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Caryn James

'American Hustle': When Brilliant Acting is More than Enough

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 11, 2013 9:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Bradley Cooper in pink hair curlers says it all. So does Christian Bale's giant pot belly and glued-down combover, and Jennifer Lawrence's poufy blonde 'do. It makes sense that a film about small-time cons reinventing themselves and a big FBI scam never quite lets you forget that you're watching bravura acting.

'Man of Steel': Superguy For Our Times

  • By Caryn James
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  • June 13, 2013 9:02 AM
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  • 4 Comments
If casting really were everything, Man of Steel would be phenomenal: Henry Cavill soars away with the title Best Looking Superman Ever; Russell Crowe brings emotional depth to the role of his father, Jor-El; Michael Shannon glowers as Jor-El's power-hungry nemesis, General Zod, yet makes us see that Zod believes he's trying to save their planet from destruction. (Why Jor-El has an Australian accent and Zod sounds American remains a nagging mystery. Are they from different parts of Krypton?) Diane Lane and Kevin Costner are unexpected but touching as the lovable and loving Earth parents who found the baby Superman when his pod from outer space crashed on their Kansas farm.

Zach Galifianakis' Between Two Ferns: Oscar Questions As They (Maybe) Ought To Be

  • By Caryn James
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  • February 11, 2013 12:25 PM
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  • 1 Comment
In a promo for 'Pitch Perfect' that seems to have been on an endless loop on my On Demand Chanel lately, Rebel Wilson gushes “We had such fun” making the movie. Just once, I would love to hear an actor say: “It was hell, we hated each other, I never want to work with those losers again.” Just once.  In the meantime, we have Zach Galifianakis’ new Oscar installment of his faux-web show, 'Between the Ferns'. Galifianakis, as the idiot host, talks to real-life nominees Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts, Christoph Waltz, Anne Hathaway and Amy Adams about, as he puts it  “all of their Oscar buzzness around them.”  His question to Watts – “Do you have to shrink yourself to get into the camera?” -- is only slightly more ridiculous than some actual questions I’ve heard.

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.  

'The Master' Review: Egotists and the Cultists Who Love Them

  • By Caryn James
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  • September 22, 2012 9:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments
With its expansive 70 mm images, The Master almost pounces on you as it announces its epic scope and ambition – even though the impressive vistas of the sea don’t have anything to do with the heart of the film. In its intelligent, chilly essence, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is an intense, eye-to-eye war between two different yet interdependent psyches. Philip Seymour Hoffman is magnificent as the charming, voracious, monomaniacal charlatan who needs worshippers the way he needs air, a man so much The Master that his name, Lancaster Dodd, isn’t mentioned for most of the film. Joaquin Phoenix is nearly as effective as the jittery, off-putting Freddie Quell, a GI back from World War II, belligerent yet so unconsciously needy he is swooped into Dodd’s cultish vortex almost without realizing what’s happening.

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