Friday, January 20, 2017

MOVIE REVIEWS - In Theaters Now

January is here, and there are still some movies in theaters including some new ones that are pretty darn good.

Hidden Figures

This has a good cast, and this is a story worth telling.  And for me, that adds up to a good day at the movies.  Although, this does come up a bit short of what it could have been, this is still strong.

This is the true story of three African American women working at NASA in the heat of the space race in the nearly 1960's.  It chronicles very well the struggle and difficulty that these women faced even in the face of a nation consumed by fear, and the need to get a man into space and pass the Russians.  What this really does, is showcase the culture at NASA, that sadly did mirror regular society in the years just before the Civil Rights Act.

This is very well done, well acted and looks great as well. This could have been edited a bit tighter as it does belabor some points to death. This cold have been shortened down some, but it's not a deal breaker.

This is pretty darn good.

Live By Night

Been a while since we've had a good classic gangster movie, but the Ben Affleck written and starred in Live By Night delivers nicely.  This is a strong story of the gangsters of the late 1920's and 30's. The acting here is superb, and so are the sets and costumes. This is a period piece that really takes you to the time.

This has a nice cast, a great look and a lot of action. Yes, this is violent, but those were violent times.  Wonderfully written, acted and directed, as this is a very adult film.  I have a tendency to love a good time travel movie and this none places you in a time gone by, and place that does not exist anymore.

Well done!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

MOVIE REVIEWS - In Theaters Now

You've been busy, and maybe after the holidays, you are going to be looking for things to do.  Here is what is new for you at the movies.

Why Him

Well, James Franco does make me laugh sometimes, and he does here as well.  This is another comedy where the daughter is marrying the "wrong guy" and dad ain't to happy about it. Franco is Laird and he is about as goofy as they come.  Brian Cranston is the dad who is being tormented by Laird.

This has some fun moments and is pretty funny throughout.  We just never seem to get tired of this formula.  This is rated a hard R, and well deserved.  Kudos to Megan Mullaley who was quite funny here as mom, and there is a funny supporting cast. 

Not great, but good fun

LA LA Land

This movie is going to win so many awards, it may need a tractor trailer to get them all home. This is is a wonderfully done movie that Hollywood will love to honor, because it is a story about - itself.  Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star and both will be nominated for numerous awards as well.

This is a great mixture of old school musicals, and a modern one.  The singing, the dancing, and the music in general is amazing.  Incredibly filmed, superbly written, and acted brilliantly.  It's a love story, a comedy and tragedy and a musical.  This is as original as movies get, and this is an experience that every movie lover should not miss on the big screen.

One of the best movies of this year. Or any year.


Fences is a new movie starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.  This was adapted from a play and this movie actually views like one. This is really serious drama, with a stellar story and an equally stellar performance by Washington who also directed this. 

It's a story in the early 1960's of a struggling family in Pittsburgh, who are a victim of the times, timing of life, race and family background.  This is very powerful and will make you uncomfortable at times with its honesty.  This is not big on a music soundtrack, or anything flashy, this is simply great actors, being great telling a story that is tough to watch at times, but worth the time.



A short Indy movie about former first lady Jackie Kennedy, and the days immediately following her husband's assassination in 1963.  This stars Oscar winner Natalie Portman as Jackie.  And this will be the role of her career. She is magnificent.

This deals with Jackie as a wife, mother, and first lady and takes you to places you never have been with the Kennedy's.  This is wonderfully written, acted and  produced.   This also has incredible costuming, sets and a very strong supporting cast.  Portman is amazing, and she will more than likely be nominated for another Oscar. 

Limited release, but worth the drive to find it.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

MUSIC - My Five Favorite Songs of 2016

2016 has been another solid year in Country Music, that was loaded with some good transition.  There were some strong breakthrough acts this year that added a real nice seasoning to our already strong format. And for my ear, some of these artists and their great new songs and sound dominated my top 5 of the year.

5/  80's Mercedes - Maren Morris.  She absolutely has the chops to be a real player for years to come. Both of her singles were terrific as I loved My Church as well.  This song is a great example of a newer sound from a new woman artist that talks directly to her audience and has a thunderous beat.

