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
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.