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.
Ilo Ilo **** Directed by Anthony Chen. Leaving the Philippines to work in Singapore, Teresa is hired as a maid by a couple whose spoiled son delights in bullying and belittling her. Over time, the household dynamic shifts as the son comes to revere Teresa, much to his mom’s annoyance. Chen captures with both humor and heartbreaking realism the complicated mechanics of the family dynamic and how outside forces work to shape it.
Burning Bush **** Directed by Agnieszka Holland. Focuses on the personal sacrifice of Prague history student Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in protest against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1969. Political thriller, procedural, emotional drama and a rousing cry for basic human rights and values.
The Fault in Our Stars *** Directed by Josh Boone. Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Willem Dafoe, Laura Dern. Teenager Hazel (Woodley), who has pushed people away since her cancer diagnosis, reluctantly joins a support group, where she bonds with a boy named Gus (Elgort). Together, they face the challenge of building a relationship under the shadow of terminal illness. It’s as is manipulative as can be, pulling out all the stops — kids with cancer — in its attempt to bring the tears. And you know what? It works.
The German Doctor *** Directed by Lucia Puenzo. The true story of an Argentine family who lived with Josef Mengele without knowing his true identity, and of a girl who fell in love with one of the most infamous Nazi war criminals of all time. The story-telling is a little too pat to deliver the surprise moments that reveal character or sweep audiences up emotionally. The film remains a creepy story with a lot of morbid fascination, set off by the captivating young Florencia Bado in her first screen role.
Godzilla *** Directed by Gareth Edwards. Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn. Godzilla rises from the sea once more in this remake of the original 1954 Japanese monster saga. In this version the fire-spewing giant sides with humanity to battle against equally terrifying beasts. An uneven spectacle that can’t sustain its solid first-half character moments. But the movie can also flash a surprising, often clever sense of legacy, and is intermittently thrilling.
Burt’s Buzz** Directed by Jody Shapiro. The director ventures into the reclusive backwoods world of beekeeper Burt Shavitz. Shapiro fails to sell Shavitz as the "wise and wry, ornery and opinionated" figure that’s promised. No opinion, wise or otherwise, is uttered by this rustic quasi-eccentric, let alone a green ethos.
Think Like a Man Too *½ Directed by Tim Story. Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Jenkins, Romany Malco, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Gary Owen, Gabrielle Union, All the couples are back for a wedding in Las Vegas, but plans for a romantic weekend go awry when their various misadventures get them into some compromising situations that threaten to derail the big event. Silly, unfunny and formulaic.