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.
Jared McMillan // Film Critic
A lot of movie titles come through the pipeline in any given week. With the many streaming options now available to go with wide releases, it’s good to know about the smaller titles in case they are better entertainment options. Whether at the local arthouse theatre or even from the comfort of your couch, here are some indie choices out this week…
Derek (THE WALKING DEAD’s Steven Yeun) has moved up the ranks of an infamous law firm, even though he knows that the job is not all it’s cracked up to be. Not only did he rudely shut down Melanie (Samara Weaving), a plaintiff with a solid case, but he has been made the patsy for a snafu caused by the executives. As he is fired and being escorted out of the building, a virus breaks out that causes its hosts to lose control of their base impulses. Derek is infected, and he wants answers.
MAYHEM moves fast, and the stylized violence comes in every direction, but it is a fun flick. Director Joe Lynch really knows how to balance dark humor and the over-the-top hyperviolence so as not to distract from the overall mood. Also, Derek and Melanie never waiver in their quest for taking the company down by any means necessary, equipped with nail guns, hammers, and the like. If you’re looking to be entertained and satiate the side of you that deals with a messed-up corporate hierarchy, then please check out this special!
AMANDA & JACK GO GLAMPING
We’ve all been in those relationship ruts in our lives. Once there is confirmation that there is no spark anymore, it’s in our nature to try and get that feeling back. That’s where we find Amanda (Amy Acker) and Jack (David Arquette). Jack’s latest book has stalled a writing career that seemed promising after his breakout first novel, and consequently stalled his marriage. They decide to retreat to a commune resort to find their spark, but run into hipster honeymooners, an obsessive scout, and Amanda’s attraction to the owner of the grounds, Nate (Adam Canto). Can they overcome these things and reinforce their marriage?
Written and directed by Brandon Dickerson, it’s hard to describe what kind of message or story the movie is trying to project to the audience. The interaction between Jack and Amanda seems forced and uncomfortable at times. Furthermore, the movie goes off the rails with Jack’s stick in the mud grandstanding against hipster/millennial trends. The third act has some nice moments, but AMANDA & JACK GO GLAMPING just has too many downsides to care at all.
AMANDA & JACK GO GLAMPING will also hold its premiere at the Lone Star Film Festival on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. Information on the screening can be found on lonestarfilmfestival.com.
A group of the world’s best assassins all come together in an attempt to take out the world’s best in Gunther (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Led by Blake (Taran Killam, who also wrote and directed), they go around with a film crew to document their success in killing the elite hitman, but Gunther is always a step ahead. Along the way they find out some truths about themselves, including Blake’s real motives and the burgeoning relationship between an explosions expert (Bobby Moynihan) and a legacy assassin (NEW GIRL’s Hannah Simone).
Taran Killam was one of the bright spots on SNL for years, so it’s nice to see him hit the ground running with KILLING GUNTHER, which is a really funny mockumentary. None of the squad are bungling or idiotic, but are made out to be by Gunther. Schwarzenegger really seems to be having fun playing the eccentric killer, and it makes the movie more infectious, especially when he starts throwing out classic Arnold one-liners. It might not be that memorable, but it is fun and entertaining.