Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Page-to-Screen Recommendation

Into her bubbling cauldron of creativity, author Lanaia Lee decided to toss such tempting ingredients as fantasy, magic, romance, betrayal, revenge, and the eternal battle of good vs. evil. The result? Of Atlantis, a novel that’s very hard to put down once you start reading it.

Because I’m a confirmed movie addict, I always read a book with the question of how successful the story might be as a film in the back of my mind. And this one practically screams out “destined to be a movie” -– or a television mini-series. The longstanding struggle between its great hero, King Archimedes of Atlantis, and the equally powerful villain, Uric, generates more than enough suspense to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Enhancing the plot are other colorful characters including:

Cheris -- a beautiful Queen who suffers through a loveless marriage to an abusive monarch

Persius -- Cheris’ champion, a man dedicated to protecting the Queen and her son

Janus -- a two-faced traitor who can’t wait to send Persius to his doom.

Bloody battle scenes also add to the excitement of this imaginative fantasy epic, as do the exotic settings which form the backdrop for its thrilling action.

Unfortunately, Hollywood usually takes a long time to make up its mind about which films to greenlight, so I hope you’ll buy Of Atlantis in its current book form. If you follow my advice, you’re in for a memorable journey back to the lost continent of Atlantis –- plus a few more recent surprises.

(Published by Roval Publishing & Digital Services. For more information, please go to or call 1-888-485-8830.)

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Seeing Stars

Reading about Angelina Jolie’s delivery of twins this past weekend caused me to reminisce about the movie actors and filmmakers I met while working as a critic in San Diego. Angelina was among the many stars who came to that beautiful city to promote their new films, probably because of San Diego’s proximity to Hollywood. Although I view having my picture taken with celebrities as unprofessional, Angelina and Jonny Lee Miller, co-stars of Hackers, insisted. I'm glad they did. My grandchildren ask to see that photo every time they come to visit. They are among Angelina Jolie's many fans now, so my status with the younger set seems secure -- for a while, at least.

Three other memorable highlights from those “good old days” in San Diego involve Guy Pearce, Ian McKellen and Matthew Broderick.

Visiting San Diego for a personal appearance in connection with L. A. Confidential, Guy Pearce looked nothing like the prim detective from that acclaimed film. With his spiked hair and leather jacket, the diminutive actor resembled a rock star instead. My husband, who always came along to take photos during the interviews, whispered to me, "I think they've brought in a ringer." But I disagreed. Why? Looking closer at the Australian-born Pearce, I spotted those penetrating blue eyes and high cheekbones that make him so photogenic in such movies as Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Rules of Engagement and Memento.

Instead of the elitist Shakespearean actor I expected, Sir Ian McKellen was very easy to talk with. He described growing up in an area of England where he attended live theater productions three times a week, which probably explains his great love for the theater over film. However, by serving not only as the lead actor but also as executive producer for Richard III, McKellen claimed he gained a new respect for making movies. Recognizing the need to include American film stars to make his movie a more bankable production, he supported casting Annette Bening and Robert Downey Jr. in the roles of Queen Elizabeth and her brother.

Although I didn't officially interview Matthew Broderick, I met the popular star of Ferris Bueller's Day Off at a holiday celebration in Horton Plaza. Broderick's musical comedy performance in the San Diego trial run of How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying received unfair pans by local critics. While shaking his hand, I told him not to worry. "I saw your show and you were terrific," I exclaimed. I mentioned my background in musical comedy to make sure he understood my credentials. Broderick thanked me, smiled one of the widest grins I've ever seen, and wouldn't let go of my hand. Later, when he won the Tony for this same performance, he said nothing about my encouraging words. I was heartbroken. But I still never miss any of Matthew Broderick's movies.

(More of these “seeing stars” escapades are included in CONFESSIONS OF A MOVIE ADDICT, my humorous life story with everything but the movie stuff edited out.)

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Meet Joanne Ross

Joanne Ross, our newest contributor to, loves the cinema. I became aware of her passion for film while reading her assignments for my LSS School of Writing online class, “The Reel Deal: Writing about Movies.”

In fact, I could hardly wait to add Joanne to our roster of film critics. When asked to send in a short bio for the site, Joanne came up with a very witty submission. Here’s the opening paragraph:

Joanne Ross loves movies, and has loved them since she was a little girl—maybe earlier. There are times she’s convinced she was born clutching a pair of ticket stubs with one hand and holding a bucket of buttered popcorn with the other.

Joanne doesn’t just watch movies, she experiences them. As explained in her first assignment, she “lives vicariously through them.” Her love for movies inspired an equal love for acting and theater which led to studying acting and taking courses in film history and film studies.

About her philosophy as a film critic, Joanne says, “I'm not really sure I want to entertain readers so much as engage them to think about the movie and hopefully, help them see how the techniques and conventions of film making, as I understand them in my limited way, are used in any given movie to tell the story, convey meaning, and engage their emotions.. Of course, I hope I don't bore them in the process.”

After reading Joanne’s reviews of movies like No Country for Old Men, Stuck, Savage Grace, My Kid Could Paint That, it’s quite clear there’s no danger of her boring anyone.

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