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
Two of this week’s smaller films (with big hearts) tackle music in an innovative manner.
Slaps a smile on you that won’t quit
One thing writer-director John Carney (ONCE, BEGIN AGAIN) has always been great about in his films is exploring music as a means of expression and connection. He carries this sentiment over to the completely lovable SING STREET by winding back the clock to the glamorous ‘80s rock scene.
The film follows a Dublin teenager, Conor (a terrific Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), as he forms a rock ‘n’ roll band to win the heart of an aspiring model (Lucy Boynton) and escape his broken home.
With its energetic cast (most notably Jack Reynor as Conor’s brother) and lively tunes (including tracks from The Cure and Duran Duran), SING STREET is a ballad that audiences are sure to jam on repeat.
SING STREET opens tomorrow at the Angelika Dallas and Plano.
Hawke soars as acclaimed jazz trumpeter Chet Baker
Just when musical biopics were becoming one-note, BORN TO BE BLUE whistles a fresh tune, giving life to the beat genre.
Set primarily in the late 1960s, Ethan Hawke stars as jazz trumpet player Chet Baker, who’s trying to make a comeback after some trouble with drugs and incarceration.
Filmmaker Robert Budreau, who also directed a short titled THE DEATHS OF CHET BAKER, paints an honest and human portrait of Baker that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Through this film’s unique framing device (film within a film), we get insight into the complicated figure that was Baker, the pain he suffered, the playboy he once was, the people her hurt along the way, and the price he paid to be one of the most celebrated jazz musicians of all-time.
Thanks to Hawke’s painstaking recreation of Baker’s ill habits and devoted heart, BORN TO BE BLUE is able to eclipse its musical biopic bandmates.
BORN TO BE BLUE opens tomorrow at Premiere Cinema 14 in Burleson, TX.