore and Santo in a largely banter-driven manner. It is one which is, like the entirety of the attempt, both slick and engaging.

What also helps the work become so magnificent and robust is the colorful, eye-popping cinematography by Manx Magyar. Additionally, Ian Rashkin’s music is superb. It suits the smooth attitude of the exercise terrifically well. Michael Hansen and Rosson’s editing is pitch perfect. The same can be said of Kimmi Monteiro’s set decoration. The fleeting turns from Paul Kandarian as Ciro and Sarah Morse as Bambi are just as effective. The opening, especially the early black and white portion which perfectly reflects the decade appropriate flair of the narrative, and concluding credits are visually remarkable bookends to the undertaking. What is just as noteworthy is the climax of the venture. It is beautiful and violent in equal measure.

In turn, “Salvation” is classy, sophisticated, and brooding. It is a bullseye of talent in front of and behind the camera. Like Rosson’s previous brief picture, “Being Kris Salvi” (2020), it stands as one of the greatest narratives of its type of the year. Similarly, it continues to establish Rosson as a fantastic moviemaker with a firm grasp of the medium. “Salvation” is highly recommended viewing.

“Undercover Vice: Strapped for Danger Part 2” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

The world is in desperate need of laughter in our increasingly bleak times. Director Richard Griffin and screenwriter Duncan Pflaster provide just that with their latest collaborative effort: the rapid-fire hilarious Undercover Vice: Strapped for Danger Part 2 (2020). Griffin’s latest feature is on par with the massively entertaining original entry in this series, Strapped for Danger (2017), in every way. I cannot recall a single joke in the brisk 88-minute runtime of Undercover Vice that doesn’t land with either a smirk, a chuckle or a slew of knee-slapping guffaws. Even the quieter sight gags, such as one clever moment that utilizes a water cooler at twenty-six minutes into the work, are effective and well-done.

As has become a trademark with Griffin films, the piece has numerous jokes pointed at the private lives of Republicans. While this attribute is successful enough to add a personal political point-of-view to the piece, the endeavor does not linger too long on these bits. It simply adds its own perspective, as is the right of every artist, and moves forward with the tale. In an age where subtly seems to be a forgotten art, such actions are evermore admirable.

What is just as worthy of respect is that there is never a bitter flash in the entirety of the production. There are a few dramatic instances. But they play out in a manner which heightens the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, joyously campy quality of the affair. A subplot involving a central figure getting his grandfather out of a nursing home is where many of these touches are mechanized. Regardless, the unabashedly quirky tone of the picture is never broken.

The plot involves two police officers, Andy (Sean Brown) and Kevin (Chris Fisher), who pose as porn stars to stop a ring of corruption involving a local politician. Pflaster gives this story life with dialogue that is endlessly smart and witty. Furthermore, there is an enviably quick and efficient pace throughout the entirety of the silver screen opus. This is largely due to Griffin’s masterful editing. There not a single unnecessary or overlong scene in the production. Such measures greatly compliment the jovial atmosphere of the project.

What also helps this matter is that every performance herein is gleefully pitch perfect. Brown and Fisher are brilliant with their endearing lead depictions. Sarah Reed is fantastic as Zooey. The same can be said of the respective turns of Sissy O’ Hara as Sister Dymphna and Samantha Acampora as Rebecca. Johnny Sederquist is always enjoyable as the delightfully named Pinata Debris.

Undercover Vice is bigger and grander than its predecessor. Still, its wonderfully intimate with just the right amount of character focus. Every frame is a visual feast for the eye. This is a courtesy of the marvelous, colorful cinematography from John Mosetich. It is as just as much a sonic smorgasbord with some truly excellent musical selections peppering the undertaking. This is especially noteworthy during the superbly constructed end credits. Yet, Griffin’s exercise is just as brilliant in sections such as the near two-minute opener of the chronicle. This sequence uses only voiceover dialogue to describe what is transpiring and the names of those participating in the article.

These elements come together to craft another inspired and dazzling masterpiece in Griffin’s cinematic canon. Undercover Vice is one of the funniest flicks in years. It is also one of 2020’s top-tier movies. Griffin has crafted another triumph of independent storytelling via the visual medium. Strapped for Danger Part 2 is a must-see.

