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.
James Cole Clay // Film Critic
This wasn’t the best summer for movies, while some have labeled it the worst summer for movies in a decade.
There were many disappointments from SUICIDE SQUAD, to ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS and onto INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE and one final jab at NOW YOU SEE ME 2. But have no fear, the fall movie season is in full swing– a time that is likely to bring together some quality talent and inventive ideas to prime cinephiles and moviegoers as we all enter awards season.
So while we won’t be able to discuss every film coming out between now to November, here are a few that caught our eye.
This road-trip drama could be a hard sell for some with a staggering 162 minute run-time, but I implore those on the fence to indulge in director Andrea Arnold’s previous work (start with 2009’s FISH TANK with Michael Fassbender).
AMERICAN HONEY is about a magazine crew’s road-trip that makes a few pit stops to party, take drugs and indulge in the finer things about being young. Shia Lebeouf and Sasha Lane have already been heralded for their performances, which seem to be a celebration of youth culture in 2016.
Not many filmmakers would take on such a daunting and ambitious project unless they knew it could be pulled off. Yet AMERICAN HONEY seems to meet somewhere in the middle of Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD and Hunter S. Thompson’s FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is looking to be a huge fall hit for Emily Blunt, and for good reason. Directed by Tate Taylor – who helmed the vastly underrated James Brown biopic GET ON UP – delves into new, more mysterious territory that could prove to satiate the appetite for a damn good mystery just in time for the October foliage.
This is a film is made by women and starring women (Fun fact: It’s written by Erin Cressida Wilson, who wrote the salacious 2002 film SECRETARY, which was nothing short of revolutionary for opening up the dialogue for sex on film in the United States). While GIRL ON THE TRAIN may not live up to that hype, it’s too much fun to speculate something groundbreaking from the talent involved here.
Ben Affleck’s career has gone up and down, sideways and back again. Some say he’s even better as a supporting character (GOOD WILL HUNTING, EXTRACT), but he’s really been flexing his chops lately and challenging his range as an actor. (Even as horrible as BATMAN V SUPERMAN was, Bat-fleck was the best part of it.)
With THE ACCOUNTANT, he teams with director Gavin O’Connor (WARRIOR). If the trailer (set to Radiohead’s “Everything in it’s Right Place”) is any indication of the tone, the film will be a mysterious and precise story with Jason Bourne type implications. We now know Affleck’s time is valuable, and this film should be one hell of a number crunch.
FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM
Like CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR from this summer, the first spin-off in the Harry Potter Wizard-verse FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM appears to be blockbuster brilliance.
Starring Eddie Redmayne, an actor that has some room to grow on me, seems to be perfectly cast in the role of “magizoologist” Newt Scamander. His plucky charm is a sure-fire way for Redmayne’s stock to rise in the fanboy world.
Written by J.K. Rowling herself and directed by David Yates (who directed the last four HARRY POTTER films) knows this universe and there’s no doubt that this magical ride will cast a spell on fans and critics alike.
The film is directed by fashion genius turned filmmaker Tom Ford (A SINGLE MAN). His eye for visuals and art direction are enough to pay attention to his work as a filmmaker. But with a cast like Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Amy Adams, NOCTURNAL ANIMALS has got to boast some impressive acting work as well.
Now, I have yet to read the plot description of the film and will not watch the trailer prior to screening the film, but the mystery behind this mystery is slowly building, hopefully with a satisfying climax.
RULES DON’T APPLY
Hey everybody, remember Warren Beatty, the icon who broke free from the constraints of authority in the perfect 1967 film BONNIE AND CLYDE?
Well, he hasn’t appeared on camera in over 15 years. So when you hear Beatty is directing and starring in a new movie, any film lover’s ears tend to perk up a bit.
The big question people are asking is, “Does Beatty still have what it takes?” Chances are yes. Yes, he does. RULES DON’T APPLY is the perfect title for a comeback film, because forget what you know about Beatty, this should and hopefully will subvert any and all expectations.
The cast includes Beatty, Annette Benning, Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich (who is about to be a very big movie star), Matthew Broderick, Laura Linney and a swath of highly talented players.
See you at the movies!
THE BIRTH OF A NATION (Oct. 7)
CHRISTINE (Oct. 14)
THE HANDMAIDEN (Oct. 21)
MOONLIGHT (Oct. 21)
ARRIVAL (Nov. 11)
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Nov. 18)