Caryn James

Jon Stewart and the Perils of 'Firstiness'

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • June 29, 2012 10:11 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
Jon Stewart added a brilliant new word to the vocabulary of media criticism yesterday: firstiness. Looking over the ludicrous flub in which first CNN and then Fox mistakenly reported that the Supreme Court had struck down the essence of the Obama health care plan – instead of, whoops, the opposite – Stewart mocked the crazed rush to be the first network to arrive with news that everyone knew was coming and all the reporters got at the same time. Asking, “Who would emerge from today’s chaos as the world’s grand champion of firstiness?” Stewart almost buried a word that is the perfect companion to Stephen Colbert’s classic, “truthiness.” Both allude to the slippery relationship between words and facts.

Watch Amy Poehler Answer Tumblr Questions On Sex, Music, Comedy

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • June 27, 2012 9:30 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
When I interviewed Amy Poehler last week at the 92nd St. Y, she answered a few questions submitted  through Tumblr. And even if you’ve never wondered about what song she likes to make out to, or another secret about her husband, Will Arnett (famed for Arrested Development and now Up All Night) you’ll want to hear her answers. She started out in improv, of course, so it’s not surprising she was so funny in the moment.

Irreplaceable Andrew. Watch 'Andrew Sarris: Critic in Focus,' An Eloquent, Recent Short

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • June 25, 2012 3:10 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
Andrew Sarris’ most recognizable influence may have been The American Cinema, the book that established the auteur theory’s importance. But it was his endlessly-searching intelligence that made him so vital to the last days of his wonderfully long career. The Andrew I knew as a critic and a friend -- and it was a great gift to have known him -- is visible in Andrew Sarris: Critic in Focus, a short by Casimir Nozkowski centered around an interview with Andrew in late 2010. As you’ll see, it captures his wit, warmth and generosity, the personal qualities that always shaped his writing. And it displays one of the essential qualities of a great critic -- he was fearless about revisiting movies and revising opinions, always looking for something new, ready to discover another favorite.

Aaron Sorkin Moves 'The Newsroom' To Fairyland

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • June 24, 2012 9:45 AM
  • |
  • 2 Comments
Aaron Sorkin has always had a huge, corn-fed Capraesque streak, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.  Even in his own day, Capra’s Americana was more willful than trenchant, but at least it suited its Greatest Generation era. Sorkin’s high-blown patriotic speeches, transferred from America to the glorified image of what was once Serious Journalism, are the main reason his new HBO series The Newsroom is so uneven and shaky. There’s so much that is good about the series – its intelligent characters, the zooming narrative that captures the adrenaline rush of breaking news, Jeff Daniels’ and Sam Waterston’s fierce yet grounded performances - that it’s disappointing to see how much goes wrong. The Newsroom is absolutely worth watching, but measured against its own ambition is a frustrating, partial success.

White House Secrets Revealed In 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • June 21, 2012 3:58 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
So let’s get this straight: slavery in the U.S. lasted so long because vampires supported it. In fact, Jefferson Davis made a deal between the Confederacy and the undead. That explains a lot, including why Abraham Lincoln was so determined to obliterate vampires, even to the point of sneaking out of the White House in the dead of night wielding a silver-edged ax, which he used to decapitate vampires while on top of a moving train. Obviously, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is not the kind of movie to launch a million is-this-historically-accurate articles. The real question is whether the film can sustain its self-consciously playful mashup for more than five minutes. Seth Grahame-Smith’s novels certainly don’t.

Steve Carell, Fake-Author of Many Books, Visits Jon Stewart

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • June 21, 2012 12:25 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
What has Steve Carell been doing besides trying to avoid the apocalypse? Promoting his new film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (it’s a charming romance; you can check out my review here) he joined Jon Stewart to promote the many new books he has written, including a history of Egypt post-Mubarak and a biography of himself as written by Steve Jobs.

Steve Carell and Keira Knightley On The Run From The Apocalypse: 'Seeking a Friend ...'

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • June 21, 2012 9:33 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is something rare: a sunny, charming apocalypse film. Even the off-beat pairing of Steve Carell and Keira Knightley – what?! – works better than you’d imagine, evidence that Carell really can do anything, even play a romantic lead. Not the dashing sweep-you-off-your feet kind, but the best friend who makes you open your eyes one day and see how great he is. (Watch Carell here as he promotes the movie in a totally non-promotional way on The Daily Show, pretending to have written many serous books.)

'Girls' Ends Its Season More Brilliant Than Ever

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • June 17, 2012 9:05 AM
  • |
  • 3 Comments
There has been so much ink, web time, energy and hot air devoted to Lena Dunham’s Girls that there can’t possibly be any synonyms for zeitgeist left unused. Is her HBO series inbred in its casting and elitist in its characters, as charged? Sure it is, but so what? The actors are terrific; the elitism is part of its young-educated-ambitious-kids scenario. And the show, which started off savagely smart, funny and honest, has only gotten better through the season.

Jeremy Irons In 'The Borgias' Stunning Season Finale (Video)

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • June 17, 2012 9:00 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
On a day packed with season finales, two wildly different series stand out: Lena Dunham’s increasingly brilliant Girls on HBO (for a preview, click here) and the extravagant Neil Jordan-created Showtime drama, The Borgias, which ends its glorious and gory second season tonight with one of its most affecting episodes -- and an ending that would feel unresolved if we didn’t know a third round is in the works.

'Your Sister's Sister': Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass In The Week's Best New Film

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • June 15, 2012 9:00 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
Since I saw Your Sister’s Sister at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Lynn Sheldon’s lovely, witty romantic comedy about a totally unlikely love triangle -- try this: a girl and her dead ex-boyfriend’s brother and her lesbian sister – has only come to seem more impressive against the season’s competition. It's a small relationship film with a big bold impact - witty, nuanced, beautifully acted.

Follow Caryn James

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Poetry, Politics and Memory in "The ...
  • The Bright Side of the Death on 'The ...
  • The Emily Dickinson of Photographs or ...