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 & Cole Clay // Film Critics
This week for home viewing: Well, there’s not a whole lot to be excited about. While some of the films were decent, others rubbed us the wrong way. Here are this week’s three big releases.
David Ayer takes a break from the gritty urban crime-dramas (TRAINING DAY, STREET KINGS and END OF WATCH) to tackle the barren landscape of World War II. FURY is a simple drama that hones in on machismo, brotherhood, survival and just a little bit of tenderness. It provides enough of an engaging story to hold interest beyond Brad Pitt’s hardened performance. – Cole Clay
The Blu-ray Combo Pack extras include:
- More than 50 minutes of Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Photo Gallery
- Four All-new Featurettes:
- Director’s Combat Journal – David Ayer gives an account of the months spent in the English countryside shooting, finding antique tanks to drive and managing the scale of production that a WWII movie demands.
- Armored Warriors: The Real Men Inside the Shermans – Some of the real-life soldiers who lived and fought day-to-day in a Sherman tank reflect on their WWII experience.
- Taming the Beast: How to Drive, Fire, & Shoot Inside a 30-Ton Tank – Experts demonstrate how the giant Sherman tanks operate and fire. In this featurette, the camera also goes inside the tank to bring an in-depth, point-of-view experience, along with cast and crew reflections on filming in the “human sardine can.”
- Blood Brothers – The cast and crew discuss their roles and on-set dynamics.
Robert Downey Jr. is a damn fine actor whose success has been predicated on the level of condescension he brings to his work. This coerces the audience into believing they are as quick-witted and shrewd as his characters, namely Tony Stark. But as mesmerizing as Downey Jr. may be, he is merely a journeyman when compared to true masters of the acting craft.
With that being said, THE JUDGE hinges itself upon the father-son duo, played obviously by Robert Duvall and Downey Jr. respectfully. What is the result you may ask? It’s easy: a slew of heavy-handed clichés, a box of empty tissues and a number of nauseating scenes. Oh, and there is an incest B-plot that sneaks in mid-way through. – Cole Clay
Blu-ray extras include:
- Commentary by David Dobkin
- Inside THE JUDGE
- Getting Deep With Dax Shepard
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by David Dobkin
There is something really scary about OPEN WINDOWS. Perhaps it’s because the infamous iCloud hack wasn’t too long ago. It makes you scared to see where our world is heading, as far as technology goes, hacking, identity theft and lack of privacy. Are we truly safe? Do we really have our privacy? These are some of the questions that are raised after watching OPEN WINDOWS, and this is where the film strikes the right ‘chord’ (it’s the name of a character in the film).
However, where the film loses its grip and falls off the deep end is in the final 20 minutes. There’s a certain point where they easily could have ended the film and it would have been an effective thriller. But instead, the final act gets rather ridiculous and loses all sight of logic. Well, really, there are many moments throughout that abandon all sites of reality– the way they get access to certain computers, can see through walls, etc. It’s a little farfetched, yet, before the final act, you’re still in for the ride. – Preston Barta
The Blu-ray Combo Pack will include:
- 16-minute Making Of
- 2-minute special effect featurette
Our interview with Elijah Wood and writer-director Nacho Vigalondo:
- Elijah discusses the internet age and where we are heading – 0:53
- Nacho weighs in on the matter – 2:44
- Elijah on the horror genre – 3:09
- Is Elijah scared of his own films? – 3:35
- If Nacho could teach a class – 4:08
- When we will be able to finally see Elijah’s COOTIES – 5:13
Also available this week:
THE BOOK OF LIFE, BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, MY OLD LADY, THE REMAINING, FALCON RISING, DAYS AND NIGHTS, BIG DRIVER, COLOR OF TIME, MISS MEADOWS and JUSTICE LEAGUE: THRONE OF ATLANTIS
DOWNTON ABBEY: SEASON 5