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.
Rush ****½ Directed by Ron Howard. The merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). Howard, whose first job as a director was the 1977 Roger Corman-produced Grand Theft Auto, has captured what is surely the greatest racing footage ever shot. But he doesn’t just want you to crawl inside a Formula One racecar, he also wants you to crawl inside its driver’s head.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 *** Directed by Cody Cameron. Flint Lockwood (voice of Bill Hader) now works at The Live Corp Company for his idol Chester V (voice of Will Forte). But he’s forced to leave his post when he learns that his most infamous machine is still operational and is churning out menacing food-animal hybrids. Unlike so many sequels, this fun-filled adventure is sure to entertain younger kids but also charm the adults who could be on the couch watching it with them.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa **½ Directed by Jeff Tremaine. 86-year-old Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) takes a trip from Nebraska to North Carolina to take his 8 year-old grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll), back to his real father. True to the Jackass formula, some gags come off better than others, but there’s some doozies in its midst.
Last Vegas **½ Directed by John Turteltaub. Three sixty-something friends (Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline) take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal (Michael Douglas). A smattering of funny gags and the nostalgia value of the cast — none of whom, curiously, have ever shared the screen before — keeps the whole thing more watchable than it has any right to be.
Ass Backwards **½ Directed by Chris Nelson. Two best friends, Kate (June Diane Raphael) and Chloe (Casey Wilson) embark on a cross country trip back to their hometown to attempt to win a pageant that eluded them as children. Co-writers and stars Raphael (Whitney, New Girl) and Wilson (Happy Endings) are genuine and true comic performers. Even though the story stinks, the set pieces are uninspired and the direction is downright wretched, when these two are "on" and doing schtick, they are absolutely fresh and hilarious.
The Fifth Estate **½ Directed by Bill Condon. A dramatic thriller based on real events that reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century’s most fiercely debated organization. The film gives us an obsessive-compulsive messiah with a taste for martyrdom, and full-screen cascades of computer code in place of a coherent plot. Exhausting in a new way, the movie is a data dump devoid of drama.
Concussion **½ Directed by Stacie Passon. When a blow to the head with a baseball prompts lesbian housewife Abby (Robin Weigert) to shake up her suburban life — and her dull marriage — she buys a fixer-upper in Manhattan and seeks excitement by becoming a prostitute. Acquitting herself capably in a lead role that strips her bare in more ways than one, Weigert (HBO’s Deadwood) proves worthy of a future in features, whereas first-time writer-director Passon mainly exposes her background in commercials.