By Lisa Schwarzbaum
May 23, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Has product placement ever helped a movie story?

What movie makes best use of its product placement? — Lanz Leviste
I salute the lowly Coke bottle that falls from the sky, startling a tribesman, in the 1984 Botswanan comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy. Did you know that back then, Coke came in bottles? And that back then, product placement was a novel idea?

Can a movie critic ever successfully make a transition to filmmaker? — Marcia Franz
Based on the careers of onetime Cahiers du Cinéma critics Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, all signs point to yes. And the roster of critics who segued into screenwriting is even longer, among them Paul Schrader, Stephen Schiff, and Paul Attanasio. Your follow-up question, I’m guessing, is something along the lines of ”Aren’t all movie critics wannabe filmmakers?” And there my answer is a confident no. An interest in and an ability to analyze film and write critically is its own discipline and provides its own satisfactions. As it happens, I have no unsold screenplays, no dreams of making an indie, and the utmost admiration for those who do.

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