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.
Small Time **½ Directed by Joel Surnow. While enduring a devastating mid-life crisis, used car dealer Al (Christopher Meloni) is thrilled when his estranged son (Devon Bostick) decides to skip college and join the business. Has its heart in the right place, but its screenplay’s in serious need of a tuneup.
Lone Survivor **½ Directed by Peter Berg. In 2005, Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and his team set out on a mission to capture or kill a notorious Taliban leader. A grotesque action movie at times impressively directed by Berg that combines the brute masculinity with the ugliness of the battlefield and viscerally unsettling shock value. But it’s less a depiction of courage than a brutish magnification of anger and pain, both of which it conveys a lot better than the high ground that it reaches for.
The Motel Life **½ Directed by Aaln Polsky, Gabe Polsky. A pair of working-class brothers flee their Reno Motel after getting involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident. So full of explanatory flashbacks and animated sequences visualizing the characters’ invented yarns that their real dramas are indeed almost obscured. With Emile Hirsch, Stephen Dorff, Dakota Fanning, Kris Kristofferson.
Robocop **½ Directed by José Padilha. When Detroit cop and family man Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is critically injured in the line of duty, a robotics firm transforms him into an experimental crime-fighting cyborg, though he remains haunted by his human past. A teen-oriented action flick with an A-minus cast, a mixture of Transformers-style robot battles and cops-and-robbers showdown that never feels all that exciting or cutting-edge, bracketed by some intriguing and half-successful moments of social commentary. With Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson.
Black Out ** Directed by Arne Toonen. On the eve of his wedding, Jos (Raymond Thiry) wakes up with a corpse in his bed and not a clue as to how it got there. In terms of character and plot, not one element of the intended wild ride escapes self-consciousness or becomes the least bit involving.
Son of God *½ Directed by Christopher Spencer. A depiction of the life of Jesus (Diogo Morgado). Don’t expect to see a great film, or even a very good one. Whether you discover a meaningful channel with which to continue your walk with the film’s protagonist, however, is strictly between you and your god.