Sunday Matinee: Nothing To Do [Film]

 

“Nothing To Do is the story of 50 something Kenny, an aimless DJ at an oldies station in Philadelphia. He’s called to a hospital in Washington D.C., where he’s informed that his father Irv, due to many complications, is at the end of his life. Something Irv has kept from his children. It’s suggested that Kenny and his father discuss hospice. Kenny’s younger sister, a more accomplished person, tries to intervene. She wants to send her father back to the hospital to “get better.” – October Coast PR

 

Letting go of someone can obviously be a very tough thing to do. It can be even more tough when you tend to be wandering the earth aimlessly yourself, unsure of what it is you are supposed to be doing with your own life. The lives of others tend to serve as a distraction to the internal chaos that swells within you. And when the person you are forced to let go of happens to be your own father, the inner conflict can be even more treacherous. How do you let go? How are you supposed to feel when it seems like the act of letting go is far easier than you would have hoped or imagined? The idea of knowing what is right is also the idea of losing all hope can be treacherous idea to deal with, but can also be seen as very necessary. These thoughts and more are what I took away from my delightful viewing of Nothing To Do. There are no heroes to this story, just people. And sometimes, just being alive can be a struggle that takes as much courage as anything. Nothing To Do is a wonderful film about love, loss, and ability, and the lack there of, to say goodbye to those who matter the most to us. Nobody wants to watch their loved ones perish, but sometimes acceptance is the only answer.

 

 

 

Paul Fahrenkopf gives an inspiring performance as the everyman Kenny who is suddenly handed the task of caring for his ailing father in his final days. The manner in which Fahrenkopf handles such a relatable character is absolutely brilliant. At no point did I truly despise the character of Kenny, and at no point did I truly feel that bad for him. And there was nothing to hate about his manner in dealing with such a horrendous situation. I could simply relate to the character, which is in my opinion, a far greater feet as an actor. You don’t have to simply love or despise an on screen presence. In actuality, I believe that writer and director Mike Kravinsky created some sort of magic when he was able to make Kenny’s sister (wonderfully portrayed by Connie Bowman) seem like more of the “bad guy” for desperately trying to save her father, who was obviously beyond being saved. There is a brilliant juxtaposition of what is good and what is right that happens throughout Nothing To Do, and it is definitely a major factor when it comes to the charm of the film.

 

Ultimately, this story that is based on real life events, is about the power of family. The bonds of family never die, as the old saying goes. And even when we leave our physical selves behind, the concept of family will never truly die. It’s a delightful concept, and one that Nothing To Do exemplifies very, very well.

Nothing to Do is now available on Amazon in the US and UK, and coming to iTunes worldwide in February.

 

Saturday Special: Cecil [Film]

 

“It’s 1996 and fourth grader Cecil Stevens (Sark Asadourian) finds himself switching to a new school after his parents (Jason London, Jenna von Oy) decide to separate. Cecil becomes fast friends with Abby (Christa Beth Campbell), a rambunctious school newspaper reporter, but gets off to a rough start when she notices that, due to his horrible lisp, he can’t pronounce his own name. So he decides to change his name to that of his hero, Michael Jordan. His whole school learns a lesson about acceptance after he and his friends start a business with the corrupt principal that sells celebrity names to kids.”

 

I’m just going to jump right out and say it….Cecil is an absolutely wonderful film. On the surface, it is a film geared towards children. Sure. But, on a much deeper level there is so much more to enjoy about it. It is zany, whimsical, and just whole lot of fun to watch. The production design of the entire project is absolutely magical. But, it is what is below the surface of it all that is so amazing to me. Growing up is a real pain in the proverbial ass. Especially when you feel like you are a little bit different than those around you, and aren’t quite able to understand that everybody is different and weird in their own way, and in the end none of the shit that is happening to you at the time truly matters. And beneath all of the animation and wonderful sound effects, this is the true spirit of Cecil, in my opinion. It’s not entirely a new concept per say, but I can honestly say that I have never seen the subject tackled in this manner before. The toxic home life, the ever-supporting Grandma, and the idea that true friendship should not be measured by popularity amongst your peers…it’s all there. Plus a truly terrifying antagonist who seemed only seconds away from causing actual physical harm to a handful of 10 year olds. It is seriously just such a fun flick with a wonderful message, and it should be enjoyed by people of all ages.

