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.
Night Moves ***½ Directed by Kelly Reichardt. Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard. With their collective eye fixed on blowing up a hydroelectric dam, a pair of young environmentalists enlist the help of an ex-military explosives expert to carry out a dangerous act of eco-terrorism. Don’t expect Hitchcock or De Palma here — Reichardt is much too low-key and modest for such crowd-pleasing pyrotechnics — but one long, sustained shot near the end seems to suggest that people who are convinced they are doing the right thing are capable of great evil.
They Came Together *** Directed by David Wain. Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler. Candy company executive Joel falls for Molly, who owns a corner candy store he’s tasked with closing. This rough-edged parody feels both distinctive and handmade, and for those reasons alone it’s a hard movie to hate, even when it temporarily loses its comic footing. Anyway, as romantic comedies down the ages have taught us, hatred is just a latent form of love.
For No Good Reason **½ Directed by Charlie Paul. Ralph Steadman, Johnny Depp, Richard E. Grant, Terry Gilliam, Jann Wenner. Depp pays a visit to Steadman, the artist and the last of the original Gonzo visionaries who worked alongside Hunter S. Thompson. Early on, Steadman talks about his humor needing to have a "slightly maniacal" edge. For No Good Reason has no such thing; it’s gently informative and amusing the whole way through.
Draft Day **½ Directed by Ivan Reitman. Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner. On the day of the NFL player draft, Cleveland general manager Sonny Weaver trades up to get the first pick. While his decision may save football in his city, it just might cost him his girlfriend and his team. These interesting performers can’t save a dull script. To work, Draft Day needs the kind of witty dialogue and snappy energy that Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin brought to Moneyball but the screenwriters mistake constant activity for actual screenwriting.
Citizen Koch **½ Directed by Carl Deal, Tia Lessin. A documentary that follows the money behind the rise of the Tea Party. For those who don’t know how flawed and manipulated the act of casting a ballot has become, Citizen Koch is a decent enough primer, but for everyone else long past the tipping point, this is just more evidence for a problem that currently has no solution.
Cabin Feature: Patient Zero * Directed by Kaare Andrews. A group of friends planned the perfect vacation in the Caribbean, but when they head ashore to explore a remote island, they unleash a deadly virus. Less methodical and witty than its predecessors, Patient Zero often turns its infected characters into mindless, lurching zombies.
Moms’ Night Out * Directed by Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin. Sarah Drew, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton, Trace Adkins. Yearning for an evening of dinner and conversation that does not involve their children, Allyson (Drew) and her friends plan a night on the town. To be able to do this, however, their husbands need to watch the kids for a few hours. You have to wonder why Allyson doesn’t just hire a nanny, find a job and get out of the house. Ah, but this is a Christian movie, and once it stops pelting an audience with comic incident, it begins preaching.