Preston Barta // Editor

morris-from-americaMORRIS FROM AMERICA (★★★)
Rated R, 91 minutes.
Director: Chad Hartigan
Cast: Markees Christmas, Craig Robinson, Carla Juri and Lina Keller

A24, the studio behind films such as ROOM and EX MACHINA, has yet to make a false step in their cinematic athleticism. However, this only comes from their films that are released theatrically. Their DirecTV exclusive titles are not quite built to run. MORRIS FROM AMERICA is an occasionally moving tale about a father (Craig Robinson) who moves from the U.S. to Germany with his rap-loving 13-year-old son (Markess Christmas). It’s a culture clash film that builds a promising ground, but along the way it suffers from a few narrative cracks.

Opens in limited release on Friday (Dallas, at Texas Theatre), and is now available on VOD.

a-tale-of-love-and-darkness-natalie-portman-photo-1A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS (★★★½)
Rated PG-13, 95 minutes.
Director: Natalie Portman
Cast: Amir TesslerNatalie Portman and Gilad Kahana

Natalie Portman’s love letter to Israel may be more dark than it is loving, but it’s a visceral experience and an amiable directorial debut for Portman. Based on the youth of celebrated Israeli writer Amos Oz, A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS is an intimate family drama set against the backdrop of a war-torn Jerusalem in post-World War II. Elevated by the elegant performances from Portman and newcomer Amir Tessler, the film overcomes its flaws and loose areas by homing in on the unbreakable bond between a mother and her child.

Opens in limited release on Friday.

zoom-trailer-2ZOOM (★★★½)
Not rated, 96 minutes.
Director: Pedro Morelli
Cast: Alison PillGael García BernalTyler Labine and Jason Priestley

Alison Pill (SCOTT PILGRIM vs. THE WORLD) stars as Emma, a life-size doll maker who creates a comic book strip about a filmmaker (Gael García Bernal) who tries to express his art instead of making big budget action films. Part live-action and part rotoscope animation, ZOOM is an extremely funny and wholly original gem that was nearly swept underneath the rug.

Opens in limited release on Friday (Dallas, at AMC Grapevine Mills), and on VOD.

About author

Preston Barta

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.