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Caryn James

Chiwetel Ejiofor As a 1930's Jazz Musician in the New Miniseries 'Dancing on the Edge'

  • By Caryn James
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  • October 19, 2013 9:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
There are many reasons 12 Years a Slave is so eloquent and powerful, from Steve McQueen's fluid direction to John Ridley's first-rate screenplay and the cast of actors unafraid to play some of the worst and most heroic elements of character -- but at its heart, the film rests on Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance as a free man turned slave, whose strength, outrage and resilience never begs for the audience's easy sympathy. Anyone who has followed his career knows that performance is no fluke. In earlier films, he has often been the very good center holding a mediocre work in place (Kinky Boots, Dirty Pretty Things).

DVD: Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan in the Exquisite 'What Maisie Knew'

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 12, 2013 9:10 AM
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  • 0 Comments
If they hadn't kept the title, you might not guess that Scott McGehee and David Siegel's What Maisie Knew was based on Henry James' novel -- and that's high praise for this contemporary, Manhattan-set variation, with Julianne Moore as a rock singer and Steve Coogan as an art dealer. A lovely example of how to extract the essence of a book and make it new on screen, the film borrows James' challenging narrative strategy, telling the story of a child of divorce -- a scandalous event when the book was published in 1897 -- from the little girl's point of view. As Maisie observes her parents and their new relationships, she sees far more than a 6-year-old can understand.

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