Friday, October 27, 2006

The Reel Deal E-Course

The Long Story Short School of Writing is now offering some classes in E-Book format. My course, THE REEL DEAL : WRITING ABOUT MOVIES, is one of these courses.

This course is designed for students who want to learn various techniques for writing movie reviews as well as for interviewing actors, directors, screenwriters and other film-related personnel. A FREE COPY of my book, CONFESSIONS OF A MOVIE ADDICT, will also be sent to those who buy the E-Course. Although the E-Course does not include teacher contact or feedback, students will have the course to study at their leisure and return to again and again. And, of course, they will have the option at anytime to purchase the interactive course for the difference in cost.

For more information or to buy the E-Course, go to:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Marie Antoinette

Filmmaker Sofia Coppola introduces viewers to a naive teenage girl not ready to be Queen of France in MARIE ANTOINETTE, a movie more in tune with the 21st century than the historic time in which Marie lived. Think PRETTY IN PINK meets ELIZABETH, but without the clarity and entertainment value of either film.

Still, casting Kirsten Dunst in the lead role here made sense. She excels at projecting the bewilderment of a young girl suddenly placed in a position of such high visibility. And she looks absolutely stunning in those elaborate period costumes designed by Milena Canonero.

Unfortunately, the film comes across as a series of vignettes instead of a cohesive story. Adding to my disappointment, too much fuzzy cinematography and indecipherable whispering made MARIE ANTOINETTE the most annoying film I have watched since MIAMI VICE.

If you would like to read my full review, please go to

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Muse Writing Conference Earns Kudos

I had the honor of presenting a workshop on THE ART OF WRITING FILM REVIEWS during the first MUSE ONLINE WRITING CONFERENCE, a groundbreaking event which ran from October 9 through October 13.

Interacting in cyberspace with so many individuals who share a passion for the art of writing both inspired and energized me. Congratulations to Lea Schizas and Carolyn Howard-Johnson for their great work in organizing and conducting such a wonderful conference. I would also like to thank everyone who participated, including my fellow presenters. Bravo!

For more information, please go to :

Friday, October 13, 2006

Funniest Movie of the Year

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is a laugh riot. This terrific comedy follows six members of a quirky family as they travel in a beat-up van to take the youngest one, played by darling 11-year-old Abigail Breslin, to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant in California.

The family includes a gay uncle who has just tried to commit suicide because his lover left him, a grandfather whose only interests seem to be porn magazines and helping his granddaughter with her pageant routine, a teenage brother who refuses to speak until he can fly fighter planes, a working mother too busy to be of much help to anyone, and a father trying to sell his 9-point motivational speaking program to anyone who will listen.

Although all of these people appear absorbed in their own issues, they learn to work together during their hilarious road trip. Stand-outs in the fine cast are Abigail Breslin, especially in her surprising talent number, comic Steve Carell as the uncle and Greg Kinnear, who should get an Oscar nomination for his wonderful performance here as the father.

I think LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is the funniest movie so far this year.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fascinating Filmmaking

Magic, love and mystery abound in THE ILLUSIONIST, a spellbinding film set in Vienna at the turn of the 19th century. Edward Norton stars as Eisenheim, an enigmatic magician who performs amazing tricks that seem much more than sleight-of-hand entertainment. During his shows, Eisenheim talks about such deep subjects as space and time, life and death, fate and chance. He also appears to raise spirits from the dead.

Because of Eisenheim is so popular with the masses, Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) commands Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) to find out everything about him -- and, finally, to do anything necessary to get rid of the man. Although Uhl has ambitions that can only be achieved by helping the cunning and powerful Leopold, he harbors mixed feelings about this assignment. He is an amateur magician who admires Eisenheim, and he has difficulty discovering any crime for which the magician can be arrested.

Love enters the picture with Sophie (Jessica Biel), the beautiful woman Leopold has chosen as his fiance. When Leopold volunteers her as an assistant for an Eisenheim trick, Sophie and the magician recognize each other. They were childhood sweethearts who were torn apart because she comes from a royal family and he (called Edward then) is the son of a cabinet maker. Their feelings for each other have never changed, and they want to be together always. That will not be easy because the power-mad Leopold needs Sophie to carry out his plans which involve ousting his father and becoming Emperor himself. When Sophie tells him she is leaving, a series of events take place that seem to make a happy ending impossible. However, never underestimate the great Eisenheim.

I think THE ILLUSIONIST is one of the most fascinating films of the year. Edward Norton looks great in a VanDyke beard and does an outstanding job in his first serious romantic role; Jessica Biel shows she is more than a pretty face; Paul Giametti redeems himself after his unexciting performance in LADY IN THE WATER; plus, as the villain, Rufus Sewell made me want to yell BOO whenever he appeared on screen.

THE ILLUSIONIST is a perfect example of what I call a MOVIE MOVIE. Everything about the film -- acting, dialogue, costumes, sets, music and cinematography transported me back in time to 19th century Vienna for a magical adventure.