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Caryn James

'The Gatekeepers,' An Unexpectedly Fascinating Doc About the Middle East

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 30, 2013 9:00 AM
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After you retire, “You become a bit of a leftist,” says Yaakov Peri – a startling comment considering the job he retired from: head of the Israeli security agency, Shin Bet. 'The Gatekeepers' the Oscar-nominated documentary in which Israeli filmmaker Dror Moreh talks to six former heads of Shin Bet, is the very definition of a film that sounds boring but is totally fascinating and unexpected.

'Downton Abbey' Shocker: They Killed Who? And Why?

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 27, 2013 10:18 PM
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If you have not yet watched the stunning latest episode of 'Downton Abbey,' don’t read on. If you have (or just want to find out who died) go to the next page for my review of the understandable but I think wrong-headed shocker. To paraphrase 'South Park':

'Downton Abbey' Preview: This Week's Jaw-Dropping Episode

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 27, 2013 9:30 AM
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  • 2 Comments
If there is one episode of 'Downton Abbey' you won’t want to miss, it’s this week’s. I won’t give anything away, except to say that the video preview here doesn’t begin to prepare you for the high drama of the most tension-filled episode so far -- in fact, until the season finale. (DVR the Screen Actors Guild Awards; all those actors will still be there babbling about their SAG cards when you’re ready.)

Matt Damon Takes Over 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 25, 2013 11:55 AM
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  • 1 Comment
It’s always fun when movie stars and talk-show hosts laugh at themselves and their genres, and 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' did that for a terrific full hour last night when Matt Damon taped  Kimmel to a chair and highjacked the show as host. The ten-year running  joke has been that Kimmel bumped Damon as a guest every night, and Damon’s fake-revenge was full of surprise guests – including Nicole Kidman, Gary Oldman and Amy Adams, with Sheryl Crow replacing the show’s bandleader and Andy Garcia taking over for sidekick Guillermo. All this and not a word from Kimmel himself, sitting there with a gag in his mouth.  

Kathryn Bigelow's Extended Interview with Stephen Colbert (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 23, 2013 12:22 PM
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Kathryn Bigelow couldn’t be clearer about the issue of torture in Zero Dark Thirty: “Torture is reprehensible” she told Stephen Colbert, and went to say that the enhanced interrogation shown in her film was one element in the attempt to track down Osama bin Laden, not, as some critics of the film have claimed, the single indispensable element. Directors don’t always have the best takes on their own films, but Bigelow’s explanation is the one that makes the most sense to me.

SNL's Preview of The Next 18 Hobbit Movies (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 20, 2013 11:26 AM
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Some people (and I‘ll never be one of them) can’t get enough of Perter Jackson’s Hobbit movies. SNL offers a preview of how Jackson plans to take advantage of that – split the next Hobbit installments into 18 different films: in one, Frodo forgets something back at the shire and has to turn around, in another the whole crew (including Jennifer Lawrence as the Elf Queen) splits a complicated dinner bill. There's "Apple Maps: An Unexpected Detour," and the dwarves assembling an Ikea dresser.

Pants On Fire: SNL Cold Open Takes on Lance Armstrong, Manil Te'o, Jodie Foster (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 20, 2013 10:40 AM
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Jennifer Lawrence was a likable host on SNL, pretending to trash-talk her Oscar contenders, but the writers didn’t give her their sharpest material. There was a commercial for Silver Linings Playbook during the show, but no sketch about it – what a lost opportunity (although Jason Sudeikis did wear Bradley Cooper’s trash bag workout clothes in a promo). Instead, the cold open gave us SNL at its topical best, with Piers Morgan welcoming a pants-on-fire lineup of guests.

'The Daily Show' Visits Sorkin's 'Newsroom' (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 15, 2013 12:54 PM
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Jon Stewart and the cast of The Daily Show are fond of saying they’re pretend journalists, even though they often do a better job of delivering actual news stories than the circus that is CNN. In this segment about the loss of investigative journalism -- too expensive, too ratings-challenged – John Oliver interviews Kaj Larsen, a victim of CNN cutbacks; reminds us of the time that Jessica Yellin was a hologram (and really, I don’t blame her for that news-meets-Star-Trek moment), and visits Will McAvoy -- or is it Jeff Daniels? -- in a really fictional newsroom.

Watch Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's Funny, Edgy Golden Globes Opener

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 13, 2013 11:54 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It’s too bad they disappeared for most of the show, because hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were by far the best part of watching The Golden Globes. Some of their lines were as jaw-dropping as anything Ricky Gervais said, but were delivered with such warmth that they didn’t seem to sting. “I haven’t really been following the controversy over Zero Dark Thirty,” Poehler said, “but when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.” The “special material” writers included SNL’s Seth Meyers and 30 Rock’s Robert Carlock, which explains a lot.  

Watch The Oscar Nominations: The Good, The Bad, The What Were They Thinking?

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 10, 2013 10:44 AM
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What a relief! It looks like the Oscar show might actually be fun, thanks to Seth MacFarlane. When he and Emma Stone announced the nominees, MacFarlane commented with barbed lines that were as edgy as anything Ricky Gervais did during his controversial Golden Globes gigs. After announcing the Best Supporting Actress category, he congratulated the nominees with, “You five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” Too far? I’ll always choose a host who crosses the line rather than someone tame and snoozy.

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