124 posts categorized "Events"

12 October 2017

The thrill of the (Harbor) Chase

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Making Movie Memories with (from left) Bridgette, Lisa and Glenda from HarborChase of the Park Cities.

I was humbled to be asked by Bridgette Walshe, executive director of HarborChase of the Park Cities, to present my "Life Lessons I've Learned at the Movies" Movie Memories presentation Tuesday afternoon at the historic Highland Park Village Theater in the trendy Park Cities area of Dallas near the George W. Bush Presidential Center and Southern Methodist University.

It's always a little special when I speak about the magic of the movies and my adventures interviewing internationally famous movie stars like Tom Hanks and Shirley MacLaine (just to namedrop a couple) and see the presentation spring to life on a huge movie theater screen.

Continue reading "The thrill of the (Harbor) Chase" »

21 August 2017

R.I.P. -- Bob Polunsky

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Bob Polunsky (Courtesy: www.pinterest.com)

As far as I know, longtime San Antonio film critic Bob Polunsky was never a "Robert."

Bob, who died at 85 this week in San Antonio, Texas, was just Bob, a kindred spirit in the love and appreciation of any film really worth watching.  He was also never shy about condemning a flawed movie for its shortcomings in a Bob Polunsky style dubbed "Flicker Footnotes."  Bob's reviews were direct and sometimes ruthless but always honest.

Bob was well established as The Guy when it came to film criticism in San Antonio when I arrived in 1983.  Bob wrote for the Express-News daily newspaper.  After a year of general entertainment reporting at the other daily newspaper in town, the now-dark San Antonio Light, I became "that other film critic in town."

Continue reading "R.I.P. -- Bob Polunsky" »

08 August 2017

Post-'Graduate' Hoffman is how old?

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Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman and friend. (Courtesy: jewishcurrents.org)

Dustin Hoffman, one of my favorite actors and, I might add, interview subjects, turns 80 today.

'Scuse me, Mr. Father Time, but how can that be?

There's no denying it, though.  There it is in black-and-white (not to mention blue for linked words):  Dustin Lee Hoffman, born in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, 1937.

Continue reading "Post-'Graduate' Hoffman is how old?" »

07 June 2017

What ice cream addiction? Or 'Hey buddy, can you spare a spoon?'

True confession time:

BBLarry300When it comes to entertainment, the only thing I love more than movies in general are movies that make me laugh.  Really laugh!  Films like the Mel Brooks' masterpiece monster mash comedy Young Frankenstein (1974), Dr. Strangelove or:  How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) and the first Toy Story (1995).  Movies like that.

The only thing I love more than movies that make me laugh is making people laugh through my stand-up comedy routine We Might As Well Laugh.

Continue reading "What ice cream addiction? Or 'Hey buddy, can you spare a spoon?'" »

16 May 2017

You must, you will remember this

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Bottled-up sorrow: Rick (Humphrey Bogart) drowning in despair. (Courtesy: www.google.com)

I don't remember the first time I saw Casablanca, the mesmerizing romantic World War II drama classic starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid, but I remember the best.

It was in the mid-1970s.  If you wanted to see a movie back then you pretty much had to go to a movie house.  There was no Internet.  No cellphones.  No movies on demand on your Wi-Fi-connected TV.  Social media in a time that now seems locked in a galaxy far, far away meant chatting about a movie on the way home.

Continue reading "You must, you will remember this" »

30 March 2017

'Tomb' raiding, off-the-cuff fisticuffs & dishing Hollywood dirt

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Angelina Jolie doing some tomb raiding as Lara Croft. (Courtesy: imdb.com)

It was early June, 2001, a full three months before terrorists attacked the U.S. and put a somber face on this country and much of the free world that has yet to relax even a little.

It was a happier time, a time when a film critic could say silly things about silly movies and even to its star.  No harm would be done and everyone could have a laugh or two.

Such was the case when Angelina Jolie took on the title role as muscle flexing, tough-as-nails video game sensation Lara Croft in the feature film version of Lara Croft:  Tomb Raider.