The 15 Best Albums and EPs of 2020 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

15. Molocular Meditation by Jan St. Werner

14. Versus (EP) by Jonezen

13. After Hours by The Weeknd

12. Mystic by Mackenzie Nicole

11. My Brother’s Keeper by Swifty McVay, Kuniva

10. The Allegory by Royce Da 5’9

9. EnterFear by Tech N9ne

8. Guided Meditations (EP) by RZA

7. Pray for Paris by Westside Gunn

6. RTJ4 by Run the Jewels

5. Gorilla Twins by Ill Bill, Nems

4. No Hermono by Sean Strange

3. Loud Is Not Enough by Public Enemy

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

1. Music to Be Murdered By by Eminem

Runner-up:

Your Birthday’s Cancelled by Iron Wigs

“Stuck”(2020) – (Short Film Review)

By Andrew Buckner

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

Director Steve Blackwood’s fourteen-minute short film, “Stuck” (2020)”, is an all-around clever and well-done comedy. It finds a plethora of successful laughs and a subtle undermining of heart amid its engrossing premise.

Such concerns the goings-on of George (Blackwood) and Helen Simon (Sandy Bainum). They are a couple from New York, employed in advertising, who are thrust into a situation of dire emergency. The duo bought a machine of an erotic nature. It is one meant to enhance their relationship. This is as well as their routine lives. Yet, when the inebriated young delivery guy, Finn (Max Schochet), passes out and becomes unmovably entangled in said device during its installation, the scenario becomes more than a little nerve-racking for the pair. Not only is this because they are unaware of how to get Finn out of the gadget, but also because their overly judgmental friends are on their way for dinner.

The script, from Blackwood and David Susman, does a fine job of telling this tale in an engaging, hysterical, and always credible fashion. It develops the all-too-relatable characters of George and Helen in an equally organic and satisfying manner. This is often through the knee-slapping banter between the team. Blackwood and Susman keep the pace brisk throughout the endeavor. There is not a wasted frame in the storytelling department. Moreover, the humor is successful and witty. The project gets funnier as it goes along. This is with it becoming even more effective in the second half of the production. Blackwood and Susman’s narrative also weave a nice bit of dramatic symbolism with the title word involving George and Helen themselves near the finale.

What also works in the undertaking is the cheery, sophisticated, and stylish opening and closing credit sequences. They beautifully echo the overall tone of the effort. The animation used in these moments is outstanding. Furthermore, the performances are pitch perfect. Blackwood, Bainum and Schochet are excellent in their respective turns. The cinematography is vibrant, and the musical bits are just as good. Blackwood’s behind the camera control of the venture is sharp.

In turn, “Stuck” is masterful on all accounts. It is one of the best and most uproarious brief pieces I have seen all year. I highly recommend it.

Press Release: Andrew Buckner Releases 5 1-MINUTE FREESTYLES EP

 

 

Musician, author and filmmaker Andrew Buckner, under the name Buckner, released his fifth EP yesterday afternoon via YouTube. It is entitled 5 1-Minute Freestyles. The project is a collection of five a capella rap freestyles. All of which run just a little over a minute. They were all recorded and performed by Buckner himself on the morning of June 10th, 2020. The 6-minute and 11-second work can be heard in its entirety at the YouTube link above. 

 

“What is Music?” Album Announcement by AWordofDreams’ Andrew Buckner

Andrew Buckner, writer and site owner of AWordofDreams, released his debut album, What is Music?,  on his Facebook page yesterday.

Unveiled under the artist name Buckner, the project is a 5-part, 26-track, 33-minute experimental/concept record. It showcases the many forms music can take as well as the spontaneity of the art. Covering spoken word, freestyle rap, acoustic guitar, a capella singing, natural sounds and more, this 100% indie work is completely improvised and original. It was performed and recorded by Buckner himself.

You can stream the album in full at the Facebook link above.

