I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Editor
This week for home viewing, we’ve got Richard Linklater’s ultimate coming-of-age story (BOYHOOD), the Tate Taylor (THE HELP)-helmed biopic of “Godfather of Soul” James Brown (GET ON UP), DOWNTON ABBEY‘s Dan Stevens going haywire in THE GUEST, Daniel Radcliffe ditching his wand and broom for some HORNS, the home invasion NO GOOD DEED (starring Idris Elba), and Nicolas Cage doing what he does best in the worst of movies (LEFT BEHIND). But the only ones worth a damn are as follows:
People go to the movies for numerous reasons: to laugh, to be frightened or simply to get respite from their lives to enjoy the show. That enjoyment can run the gamut from the mere short-term entertainment of the sequel-of-the-week to intense and thought-provoking films that stay with viewers for days on end. For most critics and audiences alike, BOYHOOD was nothing short of complete involvement and immersion in a lovingly detailed and authentic narrative.
BOYHOOD is essential viewing for anyone believing that cinema is great art. How foreign and beautiful it is to see a motion picture about a Texas child’s experience from 5 to 18 years old. Rather than making BOYHOOD a yearlong production and casting new actors to play the characters as they grow up, writer-director Richard Linklater shot the film annually across 12 years using the same actors. The technological achievement of maintaining continuity while filming over such an extended period is a noteworthy tribute to Linklater’s ability. It is a feat of directorial patience and innovation rarely seen in the movie industry.
Linklater holds our attention with his relevant views of growing up that are effortlessly weaved together into a long story in which time moves on naturally. The boy, Mason, grows older without breaks— moving from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. The adults develop, mature and occasionally regress right along with him.
Though it clocks in at 163 minutes, BOYHOOD never feels tedious. It’s one of those rare features that you could easily imagine watching for hours on end. Despite the lack of a clear three-act structure or clean resolution and denouement by the time the events come together, the audience won’t feel cheated by the beautiful journey.
BOYHOOD is a matchless and complex vision that will go down in motion picture history as a film of gesture and movement, insecurity and happiness, awe and love. It’s a movie phenomenon that serves as the indisputable front-runner for film of the decade.
Our Q&A with star Brad Hawkins, who plays Jim in BOYHOOD:
Our interview with director Richard Linklater:
The Blu-ray Combo Pack extras include:
- DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish and English Audio Description
- English, English SDH and Spanish Subtitles
- The 12 Year Project
- Q&A with Richard Linklater and the Cast
Destined to be a cult classic, THE GUEST is an absorbing and tremendously unique piece of cinema from the genre-bending minds that brought us YOU’RE NEXT. It’s a self-aware mix of action, suspense and dark humor that has a retro vibe without being old fashioned.
THE GUEST follows the Peterson family, who meet a soldier named David (a wickedly good Dan Stevens), claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the family welcome the mysterious man into their home, a series of accidental deaths occur that may or may not be linked David. Should they have let David in?
With its memorable electro-synth score and ever-increasing tension, THE GUEST is one of the bloodiest-good times that 2014 had to offer. The entire experience works so well thanks to Stevens (DOWNTON ABBEY), who portrays David as a more sincere version of Ryan Gosling’s character in DRIVE. Make sure you pick it up with BOYHOOD today.
Our interview with director Adam Wingard, writer Simon Barrett, and star Dan Stevens:
The Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack extras will include:
- Deleted Scenes
- Q & A with Dan Stevens
- Feature Commentary with Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett
HORNS, a tale about a young man accused of murdering his girlfriend and grows devil horns on his head, is all over the place in terms of structure. Something about the project, despite the talents from horror extraordinaire Alexandre Aja (THE HILLS HAVE EYES, 2006), feels simultaneously rushed and long-winded.
We come to know the Radcliffe’s character, Ig, and his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple), pretty well for the most part, but we know not much of anything from his other acquaintances and kinfolk. They are just kind of thrown in, and are there just because they need to be (the film is based on Joe Hill’s novel of the same name). Of course, they are not the focus of the story, but they play a big part in the film’s final and most crucial moments. So when those moments come, the impact doesn’t have the proper weight.
There are many great scenes in the film, such as one where Ig utilizes the power of the horns to his advantage and has news reporters beat the crap out of each other to obtain an exclusive interview with him. But with every great scene, comes a lot of dry exposition and some big-time tonal issues.
HORNS may be the weakest of the films that we talked about this week, but it is far from being a complete waste of time. It’s great to see what Radcliffe brings to the role, and to hear his American accent. So while it may not be your rush-out-of-your-house type, it’s worth checking out on a rainy day.
Our interview with director Alexandre Aja:
The Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack extras will include:
- 2.39:1, 1080p Video
- DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
- The Making of HORNS