I have scratched together a living, in one way or another, as a writer for more than 50 years now. I was a free-lance writer during the early stages of the Vietnam War. I was the Southwest Division Overnight News Editor for United Press International back when UPI was a legitimate news gathering organization. Following that, I went to the Dallas Morning News where I became the first person to write about rock 'n' roll on a daily basis for a Texas metropolitan newspaper. I later became the News' entertainment editor. Following some stints with a couple of prominent PR firms, I had the extraordinary good fortune to team with two communications legends, Ken Fairchild and Lisa LeMaster, as part of one kick-ass media consulting/crisis communications team. That was followed by short stays with the City of Dallas, as its public information officer; the Dallas Northeast Chamber of Commerce where I had the good fortune to meet and work alongside some of this city's business and political titans; and editorial director for QuestCorp Media until that company went out of business. Now officially retired, concentrating on this blog.
100 Bloody Acres **½ Damon Herriman, Angus Sampson. Directed by Cameron and Colin Cairnes. As the sibling owners of an organic fertilizer business find themselves running low on their product’s magic ingredient — human roadkill — a solution presents itself in the form of three teens stranded on a remote stretch of road. What the Cairns brothers have created is something rare for a horror film: Not only does it get the job done without making you want to shower after it’s all over, but they’ve created multi-dimensional characters who inhabit a believable and expansive environment. In so doing, they’ve also created a bloody good bit of twisted fun.
The Croods **½ Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman. Directed by Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders. After their cave is destroyed, a caveman family must trek through an unfamiliar fantastical world with the help of an inventive boy. Though it’s impressive in many technical and surface ways, The Croods lets us down on the essentials of character and story, and no amount of late-stage father/daughter bonding or vertiginous 3D cliffside tumbling can make up for that.
The Frozen Ground * Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens. Directed by Scott Walker. An Alaska State Trooper partners with a young woman who escaped the clutches of serial killer Robert Hansen to bring the murderer to justice. The movie’s only fresh element is the wintry setting, which shrouds everything in a mood of weary fatalism. Otherwise, it’s the same old, same old, efficiently discharged and utterly disposable.
An Overssimplification of Her Beauty ****½ Directed by Terence Nance. When the comely and intriguing Namik stands him up for a date, filmmaker Terence documents his confusion in a short film that he later shows to her. When Namik isn’t impressed, Terence decide to turn the movie into a full exploration of his feelings. What saves the film — and grandly — is Nance’s wildly ambitious visual imagination. Teetering somewhere between film school precocity and impressively assured audaciousness, it’s almost hypnotic in its style and genre promiscuity.
This Is the End **½ James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson. Directed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogan. A bevy of Hollywood notables are stuck together at a party when the apocalypse dawns. In typical celebrity fashion, the trapped stars bicker rather than bond in the face of doom. Funny is funny, and it would be truly dishonest to deny the big laughs — the spikes of gut-busting inspiration — that the film sporadically delivers.