Caryn James

TV Review, Showtime’s Episodes: Matt LeBlanc Outsmarts Joey

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 5, 2011 4:12 AM
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  • 14 Comments
Infotainment and the internet have created a country of show-biz insiders, shrewd about every Hollywood ploy. What dark corners are left after you’ve heard Mel Gibson rant? That makes satire harder to pull off than ever, and it doesn’t take much to see where Showtime’s new Matt LeBlanc series will go.
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Howl on DVD: We're Not in Franco Overload Yet

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 4, 2011 5:54 AM
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You may think you’re already in James Franco overload, and he hasn’t even hosted the Oscars yet. And here’s a link to what he just told Entertainment Weekly about his plans for directing Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Those ambitious projects might seem a stretch, but watch him as Allen Ginsberg in Howl (just released on DVD) and you’ll see his deep literary instincts at work.

Gwyneth Sings . . . on Jimmy Fallon

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 4, 2011 4:05 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Gwyneth Paltrow has been singing all over the place lately, on Glee, on the Country Music Awards, all to promote her new film Country Strong (coming Friday, after a very limited December opening). January, of course, is generally losers’ month at the movies, and Country Strong belongs in that dumping ground. Paltrow’s role as a Kelly Canter, a country star trying to come back after half-hearted rehab, is a much lesser yin version of Jeff Bridges’ yang in Crazy Heart.

Movie Review, The Other Woman: Natalie Portman’s Latest, Straight Off the Shelf

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 3, 2011 6:10 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Long before Black Swan, Natalie Portman was making some daring choices. Her bravado as the stripper in Closer and her delicately-directed short for New York, I Love You would be enough to signal an adventurous career. And in The Other Woman she creates sympathy for a truly idiosyncratic character. Emilia was a pregnant mistress turned wife, then grieving mother when her infant died. You can feel a big “But ...” coming here. Don Roos’ misbegotten screenplay and muddled direction are so hopeless all you can do is wonder “Who are these people?”

TV Review: Oprah’s OWN Network, Where Fluffy Meets Smart

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 2, 2011 3:32 AM
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  • 20 Comments
Oprah Winfrey has the amazing ability to say things – or rather make pronouncements - that might sound alarming from other people. As she told Barbara Walters about starting OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, “People deserve to have value-centered, inspirational programming.” What? Imagine that value-centric statement coming from some tea-partying Sarah Palin clone and it takes on a far less innocuous tone.
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Restored Version of The Leopard for New Year's: How Did It Survive the 1963 Trailer?

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 30, 2010 3:22 AM
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  • 1 Comment
What better way to begin a new year than watching The Leopard, Luchino Visconti's ever-enthralling saga about a proud aristocratic family trying not to crumble when Garibaldi's army lands on its doorstep, marching toward a unified Italy and the 20th century? The epic is at once a magnificent escape into the past and a warning about the dangers of clinging to it. In New York, Film Forum begins a two-week run of the latest restoration, which premiered this year at Cannes, on New Year's Eve. (Next best if you're not in New York: The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray.)

Standouts Of The Year

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 28, 2010 4:30 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Top Tens are fine, but what about those films and events too idiosyncratic for lists? A few highs and lows of the year:

Top Ten Films of 2010

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 27, 2010 3:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Fish Tank and Inception might have come from different planets; of course it’s artificial to rank the year’s best films. So think of this as a reminder list of the movies most worth seeing, and seeing again. Some are splashy hits, others nearly overlooked and orphaned, but all are audacious, artistic and worth your time.

Best on TV: Francois Ozon for Christmas

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 23, 2010 3:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It isn’t exactly Christmas-themed, but there is fake snow in Angel, Francois Ozon’s little-known 2007 film, with Romola Garai as a working-class girl named Angel Deverell who becomes a best-selling author. A rare film by Ozon in English, it is as stylized and theatrical as his Eight Women, and indulges its soap opera elements with a knowing wink. Angel rises from an ambitious young woman determined not to be a shopkeeper like her Mum, to become rich, famous and petulantly self-absorbed. She also displays some tough-minded Scarlett O’Hara elements, complete with a red dress and an embarrassing party scene. Michael Fassbender plays Angel’s misbegotten lover, a true artist, and Sam Neill is her loyal publisher. Based on Elizabeth Taylor’s novel, Angel has just been reissued on DVD and will also be shown on Sundance Channel on Christmas night at 9. It’s a colorful way to put your feet up and escape into a beautifully over-the-top world.
More: Best on TV

Christmas Oddity # 2 : Mr. Magoo Sings Dickens on Broadway

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 23, 2010 2:45 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Don’t scoff at Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol before you hear the conceit of this 1962 animated feature: Magoo is starring on Broadway in a musical version of Dickens’ classic. Three minutes in, the Magoo character vanishes into his portrayal of Scrooge, and you might as well be watching a first-rate Broadway show. There are memorable songs by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill (Funny Girl and other hit shows). And the story, which stays pretty true to Dickens – all the ghosts are there -- is funny and affecting. Magoo plays Scrooge straight, and turns out to be one of the better versions around. The film has its kitschy elements, but what Broadway musical doesn’t? It’s also as cheerful and heart-warming as Christmas is meant to be.
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