Preston Barta, Cole Clay & Gwen Reyes // Film Critics

This week for home viewing we’ve got Keanu Reeves creating knuckle sandwiches, a James McAvoy starring romance-mystery told from multiple perspectives, and a welcoming new voice to cinema on racism. Here are three films worth picking up today at your local RedBox or video store.

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE | 1o8 min. | Rated R
Director: Justin Simien
Stars: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson and Kyle Gallner

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE isn’t nearly as abrasive as the title suggests. To his credit, writer-director Justin Simien is far more interested in satirizing our increasingly integrated culture than outright condemning it. But with an ensemble cast that gives a poignant perspective on American universities, this experience was too crystallizing not to recognize at the end of 2014. – Cole Clay

Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • “The Making of Dear White People” featurette
  • “Get Your Life” Music Video (Extended Version) by Caught a Ghost
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Racism Insurance Skits
  • The More You Know About Black People (a PSA Web Series)
  • DVRS App: Black Friends When You Need Them
  • LEAKED: Banned Winchester U Diversity
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Justin Simien, and Cast Tessa Thompson, Tyler James Williams, Teyonah Parris and Brandon Bell (Blu-ray/DVD Exclusive)
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Justin Simien (Blu-ray/DVD Exclusive)

Director: Ned Benson
Stars: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Bill Hader and William Hurt

If done right, romantic films tend to fall in one of two categories: heartwarming or wrenching. The best ones can balance that delicate line and leave the audience hopeful and gutted, just how I like to feel when walking out a theater and into the warm embrace of a Hershey’s bar with almonds. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY is just that type of romantic film. Based entirely around the slow demise of a young couple’s marriage, Ned Benson’s film touches a place deep in the soul of anyone who has ever suffered a tragedy so great that even the ones you love cannot help put you back together. – Gwen Reyes

Read Gwen’s Full Review here.

Blu-ray Extras Include:

Bonus extended version films THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: HIM and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: HER, giving the consumer the complete picture of the story as it was intended to be seen.

JOHN WICK | 101 min. | Rated R
Director: Chad Stahelski and David Leitch
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick and Willem Dafoe

Sometimes we watch films for the art of it— for the performances, the emotional connection and all that jazz. While other times we just need to have a kick-ass, fun experience. We don’t need any plot twists, crazy special effects or complicated narrative structures— just a strong, brisk and wildly entertaining ride, and JOHN WICK is just that.

Yeah. Although at first glance this film sounds terrible on paper (one of those “ex badass comes out of retirement to take on other badasses” type of films), with the quiet believability of Keanu Reeves’ performance as our titular hero and the sheer brilliance in its action sequences, JOHN WICK marks one of the best action films in years. Trust me. It’s smart filmmaking. – Preston Barta

Read our interview with Keanu Reeves on JOHN WICK here.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack will include:

  • English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD compatible), Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Optimized for Late-Night Listening, English Descriptive Audio
  • English SDH, English, and Spanish Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary with Filmmakers Chad Stahelski and David Leitch
  • Don’t F*#% With John Wick
  • Calling in the Cavalry
  • Destiny of a Collective
  • Assassin’s Code
  • Red Circle
  • NYC Noir

Also available today:

DRACULA UNTOLD (mildly entertaining but still crap), OUIJA (forgettable), THE BEST OF ME (also forgettable), HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (even more forgettable), STARRED UP (Film Critic Chase Whale highly recommends it), and ABCS OF DEATH 2 (just OK)

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.