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
ABCs of DEATH 2 | 125 min. | Rated R | Director: Too many | Stars: Too many
When Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League introduced the second edition in this anthology film franchise, he spoke about it as if it were his baby. He psyched the audience up and promised it would be better than the original. It’s indeed an improvement on the predecessor, with far less missteps. In our Day 1 Recap, we discussed a few of the notable shorts which can be found here, but we will recommend a few others for good measure.
C is for Capital Punishment, directed by Julian Gilbey, is a stark look at mob mentality in the modern world. It’s not only harrowing, but it’s grotesque as anything screening at the festival. Japanese filmmaker Hajime Ohata’s O is for Ochlocracy takes a novel approach to the zombie premise by making the blood-thirsty humanoids judge, jury, and executioner in the case of a renowned zombie-killer. This short was incredibly clever by any standard and evoked audible cheers from the audience. Lastly, Jen and Sylvia Soska’s T is for Torture Porn is essentially a smut film with teeth. This one was bone chilling because it felt so grounded in reality until it turns into a blood curdling tale about feminist empowerment.
The improvement of the film could be credited to producer Tim League’s stricter criteria for entry. Hopefully in the future the franchise continues to improve, but not many people are demanding an ABCs OF DEATH 3 other than hoards of Fantastic Fest-ers.
ABCs OF DEATH 2 screens again at Fantastic Fest on Thursday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. It opens in theaters on Oct. 2.
This film skates the line between a drama and a comedy unlike any film that has come to festivals in recent years. The title stems from a phrase Wikipedia defines as an “unavoidable accident.” So check that fact for what it’s worth. It follows a Swedish family on a five day long ski trip; all is well until an avalanche metaphorically rips the family apart.
Directed by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Ostlund who focuses his gaze upon the imploding male ego after the patriarch’s primal instincts fail to protect his family. The film is incredibly thought provoking and a frequently funny study of a floundering family dynamic. Ostlund captures beautifully framed long takes that employ both comedic and dramatic tones.
This isn’t the typical film you would find a Fantastic Fest, but it was a pleasant surprise to go into this film with very little knowledge.
FORCE MAJEURE screens again at Fantastic Fest on Monday, Sept. 22 at 11 a.m. It opens in theaters Oct. 24.
All ticket and screening information can be found at fantasticfest.com