Continue reading "'Tomb' raiding, off-the-cuff fisticuffs & dishing Hollywood dirt" »

27 February 2017

And the Oscar goes to ... chaos!

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Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty fumble through the not-so-grand Oscar finale. (Courtesy: www.google.com)

See, this is what happens when you trust Bonnie and Clyde to hand out the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards.

The only thing I can think of that would have been more bizarre would be if Warren Beatty, looking totally confused and lost (for good reason, it turns out) had said, "We're Bonnie and Clyde.  We rob ballots!"

In case you missed it, the 89th Academy Awards telecast was putt-putting along fairly smoothly Sunday night until, of all things, the all-important finale.

Continue reading "And the Oscar goes to ... chaos!" »

11 January 2017

Blah Blah Land

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Meryl Streep at the Golden Globe Awards (Courtesy: businessinsider.com)

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
– Oscar Wilde

I had a wild dream last night; one of those where you wake up fretting and sweating a little and the tangled covers serve as evidence of much tossing and turning.

The late iconic film critic Roger Ebert was standing at the podium at some grand hall.  Roger was introducing me as recipient of the Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award for my long list of film criticism awards and accomplishments.

OK, let's take a break.  Rule No. 1:  Please remember, this was a dream.  No. 2:  No giggling.

Continue reading "Blah Blah Land" »

22 December 2016

Still missing Dave

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Lady Gaga and Bill Murray with Dave on April 2, 2014. (Courtesy: CBS.com)

I can't help it, I still miss David Letterman.

Don't get me wrong.  If the Forever King of Late-night TV, in my not-so-humble opinion, wants to keep it semi-private and spend his days growing and explaining why he's grown that weird beard, I'm happy for him.

I just still miss the late-night guy, the clean-shaven one who, first on NBC, then on CBS, was a long-distance friend and as much a part of our evening routine as brushing my teeth.  Actually, full disclosure, I probably missed brushing my teeth more than we skipped "Letterman," as we called his shows.

Continue reading "Still missing Dave" »

01 December 2016

That's all write, Mama

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(Courtesy: www.etsy.com)

Bonnie Ratliff, my mother, was quiet and reserved unless wronged or riled.  She was also an excellent, creative cook who could sling a mean hash and make a plain cake so special I can still taste it quite a few  years after we lost her.

We never called her Mom, and I'm not sure why.  That being said, Mother made too many sacrifices for me to count as my older brother and I spent our formative years in the noisy, engine-revving, windows rattling shadows of an aircraft plant in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Three major things Mother did for me, though, changed my life and greatly influenced who I am, what I am today.  No, make that four.  There's the whole birth thing, you know.

Continue reading "That's all write, Mama" »

14 November 2016

Supermoon 'Melancholia'

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Courtesy: ChicagoTribune.com


I got my love
for the movies from my Mom and my fascination at gazing at the moon from my Dad.

Here's hoping those two wondrous worlds don't collide, literally, when the biggest, brightest supermoon since 1948 passes closer to Earth than it has in 69 years tonight (Monday, Nov. 14).

I was a toddler in my Mom's arms, no doubt, when the last supermoon this exciting came calling.  I will be 87 if I'm around (and still pounding this computer keyboard) when it happens again on Nov. 25, 2034.

Will we even have computers then?  Will Mother Earth still be inhabitable then?  Will we all have our student loans paid off by then?  Who knows?

Continue reading "Supermoon 'Melancholia'" »

28 October 2016

Coming attraction: The Movie Memories Film Fest

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"Young @ Heart" (Courtesy: imdb.com)

Remember movies?

You know, the good ones.

The ones that moved you so much that you didn't just suggest to friends and family that they go see them, but the ones so good you actually gathered up a carload and took them to the movie house yourself just to see the look on their faces when something that can only be described as magical unfolded on screen.

Continue reading "Coming attraction: The Movie Memories Film Fest" »

27 September 2016

The presidential debate: About 'Face'

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Andy Griffith as "Lonesome" Rhodes in "A Face in the Crowd." (Courtesy: www.washtimes.com)

So what does a film critic, humorist, public speaker and author who likes to kid around a bit know about presidential politics?

