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.
Run & Jump ***½ Directed by Steph Green. Struggling to support her family after her husband, Conor Edward MacLiam), is fundamentally changed by a stroke, Vanetia (Maxine Peake) accepts a grant from a brain researcher named Ted (Will Forte). As Ted studies Conor, he and Vanetia form an unexpected bond. An uncommonly offbeat and charmingly unconventional romance, an Irish comedy that lets itself get very serious, now and again, and is all the richer for it.
Cheap Thrills *** Directed by E.L. Katz. A scheming couple put a struggling family man and his old friend through a series of increasingly twisted dares over the course of an evening at a local bar. A nasty, elemental thriller, basically a four-character play with blood and guts and sex and drugs and dares. With Pat Healy, Sara Paxton, Ethan Embry, David Koechner.
Journey to the West *** Directed by Stephen Chow, Chin-kin Kwok. Chen Xuanzang (Zhang Wen), who fights evil with love and nursery rhymes, clashes with Duan (Qi Shu), a showy female warrior who’s in it for the thrill of the hunt. Chow’s go-for-broke sensibility has been sorely missed, and a tale of demons is the ideal context for the gravity-defying, logic-impaired stunts he favors.
A Birder’s Guide to Everything **½ Directed by Rob Meyer. The day before his widowed father’s wedding, a 15-year-old bird-watching fanatic impulsively sets off on a road trip with three friends in an effort to locate the extinct Labrador duck he may have spotted. The film captures its lush, leafy settings with an understated evocativeness that fully immerses the viewer in its sense of place. The problem is that the movie ultimately leans too heavily on that sense of understatement, failing to let genuine, unexpected emotion fully break through to the surface. With Kodi Smit-McPhee, Katie Chang, Alex Wolff, Michael Chen, James Le Gros, Ben Kingsley.
24 Expsoures *½ Directed by Joe Swanberg. A photographer (Adam Wingard) who specializes in erotic photo shoots is suspected of murder when one of his models is found dead. This brief, loosely-knit film never builds any empathy or tension.
Endless Love * Directed by Shana Feste. An intense teenage boy (Alex Pettyfer) falls for a wealthy girl (Gabriella Wilde), and when their worried parents try to keep them apart, their incendiary love affair grows obsessive and dark. Not to harp on petty details, but this film is so colossally tone-deaf and off-key in every way that its collection of jarring missteps almost carries it into the arms of perverse comedy.