Caryn James

The Little Jolie-Pitts' Dad Is A Lethal Weapon In 'Killing Them Softly'

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 30, 2012 9:15 AM
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If you need proof that casting is everything, Killing Them Softly delivers it. This noirish crime story about hired killers would be an entirely different, less enjoyable film without Brad Pitt as an expert hitman. I’d say he’s working against type, but really, isn’t his type these days Mr. Dad-of-Six-Little-Jolie-Pitts, with a side of philanthropy? Or the guy talking mumbo-jumbo on those Chanel ads? Any fictional character is likely to be different from that. Still, good-guy Pitt as a walking, talking lethal weapon is a pretty good joke for a film to start with.

An Irresistible Mix: Smart Meets Soapy in 'The Hour'

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 28, 2012 8:45 AM
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  • 1 Comment
When smart meets soapy, the results can be delicious and addictive television – as long as the show proudly owns its soap opera qualities (that’s one of the secrets of Downton Abbey) and integrates them into the drama (the gap between soap and preaching is what dooms The Newsroom.) The Hour, beginning its second season on BBC America, gets that formula, and if anything tips toward the lurid with its new episodes.  

Is Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' More Than An Adventure Movie?

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 20, 2012 2:27 PM
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Life of Pi is not entirely about a boy and his tiger; but there is a lot about a boy and a tiger, and if you don’t like adventure tales, this is not the film for you.

Clunky Title, Terrific Film: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence in 'Silver Linings Playbook'

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 16, 2012 9:00 AM
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David O. Russell is the master of messed-up families, from the incestuous mother-son duo in Spanking the Monkey through the loving fraternal rivalry of The Fighter and even the band-of-brothers military guys in Three Kings. But he has never had a family so superbly cast and played as the one  in Silver Linings Playbook.

Keira Knightley In An 'Anna Karenina' Cold As A Russian Winter

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 14, 2012 9:03 AM
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With its snowy landscapes, sumptuous costumes and old-world aura, Anna Karenina is as pretty as a holiday window – and just about as lively and surprising. Placing Tolstoy’s enduring story of a married woman’s deadly, passionate infidelity in a theatrical setting – nearly all the action takes place in a theater -- is a disappointing  gamble by the director Joe Wright, even with a screenplay by the usually incomparable Tom Stoppard.

Anne Hathaway and SNL Do Homeland

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 11, 2012 11:17 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Someone at SNL really likes Homeland (don’t we all?) Last week, in their hurricane press-conference sketch, Mayor Michael Bloomberg explained to Spanish-speaking New Yorkers that white people were cranky because they were missing Homeland. This week, Anne Hathaway was at the center of a sketch that perfectly captured the actors’ quirks, with Hathaway recreating Claire Danes’ constantly quivering chin and Taram Killam capturing Damian Lewis’ teeny tiny mouth. And when you think about it, as Saul (Bill Hader) says about Carrie, why wouldn’t you trust a CIA agent who swills wine while popping pills, and is sexually obsessed with her source?

'Skyfall' Review. Bond At 50: Older, Wiser, Much Better Written

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 8, 2012 9:15 AM
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Daniel Craig looks craggier than ever in Skyfall, which is part of the film’s sly, obvious-yet-effective theme. Without slowing down the intricate, explosive action that defines a Bond movie, director Sam Mendes and a sharper-than-usual screenplay create a story in which Bond is feeling his middle-age; gizmo-happy Q is a young computer-whiz played by Ben Whishaw; and in this new world where terrorist threats arrive on your hacked laptop, M -- played once more and quite touchingly by Judi Dench -- is considered an old fart.

Mike Bloomberg, Chris Christie and Some Jersey Hand Gestures (SNL Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 4, 2012 11:16 AM
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  • 1 Comment
I wonder how this will play outside New York and New Jersey, but if you’ve been watching Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s press briefings you know that his sign language interpreter has become a minor celebrity. SNL’s cold open did a brilliant take on Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, along with their interpreters, at press conferences.

Daniel Day-Who? Louis C.K. Does Lincoln

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 4, 2012 10:17 AM
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What if Louis C.K. had been cast in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln instead of Daniel Day-Lewis? Or, as SNL had it, what if the character of Lincoln merged with the character from his television series Louie -- stand-up comic, acerbic observer of life, and in this case emancipator of slaves and preserver of the union?

Reclaiming the Scarlet Letter for Women's Rights: Martha Plimpton and "A is For"

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 2, 2012 7:43 PM
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Good old Hester Prynne, wearing her scarlet letter proudly – not a bad role model for women claiming their bodies as their own. Improbably, when it comes to women’s reproductive rights and health care, today’s political right seems to have channeled those 19th-century witchhunters Hawthorne wrote about. Now Martha Plimpton proves she’s as good an activist as she is an actor, founding a group called “A is For,” which fights against the 21st-century assault on women’s rights. The group’s savvy, wry symbol: a red  A. Take a look at their all-star video featuring Plimpton, Amy Poehler,  Billy Crudup, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and a raft of other high-profile advocates.  

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