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

*******

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

*******

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:

 

Splatterday Special: Doom Room [Film]

 

 

 

“A woman wakes up locked in a small room with no memory of how she arrived there. Unable to escape, and tormented by a series of paranormal entities, she must uncover the riddle of who she is and how she got here.” – Wild Eye Releasing

Hello there! And welcome to our first Splatterday Special outside of our usual Month of Horror. I figured, why should October be the only month that we decide to scare the shit out of you fine readers? And hot damn if we don’t have a wonderful film to tell you all about today! From the same people that brought you The Harrowing, which we told you about in our last Sunday Matinee of the year, just in time for a good Christmas scare, expect the same level terror with Doom Room!

Doom Room is a film that kicks into gear right, the fuck, away. Holy hell! I have honestly never watched a film that just jumps out with the intensity and furiousness of a god damned jaguar. And what happens as the film progresses becomes an absolutely delightful mindfuck. The pace slows down, but the intensity never does. When you’re 20 minutes into a film and you still have that “What the hell is going on?” thought coursing through your brain, you know you have found something special!

 

 

Writer and Director Jon Keeyes has creating something so dark and intriguing with Doom Room. With Alice In Wonderland-like dialogue and tension building scene set ups, there is something truly haunting about this film. Hayen Tweedie gives an amazing performance, and our dear friend Debbie Rochon knocks it out of the proverbial ball park as she usually does.  Overall, Doom Room is a wonderful psychological thriller. I felt disgusted, some of the time. I felt disturbed, most of the time. I was entertained, the entire time!

 

Doom Room will be available on VoD on January 15th.

 

 

 

Sunday Matinee: Moja Maisha – South Africa [Film]

A message from Bodi and Elephant Memories:

“Moja Maisha – South Africa is a film about the founders and residents of Nkosi’s Haven – a women’s and children’s shelter in Johannesburg, South Africa that has been in operation since 1999 and offered holistic care and support to hundreds of destitute HIV/AIDS infected mothers, their children, and resulting AIDS orphans (infected or not).

Nkosi’s Haven is named after Nkosi Johnson, the young AIDS activist who passed away on International Children’s Day on June 1st 2001, who dearly wanted a facility that would care for the mom and her child. He had been separated from his mom because of the HIV diagnosis and he never wanted that to happen to any other child. He also wanted HIV positive people to be cared for without discrimination or prejudice. His adopted mother, Gail Johnson, opened Nkosi’s in his memory.

Since 1999, it has housed, provided health and counseling services, and education to hundreds of women and children.

Moja Maisha – South Africa is made to be a fundraiser. The filmmakers do not wish to keep any proceeds from this film. Rather, we are asking viewers to donate to Nkosi’s Haven directly.”

******

We here at Trainwreck’d Society are so honored to be able to call the amazing person that is Alexander “Bodi” Hallett a staple in our digital world. I have personally been covering his work for close to a decade, going all the way back to his days as a young rapper going by the name Alexipharmic. I have been a fan of not only his art for the last 10 years, but mores the person he has become, and the amazing things he has done for the world.

A few years ago, the man we now know simply as Bodi set out on an adventure of a lifetime, volunteering at orphanages across the globe for a over a year. And one of those places that seemed to really strike him as a truly special place, was Nkosi’s Haven in Johannesburg, South Africa. This led to the documentary you are about to watch that is absolutely heart-breaking, yet utterly inspiring at the same time. What you are about to watch is a well-documented depiction of a pandemic that has, and continues to, hurt so many innocent women and children. And they certainly could use your help.

As depicted in the film itself, Nkosi’s Haven is struggling to continue to exist. And mind you, this footage is from early on in this decade. The organization has managed to survive, but times have only grown tougher over the years. Nkosi’s Haven’s funding has dried up, which may very realistically result in the shuttering of this wonderful organization. Were this to happen, several hundred destitute women and children would be homeless on the streets of Johannesburg.

Bodi has been, and continues to, seeking distribution for the film and hadn’t planned on releasing the film to the world just yet. But, with recent events and issues with funding Nkosi’s Haven, our dear friend Alex decided he needed to help spread the word about this beautiful place filled with beautiful people, in hopes of keeping the place around for those who desperately need it.