Not much, really, and what I do know I prefer to keep to myself.  It's not that I'm that private. I'm also not the dumbest dangling chad in the pile of discarded ballots.  I'm in business here and just don't choose to alienate half of my potential speaking audience by hopping up on a personal political soapbox.

So why am I even writing this?

Continue reading "The presidential debate: About 'Face'" »

16 September 2016

Blood, guts and, uh, bluegrass?

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Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in "Bonnie and Clyde." (Courtesy: google.com)

I was honored to speak to a group in Dallas last week about movies shot in and around Dallas.

I always come away from The Movie Memories presentation "Lights, Camera, Dallas!" with the music from Bonnie and Clyde bouncing around in my head.  Arthur Penn's 1967 action-crime thriller showcased Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the notorious outlaw duo that terrorized North Texas and surrounding states in the early 1930s.

Continue reading "Blood, guts and, uh, bluegrass?" »

01 September 2016

Missing me some truly funny guys

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Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in "Young Frankenstein." (Courtesy: www4.pictures.zimbio.com)

Think about it for a second.

Someone points a finger at you and requests/hopes/demands that you be funny right now.

Not just a little funny, but world-class funny.

Gene Wilder, who we lost in the past few days, and Peter Boyle, gone 10 years in December, were two of the funniest humans of their generation.  If you think that's easy, try it.

Continue reading "Missing me some truly funny guys" »

23 August 2016

Cinematically presential: Take 1 -- Vote for Dave?

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(Courtesy: media7.com)

Sometimes, and quite frequently this presidential election cycle, I wish politics we see in the movies were real and real-life politics were fictional. 

Or more fictional.

No, make that less fictional, but still something to view simply as entertainment.  There I go again, writing myself into a corner I can't write out of.  But I think you know what I mean.  Not something entertaining, yet serious and, for lack of a better phrase, something we can just get up and walk away from.

Like the incredibly entertaining movie Dave of 1993, for instance.  Kevin Kline, a gifted and all-too-often underrated actor, plays Dave Kovic, a fun-loving temp agency owner who just happens to bear a striking resemblance to U.S. President Bill Mitchell (also portrayed by Kline).

Continue reading "Cinematically presential: Take 1 -- Vote for Dave?" »

19 July 2016

Hail to and from the cinematic chiefs

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(Courtesy: google.com)

As the 2016 presidential season heats up, or boils over as some have already suggested, I like to summon up my source of presidential history and, in many cases, harrumphing.

That would be the movies, my friends, our little semi-reality and/or escape from same known as fiction.

Or in the case of movies "based on true events," fiction.

Continue reading "Hail to and from the cinematic chiefs" »

01 July 2016

Flags of our great grandfathers and grandmothers

Yankee330rI make no apologies for star-spangled banter when it comes to Independence Day.

So, proudly fly the U.S. flag, thump an ice-cold watermelon, crank some homemade ice cream and get the family together, it's the Fourth of July weekend, time to celebrate this great country of ours.

Continue reading "Flags of our great grandfathers and grandmothers" »

09 June 2016

Is the Casa Blanca a movie theater or bowling alley?

Actually, it's both.

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(Courtesy: Santikos Entertainment)

The Casa Blanca, opening today (June 9), is the latest sparkling jewel in the impressive San Antonio-based Santikos Entertainment group.

On those days or evenings when you just can't decide if you want to catch a movie on a state-of-the-art laser projected digital screen or go bowling, now you can do both.  Or either, or both and have dinner at the Café, or have dinner while enjoying a movie in one of four Bistro theaters, or ... well, you get the idea.

Continue reading "Is the Casa Blanca a movie theater or bowling alley?" »

06 June 2016

Guess what turns 83 today? Happy Birthday drive-in movies!

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(Courtesy: www.movies.com)

And I bet the popcorn was rubbery and cold that first night in Camden, N.J. back on June 6, 1933.

That's when Richard Hollingshead Jr., an auto parts salesman, invented the drive-in movie by putting a projector on the hood of a car and parking it in front of two bedsheets tied together and strung up in the yard.

Continue reading "Guess what turns 83 today? Happy Birthday drive-in movies!" »

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