 

When it comes to performances, the adults absolutely nailed it. Jason London & Jenna von Oy do an amazing job as the parents who just can’t get over themselves to even understand what their child is going through. And Valerie Jan Parker is an inspiration as a teacher who really, really, wants to do the right thing and connect with her pupils, but ultimately could probably be found as a bitter and beaten down teacher 23 years later who is simply counting down the hours until her first glass of wine for the night. Being a student of the 90’s, and the spouse of an educator, it’s all a puzzle that unfortunately goes together quite nicely. And of course Sark Asadourian is wonderful as the titular character. He is a delight, charming, and down right adorable. But, the actor who truly blew my mind was none other that the film’s true star, the incredible Christa Beth Campbell.

To say that Christa Beth Campbell was brilliant in Cecil would be a dire understatement. Campbell showed a charisma and almost divine ability as a performer on this film. I was truly blown away with every second she was delivering dialogue or truly dissecting a scene, and I am convinced that she is destined to be a very big deal in the years to come. To posses such raw talent at such a young age is a thing that makes a prodigy. And when it comes to the world of performance, Christa has just that. Mark my words, within the next decade we are going to be seeing more and more of her, and we should all be very excited about that fact.

To wrap it all up, Spenser Fritz has written and directed something truly wonderful when it comes to his latest project, Cecil. It’s a fun, light-hearted and zany take on the real pressures of trying to find your true self, and learning to love yourself for who you truly are. In all honesty, I knew I was going to love a film about the fourth grade set in 1996, as it was specifically aimed almost directly at me, who was indeed a fourth grader in 1996. But what I walked away with after seeing this delightful film was so much more than just a feeling of nostalgia. I felt an actual physical joy after watching this film, and I am certain that everyone who migrates towards this amazing coming of age masterpiece will feel the same.

 

Cecil is available now on DVD and VOD wherever you stream movies. Learn more at cecilthemovie.com.

 


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/310464762″>Cecil</a&gt; from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/visionfilmsvod”>Vision Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Sunday Matinee: The Golem [Film]

“During an outbreak of a deadly plague, a mystical woman must save her tight-knit Jewish community from foreign invaders, but the entity she summons to protect them is a far greater evil. In this stunningly reimagined period horror version of an old mystical legend, a Jewish community in a shtetl are besieged by deadly intruders. Set in 17th century Lithuania, Hanna (Hani Furstenberg) the wistful, conflicted wife of the local rabbi’s son Benjamin (Ishai Golen),  secretly turns to Jewish mysticism and The Kabbalah to conjure up a dangerous entity to protect her community. But the creature she molds out of mud and summons to life echoes her tragic past and becomes so dangerously connected to its creator, that Hanna can’t see what a heartless monster she has fashioned from abject fear and desperate loathing.” – Big Time PR

******

It is absolutely no secret that we love horror films here at Trainwreck’d Society. We have embraced, and have graciously been embrace by, the horror community across the world wide web. We’ve covered some pretty amazing titles in our time. And today, we may be covering one of the best titles we have ever seen from the world of independent horror. On a personal note, I must state that The Golem just so happens to contain the two elements that often time find themselves within the theme of horror, but not always working simultaneously. But when they do, holy shit am I going to be scared. Those themes would be 1) Religion and 2) Children. As a father of three, the idea of children being possessed (or simply the incarnation of any sort of demon like entity) is just about one of the scariest things in the world. And religion? Well, that should be a no-brainer. There is so much eery text out there detailing absolute insanity within the religious landscape. Although I will say, The Golem is probably my first experience with the Jewish community being the ones doing the summoning of demons. I am not up on my 17th century Lithuania mythology, but I believe this may be the first I am hearing of this. This sort of subject matter tends to lend itself mostly towards Catholics, so it was absolutely refreshing to see a story told through this lens.

I do have to say that when it comes to production value, The Golem is particularly well done. Just like Lithuanian folklore, I am not entirely tuned into the world of the independent of Israel, but it certainly seems that the likes of Doran and Yoaz Paz and cinematographer Rotem Yaron either are, or should be considered, some of the best in the business. The images are stark and frightening. While not jump scare heavy, as everything these days seem to be reliant upon, they do exist within the concept of the film and are done far better than I would have ever expected.

