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.
Preston Barta // Editor
Jodie Foster (THE BEAVER) takes her talents behind the camera once again for MONEY MONSTER, a high-stakes thriller in which a financial television host (George Clooney) and producer (Julia Roberts) are put in a threatening situation when a worked-up investor (Jack O’Connell) takes over their studio.
Foster is no stranger to these type of films, having played both a negotiator and a victim in movies like PANIC ROOM and INSIDE MAN. These movies tend to follow someone (or some people) who doesn’t get what they want and goes to desperate lengths to either get what he or she wants or prove a point. Most of the time, the former doesn’t work out for the “baddies,” so instead they make an impact of some sort.
In honor of Foster’s release of MONEY MONSTER this week, we look to other great films about lockdowns.
JOHN Q (2002)
King Kong ain’t got sh*t on Denzel Washington. Every time that man is on screen he owns it. Even if it’s in a rather over-the-head movie like JOHN Q., where the plot is held hostage by formula.
In the film, Washington plays the titular John Q., a father who takes a hospital emergency room hostage when he learns that his insurance won’t cover his son’s heart transplant.
JOHN Q. is so full of holes and head scratching moments, especially when you revisit it. But what makes it stand out is Washington’s performance. As a man who will stop at nothing to fight for his child, he brings a genuine tear to your eye.
The film also brings up many questions about health care and insurance, but I suppose that’s pretty obvious from the get-go.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013)
Filmmaker Paul Greengrass (THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM) knows how to thrill his audience. Even though this film is based on the true story of a 2009 hostage situation in which Somali pirates hijack a U.S. cargo ship, Greengrass and Tom Hanks deliver a genuine nail-biter.
There are few movies that highlight the true experience and psychological effects of a hostage situation on its victim. You can see this at its full effect at the film’s end with Hanks’ bewildered face, when he’s safe and can finally let out his fear. It’s heartbreaking.
THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123 (2009, or 1974)
I guess Jodie isn’t alone, as Denzel is attracted to the same kind of material. It’s also pretty interesting that both Jodie and Denzel starred in INSIDE MAN. Hmm.
In THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123, four men take a subway car hostage and threaten to kill off its passengers if they don’t receive a large amount of cash, and quick. It’s the execution of both the 2009 and 1974 film that gives the movie its power and memorableness.
DIE HARD (1988)
I mean, duh.
So many films since DIE HARD released in 1988 have copied its formula: A police officer (Bruce Willis) must save his wife and others from German terrorists that have taken over a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
DIE HARD’s blood pumping action and sly wit are a seamless mix. It served (and still serves) as a guide and lesson for lockdown and hostage movies.
DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975)
This movie still holds up pretty well today. It’s about a bank robbery that was supposed to be an easy in-and-out job– but it wouldn’t be much of a movie if was, right?
The robbery of a Brooklyn bank by two green would-be criminals (Al Pacino and John Cazale) turns into a media circus. The likable robbers are stuck with their hostages as their situation blows out of proportion. Their true motivations and selves come to light and it’s fascinating to watch unfold.
Like DIE HARD (you know, minus all the big explosions and yippee-ki-yay), this is as close to perfect as these kind of films come.
MONEY MONSTER opens tomorrow.