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 // Features Editor
The late David Foster Wallace certainly created waves in the literary world. There is no doubt about it. Now, director James Ponsoldt (THE SPECTACULAR NOW) does the same in the world of film with his latest, THE END OF THE TOUR, by focusing on the life of Wallace. It’s Ponsoldt’s greatest directorial achievement, and one of the smartest, most honest and human stories of our time.
The film depicts Wallace (Jason Segel) at a monumental moment in his career. It’s 1996, he’s just turned 34, and he’s on a publicity tour for his breakthrough novel, INFINITE JEST. In the midst of all that, Rolling Stone magazine sends reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) to interview Wallace. As a result, the duo spend five days talking/arguing about fame, loneliness, depression, junk food, and DIE HARD.
From the looks of it, it might appear as though this is a film only writers and readers would appreciate. However, that is far from the case. It’s one of those films that is so rich and layered that its perplexing themes apply to us all. Everyone at some point or another has dealt with despair and isolation, and this film explores it in a way that is both accessible and educational.
THE END OF THE TOUR showcases two of the year’s strongest performances, especially Segel. The authentic dialogue and indifferent tone make for an almost-2-hour hangout with two good friends. Ponsoldt keeps a firm grip on the film’s themes, never letting them go or overpower the film’s intentions. It’s a staggering ode to Wallace, and one that will be placed into the cinematic vault of great achievements.
Note: Check back tomorrow for our interview with director James Ponsoldt.
Perhaps you’ve seen THE GIFT‘s trailer and thought, “This looks oddly familiar. I’m not too sure about this one.” Perhaps you’ve also seen that it’s one of the best reviewed movies of the year. Why is that, you ask? Because it’s a rare breed from the twisted– an amiable feature directorial debut from Joel Edgerton (WARRIOR). It’ll tingle your spine and disturb your mind in the best way possible.
The story on the surface is simple: Jason Bateman (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) and Rebecca Hall (THE PRESTIGE) play a married couple whose lives are thrown into a tailspin when an old acquaintance named Gordo (Edgerton) comes bearing gifts and brings forth a shocking secret after more than 20 years. And really, that is all you need to know, because you just need this film to take you on the ride that it takes you on.
As the summer is cluttered with sequels and comic book adaptations, THE GIFT is exactly what the title suggests it is. It doesn’t sacrifice the intelligence or power that its story affords it for the sake of appeasing your average summer filmgoer. It’s a refreshing feature that does an excellent job at delivering the tension, suspense and humor associated with the genre.
THE GIFT opens nationwide tomorrow.
Our interview with Joel Edgerton on what frightens him: