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.
Day 3 of SXSW started a little late for us but consisted of many surprises. Surprises in terms of films we saw and films that were added to the already impressive roster.
It was announced earlier yesterday that the FAST & FURIOUS franchise would brings its seventh installment, FURIOUS 7, to the beloved festival for all badge holders seven minutes after midnight. The high-octane blockbuster brought in a big, sold out crowd at the Paramount.
While most of day consisted of interviews for our team (which will be posted over the course of the week), we managed to screen two different but strong films.
The first of these was Bill Pohlad’s LOVE & MERCY, a film that paints an unusual portrait of Beach Boys front-man Brian Wilson.
John Cusack and Paul Dano (THERE WILL BE BLOOD) were the note-perfect duo to tackle the role of Brian Wilson. They each bring their own unique style and approach to the character and wear the icon like a suit. They don’t do impressions or rub your eyes in disbelief, but channel the man so distinct in appearance and voice to a level beyond praise.
Biopics often run into the problem of trying to fit too much into a two-hour run-time. We have seen this before in such films as 2004’s RAY, where the story never let itself settle with a coherent mood and narrative. LOVE & MERCY, however, impeccably blends two timelines in Wilson’s life: his life in the ’60s where he fell into the deep abyss of drugs and created the music that made him legend, and the later part of his life when he meets his Cadillac saleswoman and future wife Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) while under the thumb of controlling psychologist Dr. Eugene Landy (a devilishly good Paul Giammati).
LOVE & MERCY showcases the tragic but great life that Wilson led and continues to lead. While we may not all know Wilson’s pain, we can resonate with his fire and passion, and admire his genius. It’s a story that is both raw and honest, and you will soon not forget.
LOVE & MERCY screens again at SXSW tomorrow at the Alamo on Lamar at 3:45 p.m., and is scheduled to open in theaters on June 5.
Cole Clay // Film Critic
Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer premiered their upcoming film, TRAINWRECK, at SXSW’s flagship theater, the Paramount, before a crowd of 1,200 cheering festivalgoers. This marks Apatow’s fifth feature film, after coming off two efforts that failed to impress.
Schumer stars as a thirty-something journalist (also named Amy) who heavily drinks and sleeps with several different partners until she meets an affable doctor played by Bill Hadar.
The film was screened as a “work in progress,” but that didn’t stop the crowd from cheering with excitement once the film concluded. “I heard [Schumer] on the Stern show while I was sitting in my car and I just thought she had a lot of stories to tell, so I sent her an email,” said Apatow.
Apatow has helped launch the careers of several big names, including Seth Rogen, Lena Dunham and James Franco, but Schumer’s nearly one-million Twitter followers says she’s already arrived.
TRAINWRECK will be released in theaters on July 17.