I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Editor
Let the Wright One In
Music has such a profound effect on the human condition. As we drive to and from work, as we walk alone during a time of reflection, or find ourselves in the company of a loved one, listening to music can hold immense power over our emotions and often define an experience.
This is a notion filmmaker Edgar Wright seems to understand quite remarkably, and it shows in his latest charm-and-thrill-a-minute creation, BABY DRIVER.
The film stars Ansel Elgort (THE FAULT IN OUR STARS) as a young getaway driver named Baby who suffers from tinnitus and listens to whatever is on his iPod to drown out the constant noise ringing in his ears. After meeting the lovely waitress Debora (Lily James), he sees an opportunity to escape his criminal way of life and runaway for a better one. Repressed by his intimidating mob boss Doc (a whimsical Kevin Spacey), Baby has to face the music and complete one last heist before he’s scot-free.
What follows is a highly quotable romantic action-comedy punctuated by a series of over-the-top car chases, firefights and dance numbers. Stylistically, it rides between LA LA LAND and DRIVE. After a successful bank score, Baby dances through the streets in sunglasses and earbuds almost as effortlessly as the film dances between the rhythm of a musical, action flick and rom-com. As should be expected from Wright, it’s like nothing we’ve seen before.
Wright is a genius when it comes to deconstructing genres. Just look at his films SHAUN OF THE DEAD and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. He has a knack for taking advantage of mundane cinematic devices, such as exposition scenes and simple transitions, and injecting them with an infectious, high-octane energy. Whether he’s filming Baby drifting his way over highways or comedic dialogue between its crew members (including a devilishly-good Jon Hamm, Eiza González and Jamie Foxx), Wright squeezes every ounce of fun he can out of the material, leaving no stone unturned before it makes its way to the screen.
With BABY DRIVER, Wright manages to assemble a magnetic cast and throw them into compelling situations while blasting a purchasable soundtrack. And like most of his films, BABY DRIVER is fun to watch from beginning to end. If he continues to cruise down this avenue, we’re set to enter a new age of high-dollar entertainment.
BABY DRIVER opens Wednesday (6/28)
Note: This review originally posted after its premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX, back in March.