So, we are happy to join in the fight alongside our dear friend Bodi and encourage everyone to check out this wonderfully done documentary, share it with our friends and families, and if able, try to donate to the cause keeping Nkosi’s Haven a current reality, rather than a future distant memory.

Learn how you can donate directly to Nkosi’s Haven by visiting the Moja Maisha – South Africa website.

You can watch & then share the entire documentary right here:

Sunday Matinee: The Harrowing [Film]

“Haunted by the  ritualistic  killing  of  his  best  friend,  a  vice  detective determined  to discover  the  truth  goes  undercover  into  a  forensic  hospital  and  is  plunged  into  his  own personal  hell  where  demons  might  be  real.” – October Coast

Right in time for Christmas, we have a gem of a psychological thriller for you fine folks! I know we are supposed to be being more festive around here, but we simply cannot break the tradition of showcasing a truly wonderful Non-Holiday film for you all. Especially when said wonderful film is set to be released on Christmas Day. That’s right folks, prepare to have your mind completely blown away with The Harrowing, a film written and directed by a guy who is becoming one of my own personal favorite writers and filmmakers, on Jon Keeyes. Not to jump ahead here, but Keeyes also has another film coming out next month entitled Doom Room that is absolutely fascinating as well. So stay tuned for that one!

Now back to The Harrowing. Wow. Matthew Tompkins gives an absolutely superb performances as a detective who has a lot of demons to work through. Like, literal demons. He takes on a brilliantly written role in a film that is nothing short of a spectacular story that thrills, excites, and has an absolutely wild ending that you simply will not expect, yet once it happens, you may very well realize you knew the truth all along. Or you won’t. Either way, you’re going to love it.

The Harrowing will be available on VOD and on Demand December 25, 2018 from Clay Epstein’s Film Mode Entertainment.

Sunday Matinee: Lalo’s House [Short]

Lalo’s House, inspired by true events of child trafficking in Haiti (as well as its pervasive spread throughout the US and around the world), follows the relentless courage of Manouchka,’ a 14 year-old Haitian girl, and her little sister, Phara, who are abducted and thrown into an underground prostitution network posing as a Catholic orphanage. Forced to grow up prematurely, Manouchka must fight to save Phara and escape the villainous Sister Francine (portrayed by Garcelle Beauvais) who holds them captive.” – Integrated PR

Wow. Just. Wow. I have watched some pretty riveting and nerve-racking films in the past year alone, but I have to say that Kelley Kali’s brilliant short film Lalo’s House really reaches an emotional depth that conjures up feelings of pain, sympathy beyond expression, and mostly just some straight up disgust. With extremely powerful performances throughout the film and fact based story lined that is simply shocking to the core when you think about the fact that this sort of thing is happening on a daily basis.

Newcomer Jasmin Jean-Louis proves herself to be a natural talent in conveying pain through the art of performance. Her eyes alone carry the story line through such horrific events in a brilliant manner. And legendary actress Garcelle Beauvais gives a powerhouse performance in a way that I have never witnessed. To describe Sister Francine as simply “villainous” may be a bit of an understatement. This woman is evil in human form, and Beauvais plays it absolutely perfectly. And to be perfectly frank, I had the biggest crush on Garcelle in the 90’s, and now hear I am wishing the worst upon Fancy from The Jamie Foxx Show. Damn, she is so good!

Filmmaker Kelley Kali may be new to the world of filmmaking, having recently graduated from USC with a Student Academy Award and DGA Student Award in hand for this incredible film, but she obviously has pariah like level of talent that is on a whole different level than what we are used to seeing in storytelling on the screen. She has created magic with Lalo’s House, a film that is guaranteed to leave you wondering what the hell is wrong with the world. And hopefully inspire you to assist in combating such evil. Kali is “motivated to create content that addresses issues within often marginalized communities by using the art of filmmaking to create dialogue and action towards positive change”. And I have a great feeling that this is something is will absolutely be doing in the very near future. If Lalo’s House is just one example of the greatness she can accomplish, there is nothing this brilliant filmmaker can not accomplish.

Lalo’s House is currently dominating in the film festival circuit. Be on the lookout for an official release date that will be coming soon.