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.
12 O’Clock Boys ***½ Directed by Lofty Nathan. Pug , a young boy growing up on a combative West Baltimore block, finds solace in a group of illegal dirt bike riders. Packs more life into its 72 minutes than many longer documentaries do.
Oculus *** Directed by Mike Flanagan. A woman (Karen Gillan) tries to exonerate her brother (Brendon Thwaites), who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon. Earns its frights the old fashioned way — with convincingly traumatized characters, with smoke and with mirrors.
Ping Pong Summer **½ Directed by Michael Tully. A family vacation during the summer of 1985 changes everything for a teenage boy (Marcello Conte) obsessed with ping pong. Writer-director Tully simultaneously pays tribute to his own 1980s childhood and the cliched movies he grew up watching, and the result is one of the most honestly dishonest movies you’ll ever watch. With Judah Friedlander, Amy Sedaris, Leah Thompson, John Hannah, Susan Sarandon.
Divergent **½ Directed by Neil Burger. Born into a civilization in the distant future, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) is a teenager who learns that her unique cognitive skills make her useful to the authorities. Over time she discovers that she’s a Divergent, and thus slated for elimination by the government. This latest outcast-teen-battles-The-System thriller, is similar enough to The Hunger Games that hardcore Katniss fans may dismiss it. But it’s a more streamlined film, with a love story with genuine heat and deaths with genuine pathos.
Need for Speed ** Directed by Scott Waugh. Fresh from prison, a street racer (Aaron Paul) who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins. If you like watching people drive really nice cars really fast, this movie scratches that particular itch. But expect nothing more, because everything else about it is just running on empty.