In the end, The Golem is a film that is far better than it should have been. With such a elaborate concept and wild idea for a film that was penned by Ariel Cohen, this film could have turned wildly south. But alas, it did not. The film remains true to the concept of the evil that is hidden within the systematic stage of religion, and the extent that some will go to keep from fading into the Dylan Thomas’s “good night”. I truly believe that The Golem is a wonderful film for horror fans and casual horror movie-goers alike. Though it is early in the year, I believe it is safe to say that The Golem will be one of the best horror films to be released in 2019

The Golem opened in Los Angeles this last Friday (February 1st), and will be available on VOD, DVD, & Blu Ray this Tuesday (February 5th), wherever you purchase films. Check out the trailer right here:

Sunday Matinee: I Am The Night [Limited Series]

Photo by TNT Drama – © TM & © 2018 Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. A WarnerMedia Company.

 

“Inspired by true events, I Am the Night tells the gripping story of Fauna Hodel (India Eisley), a teenage girl who is given away at birth, and grows up outside of Reno, Nevada. Fauna lives more-or-less comfortably with the mysteries of her origin, until one day she makes a discovery that leads her to question everything. As Fauna begins to investigate the secrets of her past, she meets a ruined reporter (Chris Pine), haunted by the case that undid him. Together they follow a sinister trail that swirls ever closer to an infamous Los Angeles gynecologist, Dr. George Hodel (Jefferson Mays), a man involved in some of Hollywood’s darkest debauchery, and possibly, its most infamous unsolved crime.”

 

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It is no secret that the world of television is dominating the world of creativity today. We have spoken with so many people who are working either behind or on screen on the plethora of work that is coming out in the world of television. Every single network and/or streaming service has their own original programming, so much so that is it is almost too hard to keep up with these days. It can feel overwhelming at times for sure, but if you truly do some research, you are going to find some very fascinating stuff out there. Or, you can just listen to us! Because we want to tell you about a limited series that is absolutely one of the best pieces of television to come out in the last decade at least. We are talking about TNT’s 6-part limited series I Am The Night.

Avid readers here at Trainwreck’d Society will recognize that this is our first venture into the world of television in regards to our Sunday Matinee series. We usually tend to stick to the world of motion pictures. A few series have crossed out digital desks, but none of them have really felt right. That is until we were given the opportunity to check out this absolutely brilliant series brought to the world by Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins.

There is so much to get into here Folks that it’s almost too hard to begin. But, let’s try it out. Lets begin with the performances, as they are without a doubt the highlight of the series. I will say with complete honesty, I’ve never watched a project of any type that featured the very well known actor Chris Pine. I’m not joking. While we have covered the original Star Trek films and TV series at lengths via interviews, I am completely ill-advised on the the films of the last decade. And as far as the rest of this man’s credits. I promise I will see Wonder Woman someday, but it hasn’t happen yet. I guess I was just missing out. Of course I am a human living in 2019, so I know who he is. But, I promise you that I Am The Night is my first experience with this admiringly beautiful man. And I will be damned if I wasn’t excitedly impressed. Pine’s performance as Jay Singeltary is absolutely brilliant and is not to be missed. While I still feel a bit of shame for being so ill-informed on the world of Chris Pine, I am actually pretty excited that this was how I got to experience him first. The way he displays desperation, torture, and the effects of post traumatic stress disorder is so damn enthralling and not to be missed.

 

© 2018 – Turner Entertainment Networks

 

Another performance that is commendable beyond belief is obviously from the show’s lead actress India Eisley. I was also unfamiliar with her work (beyond appearing alongside our friend Camille Winbush in The Secret Life of the American Teenager), but I am FULLY aware of her absolute brilliance at this time. There is absolutely no way that India doesn’t become the biggest star of this day and age. Her work on I Am The Night is the stuff that genius is made of as she portrays the now legendary Fauna Hodel. Her pain and anguish of living a life that is essentially a lie is so believable and surreal that it is hard to truly explain. Pine is wonderful, but Eisley is most definitely the biggest draw by far. I simply cannot say enough good stuff. Also, it’s damn near impossible to get too far into her performances without spoiling the entire series. So please trust me, India is as amazing as you should expect.

