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Caryn James

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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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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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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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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Christmas Oddity # 1: Creepy Santa in "Rare Exports"

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 23, 2010 2:15 AM
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Like many of you I’ll be taking a break over the holiday weekend, but I leave you with a few off-beat recommendations to come back to, no matter what your mood: pre-ghost Scrooge, post-ghost Scrooge, or ready to escape into another world. First: Creepy Santa. Cheers!

TV Review: A Wonderful, Demented "Doctor Who" Christmas Special

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 22, 2010 2:30 AM
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  • 1 Comment
If Michael Gambon is in it, I’m there – but he’s just one reason to watch Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol, an energetic, goofy, time-traveling special that sideswipes the Dickens tale and takes off on its own demented path. I’m not praising this as a Doctor Who fanatic. I like the series just fine, but its premises -- the Doctor crashing into new planets, times and adventures -- are often more intriguing than the results, even when the Doctor runs into Vincent van Gogh, as he did this season.
More: TV Reviews

Best New DVD: Agnes Jaoui’s Sly, Comic “Let It Rain”

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 21, 2010 3:00 AM
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The world is full of sophisticated French films that are easy to enjoy and easy to forget; they all blend together. Agnes’ Jaoui’s (Look at Me, The Taste of Others) stand out for characters who look more like real people than Parisian models, and for her smooth combination of warmth and acerbic wit with a dash of cynicism. In Let It Rain, Jaoui herself pays Agathe, a feminist writer who reluctantly agrees to run for local office and less reluctantly agrees to have a documentary made about her, not knowing that the filmmaker, Michel (Jaoui’s co-writer, Jean-Pierre Bacri), is having an affair with Agathe’s married sister.

Sofia Coppola's Extraordinary "Somewhere"

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 20, 2010 5:00 AM
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Sofia Coppola’s lovely chamber piece Somewhere feels like – and I mean this is the best possible sense – a love letter to her Dad.

What the Coens Said About "True Grit"

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 20, 2010 2:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments
By sheer luck – or bad planning turned good – the screening of True Grit I was invited to was followed by a Q&A with Joel and Ethan Coen and Hailee Steinfeld, the 14-year old whose screen presence rivals Jeff Bridges’ and Matt Damon’s. No photos were allowed at the screening (it was mostly for Producers Guild and BAFTA members), so trust me: without her braids an old-West costume, Steinfeld looked like the poised, glossy-haired young woman she is.

Best On Screens This Weekend

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 17, 2010 2:45 AM
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