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.
The Double ***½ Directed by Richard Ayoade. Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska. A clerk (Eisenberg) in a government agency finds his unenviable life takes a turn for the horrific with the arrival of a new co-worker who is both his exact physical double and his opposite — confident, charismatic and seductive with women. Judicious editing helps to maintain the illusion of two actors, though the quick-speaking Wasikowska, as the twins’ flighty, mercurial object of desire, in some ways has the subtlest task — and often steals scenes from her co-star(s).
Belle *** Directed by Amma Asante. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson,Penelope Wilton, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson. The mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle in 18th century England. It feels a little like a lesson you’re supposed to learn before you can enjoy anything truly satisfying.
Young & Beautiful *** Directed by François Ozob. Marine Vacth, Geraldine Pailhas, Frederic Pierrot, Charlotte Rampling, Johan Leysen. After losing her virginity, Isabelle (Vacth) takes up a secret life as a call girl, meeting her clients for hotel-room trysts. Throughout, she remains curiously aloof, showing little interest in the encounters themselves or the money she makes. Never amounts to anything more than its title’s shallow descriptors.
Trust Me **½ Directed by Clark Gregg. Clark Gregg, Felicity Huffman, Allison Janney, William H. Macy, Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell, Molly Shannon, Saxon Sharbino, Paul Sparks. In an attempt to sign a Hollywood starlet, struggling talent agent and former child star Howard Holloway (Gregg) must contend with her volatile father, a scheming long-time rival, and a producer and casting director who despise him. Mixing comedy, drama, satire and noir, the Marvel actor’s second outing behind the camera plays for the same kind of uncomfortable laughs that his 2008 dramedy Choke did, but this one gazes so deeply into Hollywood’s navel that, with the affable Gregg in practically every scene, it ultimately can’t escape the whiff of a vanity project.
Blended *½ Directed by Frank Corachi. Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore. After a bad blind date, a man and woman find themselves stuck together at a resort for families, where their attraction grows as their respective kids benefit from the burgeoning relationship. It’s a good family movie the way Hooters is a good family restaurant.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return * Directed by Will Finn, Daniel St. Pierre. Voices of Lea Michele, Dan Akroyd, Kelsey Grammer, James Belushi, Megan Hilty, Hugh Dancer, Oliver Platt, Patrick Stewart. Dorothy (Michele) wakes up in post-tornado Kansas, only to be whisked back to Oz to try to save her old friends the Scarecrow (Aykroyd) , the Lion (Belushi), the Tin Man (Grammer) and Glinda (Bernadette Peters) from a devious new villain, the Jester (Martin Short). This is one of those movies that parents will have to ask themselves if they love their child enough to watch it with them. At least The Nut Job is off the hook as the worst indie-made animated feature of the year.