Sunday Matinee: The Problem With Apu [Film]

I have to be completely honesty and upfront here, right from the very beginning. I am claiming ignorance. I honestly did not know that this was an issue, or that there could be a problem with Apu. I always had an inkling that the idea of every 7/11 in the 90’s was owned or operator by a turban wearing man from India or the middle east was a little bit racist, but I had honestly always attributed this to being a “city thing” that I just wasn’t aware of. And above it all, I was too naive and a bit dimwitted to not realize that Apu was a seriously overdramatized version of a whole group of people, which is indeed problematic, and yes, racist. But hey, at least it was voiced by an Indian actor, right!? Right? Well……

This documentary is an absolutely brilliant take on a subject that is almost too sensitive to touch. And I’m not even talking about race. I’m talking about the mother-loving Simpsons! The Simpsons have been the golden standard for long-lasting comedy for the last 30 years, and it is obviously a very touchy subject to “attack” (parenthesis because it’s not actually happening, keep reading). But what comedian Hari Kondabolu has brought us with The Problem With Apu is a very unique and positive take on the possibility of change in a complicit industry that has left its stain on even the holiest of holy products like The Simpsons.

Again, I do not feel in the slightest that Kondabolu is attacking The Simpsons. He is simply stating the facts about his and other’s experience as an Indian person growing up in America during a time where the only representation of his people was an over dramatized typecast in animated form. He praises the show for its originality and deserved acclaim, but he simply recommends something that might make the show better for society. Which, in my opinion, is an extremely humbling god damned thing to do! I will admit, if I grew up being called Apu on a daily basis, I probably wouldn’t be nearly as kind on a subject matter. There are many reasons why Hari Kondabolu is a better person than I, but this is a big one!

And even looking beyond the potential impact and changes that a film like The Problem with Apu could bring, I feel as though it is important to note that this film is extremely well made! It is a documentary that hits all of the appropriate highs and lows and examines all applicable frustrations in a brilliant manner. Kondabolu has shown as much promise in the world of documentary filmmaking as he has in his work as a comic, and he has created something brilliant with The Problem with Apu that sends a very strong message, and should rightfully be enjoyed by all.

But, let’s be honest, this is America we are talking about, so rather than trying to be understanding, people are going to shit all over it before, or without even, seeing it for themselves. But, for those of you who can make the effort to both learn from and enjoy something, this is the perfect film for you.

The Problem with Apu premieres tonight on truTV at 10 p.m. ET. Check out the trailer here:

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Saturday Special: Mr. Roosevelt [Film]

“In her feature directorial debut, Noël Wells portrays Emily, a talented but hard-to-classify comedic performer who left behind her home and boyfriend to pursue career opportunities in L.A. When a loved one falls ill, Emily rushes back to Austin where she’s forced to stay with her ex-boyfriend (Nick Thune) and his new-and-improved girlfriend (Britt Lower), a totally together woman with a five-year plan. Though Emily is the same, everything else is different: her house has been smartly redecorated, her rocker boyfriend is training to be a real estate agent, and her old haunts show serious signs of gentrification. Holed up in her own guest room, Emily–who has no idea what she’ll be doing five days from now, let alone five years–is forced to question everyone’s values: are they sell-outs or have they just figured out what makes them happy? And is she following her dreams or is she just a self-absorbed loser?” – Big Time PR

I feel compelled to start this out by saying that Mr. Roosevelt was one of my most anticipated films of the year. One platform that I tend to learn about some of the amazing artists and happenings in the world of film and television actually comes from a podcast. A little movie trivia game show podcast known as Doug Loves Movies, hosted by none other than legendary comedian Doug Benson (who has a nice, brief cameo in this film as well!). Throughout 2017, I heard episodes either featuring Noël Wells in support of Mr. Roosevelt, or several episodes in which the film was mentioned without her even being present. Needless to say, I was dying to see it. And when the opportunity presented itself to finally check it out, I had to jump on it. And might I dare say, I was definitely not let down. Mr. Roosevelt is one of the finest films of 2017, and one of the best indie projects of the last ten years.