Andrew Buckner’s 40 Favorite Films of 2020 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

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

40. Resistance
Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz.

39. Spaceship Earth
Director: Matt Wolf.

38. Elephant
Directors: Mark Linfield, Vanessa Berlowitz.

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

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

35. An English Haunting
Director: Charlie Steeds.

34. The Gentlemen
Director: Guy Ritchie.

33. VFW
Director: Joe Begos.

32. First Love
Director: Takashi Miike.

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

30. Bit
Director: Brad Michael Elmore.

29. Gretel & Hansel
Director: Oz Perkins.

28. The Invisible Man
Director: Leigh Whannell.

27. Come to Daddy
Director: Ant Timpson.

26. Snatchers
Directors: Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman.

25. We Summon the Darkness
Director: Marc Meyers.

24. 1BR
Director: David Marmor.

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

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

21. Tigertail
Director: Alan Yang

20. A Secret Love
Director: Chris Bolan.

19. Beanpole
Director: Kantemir Balagov.

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

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

16. The Platform
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia.

15. The Hunt
Director: Craig Zobel.

14. The Assistant
Director: Kitty Green

13. Vivarium
Director: Lorcan Finnegan.

12. Emma.
Director: Autumn de Wilde.

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

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

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

8. The Other Lamb
Director: Mlgorzata Szumowska.

7. Color Out of Space
Director: Richard Stanley.

6. Planet of the Humans
Director: Jeff Gibbs.

5. Swallow
Director: Carlo Mirabella-Davis.

4. Beastie Boys Story
Director: Spike Jonze.

3. Circus of Books
Director: Rachel Mason.

2. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Director: Eliza Hittman.

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

Runner-Up:

Bacurau
Directors: Kleber Mendonca Filho, Juliano Dornelles.

AWordofDreams Presents: 31 Great Lesser Known Horror Films From 1920-2018

By Andrew Buckner

From the entertaining to the extreme, here is a list of thirty-one great lesser known horror films from 1920-2018 to make your Halloween season unforgettable.

1. At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964)
Director: Jose Mojica Marins.

2. Onibaba (1964)
Director: Kaneto Shindo.

3. Begotten (1990)
Director: E. Elias Merhige.

4. Possum (2018)
Director: Matthew Holness.

5. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
Director: Georges Franju.

6. Haxan (1922)
Director: Benjamin Christensen.

7. Carnival of Souls (1962)
Director: Herk Harvey.

8. 10 Rillington Place (1971)
Director: Richard Fleischer.

9. Men Behind the Sun (1988)
Director: T.F. Mous.

10. Visions of Suffering (2006)
Director: Andrey Iskanov.

11. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (2013)
Directors: Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani.

12. Mark of the Devil (1970)
Director: Michael Armstrong.

13. Antichrist (2009)
Director: Lars von Trier.

14. Three…Extremes (2004)
Directors: Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike, Chan-wook Park.

15. Hour of the Wolf (1968)
Director: Ingmar Bergman.

16. Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972)
Director: Bob Clark.

17. A Cat in the Brain (1990)
Director: Lucio Fulci.

18. Magic (1978)
Director: Richard Attenborough.

19. Bloodsucking Freaks (1976)
Director: Joel M. Reed.

20. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
Director: Nicolas Gessner.

21. Curse of the Demon (1957)
Director: Jacques Tourner.

22. Vampyr (1932)
Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer.

23. The Old Dark House (1932)
Director: James Whale.

24. Dr. Cyclops (1940)
Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack.

25. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
Director: Eugene Lourie.

26. Dead of Night (1945)
Directors: Alberto Calvacanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer.

27. I Bury the Living (1958)
Director: Albert Band.

28. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Director: Robert Wiene.

29. Brain Damage (1988)
Director: Frank Henenlotter.

30. Pieces (1982)
Director: J.P. Simon.

31. Eraserhead (1977)
Director: David Lynch.

AWordofDreams’ 21 Favorite Horror Novels of the 21st Century (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

21. The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker
20. The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi
19. The Devil’s Labyrinth by John Saul
18. Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
17. Broken Monsters by Lauren Feukes
16. The Lords of Salem by Rob Zombie, B.K. Evenson
15. The Taking by Dean Koontz
14. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
13. The Gordon Place by Isaac Thorne
12. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
11. Stranglehold by Jack Ketchum
10. The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
9. The Strain by Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan
8. The Institute by Stephen King
7. Under the Skin by Michael Faber
6. Consumed by David Cronenberg
5. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
4. Nos4a2 by Joe Hill
3. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
2. The Fireman by Joe Hill
1. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage