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 has been more promising than our previous effort, which was crippled by soul crushing letdowns. It seems to be that everybody has settled into the pace of SXSW– and that requires stamina, focus and getting rid of that FOMO.
Lots of promise was surrounding Ethan Hawke’s portrayal of heroine ridden trumpet player Chet Baker in BORN TO BE BLUE, and some more eccentric titles such as THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK and COLLECTIVE SUBCONSCIOUS were available to all those operating on the fringe.
With no “secret screening” on the docket this year at the Paramount, things opened up for Mike Birgilia’s astounding DON’T THINK TWICE, a film about an improv comedy troupe (Birgilia, Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Chris Gethard, Kate Micucci and Tami Sagher) dealing with the sudden success of one of their members.
Birbiglia’s film, which has yet to receive distribution, is reportedly going to be in a bidding war between Sony Pictures Classics and A24. This is a quirky character piece that’s sharp in its execution and direct with its intentions. Whoever picks it up will find it to be a great film to add to their repertoire.
Other headlining titles included the Toronto International Film Festival favorite HARDCORE HENRY produced by Timur Bekmambetov (WANTED) and starring Sharlto Copley (DISTRICT 9). It’s an experience of a film, presented entirely in a POV perspective.
The screening was filled to the brim with people whose excitement quickly waned due to the lack of narrative, obnoxious gimmick and a hook that, while effective at times, ultimately becomes its demise.
You can read Courtney Howard’s opposing thoughts here.
More to come tomorrow, including SAUSAGE PARTY, MORRIS FROM AMERICA and PREACHER.
This was collectively written by James Cole Clay, Preston Barta and Chance Maggard.