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 // Features Editor
This month’s movies in the Warner Archive Collection takes us back to the ’80s and ’90s. They are titles that are collecting dust somewhere on VHS, but now they have been upgraded and restored to DVD and Blu-ray. Below are some details and thoughts on them.
THE SUPER (1991)
First Time on WB DVD
Imagine Joe Pesci’s character from GOODFELLAS tossed in a blender with his character from HOME ALONE. The mixture is close to what we see in 1991’s very funny and enjoyable THE SUPER.
In this Warner Archive DVD-released comedy, Pesci plays the wisecracking landlord of a rundown apartment complex. As his father taught him, he refuses to do repairs and only collects the rent money. But when the occupants complain to court, karma forces him to live in his filthy establishment for 120 days. THE SUPER is soaked in pure joy. It’ll slap a goofy smile on your face.
Watch the trailer here.
Official WA Synopsis: Joe Pesci, at the peak of his fame, plays the lowest slumlord in New York is this tale of turnabout fairplay. A judge sentences the notoriously negligent Louie Kritski (Pesci) to six months in his own building after his latest infraction. Louie’s efforts to serve his time unscathed prove fruitless as the down and out denizens of the tenement start to repair Louie as he slowly fixes their homes. With Ruben Blades and Vincent Gardenia, from master comic scribe Sam Simon (THE SIMPSONS). 16×9 Widescreen.
New to DVD
Here’s a movie I’ve been trying to get my hands on for years. Before Warner Archive came to my rescue and restored it on DVD, 1996’s subUrbia was only available on videocassette. As a massive Richard Linklater fan (director of BOYHOOD and DAZED AND CONFUSED), I was ready to be intellectually challenged and reflect on my youth. Its story about a group of suburban teens (including Giovanni Ribisi, Steve Zahn and Parker Posey) coming to grips with the difficulties of adulthood is material Linklater normally knocks out of the park, but Eric Bogosian’s screenplay proves to be too sour for Linklater to make sweet.
Watch the trailer here.
Official WA Synopsis: Filmmaker Richard Linklater explores the lives of young Americans at a crossroads in subUrbia, adapted by Eric Bogosian (TALK RADIO) from his play. An ensemble cast featuring Parker Posey (PARTY GIRL), Steve Zahn (THAT THING YOU DO), Nicky Katt (A TIME TO KILL) and Giovanni Ribisi (FRIENDS, LOST HIGHWAY) star in this engrossing story that opens during a typical night among friends who are stuck somewhere between high school and the rest of their lives. The night doesn’t stay typical for long. The arrival of a former classmate who is now a rock star sets passions and conflicts in motion. Before the night is over, friendships will be forged or shattered, romances will be won or lost, limits will be tested and futures will be shaped. Featuring a very ’90s “alternative” soundtrack with music by Sonic Youth, Beck Skinny Puppy, Butthole Surfers, Elastica and more. 16×9 Widescreen.
THE FLIGHT OF DRAGONS (1982)
New to Blu-ray with a 2018 1080p HD Remaster
Like the animated HOBBIT and LoORD OF THE RINGS movies from way back when, 1982’s THE FLIGHT OF DRAGONS was a fantasy film I used to wear out as a kid. Thanks to Warner Archive, I now can share it with my son in high-definition on Blu-ray. It follows a writer (voiced by the late John Ritter) who goes back in time to enter a magical realm where dragons and wizards reign and science is unknown. Elevated by a voice cast that includes James Earl Jones and M*A*S*H’s Harry Morgan, THE FLIGHT OF DRAGONS will lift your spirits with its nostalgia and light-hearted fun.
Watch a clip from the film here, which includes the intro and theme song.
Official WA Synopsis: Legendary purveyors of kid vid classics Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass swung for the heavens with this decidedly A-list all-ages fantasy fest culled from two superior literary sources. The first, THE FLIGHT OF DRAGONS, is a ‘non-fiction’ natural history coffee table tome from author Peter Dickinson and the second being Science Fiction grandmaster Gordon R. Dickson’s THE DRAGON and THE GEORGE. The interplay between science and magic (or really innocence and cynicism, if you wish to dig deeper) provide the backdrop for this tale of time traveling dragon possession in which a game designer embarks on a perilous quest to the past in order to save existence itself. Intended for the big screen but destined to arrive on the small screen, this under-seen fantasy classic cast a spell on a generation of children who cracked open a clamshell VHS case only to get lost in its wonders. Newly remastered and presented in its intended widescreen aspect ratio, THE FLIGHT OF DRAGONS is ready to soar once again. Featuring the voices of John Ritter, Harry Morgan, Victor Buono, James Earl Jones, Larry Storch and Don Messick. Special feature: Standard definition version of the feature in its TV presentation aspect ratio. 16×9 Widescreen.
You can purchase these three movies at www.wbshop.com or online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold. (Note: Movie Trading Co. is also a safe bet.)