- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 21, 2006

Each week, the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

Eat cake on the Net

The exploits of France’s most notorious queen have been brought to the big screen by actress Kirsten Dunst and director Sofia Coppola in the just-opened “Marie Antoinette.”

A Web site mainly made up of animated photo cutouts complements the movie (www.sonypictures.com/ movies/marieantoinette/), but before even loading the main cyber-event, fans of gushing celebrity interviews can view the Podcast from the film’s premiere, held at the Arclight Cinemas in Los Angeles.

A click to the colorful primary site loads to tunes from some fantastic 1980s alternative rock bands, including Gang of Four, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Adam Ant, which are featured on the movie’s soundtrack.

Visitors will spend most of their time at the Life of a Legend section, which offers plenty of information about the real world of Marie Antoinette through text bubbles highlighted with imagery.

Areas titled Decadence, Friends, Pastimes, Style and Wardrobe, and Facts and History present click-on images that lead to information about Swedish nobleman Axel Fersen, the Diamond Necklace Affair and the tradition of the grand couvert.

A Timeline caps off the section and offers text that covers major points of Marie’s life accessed via a sliding scale.

Web ‘Prestige’

Longtime rival magicians compete with deadly consequences in Touchstone Pictures’ latest film, “The Prestige,” starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale.

The movie’s official Web site (https://theprestige.movies.go.com/) offers only a little magical interactivity for the visitor through a trailer available in six formats and a scavenger hunt that combines exploring the site with video clips and journal fragments.

Those who work through the wafts of smoke and dissolving imagery placed within the Web screens will discover small red icons. Click on them, and small nuggets from the film are played.

Most also unlock a ripped piece of a page that then must be dragged into a book found at the bottom corner of the screen. Visitors who find all of the pieces can open the journal to reveal a secret behind “The Prestige.”

Although the journal trick is mildly entertaining, I’m amazed that the site designers offer nothing more based upon the world of prestidigitation, not even a look at some great magicians or how to perform some simple tricks to amaze friends or, in the case of this film, enemies.

Cyber-journal

Augusten Burroughs’ memoirs about his eccentric family have been made into a major motion picture starring Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening and Brian Cox.

The movie, “Running With Scissors,” has a Web site (www.sonypictures.com/ movies/runningwithscissors/) that offers a taste of the insanity of Mr. Burroughs’ life through a cluttered interactive notebook.

Visitors click on arrow icons to open a living journal that has been tossed on a hardwood floor surrounded by cigarette butts, an open pill bottle and drink to find handwritten notes, doodles, photos, hot spots and interactives.

They first can drag a cassette tape into a deck to hear an introduction from the film’s lead character. Next they click on the arrows to get to new pages devoted to his mom, dad, therapist, family tree, life at the Finch house and the movie.

Information and text bubbles magically write on the pages, which also contain about 16 embedded film clips. The very detailed journal also offers visitors the chance to take part in the Finch family’s tradition of “Bible dipping,” which could answer all of their questions about life.

Knowledge seekers simply type in a query, and a finger then points to a passage or word in the legendary book that may or may not put them at peace with their existence in the universe or tell them what to eat for dinner.

Away from the memoirs area, the site also has a stand-alone jukebox loaded with 13 30-second snippets of classic 1970s songs featured on the “Running With Scissors” soundtrack.

Have a cool site for the online multimedia masses? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail ([email protected]). Joseph also writes a Web-exclusive column for the Washington Times Web site where he reviews educational software and family-friendly video games. Check it out at www.washington times.com/familytimes/ romperroom.htm.

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