Now, obviously Pine and Eisley steal the show front and center, but it behooves us to talk about the absolutely incredible supporting cast that made I Am The Night an overall delightfully terrifying experience. If Golden Brooks doesn’t win an Emmy for her performance as Fauna’s (unknown to her, adopted) mother Jimmy Lee, then there is seriously no justice in this world. She was absolutely brilliant in every damn second she was on screen. You loved to hate her, yet could empathize with her fears. Of course, if she had her way, the story may have never come to fruition. Anyway, Brooks was absolutely brilliant in a commendable appearance. And of course, there is Tony-Award nominated actor Jefferson Mays who portrays the infamous George Hodel and absolutely nailed the part of the man who is suspected to be the actual man behind the infamous Black Dahlia murders. Note: If you check out the live recording of the I Am The Night event that was done with the absolutely wonderful podcast, My Favorite Murder, you will be left without a shadow of a doubt that he fucking did it! But regardless of obvious historical evidence, Jefferson Mays is creepy as hell in his brilliant performance as Hodell.

Another performance that was absolutely wonderful, yet sadly underused in what was probably an attempt to keep the pace of the show moving, was that of Justin Cornwell, who you may recognize from the short lived television re-imaging of the film Training Day alongside the late Bill Paxton. Again, Justin was underused, but absolutely destroyed on every second he was on screen. The same can be said for Connie Nielsen who shines on screen as well.

 

© 2018 – Turner Entertainment Networks

 

And while the performances in this limited series are worth their weight in blood stained scalpels, it is also fair to say that the characters that these brilliant actors were working with her absolutely intriguing in their own right. In fact, Pine’s character is supposedly not base around an actual person per say, but an idea of a person. Which is always intriguing. And the mystery behind George Hodel has long been determined to absolutely terrifying. From his mesmerizing Mayan themed Los Angeles mansion (actually used IN the series!) to well-documented writings from George’s own son who truly believes he was, beyond an reasonable doubt, the Black Dahlia murderer, I Am The Night is a story that needed to be done wisely and very carefully. And I firmly believe that show creator Sam Sheridan and director Patty Jenkins have truly done just that. Stylized in a fashion that simply screams L.A. noir, this series truly takes you back in time in a way that I feel as though hasn’t been done before.

I have to preface this paragraph by stating that there are indeed times when the normalization of horrifically fucked up things can be appropriate when simply attempting to create an accurate setting. And that is exactly what is happening in I Am The Night, whether or not the show’s creators actually realized it. Oh, and I should say…I’m not talking about the murders. Yes, that’s pretty fucked up, but that’s not where I am going with this. I am speaking about the inclusion of the frustration and inhumane setting of racism that existed during the time this show was to take place. I feel that it normalized these actions, because it truly had to. It was sadly commonplace at the time. The despicable surroundings had to be addressed, but when you are dealing a real specific story, it can’t be the focal point. And with that, I feel as though the show did a wonderful job at addressing these issues, especially as the show wraps up. I am not obliged to speak about details, but I hope that you will trust me on this matter. Or not. Either way, I will remain firm that when it comes to creating characters battling the hatred of a nation, as well as the then unrealized effects of war traumatization (a different matter altogether, but tackled with equal sensitivity), I Am The Night does an absolutely amazing job!

 

© 2018 – Turner Entertainment Networks

 

Seriously Folks, I know that each and every day somebody in your office/gym/Fifty Shades fan club message board has been uttering the words “You have to watch [insert show title here]”. And the chances are that they are probably right. Well, kind of, as you don’t “have” to watch anything at all, so fuck off Jacob from accounts payable. The best writing of this day and age is truly in television, we all know this. But, I am here today to stand on my proverbial soap box and exclaim to you all that I Am The Night is ACTUALLY that show that you have, nay…SHOULD, be watching.

