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.
Blue Ruin **** Directed by Jeremy Saulnier. Bad news from the past unhinges vagabond Dwight Evans (Macon Blair), sending him on a mission of bloody retribution that takes him to his boyhood hometown. A Clint Eastwood vigilante fantasy with an anti-Clint at its center — small-statured, round-faced, nervous Dwight (Blair), whose burning desire to avenge the long-ago murder of his parents doesn’t make him one whit less terrified of actually doing it.
Dom Hemingway **½ Directed by Richard Shepard. After finishing a 12-year prison sentence, safecracker Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) sets out to collect the money he’s owed by his former partners in crime. An uneven movie, to be sure — plot holes abound, and some of the clichés can be distracting — but it’s still hard to resist. Because rarely have an actor and a part been so perfect for each other, and Shepard lets his lead run wild with this offbeat, contradictory character.
Cesar Chavez **½ Directed by Diego Luna. A biography of the civil-rights activist and labor organizer (Michael Peña). Plays more like an exercise in nostalgia than a dramatic re-creation of a triumphant fight for civil rights.
Heaven Is For Real **½ Directed by Randall Wallace. The story of the 4-year old son (Connor Corum) of a small-town Nebraska pastor (Greg Kinnear) who, during emergency surgery, slips from consciousness and enters heaven. When he awakes, he recounts his experiences. A well-meaning but misshapen movie about the folly of pursuing answers to unanswerable questions.
Sabotage ** Directed by David Ayer. Members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being taken down one by one after they rob a drug cartel safe house. A sloppy whodunit, distinguished by its scatological humor and gore. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Terrence Howard.
Transcendence ** Directed by Wally Pfister. A scientist’s drive for artificial intelligence, takes on dangerous implications when his consciousness is uploaded into one such program. Pfister, best known until now as the cinematographer on Christopher Nolan’s big films, makes his directorial debut here, and as dumb as Jack Paglen’s script is, Pfister seems to have no feeling whatsoever for the staging of sequences or for any sort of dramatic narrative momentum. With Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman.
Make Your Move ** Directed by Duane Adler. A pair of star-crossed dancers (Derek Hough, BoA) in New York find themselves at the center of a bitter rivalry between their brothers’ underground dance clubs. Hough’s dancing is far more impressive than his acting, and BoA, despite her perky sexiness, is an even less compelling screen presence. But they certainly move well together, and that’s pretty much all that matters here.
Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club *½ Directed by Tyler Perry. A diverse group of single mothers come together after an upsetting occurrence at their kids’ school. The problem here isn’t the writer-director’s politics, but his stifling lack of imagination, his complete refusal to even attempt narrative dexterity.
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn * Directed by Phil Alden Robinson. A curmudgeonly man (Robin Williams) is mistakenly told that he has 90 minutes to live by his doctor (Mila Kunis) and promptly sets out to reconcile with his wife, brother and friends in the short time he believes he has left. Robinson’s overheated dramedy feels disconnected from reality in every emotional way. With Peter Dinklage, James Earl Jones, Melissa Leo.