Depending on where you live, work, and/or breath, it is likely that you know somebody like Noël Wells’s character Emily. At her heart, she is a very wonderful person, with a big heart and a tremendous talent. But if the world of adulthood has taught most of us anything, it is that none of that shit matters in the real world. The real world can be a very disturbing place where good things don’t always come to good people. And it is within this knowledge that we may find a turn with ourselves, and proverbially walk the line between kind and self-obsessed. And I feel like this is exactly where our heroine of Mr. Roosevelt is at in her life. She moved away from the fun-loving and stereotypically hip area of Austin, Texas to pursue her dream as a comedian(?), or something of that nature, to America’s dirty playground known as Los Angeles. And along this journey, she broke some hearts and left a dear friend, Mr. Roosevelt, behind who would unexpectedly perish while she was away. Mr. Roosevelt is a cat, by the way. But for some of us, that matters not.

At its core, Mr. Roosevelt is a film that explores the acceptance of one’s self whilst trying to find their place in the world. Even the most grounded of characters in this film seem to have demons hiding within themselves. You will either sympathize with Celeste (brilliantly portrayed by Britt Lower) or you are going to hate her right off the bat, which you will likely find to be a completely unreasonable emotion. One of my favorite characters of the film, Jen (Daniella Pineda), comes off as a character who is perfectly grounded in insanity, but is as emotionally complex as the rest of them. But, she seems to take this world in strides.

In the end, Mr. Roosevelt is a beautiful tale of love, loss, confusion, and attempting to find one’s self (whatever the hell that means?) in the modern world. Noël Wells has officially made a debut in the world of film that is an absolute hit, and I am so excited to see what the future holds for this brilliant artist. If this film is an indication of everything she is capable, it is extremely likely that we have a new strong female working behind the camera as well as in front of it, which is something we desperately need right now. This is a film that proves that women, while only making up less than 6% of world film behind the screen, are not only capable of doing great work, but are exceptional at it in most cases. And I truly believe that Mr. Roosevelt is nothing short of direct evidence to this case. You’re going to love it. I guarantee it.

Mr. Roosevelt is currently enjoying a run at the Arena CineLounge in Los Angeles, November 17th – 23rd. 

The film will also have its NYC premiere at the legendary Landmark Theatre’s Sunshine Cinema, November 22nd – 28th. 

Stay tuned for further announcements of the films release across digital platforms and in physical form as well. And check out the lovely trailer for Mr. Roosevelt, right here:

Sunday Matinee: ADDicted [Film]


“Like most college kids, Drew’s life is chaotic. Demanding classes. Football. Finals. A bad break-up. An overbearing mother. But what helps keep him balanced is his Adderall, a prescription he’s been on since age 10 for ADD. But now he finds himself suspended from the football team for plagiarism. As his life starts to spiral out of control, he turns to his professor, but is it too late? What will it take for Drew to find peace with himself instead of a pill bottle?” – Vision Films

Director Dan Jenski had a clear and concise vision when he was developing ADDiction, that is something very obvious. He gave himself the task of dramatizing one of the most oddly common and wildly misrepresented struggles of modern day humanity. Within each and every one of us is a yearning to be both excellent and loved. Our internal drive to succeed, or at least get by, is rarely turned off for many of us, but some of us lack the physical make up to bring ourselves out of the everyday mundane sense of existence. This is when something like Adderall can be a literal wonder drug. While often times misdiagnosed, the threat of ADD is a real one. It does exist. And Jenski is the man who decided to show us what would happen if we took Adderall usage to an all time high, or low, depending on how you look at it.

And his end result was the masterfully done film that is ADDicted. It is an overall brilliant film about the struggles of an average upper-middle class college kid who enlists the help of an ambitious woman who obviously just doesn’t have all of her shit together. So when these two team up, it is quite bloody obvious that it isn’t going to go well. The internal and external tension of these two with their family and those around them is the sort of thing that makes for some of the most delightfully awkward cinema you will ever witness.

