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.
Preston Barta // Editor
Based on Ernest Hemingway’s TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, John Garfield plays a World War II vet who planned to live out his days at sea while his wife (Phyllis Thaxter) raises their children. But unfortunately, their family is struck by a trying season, sailing him in the direction of illegal activities to keep his family’s finances above water. Despite its slow pace, THE BREAKING POINT has a film-noir quality and an earnest story about the decisions we sometimes have to make and the consequences that often follow.
Extras: The Criterion Collection release includes a new interview with critic Alan K. Rode, a new piece featuring actor and acting instructor Julie Garfield on her father, new video essay, excerpts from a 1962 episode of The Today Show showing contents from the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West, a trailer and an essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek.
Similar to BIG LITTLE LIES, although less engaging and more talky, THE DINNER serves a cold dish about the depths parents go to protect their children. In the film, two couples (Steve Coogan and Laura Linney, and Richard Gere and Rebecca Hall) dine together at a high-class restaurant. Through a series of flashbacks and uncomfortable exchanges, their polite discourse is revealed to be something much more serious. Though heavy-handed at times, it remains a film that leaves you with questions about what it means to be human and what it means to apply your humanity to others. [Read my full review and interview with filmmaker Oren Moverman.]
Extras: The Lionsgate release includes a photo gallery and an audio commentary with writer-director Oren Moverman (THE MESSENGER) and actress Laura Linney.
Also available this week
When Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) is dumped by her musician boyfriend (Randall Park) before their non-refundable paradise trip, she asks her once-vibrant, globe-trotting mom (Goldie Hawn) to be her companion, with chaotic results.
Beyond the uproarious punchlines and comedic shenanigans, the poignant themes of motherhood and letting go will sneak up on you. It’s really touching to hear Hawn dig deep, bringing a compassionate, vulnerable voice what your own mom probably feels. A lump formed in my throat during her meltdown in the jungle. And while the main character arcs are a tad simplistic, you’ll love that these characters are shown being completely capable in their incapabilities. [Read Courtney Howard’s full review here.]
Extras: Many deleted scenes, extended and alternate scenes, gag reel and audio commentary with director Jonathan Levine (RUSH TV series).
With numerous retellings of the classic legend, it’s a wonder that studios continue to call us back to King Arthur’s world of knights and magic. Having proved himself capable of breathing new life into a tired franchise with his reboot of SHERLOCK HOLMES, director Guy Ritchie once again attempts to show us why his version deserves our attention. Unfortunately, KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD is a convoluted and chaotic mess that takes every opportunity to assault our senses and intelligence.
I have never seen a movie more aggressively intent on reminding me that I was watching a movie. While Ritchie’s ambition certainly knows no boundaries, he simply takes his energy too far and too fast, leaving audiences breathless and confused in his wake. In spite of a handful of enjoyable action set pieces and a visually fascinating world, KING ARTHUR is an endurance test that never truly feels worth while. [Read Connor Bynum’s full review here.]
- Arthur with Swagger – Charlie Hunnam is a gentleman, a hunk and a rebel, setting new standards as king and new rules with the ladies.
- Sword from the Stone – Director Guy Ritchie as he breathes 21st Century life and luster into England’s most iconic legend and he creates Camelot for a new audience!
- Parry and Bleed – Charlie Hunnam and other cast members get a crash course in swordplay. Vikings versus Saxons style!
- Building on the Past – Londinium comes to life with a new design of Medieval Urban life, built from scratch.
- Inside the Cut: The Action of King Arthur – Join stunt choreographer Eunice Huthart as she teams with Director Guy Ritchie to create the mind-blowing action of KING ARTHUR
- Camelot in 93 Days – Friendships and romances strengthen and fray as the realities of a 93 day shoot set in.
- Legend of Excalibur – The world’s most famous sword is brought to life for a new generation.Scenic Scotland – Wrapping a monumental production on location in glorious Scotland.
The only DVD extra will be the Arthur with Swagger featurette.