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.
Obvious Child ***½ Directed by Gillian Robespierre. After being fired from her job and dumped by her cheating boyfriend, a comedian bottoms out and has a drunken one-night stand with a nice guy who’s not her type. Weeks later, she finds out she’s pregnant. It’s a warm, sympathetic, very sloppy, and often very funny little movie about a young woman who, among several other things, is not remotely ready to be a parent and knows it.
Edge of Tomorrow ***½ Directed by Doug Liman. Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Lara Pulver, Bill Paxton, Jeremy Piven. As Earth fights an alien invasion, Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Cruise) is killed in action, and a time loop forces him to continually relive his last day. With each iteration, Cage’s skill grows, as does his understanding of the enemy and how it operates. They might have called it Groundhog Day 2, but that wouldn’t have conveyed the film’s martial frenzy, its fascinating intricacies or the special delights of its borderline-comic tone.
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon *** Directed by Beth Aala, Mike Myers. Comic Meyers turns documentarian with this film on his friend, legendary manager Gordon, whose client list ranged from Blondie to Alice Cooper. The film mixes Gordon’s own reminiscences with those from Michael Douglas, Sly Stallone and more. The movie is like sitting at a restaurant with a guy who’s got some of the best stories you’ve heard in your life — provided, that is, that you’re into stories about showbiz.
The Grand Seduction **½ Directed by Don McKellar. Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch, Liana Balaban, Gordon Pinsent. The cash-strapped burg of Tickle Cove must persuade a doctor to move to town if they want a plastics manufacturer to build a new factory there. But selling the advantages of the tiny Newfoundland village to a young professional isn’t easy. With just a couple of strong casting choices and a winsome tone, an old formula can still work, and The Grand Seduction comes out of the lab with a disarming readiness to please.
Million Dollar Arm **½ Directed by Craig Gillespie. Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin. Looking to save his failing business, sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Hamm) launches a reality show to find India’s best cricketers, with the goal of turning them into professional baseball players and signing them to Major League contracts. What keeps you watching is the charisma of the performers: Hamm does an amiable riff on his Don Draper persona (he’s cynical before the big melt), Bell is a delight as his tart-tongued love interest, and Sharma and Madhur Mittal are all charm as the cultures-uniting underdogs.
A Million Ways To Die in the West ** Directed by Seth McFarlane. Seth McFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Liam Neeson. As a cowardly farmer begins to fall for the mysterious new woman in town, he must put his new-found courage to the test when her husband, a notorious gun-slinger, announces his arrival. As director and writer, MacFarlane appears to have forgotten everything about cinematic standards of pacing, characterization and meaningful smut, resulting in an encore that’s slow, sketchy and dumb-dirty.