4/  Hometown Girl - Josh Turner.  So great to have him back and it's worth the wait.  This is a real nice mix of who Josh was, as it doesn't abandon the road he's traveled, and paves the way for a clear view of where he's going.

3/  May We All - Florida Georgia Line.  I loved Holy too, but this a real nice song and a bit different from them as was Holy.  Their 2016 songs have shown some real versatility.  They are on a great roll these days and are cementing themselves as one of our largest acts.

2/  I Met A Girl - William Michael Morgan.  Great song, done traditionally, sung by a young singer with a Stetson, that is totally believable.  This song is among the ones that are really centering the format.  A lot of singers I feel would have loved to have this song. 

1/  Head Over Boots - John Pardi.  Good example of the right song finding the right singer.  This song also reminds us that with all the serious ballads and love songs out there, country music is still fun, and there's room for all kinds of country.  Really fun song!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

MOVIE REVIEWS - Now In Theaters

Here's a look at some of choices you have at the movies this weekend.  And yes, the new Star Wars movie is out as well.

Collateral Beauty 

This is a really good idea, and my feeling is this would read in a book very well.  But as a movie, I'm not sure.  This has an all star cast including Will Smith, Kate Winslett, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Edward Norton and others.  So clearly star power is not the issue here.

This is the story of Howard, his friends and his advertising company. Howard has an extreme personal tragedy and retreats entirely from life. This is the story of bringing him back as best as he can be brought back.  As he writes abstract letters to things like, Death, Love, and Time.  And he gets an answer from each of them - but how?

This is done as well as it can be, problem is I think you need your imagination here more than your eyes.  This is a story that doesn't transfer well to the visual.  Plus, in this adaptation, the ending was insanely predictable.  You will be way, way ahead of the movie, even though they think they are smarter than you.

This is emotional, entertaining, and pretty well paced. Is this great?  No.  But it's worth the time and money if you are in for a emotional ride at the movies.

Office Christmas Party

What can you say?  It's 2 hours of footage from a huge office party.  Big cast, some laughs, topical at times.

Story attempted, but you don't really care about it. You just want to see the party shenanigans and watch all of our stars again try their hand at non-scripted improvisational jokes.

Miss Sloane

Here comes another political thriller with an agenda that was supposed to make a big splash at the box office but did not, and will not. Jessica Chastain is terrific as Miss Sloane.  She is a tough as nails, smart, slick Washington DC lobbyist with a great track record, this time taking on the NRA and trying to get control legislation passed.

But there are a few really big problems here. First, this is too long, and draggy at times. Second, even though Chastain is great, the character they portray is simply a horrible, ugly, lost, immensely terrible person in general. You are supposed to be pulling for her, but you really just hate her more as time rolls on.  They try at the end to redeem her, but you could care less about her by then.  This movie also becomes a lecture about, well basically everything, and her dialogue is simply not credible.

Chastain does a lot with a little, and she is to be commended. Also, these movies with anti-everything agendas for the most part flop and flop hard, as this will. And even a small 18 million dollar budget will still be a huge tanker.

Friday, December 2, 2016

BROWNS - Learning in Earnest From Byner

Today at our WQMX Tree Of Lights Fundraiser I met Browns legendary running back, Earnest Byner.  What a thrill for us.

For those who can remember, and for those who only saw it on the ESPN movie, Believeland, he is the player whose fumble at the goal line in Denver ended the Browns Superbowl run in 1987.  That is what ESPN wants you to remember -  The Fumble -  but I have always refused to do that.  Byner was  a darn good football player who played on some darn good teams, who wouldn't have been darn good without him.  For me, it was not his fumble, but Jeremiah Castille's great play when his team needed it. But it's not as good of theater for many.

I always thought Byner was unfairly judged.  Truth is, what happened to Byner that day was tough for all of us fans to accept.  It hurt.  But now, 29 years later I have learned our pain, the fans, was nothing in the grand scheme of things.  We got off easy.

The slow motion footage of Byner on the ground at Mile High Stadium was hard to watch as he is in emotional agony. And it's harder to watch now - than then. Because now, we realize, Byner was just a 25 year old guy, who in about 5 seconds had the entire weight of a major city placed on his shoulders, not just for that Sunday, but forever.  He was made to carry the Browns, Indians and the Cavaliers failures from that moment forward. Think about that, he was only 25 years old at that time.  It wasn't fair then, and it's not fair now.

