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.
The holiday season is a time filled with love, joy and spending time with the ones you care for most. Giving is the reason for this season, and singer Andy Williams exclaimed that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
We have celebrated our favorite Christmas characters by gathering around our fires and re-watching their stories every, single year. Will Buddy The Elf from ELF find his dad, will that little brat Ralphie from A CHRISTMAS STORY get his much coveted Red Rider B-B Gun? Well, who cares, because this week with the release of KRAMPUS we are celebrating the “Christmas Grinches,” the loathsome few who are hell bent on ruining your holiday cheer.
Stealing presents, spiking the eggnog, making you work on the holiest of eves– it’s nothing to these sad souls. The world is an ugly place and its up to these few to show us how beautiful the season can be if they just get out of the way and help spread some cheer.
The belief in Santa Claus is hardly news. We know at a young age that a man of mythic jollytude will reward us for how we’ve been acting as children. Have we been good? Have we obeyed our parents? Kids buy into this because he is a symbol of warmth, love, and goodness. Disappointing Santa is worse than disappointing our own parents. The fact of the matter is that Santa is a myth passed down through generations all over the world. In America, he’s got rosy cheeks, a penchant for cookies, and looks like Burl Ives. He has different forms throughout the world and Finland takes this notion and turns it around in RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE.
A greedy American has hired workers to drill into the Korvatunturi mountains in order to retrieve Santa Clause, who has been frozen in ice for generations. Why has Santa been frozen? Well, he is not a nice fellow; in fact, he punishes/eats the children that are naughty. So a native Finnish tribe captured him and grew a mountain around his body. But now, he’s been let loose and children have gone missing, so it’s up to young Pietori (Onni Tommila) to convince everyone and stop Santa.
While KRAMPUS is getting released this week, this movie takes the notion of Krampus and makes it actually Santa Claus. However, it keeps a dark tone as they never mention kids being good or what happens to good kids. The whole narrative is through the eyes of Pietori so everything happens with a sense of adventure, stamped by the protagonist as he takes over as hero. The title of the movie comes from the ending, which reveals the actual Christmas tale of what it means today. If you’re looking for something fun and different for the holidays, check out RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE.
– Jared McMillan
Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) is a bad dude, but he’s got all the charisma a suave Bavarian will need to rip off the Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve.
He’s not only the definition of a Christmas baddie, he’s the most celebrated villain of the past several decades. He battles wits with John McClane (Bruce Willis) as he tries to save a number of yuppie business executives from the greedy clutches of Gruber.
Rickman brought a level of bravado that was missing from by the antagonist role and helping redefine the (semi) modern action villain.
– Cole Clay
What’s this? A Christmas movie where the holiday is featured prominently in the film’s title and plot? Yes, but this is Tim Burton, and his stop-motion feature is just as much about Halloween and a town full of creepy inhabitants, such as Jack Skellington.
In the film, Jack discovers a land of elves and Santa and decides that this is the experience that life is missing for the folks of Halloweentown. In real Grinch fashion, he then decides to make preparations for his own Christmas celebration by impersonating the rosy-cheeked, big man in the real world. And while his intentions are anything but hurtful and malicious, Jack does not understand the true spirit of the holiday.
Jack isn’t a Grinch per se, but he follows the formula of a tragic hero. His selfish decisions nearly lead to the destruction of Christmas and himself. However, the strength behind his character is demonstrated by his ability to correct his mistakes. So, he’s not that bad of a guy.
– Preston Barta
BATMAN RETURNS, CHRISTMAS VACATION, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, GREMLINS, KISS KISS BANG BANG, SCROOGED and SANTA’S SLAY
KRAMPUS opens tonight.