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.
We Are the Best! **** Directed by Lukas Moodysson. Three girls in 1980s Stockholm decide to form a punk band, despite not having any instruments and being told by everyone that punk is dead. A messy, congenial empowerment story that knows how aggravating adolescence can be when you refuse to fit in.
The Last of the Unjust ***½ Directed by Claude Lanzmann. This dark documentary examines the history of Theresienstadt, the Nazis’ model ghetto created to counter rumors about mistreatment of interned. Rewards those willing to invest in Lanzmann’s pensive technique with a complex tale that’s alternately sad, enlightening, unexpectedly witty and ultimately exhausting, but carried along throughout by Lanzmann’s commitment.
Neighbors *** Directed by Nicholas Stoller. Seth Rogan, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lisa Kudrow. A couple with a newborn baby face unexpected difficulties after they are forced to live next to a fraternity house.It’s not the classic raunchy comedy it wants to be, but it certainly isn’t for lack of trying. And when it’s funny, it’s really funny. Just not as often as one might hope.
The Rover *** Directed by David Michod. Guy Pearce, Robert Pattison. Ten years after a global economic collapse, a hardened loner pursues the men who stole his only possession, his car. What makes The Rover more watchable than the average self-conscious genre exercise is Pearce, who exudes such weary authority and palpable vulnerability that he’s sympathetic even in the film’s most brutalizing moments.
The Signal **½ Directed by William Eubank. Laurence Fishburne, Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke. During their drive across the country, college pals Nick (Thwaites) and Jonah (Beau Knapp) — accompanied by Nick’s girlfriend (Cooke) — run into major trouble in the Nevada desert. You spend a lot of the movie confused, but the great big reveals of its finale don’t feel very shocking at all. Yet it’s not a complete wash and, given the circumstances, that feels like an accomplishment.
Postman Pat: The Movie ** Directed by Mike Disa. Voices of Stephen Mangan, David Tennant, Rupert Grint, Jim Broadbent. A veteran postman finds his beliefs challenged after he enters a TV talent show competition. A mostly charmless and dark affair.
Very Good Girls *½ Directed by Naomi Foner. Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Boyd Holbrook, Ellen Barkin, Richard Dreyfuss, Demi Moore, Clark Gregg, Peter Sarsgaard. In their last summer before they start college, best friends Lilly (Fanning) and Gerry (Olsen) make a pact to have sex and lose their virginity. But their bond is put to the test when they both fall for the same boy. This is a very bad excuse to subject those of us who have enjoyed Fanning ever since 2001's I Am Sam to see her flash her bare fanny, fondle herself provocatively and cavort in her underwear for no dramatic purpose. Yes, she should be allowed to grow up onscreen. But without a story that justifies it, it just feels sad and desperate.