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
October marks the re-release of some of cinema’s best titles. It’s a month when home entertainment companies craft quirky and innovative collector’s editions that are as much works of art as the movies they contain.
THE THING (Collector’s Edition)
Rated R, 109 min.
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, T.K. Carter, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat and Joel Polis
Shout! Factory packages its collector’s edition of John Carpenter’s chilling 1982 sci-fi thriller THE THING as artfully as a movie can be.
Not only does it include exclusive new box art that you wish you could turn into a poster and tack on your wall, but the release comes loaded with bonus content that is just as special as the 2K, higher-resolution scan and quality update.
The movie, a classic starring Kurt Russell, isn’t the most in-your-face scary horror film in the moment, but its concept of an alien made of free-acting cells with their own instinct to survive is downright terrifying. Especially when the alien is in isolated Antarctica and traps research station workers in their already-close quarters.
THE THING has aged remarkably well. It remains a masterpiece of paranoia (blood test scene, anyone?) that features the height of practical makeup and prosthetic effects. Its story also doesn’t depend on its characters behaving stupidly to advance the plot. It’s simply smart filmmaking.
This must-own nightmare is available through ShoutFactory.com and other fine retailers.
Extras: Three audio commentary tracks, marketing spots and trailers, countless interviews with the filmmakers (old and new), a highly-engaging 80-minute documentary on the making, the network TV broadcast version of the film, and vintage featurettes (old film stories that worth the price of purchase alone). Full list of extras can be found here.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (70th Anniversary Platinum Edition)
Rated PG, 130 min.
Director: Frank Capra
Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Frank Faylen, Ward Bond, Gloria Grahame and H.B. Warner
A Christmas movie releasing in October reminds us that time is passing much faster than we’d like to think. But regardless of how time flies — as the great Roger Ebert once said — IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is an “ageless” movie that “improves with age.”
The 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition of the film includes the original black-and-white version, as well as a vintage colorized copy to better grab the attention of younger generations. But perhaps what’s best about this particular edition is the documentary that the film comes with, along with the limited-edition art cards that feature images of original ads and lobby cards.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE taught us that we’re not alone in questioning our own worth. When times are tough, it’s easy to ignore the most valuable things in our life, such as family and friends.
This is the case for George Bailey (James Stewart) in the film, who wishes he had never been born, but later realizes just how many lives his mere existence has changed and impacted.
No bah humbug about it, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a classic worth revisiting each year. So might as well own the best version of it — available on Amazon.
Extras: A making-of hosted by the late Tom Bosley (HAPPY DAYS), original theatrical trailer and limited-edition art cards.
Also releasing on Blu-ray and/or DVD on Tuesday:
BLINKY BILL: THE MOVIE, BOYHOOD (2014): Criterion Collection (our review here), BLOOD FATHER, BROKEN VOWS, CARRIE (1976): DELUXE LIMITED EDITION, FEED THE BEAST: SEASON 1, GHOSTBUSTERS (2016): EXTENDED EDITION (our theatrical review), GOOD WITCH: SEASON 2, HANNIBAL: THE COMPLETE SERIES, HILLARY’S AMERICA, ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE (our interview), THE INFILTRATOR (our theatrical review and interview), KNIGHT RIDER: THE COMPLETE SERIES, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (our theatrical review), MIAMI VICE: THE COMPLETE SERIES, McCABE & MRS. MILLER (1971): Criterion Collection, MIKE & MOLLY: SEASON 6 and THE TWILIGHT ZONE: THE COMPLETE SERIES.