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.
Begin Again **½ Directed by John Carney. Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, James Corden, Yasiin Bey, Cee Lo Green, Catherine Keener. A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents. It may not always swing, but it makes up for that in sincerity and a welcome willingness to ambush expectations.
Life of Crime **½ Directed by Daniel Schecter. Jenifer Anistton, Mos Def, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Mark Boone Junior, Tim Robbins, John Hawkes. After kidnapping a rich property developer’s wife and holding her for ransom, two small time crooks discover their hostage’s philandering husband is in no rush to free her from captivity. Mostly, it’s fine. The acting is fine. The writing is fine. The story is fine. There are a few laughs. And that should be fine enough. But with material as rich as Elmore Leonard’s serving as the foundation, just fine is a disappointment.
Wish I Was Here ** Directed by Zach Braff. Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Josh Gad, Pierce Gagnon, Ashley Greene, Kate Hudson, Joey King, Jim Parsons, Mandy Patinkin. With his acting career moribund, Aidan Bloom (Braff) steers a new tack in life, taking over his children’s education when private school becomes too costly. Finding much to learn as well as teach, Aidan develops his own unique curriculum for the kids. It’s not a total disaster, but the tricky tone seems like it needed more time in the editing room to focus its story and trim some of the extraneous threads.
Deliver Us From Evil ** Directed by Scott Derrickson. Eric Bana, Olivia Munn, Edgar Ramirez. While investigating a bizarre case, a New York City police officer meets a priest who convinces him the incident is related to demonic possession, and the two men team up to ferret out the truth. You’ll be jolted a couple of times, but these aren’t scares that will stay with you. How about retiring "based on a true story" in favor of "based on a good story"?