While I have already stated that Jenski has turned in a brilliant product of a film, so much credit has to be given to Kathreen Quinlan, Gil Bellows, Luke Guldan, and Lauren Sweetser who turned in some of the finest performances of their careers. ADDicted is a brilliantly written tale about a very real problem in our modern society that simply needed to be told. And we should all be so pleased that it was decided that this would be how it was told. If any real change is happen on our society when it comes to dealing with the mental and physical travesties of prescription medication, I truly believe that a dramatization such as this could truly be a step in the right direction.

Sunday Bloody Sunday Matinee: Sightings [Film]

Welcome to Day 22 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

“When former Sheriff and skeptic of the paranormal, Tom Mayfield (Boo Arnold), encounters three dead bodies on his TX ranch, he must enlist the help of his conspiracy-theorist brother-in-law (Rawn Erickson II), a local surveillance expert (Dante Basco), and a renowned cryptozoologist (Stephanie Drapeau), in order to uncover who or what is behind these mysterious events.While being pursued by the local detective (Kevin Sizemore) as a lead suspect for these deaths, Tom is forced to reconsider his preconceived ideas of what lies beyond our planet. Ultimately, he must mend the estranged relationship with his daughter (Tahlia Morgan) and come to grips with the truth of his missing wife (Tiffany Heath), as he discovers the importance of community in survival and the belief in the unseen.” – October Coast PR

To be quite honest, I wasn’t entirely sure about what I was getting into when I started Sightings. And now that I have completed a viewing, I honestly don’t know of a way to truly explain what I just watched without completely giving away EVERYTHING. I will say this though: Sightings is a brilliant film based around subjects that I normally could give two shits about. One of the subjects, as anyone could surmise, is about aliens. But the catch to it all is one that is going to blow your god damned minds. And guess what? It makes perfect sense while you are watching it! It’s only after you are done that the “Wait, what?” moments comes along. At least that is my personal opinion. This is a truly amazing production that was obviously done on a shoe-string budget, but also obviously employs some amazing talent in the visual department. I have to give a huge shout out to writer/director Dallas Morgan, as he did an amazing job. But it behooves me to mention that cinematographer Rocky Conly absolutely knocked it out the park, and made an indie thriller appear as though it were a 50 million dollar project. One can only hope that Morgan and Conly continue to work together, as the amount of quality material they could put out would be absolutely delightful!

And then there is the cast. As I have stated before, the cast can make or break a film. Well, thankfully while Sightings was visually stimulating, it also had a fine group of actors as well. So many props need to be given to Stephanie Drapeau who was amazing, and would have been great to see even more of in the film. And the same of for the great Dante Basco, who is an amazing actor who has done so much more than than what I consider to be Robin William’s WORST film of all time, known as Hook. That’s right folks, to get off topic but….Hook sucks. Just admit. Toss it with The Goonies and A Christmas Story as a batch of films that are only cool to say you like, but you know they are awful. Awful! Okay, end rant.

So as I have already stated, Sightings is brilliant and I could not recommend it highly enough. You are going love this film.

Sightings will be available for purchase on November 7th. Until then, check out the trailer here:

Splatterday Special: Cold Moon [Film]

Welcome to Day 21 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

“In a sleepy southern town, the Larkin family suffers a terrible tragedy. Now the Larkin’s are about to endure another: Traffic lights blink an eerie warning, a ghostly visage prowls in the streets, and graves erupt from the local cemetery in an implacable march of terror . . . And beneath the murky surface of the river, a shifting, almost human shape slowly takes form to seek a terrible vengeance.” – Rotten Tomatoes

Oh damn, have I got a great film to tell you all about on this lovely Splatterday! I’m talking about Cold Moon. For anyone needing a nice bit of modern suspense storytelling in their lives, this is the film for you. It hits all of the elements one could ever want in a crime-driven horror film. It is a brilliant and original story from one of the creators of such classic, yet more comedy driven, horror films like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Beetlejuice, the great Michael McDowell. But there is little joking around happening in Cold Moon. This is a film that means business. And business is damn good, my friends.

