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.
“Edge of Tomorrow” | 113 min. | Rated PG-13 | Director: Doug Liman | Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton, Jonas Armstrong, Tony Way, Kick Gurry, Franz Drameh, Dragomir Mrsic and Charlotte Riley
Frankly, before word got out that this movie was the real deal, I received very little interest in seeing “Edge of Tomorrow.” It’s Tom Cruise doing his usual thing: action, aliens, etc. The trailers really sell this as a bleak movie, and it’s not.
The film follows Cage (Cruise), an officer who finds himself caught in a time loop in a war with an alien species (a very cool and different one, I might add). His skills as a soldier increases as he faces the same combat scene over and over. With the help of Rita (Emily Blunt), a Special Forces warrior, Cage may be able to defeat the enemy.
What the trailers fail to communicate is that over long stretches, this movie is also peppered with as much wit as “Groundhog Day.” Yes, of course, comparisons can be made to the Bill Murray classic because of the whole time loop premise, but who knew that while this action film looks like most action blockbusters, it’s as well loaded with big laughs, is chic and quite gripping.
The battle scenes themselves are exceedingly well-orchestrated and shot. So don’t worry, it’s not shot with a bad, shaky cam. You can actually see what’s going on (kudos to director Doug Liman). There are even moments of intensity where the battle sequences callback to the opening scene of Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.”
In all, “Edge of Tomorrow” is one of the most imaginative and original stories in quite some time, almost landing in “Inception” territory. It also presents one of Cruise’s best performances in years. So I wouldn’t be surprised if this film winds up being the best blockbuster of the summer, if not year.
“Edge of Tomorrow” opens tonight.
“The Fault in Our Stars” | 125 min. | Rated PG-13 | Director: Josh Boone | Stars: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe, Lotte Verbeek, Ana Dela Cruz and Mike Birbiglia
For avid book readers, we are always skeptical about watching the words of our favorite novels being brought to the big screen. However, with the trustworthy and skilled pens of “(500) Days of Summer” screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, we honestly had little to doubt, and the result is a tender and lovely adaptation.
The story tells of two teenagers, Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort), who meet at a cancer support group and fall for each other. However, the narrative encompasses much bigger themes that you should see for yourself.
As we move through these often dark tunnels on this emotional roller coaster, we share and empathize with the character’s beliefs and attitudes towards life and love. And we are led by an extremely talented cast who all bring a great sense of naturalism towards their portrayals.
The comedy hits all the right spots, the romance gives you an almost permanent smile and the tragedy pulls at your heart strings. Everyone will get something out of this film, especially those who have been working themselves over for months or years on end because of something that was out of their hands.
It offers a moving message of finding happiness in the things that may cause our hearts to feel heavy and to push on when we think we can’t anymore. See it, and as everyone has been saying, bring tissues.
Our Interview with author John Green, Shailene Woodley and Nat Wolff:
“Words and Pictures” | 111 min. | Rated PG-13 | Director: Fred Schepisi | Stars: Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Bruce Davison, Amy Brenneman, Navid Negahban, Valerie Tian, Adam DiMarco, Josh Ssettuba, Janet Kidder and Keegan Connor Tracy
“Words and Pictures” is a lighthearted romantic-comedy about two dueling prep school teachers, played by Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, who form a rivalry and enter a competition at their school in which students decide whether words or pictures are more significant.
Beyond the consummate acting and Fred Schepise’s slick directing, the greatest strength of the film is Gerald Di Pego’s screenplay. Given its subject matter, the story could easily have veered into melodrama, but just when it is on the verge of doing so Di Pego pulls us back from the edge. “Words and Pictures” is a gentle, funny and educational film that “Philomena” and “The King’s Speech” crowds will devour.
“Words and Pictures” opens tomorrow in select theaters.