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Comic writer-director Albert Brooks (Lost in America, Defending Your Life, Mother) specializes in difficult characters. Not characters who are neurotic in a fumbling but endearing Woody Allen kind of way; Brooks creates characters who would be a pain in the ass to know and are sometimes kind of excruciating to even watch--which is not to say that they're not also extremely funny. However, The Muse manages to soften the edges of his persona while sustaining the humor. Steven (Brooks), a screenwriter, can't get anyone interested in his scripts. An extremely successful friend recommends that he talk to Sarah (Sharon Stone), who is--according the friend--a muse, one of the daughters of the Greek god Zeus who inspire creativity. The only problem is that Sarah not only gives, she takes: She demands gifts of diamond necklaces, expensive hotel rooms, late-night trips to expensive restaurants, and virtual servitude from whomever she's taken under her wing. This initially arouses suspicion in Steven's wife, Laura (Andie MacDowell), but soon Laura is asking for her own inspiration and it's Steven who starts to get jealous. Stone runs wild with her capricious character and an abundance of tart cameos (from Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Rob Reiner, Jennifer Tilly, Cybill Shepherd, and Wolfgang Puck) add juice to the proceedings.

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MC12419 Muse DVD (1999/Albert Brooks/Sharon Stone) $14.98