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Caryn James

Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in 'The Place Beyond the Pines'

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 28, 2013 9:20 AM
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Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines is a giant ambitious triptych -- Ryan Gosling dominates the first part, Bradley Cooper the second, and two younger actors when the story leaps ahead in time -- and this trenchant view of fathers, sons and the determinism of class is two-thirds of a terrific film. If the last part seems a letdown, it's only because the first two work so powerfully to create believable, fraught, opposite lives occupying the same time and place.

'Room 237,' Kubrick Fanatics And a Bonus Recommendation

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 27, 2013 9:15 AM
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The rapturous responses to Room 237 that came out of the Sundance Film festival seem wildly overstated, but understandable. This modest, entertaining, and at times visually clever documentary about The Shining -- in which a handful of obsessives decode the signposts to supposedly "true" meanings lurking in Kubrick's subtext -- is exactly the kind of inbred film that some cineastes go bonkers for. Not as bonkers as the theorists interviewed for the film, of course. They are hard to top in the thinking-gone-haywire department.

Al Pacino, 'Phil Spector,' and Media Justice

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 21, 2013 9:12 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The gigantic frizzed-out wig on Al Pacino's head might be enough to make you curious about Phil Spector, the new HBO drama written and directed by David Mamet. In a multitude of wigs as conspicuously creepy as the actual Spector's, Pacino plays the fantastically successful music producer and reputed loony-tunes guy convicted of the 2007 murder in his home of Hollywood wannabe and club hostess Lana Clarkson. The first question the film raise isn't about the murder though. It's an issue that comes up with both Pacino and with Mamet today: are you getting the good or the evil twin? Pacino the actor who can still dazzle, or the over-the-top sputtering blowhard? Mamet the disciplined writer of The Untouchables and Glengarry Glen Ross or the self-indulgent filmmaker (The Winslow Boy) who dictates that everyone to speak in artificial, terse Mamet-talk?

Watch Ricky Gervais' Hilariously Awful Music Video, 'Equality Street'

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 15, 2013 6:31 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Shot in gloriously pretentious black and white, 'Equality Street' is the official music video from David Brent -- Ricky Gervais' crazily un-self-aware character from The Office -- and Dom Johnson, the rapper Brent manages. It's cringe-worthy good, as the rapper and the white guy in a bad suit dance down a multiethnic street and Brent sings: "Let me take you down Equality Street / You ever know the people you'll meet."

Ricky Gervais Returns as David Brent in 'The Office Revisited' (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 15, 2013 6:01 PM
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It has been a decade since Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's original version of The Office ended its brief but brilliant run. Now Gervais has brought David Brent back in The Office Revisited, a 10 minute video done for Red Nose Day, an All-Star BBC program that is part of the UK's Comic Relief fundraiser.

Timeliest DVD: Nanni Moretti's 'We Have A Pope'

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 13, 2013 1:08 PM
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Why is this pope hiding in the bushes? The first comic conceit in Nanni Moretti's delightful and touching 2011 film We Have A Pope (Habemus Papam) is that no one wants to be pope, especially the guy who is elected, Cardinal Melville -- played by the extraordinary Michel Piccoli. There is no timelier film to catch right now on DVD or streaming (on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon).

Justin Timberlake's All-Star, All-Good SNL (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 10, 2013 12:13 PM
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Justin Timberlake was totally aware of the high expectations for his hosting gig on SNL - "Thank you, Internet," he said during the monologue - but there was no need to worry. He was so on, he even gave just the right sly, I-know-it's-hokey reading to the line "Five Timers Club" when announcing his membership as a five-time host.

Stephen Colbert Asks James Franco, 'Are You a Fraud?'

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 6, 2013 11:06 AM
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  • 2 Comments
James Franco has taken on one of his most mainstream roles in the new Disney film, 'Oz the Great and Powerful'; nothing is more mainstream than Disney. (You can read my review here.) But his entire career still has the shape of wide-ranging performance art -- and with a lot more focus, Stephen Colbert's on-screen right-wing persona has so overshadowed the "real" Colbert that the character can be considered one of the most successful, long-running pieces of performance art of all time. So consider the many layers of reality and artifice when Colbert asks Franco, the professor-filmmaker-writer-actor-whatever: "Are you a fraud?"

Watch Justin Timberlake's 'SNL' Promo

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 6, 2013 11:05 AM
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  • 1 Comment
I don't believe in jinxes, so I'll flat-out say that nothing is a safer bet for fantastic television than Justin Timberlake hosting 'Saturday Night Live'. He's back this week, and even his promos are better than SNL's usually are (better than some of the sketches lately.)

Risk-Taking James Franco In Risk-Free 'Oz the Great and Powerful'

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 6, 2013 10:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Flying moneys, good. Flying baboons, bad. That's one difference between the classic, 1939 'Wizard of Oz' and 'Oz the Great and Powerful,' Disney's pricey new extravaganza with James Franco as the pre-wizard carnival con man. More important: don’t go on comparing them. The new 'Oz' is loaded with references, some direct and some tongue-in cheek, but mostly it is a sweeping, kinetic adventure all its own.

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