Sci-Fi Mystery ‘Aftermath’ Headed to Blu-ray Jan. 30 From BayView

BayView Entertainment will release the science-fiction mystery Aftermath on Blu-ray Disc Jan. 30 via the Allied Vaughn manufacture-on-demand service.

The film follows a young woman who, after waking up in the middle of a forest with no memories, is targeted by mysterious strangers with a motive as unclear as her way back home.

Aftermath is from the creators of Project Skyquake, stars Fruzsina Nagy and Edward Apeagyei, and features special appearances by Academy Award nominees Sally Kirkland (Anna) and Eric Roberts (Runaway Train).

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Babylon

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/21/23;
Paramount;
Drama;
Box Office $15.35 million;
$25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $35.99 UHD BD, $44.99 4K Steelbook;
Rated ‘R’ for strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity, bloody violence, drug use, and pervasive language.
Stars Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, P.J. Byrne, Lukas Haas, Olivia Hamilton, Max Minghella, Rory Scovel, Katherine Waterston, Tobey Maguire, Flea, Jeff Garlin, Eric Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Samara Weaving, Olivia Wilde, Spike Jonze.

Just in case the trailers hadn’t fully prepared viewers for what they are in for with Babylon, writer-director Damien Chazelle’s lavish tale of Hollywood excess in the silent-movie era, the film’s opening moments will set a tone that is not for the faint of heart.

In the first scene, a day laborer is sprayed with dung by an elephant he’s helping transport to a fancy party. A minute later, a corpulent attendee of said rave is shown being urinated on during a dalliance with a flapper (a clear reference to the Fatty Arbuckle scandal).

And that’s just the first five minutes of a film whose three-hour runtime will test viewers’ patience as much as its fluidic humor will test their gag reflexes. Babylon is a beautiful paradox of a film in which the glitz and glamour of grand villas, magnificent costumes and epic setpieces are counterbalanced by grotesque orgies, mind-numbing narcotics and underground freak shows.

A former jazz drummer, Chazelle seemed to have a found a nice filmmaking niche at the intersection of music and cinema with films such as Whiplash and La La Land. But then he made First Man, turning the inherently patriotic journey of America’s first voyage to the moon into a depressing treatise on grief. So, who can blame him for going for broke with Babylon?

The film is an Altman-esque portrait of a handful of archetypal characters navigating their way through Hollywood in the late 1920s, when the advent of talkies revolutionized the motion-picture industry. Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad, an aging star rejected by audiences once they hear him recite the insipid dialogue he’s asked to perform. Margot Robbie is the stereotypical “It” girl who seeks nothing but superstardom and a perpetual party. Jovan Adepo plays a black jazz musician whose career is transformed by shorts of him playing the trumpet, and just as easily curtailed by racist attitudes. The list goes on.

The central thread weaving these stories together is Manny Torres (Diego Calva), as close as a stand-in for the audience there could be for this picture. He’s a Mexican migrant who dreams of working for the studios, and gets his chance thanks to being in the right place at the right time. He quickly rises through the ranks until he learns the quintessential lesson of Hollywood: There is no dream that can’t be shattered by bad timing and loving the wrong person.

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The transition from silents to sound was also the focus of 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain, a film that has had a rather obvious influence on Chazelle’s creative perspectives. He made his grand love story musical with La La Land, and now covers the Hollywood history aspects of Singin’ in the Rain with Babylon. Given there are several direct references to Singin’ in the Rain within Babylon, Chazelle isn’t being subtle with the parallels.

Chazelle’s opus is certainly not lacking for ideas, and as muddled as it is at times, Babylon is long enough to indulge most of them (there’s another nine minutes of deleted scenes on the Blu-ray). The production values are impeccable, the boisterous jazz-infused score by Justin Hurwitz is fantastic, and the character journeys themselves are not altogether uncompelling (one of the film’s better running jokes is that Conrad seems to have a different new wife in every scene).

But these characters aren’t singing in rain. They usually end up dancing in poop and piss and vomit, a visual metaphor for how Hollywood will shit on anyone for the sake of meaningless profligacy.

Dramatizing the days before workplace protections and safety regulations, Babylon depicts people literally dying on sets for the sake of art, an uncontrolled chaos that seems less concerning to the filmmakers of the day than getting the perfect shot before the sun goes down. Characters are less interested in their future well being than in maintaining the delusion that the good times will continue forever. Even when confronted with the reality that all things must end, they are offered the comfort of film itself being the source of immortality, its stars the ghosts of a bygone era.

Of course, there’s a question unspoken by the film that lingers above the overindulgence: Was it worth it? Around 90% of the films shot during the silent era are now considered lost — ghosts with no one left to haunt.

Chazelle skirts this issue with a thesis that the silent era and its response to the advent of sound in films served as an important foundation for the industry to come, and its countless technological leaps forward. And in that regard, he becomes yet another filmmaker presenting an ode to the magic of going to the movies — even the ones that symbolically spray feces on the audience.

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In addition to six deleted and extended scenes, the Blu-ray offers three informative behind-the-scenes featurettes. The 31-minute “A Panoramic Canvas Called Babylon” is a comprehensive look at the production as a whole, supplemented by the three minute “The Costumes of Babylon,” which is self-explanatory, and the two-minute “Scoring Babylon,” about Hurwitz’s Oscar-nominated music.

‘Hard Luck Love Song’ Headed to PVOD Nov. 9, Digital and On Demand Dec. 21

The noir crime thriller Hard Luck Love Song arrives on premium VOD Nov. 9, and for digital purchase and on demand Dec. 21 from Lionsgate.