As I have stated in the past about other horror projects, a great cast can make all the difference. And Cold Moon definitely has a cast that is work admiring. Josh Stewart gives a brilliant portrayal of a downright conflicted psychopath. With his straight up dashing good looks and southern drawl, he absolutely murders it (pun intended) in this film! And of course, you have the legendary Christopher Lloyd, who appears to be portraying the severely aged and less hilarious character he gave the world in the legendary teen comedy Camp Nowhere. It is as though the acid of Dennis Van Welker’s sorted past got the best of him. Basically, Mr. Lloyd is as brilliant as you would expect and was a delight in this film. And how could we forget the brilliant Rachel Brooke Smith who is a shining star in the making and Mr. “Big Brain on Brad” himself, Frank Whaley, who were absolutely brilliant in their own right.

I seriously can not recommend Cold Moon enough, Folks. This is a brilliant story with a dynamite cast and just the right types of scares you want in a thriller. Seriously, you are going to want to see this one!

 

Sunday Bloody Sunday Matinee: Deliver Us [Film]

Welcome to Day 15 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

“Exorcism is still a fact of contemporary life. Every year, more and more people claim that their illnesses are caused by demonic possession.

Father Cataldo is a veteran, one of the most sought-after exorcists in Sicily. Every Tuesday, many believers follow his mass of liberation, searching for a cure for some adversity for which there does not seem to be a label or a remedy.

The Catholic Church reacts to this crisis by nominating priests as exorcists in increasing numbers and by organizing training courses for them. In order to respond to the rising number of requests for deliverance from evil, all French dioceses have installed at least one exorcist. In Spain, the archdiocese of Madrid is desperately trying to fill seven additional positions.

In Rome and Milan alone, the number of exorcists has grown from six to 12, and the Church has set up an emergency call center.
In the US, the number of exorcists has increased tenfold over the last few years.” – Uncork’d Entertainment

I have to kick this one off by saying that this really isn’t technically a “horror film” of any kind. But, it may actually be one of the most horrifying things I have ever seen. And I don’t mean the production of the film itself. No, that is fantastic. Deliver Us is definitely a brilliantly timed piece of art if nothing else. It is a wonderful documentary that moves swimmingly through the confusion of what exactly the hell is going on. I honestly never thought I would say this, but for a documentary about exorcisms, they do manage to have a little bit of fun with it and show a bit of light heartedness. This is all true. But seriously folks…what the fuck!

As a traditional Pacific Northwest bred kid, I am not a believer of any sort of faith. But, I tend to have great respect for religious types who do it correctly. The ones who preach love and forgiveness, and yada yada yada, whatever makes me sound the most pretentious. Anyway, whilst watching Deliver Us, I had a whole hell of a time trying to decipher what I was watching. I didn’t realize it was a documentary at first. I seriously thought I was watching a Blair Witch meets Borat type of situation. But, I was quickly drawn to realize I was mistaken.

This shit is actually happening people. Whether you believe in the power of a God above or not, this shit is actually happening. For the lack of a better word, people have “psyched” themselves out enough to believe that they actually have had demons enter their bodies, and they require the relinquishment of a priest in order to rid themselves of such evil. And even if you think this sounds like absolute bollocks, just truly think about the power of the human psyche, and realize that it is absolutely possible to find yourself in this same scenario. To believe in something so damn much that you soon find yourself in utter hysteria, and then find the only way to calm the reaction is to continuously return to such hysteria as several subjects of this film did? That is absolutely maddening!

I really have to say that everyone should check out this film. Whether you are a professional zealot or a devout atheist, this is a film you are going to love. For the latter, please think of this film as an amazingly portrayal of the power of the human exploit. This is a film that attempts and succeeds to portray the power of the human emotion to be provoked at a moment’s notice. And whether you believe that emotion is brought upon by the belief in a higher being, it is seriously fascinating to ponder about either way.

Splatterday Special: Circus Kane [Film]

Welcome to Day 14 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

“The notorious and disgraced circus master, Balthazar Kane, invites an unsuspecting group of social media stars to the revival of his Circus Kane by promising $250,000 to any of them who can make it through the night. Kane’s true plan quickly proves to be far more sinister as the contestants realize more than money is on the line. The group must fight for their lives to escape Kane’s demented house of horrors.

” – October Coast PR

Hey folks! So we are doing something a tad bit different here. As you can tell, it is Saturday, which is of course a rarity for us as of lately. But, we have so much amazing content to share with you fine folks for our Month of Horror, that it has become necessary for us to work on Saturday. Which is totally worth it, I might add.

Also, today is sort of a combo for you fine readers. We are here to talk about the amazing film Circus Kane, which is first of all a truly brilliant modern cinematic experience. But we also have a few quick words form the film’s director, Christopher Olen Ray. So we are combing a great film showcase with a great interview. You lucky son of a saints!

Circus Kane is a wonderful film with a terrifying premise that is as visually stimulating as it is horrifying. Tim Abell does an absolutely incredible job as the partially titled character Balthazar Kane. He will honestly freak you the hell out to no end. And performances from Jonathan Lipnicki and newcomer Victoria Konefal are an absolute stand out. I will personally state here and now, that Circus Kane is the absolute perfect film for those of you who absolutely adore horror films but are feeling a bit trapped by the modern realm of terror cinema. If you are looking for something truly unique and exciting to check out in this wonderful month of all things frightening, I seriously can not recommend this brilliant film enough.

So that is my plug for this amazing film that you can see now on VOD and other streaming platforms. I also have to say that it is absolutely incredible that this is a truly fucked up tale, but also happens to feature not only the adorable little kid from Jerry Maguire, but also Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story (1/3 of the writing team, Zack Ward.) I usually tend to leave this type of thing out of the intros, but I was laughing so damn hard when I figured this out that I feel a bit compelled to let you all know. Because I have to be honest with you all.  And with that, here are some words from the film’s director Christopher Olen Ray.

Tell us about the latest film.

Circus Kane is about performer Balthazar Kane, who comes back for one last hooray. He creates a house of scares, tricks and traps for a set of new unexpected horror fans. Offering them $250k to survive his new house of haunts.

And on the VOD channels, what category would you suggest it be placed under?

This should definitely be Horror. There is a little bit of light hearted comedy in it but that is definitely the under tone. The blood puts it into more of Horror.

Though I assume everyone was a pleasure, Is there anyone on the cast and crew you particularly enjoyed working with?

There are a few. Tim Abell is always a pleasure to work with. His work as Kane is amazing. Johnathan Lipnicki was another person that just made my job easy. All in all the cast did a great job and fed off each other well.

What are you most proud of about the movie?

The look. We wanted to make the film have its own look. Myself, the DP Alexander Yellen and The Production Designer Fernando Valdez worked hand in hand to get that accomplished. We decided in the beginning to use as much practical as we could. So all the footage they are watching on the TVs is actually playing as they watch. Just one area.

Was there ever a moment on the film when it became ‘work’ to you – or is it always fun? Maybe a bit of both?

NOPE- I loved every minute of it. Even when things got rough, there is still no place I would rather be.

We’re about to enter the ‘scariest’ month of the year – are you into spooky movies?

HELL YEAH!!! Since I was little my family would watch more horror films in October. Didn’t really mean much since we liked them all the time. As a kid I couldn’t finish Evil Dead. For some reason the bit where he pulls the stick out of his leg still sticks with me.

Who might your favourite horror monster icon be?

I am a huge Universal Monster fan. I have all of them tattooed on me but if I have to choose one. The creature

What does Halloween mean to you?

The one time of the year I am fit in a little bit more. My house and office are Halloween everyday all year long.

Did you ever participate in dress-ups? Remember who you dressed as?

Yup. I have been many different thing over the years. My favourite was the Jack Nicholson Joker. I think there is a picture of me on my Facebook page in this look.

Have you a go-to movie around Halloween?

Original Halloween and Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors.

Do you think your movie works for Halloween, too?

I do. Since every room has a different theme and I think we relate to a lot of different fears through out.