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
Day 5 of Fantastic Fest was supposed to be one of the quieter days around the Alamo Drafthouse. There weren’t many exciting films to see other than re-runs of FORCE MAJUER and THE BABADOOK, which have become fan favorites at the festival. This was also the day that the canine body count boiled over to at least four films – CUB, THE BABADOOK, EVERLY and JOHN WICK to name a few.
The largest attraction of the day was the fact that legendary film critic Leonard Maltin has been hanging around in the lobby shaking hands and taking pictures in preparation for the conversation chronicling his career as a film historian. He divulged personal details about his undying love for classic comedy such as THE LITTLE RASCALS and LAUREL & HARDY. We also found out that he is a film professor at University of Southern California and that he isn’t amused by Adult Swim. This hour-long keynote covered the a lot of ground in the limited time and was a fascinating perspective into the mind of the renowned critic. In case you were wondering, we indeed found Fantastic Fest jury member Edgar Wright enjoying a pint of lager with our man Leonard Maltin.
Now onto today’s film itinerary. Aside from seeing FORCE MAJUERE on Friday, this was hands-down the strongest day for foreign films. The day started off with the Norwegian film titled BLIND, which drew a decent crowed due to the buzz it garnered around the festival grounds. It’s hard to put into words exactly what was going on in BLIND, but it was quality nonetheless.
In BLIND, director Eskil Vogt (OSLO, AUGUST 31st) tells the story of Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), who recently has lost her sight and in a constant fear of losing control of her life. She secludes herself to the confines of her apartment with her husband Morten (Henrik Rafaelsen).
Vogt inflicts a stark visual presence into the film with images of her repressed fantasies and fear which soon take over her life. Some of the subtext may have been lost in translation, but the film still manages to be captivating.
From Belgium comes CUB (internationally known as WELP), a fairy-tale like film about a boy scout troop led into the woods, which may or may not have a haunting presence lurking beyond the trees. This film has a striking resemblance to the MOONRISE KINGDOM, with small wisecracks, serious drama and the leading characters have several parallels. Jonas Govaerts has a style that resembles early-ish Guillermo del Toro. All these comparisons aside CUB manages to be a stand alone film and the result is greater than the sum of its parts.
A film that completely faded into the background was the Irish-horror film FROM THE DARK (rating: ☆½). It spun its wheel and was just a bit of a slog to get through. There was massive potential for this creature-feature, but director Conor McMahon was more interested having his female lead light candles and drive tractors than giving her a personality.
Other notable films from yesterday that we didn’t get around to seeing were I AM A KNIFE WITH LEGS, OVER YOUR DEAD BODY, and a rerun of atrocity that was THE HIVE.
All ticket and screening information can be found at fantasticfest.com.