Based on the song “Just Like Old Times” by singer-songwriter Todd Snider, the film stars Michael Dorman (“For All Mankind,” “Patriot,” The Invisible Man), Sophia Bush (John Tucker Must Die, “One Tree Hill,” “Love, Victor”), Dermot Mulroney (“Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Arrested Development,” My Best Friend’s Wedding), Primetime Emmy Award nominee RZA (2020, Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music, TV’s “Wu-Tang: An American Saga”), Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts (1985, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Runaway Train), and Melora Walters (Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Dead Poets Society).

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The film follows Jesse (Dorman), a charismatic but down on his luck troubadour hustling pool in dive bars, living out of cheap motels and making bad decisions. Jesse finds himself at an existential crossroads during a chance encounter with Carla (Bush), an old flame, as their complicated past and current troubles threaten to destroy their blissful reunion.

Action Thriller ‘Night Walk’ Coming to DVD June 15

The action thriller Night Walk, starring Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts and Sean Stone, will come out on DVD and will be available for rental June 15 from Lionsgate.

Mickey Rourke stars in the film about one man’s quest for justice, which starts as Frank, an American, visits the Middle East with his girlfriend, Sarah. When Sarah is killed in a police incident, Frank is framed for her murder and sent to a prison in the United States. Then, after uncovering the conspiracy that led to Frank’s sentence, his friend dies mysteriously. Now, seeking bloody justice, Frank plans to escape from prison — but must partner with a dangerous gang to do so.

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Extras include director’s commentary, deleted scenes, “Behind the Scenes of Night Walk” and the trailer.

Rapper DMX, Eric Roberts Star in Two Films Released to Home Audiences by The Asylum, Sondheim’s Greenfield Media

Sharknado producer The Asylum is releasing two films to home audiences in partnership with Greenfield Media, the company owned by industry veteran Bill Sondheim, whose credits include top leadership posts at PolyGram Video, USA Video and Cinedigm.

The first release, available Sept. 1, is the street-race thriller Fast & Fierce: Death Race, starring hip hop superstar DMX. The jet-fighter action film Wingmen Under Siege, with Eric Roberts, follows on Nov. 3.

Bill Sondheim

Asylum will handle digital distribution; Sondheim’s companies will distribute the titles on disc through Distribution Solutions. Fast & Fierce will only be available on DVD, while Wingmen will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

“A wide DVD release is never an easy decision these days,” said Asylum partner David Rimawi. “But when Bill and the Sony alum team at Distribution Solutions were excited about the titles, we knew we had a couple of hits on our hands.”

Sondheim added, “I have had the pleasure of working with The Asylum team for many years and their product always delivers powerful stories with great casts, which results in terrific sales. I am thrilled to bring these films to the mainstream market with the assistance of Distribution Solutions.”

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Fast & Fierce: Death Race follows Jack Tyson (DMX), who is near victory in an illegal street race from Mexico to California when a desperate woman jumps into his car. She asks him to help her escape from her violent boyfriend, the same gangster who organized the race.

Wingman Under Siege revolves around cadets on a secluded U.S. Air Force training base who must protect a gene-editing bioweapon from the Russian operatives who are desperate to seize the deadly viral agent at any cost.  Roberts stars as the masterly base colonel.

New Company Headed by Bill Sondheim Slates First Digital, DVD Release

Greenfield Media has set a Dec. 3 digital and DVD release date for The Reliant, an independent faith-based film with a pro-Second Amendment rights message that stars Kevin Sorbo, best known as television’s “Hercules.”

The film is being released to home audiences after a limited theatrical run in late October. The Reliant grossed close to $500,000 and sold approximately 35,000 tickets, Greenfield says.

The film follows a young family as they struggle to survive on the outskirts of their burning town after an economic collapse – and a government seizure of guns. When they capture a thief attempting to steal from them, they discover the attack on their home was no random act of violence. “They are torn between justice and mercy, and struggle to trust in God in the crisis of their lives,” according to a news release. “The film answers the question of what will you do to protect your own family.”

The Reliant opened Oct. 24 with a one-night Fathom Events showing on 722 screens. The marketing program included a media tour by Sorbo, targeted social media ad buys and support from the NRA.

“We focused on a grass-roots push in middle American markets, which resulted in a successful Fathom event that exceeded all expectations,” said Bill Sondheim, the veteran home entertainment executive who launched Greenfield Media earlier this year.

“That enthusiasm has carried over to both the physical and the digital releases as witnessed by the film grabbing the No. 1 pre-order spot on Amazon the week after the Fathom event.”

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He said the film will be distributed to home audiences through Distribution Solutions, which is “ideally suited to maximize this mass merchant-oriented film.”

In addition to Sorbo, The Reliant starts Brian Bosworth, Mollee Gray, and Eric Roberts.

Prior to launching Greenfield Media, Sondheim most recently served as president of the entertainment group at Cinedigm Corp. Before joining Cinedigm in October 2013, Sondheim was president of entertainment and worldwide distribution for Gaiam, later Gaiam Vivendi, which was ultimately sold to Cinedigm. From 2005 to 2007, he oversaw the development of Sony Music Entertainment’s dual disc technology initiative.

Before Sony, Sondheim was president of GT Brands LLC and, before that, president of Polygram Filmed Entertainment’s video distribution entity when it appeared PolyGram was on the cusp of becoming the seventh major, through hit theatrical movies like What Dreams May Come, with Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr., and The Game, with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn.

Family Drama ‘Unbridled’ Available on DVD and Digital From Mill Creek

The family drama Unbridled is available now on DVD and for digital purchase or rental from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Starring newcomer Téa Mckay, T.C. Stallings (War Room), Dey Young (Flicka) and Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight), the film is inspired by the real-life equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) program of the Corral Riding Academy in Cary, N.C., which helps abused girls heal by pairing them with rehabilitated horses.

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It has received numerous film festival awards, including the Equus Winnie Award.