Talking with Byner, it is clear he is comfortable in his own skin and has turned that early Sunday evening agony into a positive outlook.  And we should be able to as well, as we only carry our own weight, and not the weight of all.  Good lesson for all of us, life is filled with things that require perspective. Real perspective, and it's a good time of the year to be reminded of it.

Because if Earnest Byner can accept that what happened that day, was only a tiny moment in time, in a good life lived, the rest of us are charged to do the same. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

MOVIE REVIEWS - In Theaters Now

Let's look at some of the new movies in theaters this week, and see how we're doing.


Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard star in this amazing WWII flick, that everyone should see if you love well done, well acted movies.

This is full of nice twists and turns and features incredible performances from the entire cast. Pitt is making the best movies of his career lately and Cotillard is terrific and cold earn herself an Oscar nomination.  She is terrific in this complicated role, and she delivers from tough to insanely sexy.

Allied. This is a must see.

Rules Don't Apply

Warren Beatty leads a huge cast in this movie taking place in the 1950's and 60's that deals with the intensely eccentric Howard Hughes and his empire, both the good and the really not so good.  As good as this cast is the star of this movie is the young actress Lily Collins, who plays this amazingly naive young actress that finds herself involved with Hughes in Hollywood at RKO Pictures.

She is so good in this flick, she saves this.  Oscar nomination? Possible. This is not a bad movie, but it is slow at times, but she makes it tolerable.  This looks great, and has a nice soundtrack.  But make no mistake, the versatile performance by Collins is the gas in the engine that it badly needs.

This is solid and worth the time, thanks to Collins.

Bad Santa 2

Billy Bob Thornton and the cast of crazies is back again, and more vile than ever in this sequel.  This is the continuing story of our favorite vulgar Santa, his horrible life, and his never ending quest to try to get it right.  Should be noted, the R rating was invented for this movie. 

This is very harsh in every regard. This is of course like the original in its dark comedy feel, but we are climbing to a new low in colorful language and subject matter. Yes, there are some laughs here, and there are some ridiculous moments you can't help but laugh at.  But, this is very dark, and incredibly politically incorrect. So if you are easily offended, pass this one by.

Plenty of tough dialogue, sexual situations, and downright raunchy.   If it's total detachment you are looking for this may be your comedy.  For me, this did get fatiguing after a while

Hard R rating.  Not at all for any kid anywhere.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and not by a little.

It's everything that is great about a holiday.  Yeah, there's the "F's"  Food, Fun, Family, and Football, and that's great.  But for me, there is so much more.  How cool is it we set aside an entire day, just to say - "thanks."  That's it.  Just - "thanks."  And add another "F." Friends.

One reason I think this day is so powerful to me, is that I spent it away from my actual family for many years while I was moving around the nation in Country Radio.  21 in fact.  What Thanksgiving did for me then, and does for me now is solidify my friendships that I have had for my entire life.  And because of the road life has led me, my friendships are my guiding light.

I remember spending a couple Thanksgivings with my friend Debbie and her husband John.  He is an amazing chef, and I am still in awe of him making, and me eating,  a completely de-boned turkey - delicious!  I spent a few a with my friends Ray and Debbie too, who have a very large family and they still made room for me, and Ray says they still set a place for me each year.  My friends Tim, and Kelley invited me for a few, and we had amazing times there with us and their dogs.  And my friends Don and Terri and their family, who have always made me feel welcome at Thanksgiving and every other day.

Funny, Ray, Tim and Don represent a combined 101 years of friendship to me. And how lucky am I (and the 4 of us) that we still get together a few times every year in Florida and play golf, eat, smoke cigars and hang by the pool.  They are amazing friends.  As are my friends Tex and Tammi, and Joe and Lori, and Kurt and Meg who represent another combined 105 years of friendship to me.

Everyone I have mentioned here is worthy of  my thanks for so many reasons. Some because they were, and are amazing family when I was away from my family all those years. I am sure you have those people in your life too, who aren't technically family, but feel like it, and feel like it more in some cases. 

Like mine.  Happy Thanksgiving and - Thanks!