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.
Cole Clay // Critic
Fantastic Fest is now in full-effect and fun level has been turned up to eleven. We haven’t yet discovered many hidden gems lying around the schedule, but most films have lived up to our expectations thus far. With MondoCon starting Saturday, the crowds were anxious to pile in an many films as they can before indulging in a weekend full of art, vinyl, and toys.
Keanu Reeves was in the building to premiere his film JOHN WICK, which was better than expected. It’s ostensibly a B-level action movie about a hit-man’s quest to avenge the death of his dog. Reeves gives a nimble performance that has has him kicking-ass and taking names. Reeves’ charisma made the film a much more joyous experience than anticipated. Also in attendance for JOHN WICK was Adrienne Palicki and director Chad Stahelski, who worked with Reeves as a stunt coordinator for THE MATRIX.
Check back for our interview with Keanu Reeves tomorrow!
For the second year in a row, horror film director Eli Roth toured the red carpet after accepting the first “LA DE DIOS” with producer partner Chilean director Nicolas Lopez, who is showcasing the world premiere of his latest film THE STRANGER.
Unfortunately, none of this could top the appearance of the year’s highest-grossing film and Marvel film’s “it-guy” – Mr. James Gunn. He was here to moderate a Q&A session for the world-premiere of David Yarovesky’s THE HIVE, a film about a deadly viral outbreak. This drew a huge crowded covered over three screens, which was surprising because this film has been the worst of the festival up to this point. As the fans filed out there wasn’t much positive praise for the film. However, Ain’t it Cool News founder Harry Knowles praised the film on social media.
We posted a rapid review of the Swedish film FORCE MAJUERE yesterday praising it for the stark balance of comedy and drama. For those of you who missed the screening, it’s playing again on Monday, September 22 at 11:30 AM.
Other Fantastic events included a live record of the immensely popular podcast Doug Loves Movies, hosted by stoner-comic Doug Benson. It was scheduled to start at 4:20 PM, but ironically got off to a late start. His guests included Pat Healey from Fantastic Fest 2013 favorite CHEAP THRILLS and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League.
The night ended with a Fantastic Fest tradition Chaos Reigns Karaoke Party where festival goers, journalists and filmmakers sacrifice their vanity to the Gods of Karaoke.
Upcoming this weekend are screenings of David Cameron Mitchell’s horror film IT FOLLOWS, Australian film THE BABADOOK, and the Daniel Radcliffe film titled HORNS. There are definitely some hidden gems out there at Fantastic Fest that we are determined to uncover.
All ticket and screening information can be found at fantasticfest.com.