Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Way To Go, Penguins!

Although the dazzling look of HAPPY FEET impressed me, as did the way it explores significant issues relating to tolerance, diversity and ecology, what I enjoyed most about this wonderful film was its spectacular singing and dancing sequences. As an avid movie musical fan, I became enchanted with the variety of songs in the movie and those cute little tapping feet dancing across the big screen. Way to go, penguins!

When I got home, I even put on my old tap shoes and did a few lively time steps myself. Who knows? Perhaps, as HAPPY FEET suggests, tap dancing might one day save the world.

To read my full review, please go to

Monday, November 20, 2006

Going Around the Big Guys

After reading INDEPENDENT FILM DISTRIBUTION: HOW TO MAKE A SUCCESSFUL END RUN AROUND THE BIG GUYS, an eye-opening book by Phil Hall, I feel happy that my work involves reviewing indie films, not making and distributing them. There is so much to learn about this process, and the effort required seems gargantuan. Still, I salute those brave folks who continue to create movies outside the mainstream and who try to provide us with a variety of cinematic experiences. Some of my favorites -- including EL MARIACHI, MADE-UP, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN -- might never have made it to the screen without people willing to invest time and money in these movies outside the major studio system. Thanks to Hall and his new book, a comprehensive guide for aspiring indie filmmakers is now available.

In this enlightening follow-up to his THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF UNDERGROUND MOVIES, Hall unravels the mysteries surrounding how to get attention for independent films. Drawing on his considerable experience in movie PR and as a film critic, the author offers valuable, up-to-date information in such critical areas as distribution options, helpful organizations and resources, marketing, film festival consideration, and what not to do. If I were making an independent film -- or had already completed one, this book would be my bible.

INDEPENDENT FILM DISTRIBUTION overflows with sound advice not only from Hall but also from candid indie filmmakers and distributors who share their experiences. This is a user-friendly guide as well as an entertaining read. Even so, Hall avoids promising success. “I cannot make any guarantees that this book will aim you to the stage of the Academy Award ceremony,” he writes. “But keep moving and keep trying, because you can never experience the sensation of accomplishment if you fail to chase your dreams.”

For more information about INDEPENDENT FILM DISTRIBUTION, published by Michael Wiese Productions, go to

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Whimsical and Inspiring

Filled with witty dialogue and intriguing characters, STRANGER THAN FICTION presents a creative story that not only entertains us but makes us think about our own mortality and the important things in life. This provocative film makes sense out of a whimsical situation that could have been played strictly for laughs but ends up being an inspirational treat instead.

In one of her best performances ever, Emma Thompson portrays an author who wants to kill off one of her characters but cannot figure out how to do it. In fact, she has become an emotional wreck while pondering over the way to end her new book. Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, the character in question, but the catch is that Harold is a real person who starts hearing the author narrate details about his life. Not surprisingly, when Harold discovers that the writer is planning his imminent death, he tries to prevent this from happening.

Ferrell is simply wonderful in this different type of role. He portrays the lonely, uptight IRS agent with such poignancy and sincerity that it becomes easy to hope something will happen to change the fate of his character. And Thompson deserves considerable credit here for letting all her nerve ends show as the chain-smoking writer coming to grips with a dilemma involving deadlines and moral responsibility.

Directed by Marc Forster with the same magical touch he brought to FINDING NEVERLAND, STRANGER THAN FICTION won me over completely. However, I believe the best thing about this exceptional film is the writing. Zach Helm, a relative newcomer, has created an impressive script which I hope will be honored come Oscar time. STRANGER THAN FICTION is a very special movie indeed. Please do not miss this one.

To read my full review, go to

Monday, November 06, 2006

Joint Interview

Will wonders never cease! My husband finally agreed to a joint interview concerning IT HAD TO BE US, the little romantic memoir we co-wrote under the pseudonyms of Harry and Elizabeth Lawrence.

This revealing interview was conducted by Lea Schizas of Muse Book Reviews, who asked us questions about such important areas as: the purpose of and inspiration for writing our award-winning memoir; the impact of our work on family and friends; authors we admire; the highs and lows we have experienced in connection with our writing; and our advice for new writers.

To read the entire Muse Book Reviews interview, go to: