Movie Review Book: Kingston Author Leaps from Cyberspace to Bookshelves

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The Four Word Film Reviews book is coined by its authors as “the ultimate book for film lovers with short attention spans”.

The book is based on a popular website of the same name – started by Benj Clews in 1999 – that has since been featured in the New York Times, Miami Herald, Time Magazine, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, and the Los Angeles Times.

Both the book – and the site it was born from – humorously (and cleverly) reviews or summarizes movies in four words or less.

“Most people have the same reaction at first – they can’t believe you can sum up a movie in four words or less,” says Benj, a web developer who lives in London, England. “But after reading a few reviews, people quickly realize how much can be said with so little.”

Michael Onesi – a former Kingston Whig-Standard editor who now works in the communication department at Queen’s University – joined as a contributor to the site in 2005 where he has written more than 4,000 reviews.

A year ago, Onesi and the site’s creator began to search for a literary agent and a publisher for their print version of the website reviews, and were surprised to receive offers within the first three weeks.

When Onesi searched online for more information about a prospective literary agencies  making an offer, he discovered one of their clients is Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code”.

Realizing their book project had received interest from the same New York agency that represents such an established author, as well as many others, is described by Onesi as “one of the top 10 moments” of his life.

In conversation with The Kingston Herald, Onesi was asked to supply some movie review examples for films starring actor-comedian (and sometimes Kingston area resident) Dan Aykroyd.

Featured below are some of the humorous submissions for a few of Aykroyd’s best known flicks:

Blues Brothers (1980)

“Band on the Run.”
“Get fee to nunnery.”
“Robber band.”
“Cops get the blues.”
“Band of Brothers”

Coneheads (1993)

“Aykroyd has a point!”
“SNL highbrow comedy.”

Ghostbusters (1984)

“Guys seize dead people.”
“Zool’s out.”
“Slime Scene Investigation.”
“Aykroyd’s in-specter gadget.”

Ghostbusters 2 (1989)

“Two ya gonna call?”
“Taming of the goo.”
“Slimy: a river.”

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

“Ride and Prejudice.”
“Daisy driving Morgan crazy.”
“American Civility war.”
“Aykroyd’s character-driven comedy.”

“I’m on a Horse”
– National Velvet (1944) *

The brother of “The Old Spice Guy” commercial actor (Isaiah Mustafa) is one of the 10,000 contributors to the Four Word Movie Reviews website.

In addition to John Mustafa, other submitters to the site include an Emmy-nominated reality TV producer and editor, a copy editor at the Globe and Mail newspapers, and an actress from London who has performed alongside Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Barbra Streisand. More than 125 of these website contributors also have their movie reviews featured in this book.

* 1944’s “National Velvet” starred Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor. Mickey Rooney – the famed actor of Hollywood’s Golden Era – will be appearing at Kingston’s Grand Theatre on Wednesday, September 29.

Four Word Film Reviews is available in bookstores across North America, as well as online retailers such as Amazon and Chapters Indigio.

A book launch is set to take place on Wednesday, September 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Grad Club on Queen’s University campus, located on Barrie Street at Union. [Map]

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Four Word Film Reviews (the book) Website