If you have spent the last decade watching critically acclaimed television yet secretly not quite understanding the hype of certain programs, I Am The Night is very likely the series you are looking for. Also, think of it as a less daunting experience, as it is merely a 6 part event that has a beginning and end. I understand how mentally exhausting (and first world problem-ish) to know that the 4th season of Mr. Robot is on its way and your mom changed her Amazon Prime password without telling you, so you never finished the first 3 seasons. I understand this. I’m certain Better Call Saul is a wonderful show, but dammit, I have been re-watching episodes of Full House for the last month. These things happen. Just think about I Am The Night has a 6 part story that will enter your life, and leave sooner than you will probably want  it to, but you will still leave the series feeling whole, and maybe even taking upon yourself to return to it. I don’t know, I’m not your keeper. I just want you to watch I Am The Night!

I also have to say that I am actually jealous of so many of you who have not been privy to this show yet. For the next 6 weeks, your lives are going to be filled with so much anticipation for each Monday night, you’re probably going to completely miss the backside of the winter season. My experience with I Am The Night is always going to be a day and half of nightmare inducing mayhem in which I could do nothing else but invest myself deeper into the curious adventures of Fauna Hodel and the realization that Chris Pine may be the most beautiful man on the planet. Anyway, you are all lucky. Spread out the madness, I’d say.

Also, as you know we are huge fans of the world of both comedy and podcast, I highly suggest you check out the accompanying podcast that will follow along with the series, as well as the show’s sponsorship and features of one of the finest podcasts that has been covering topics in the vein of I Am The Night for years now, the wonderful My Favorite Murder podcast. They recently dropped the recording of the live event at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles that details the Black Dahlia murder, as well as the “possible” inclusion of George Hodel. It also featured a wonderful interview with the aforementioned Jefferson Mays. Check out the My Favorite Murder website to get started.

Folks, if you believe I have never steered you wrong in the past, please believe me when I tell you that I Am The Night is a series you are going to absolutely LOVE. If you feel like I have steered you wrong, consider this my reckoning, and a way to make it up to you, as I can damn near guarantee that this is going to be one of the finest viewing experiences you will have in 2019. Possibly your life, but let’s let time decide that one. Enjoy!

 

 

I Am the Night will premiere on January 28th at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on TNT.

 

Sunday Matinee: West of Sunshine [Film]

 

“Separated from his family and caught in a cycle of gambling and debt, Jim has less than a day to repay a violent loan shark. His day is turned upside down when he must look after his young son. Jim’s relationship with his son is tested as his plans to pay back the loan fail. When his last desperate effort to repay the debt puts his son’s life at risk, he must make a choice between his past and a second chance at life.” – Uncorck’d Entertainment

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Strap in Folks, because I’m not going to lie to you….this one may hurt. If you are a person who truly doesn’t understand the power of addiction that could possibly overpower the love you have for another human being, West of Sunshine is a film that is bound to cause some intense frustration. For those of you (us) who know exactly what I am talking about, this is a film that is going to hit you on an oh so powerful level. It may just hurt more than you think you can handle. With powerful performances and a stress factor level that is damn near through the roof of a vintage American car, West of Sunshine is a film that is bound to have an impact you on in one form or another. You’ve been warned!

West of Sunshine had a wonderful showing last year at the Venice Film Festival, which was equipped with a well deserved standing ovation. Well, deserved because there are so many brilliant aspects of this puzzle like film that fit together oh so nicely to create a truly amazing film. From the absolutely stunning cinematography from the great Thom Neal (the man who helped stylize Hannah Gadsby’s brilliant comedy special, Nanette) to a truly beautiful story from the mind of writer/director Jason Raftopoulos, this film is an Australian gem that can only be classified as a must see.

And as West of Sunshine is obviously a character driven film, it would be a crime not to mention the amazing performances given by the recently dearly departed Damian Hill, who I was sad to learn had recently left us due to unknown circumstances in September of 2018.  He was absolutely stellar in this film, and dare I say damn near perfect. It’s a shame that we will no longer have his presence in the physical world, but should his spirit live in one singular performance, I hope that it is his role as Jim, a father with a taxing past and an inner struggle that is either relatable or unimaginable, depending on where you are in your life.

Another shout out has to go to Hill’s real life stepson, Ty Perham, who gives an absolutely wonderful debut performance as Jim’s somewhat estranged son Alex, who is truly the linchpin in this whole film. If you can’t feel for this kid whilst watching West of Sunshine, I’m not certain that you could have any feelings at all. The emotional depth in which Perham is able to bring to the willful ignorance of youth is commendable and brilliant.

Damian Hill & Ty Perham in “West of Sunshine”. Photo credit Thom Neal (cinematographer).

West of Sunshine is being billed and showcased as a crime drama, which is definitely accurate. But, I have to say that I truly believe that it is SO much more than that. The criminal element of the film is almost circumstantial. And while very important to the story line, the focus of the film, in my opinion, remains solely on the relationship of a father and son, amidst the horrors of addiction and coming to grips with the pain of reality. Without spoiling too much, it is suffice to say that an obvious solution to Jim’s probably is (almost literally) right underneath him. But again, depending on your nature, the answer is not always as simple as you may think. And with amazing performances, powerful visuals, and an incredible story, West of Sunshine truly delivers!

The way the world just seems to open up when you rid yourself of the vile things in your life is impeccable. There is nothing like it. You begin to see things for what they really are, and what is truly most important in your life because insanely clear, leaving you to wonder how you ever could have missed it. This is probably the biggest take away from West of Sunshine. The past can sometimes be a very hard thing to let go. And sometimes you must reconcile with your demons, even if it is already too late.

 

Currently running in select theatres, and releasing on VOD January 22, West of Sunshine is being distributed by Uncork’d Entertainment.

 

Saturday Special: Crossbreed [Film]

 

“In the near future, the President of the United States of America hires a team of military veterans to retrieve an alien bio-weapon from a top-secret research facility orbiting the Earth. These highly trained mercenaries must infiltrate the space station and recover the deadly experimental alien cargo located onboard. All is going according to the plan until the cargo escapes.” – October Coast PR

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I am just going to come out and say that I unblushingly loved this film. Okay, it is a bit campy, and very much on the simple side of modern day cinema. The budget for the concept needed to be much higher, and the story line couldn’t be much simpler. But, somethings are unavoidable, and god damn if this film wasn’t just so much damn FUN. And who can bash a bit of fun, amiright?

Crossbreed actually does have some amazing visuals for the budget that it was allowed. When we do finally meet the title character themselves, it is a truly horrifying experience. And  the film really does bring a plethora of elements from different genres for anyone to enjoy. I think of it has an Expendables meets Alien type experience, but features more of the oh so beloved comic relief of one Daniel Baldwin. Which can do nothing but add to the experience, that is for damn sure.

Writer/Director Brandon Slagle is an extremely hard-working gentleman who has put out some amazing work, and Crossbreed is yet another lovely addition to his catalogue. I can’t help to think about what this mastermind of a filmmaker would be able to do with a Marvel movie sized budget. Here is to hoping that one day we can find out such a thing. In the sometimes sad world of film, talent does always equal opportunity. Slagle obviously has the talent. So let’s hope that there comes a time when he is allotted the deserved chance to make a film like Crossbreed with the budget that it not only requires, but rightfully deserves.

Oh yeah, and…..Vivica A. Fox really should run for president. I can’t explain to you how much I would LOVE that to be a real thing!

 

Crossbreed arrives On Demand and Digital HD on February 5th, 2019. Check out the trailer for the film, here:

 

 

 

 

Sunday Matinee: Funny Tweets [Film]

Funny Tweets is a film that gives a very interesting perspective into the world of Twitter, which is as they say, more than just a social media format, but an entire world in its self. I was actually becoming pretty inspired by the film. And then not. And then back again. In one short hour, filmmaker Laurie McGuinness and writer Dan Duvall managed to send me on an emotional roller coaster. And might I add, I had no idea how infatuated I was with the sound of Andy Richter before I heard him give his hilarious take on Twitter. But, after Funny Tweets, I am officially declaring this man a god damned Saint!

The insight of Funny Tweets that is provided by folks who have made a career that started from a few tweets, as well as seasoned comedy vets is actually pretty inspiring. To hear writers from the likes of The Simpsons or Family Guy actually speak well about the benefits of the site is somewhat surprising, but now makes a whole lot of sense after watching this wonderful film that I highly recommend to everyone, even if Twitter is not your social media platform of choice.

And again…Andy Richter = Saint!

Funny Tweets is available on digital from Upstream Flix. Check out the trailer here: