Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Caryn James

Madonna's W.E.: Half Truth, Half Dare

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • February 3, 2012 9:00 AM
  • |
  • 1 Comment
Madonna could not have had a more enthusiastic and welcoming audience for W.E. than I was when I walked into the screening room. I’m fascinated by the inexhaustible Wallis Simpson story. We may never understand the psycho-sexual-political drama that led Edward VIII to abdicate so he could marry his twice-divorced American honey, but we can be pretty sure neither one of them schemed to end up as the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Glenn Close and Janet McTeer In Their Oscar-Nominated Albert Nobbs

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • January 25, 2012 10:47 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

Walloping Action In Soderbergh's Haywire, Plus Fassbender And McGregor

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • January 17, 2012 11:59 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
When a man is contracted to kill kickass undercover agent Mallory Kane, he says with mild curiosity, “I’ve never done a woman before,” and gets the perfect deadpan reply: “You shouldn’t think of her as being a woman. That would be mistake.” That doesn’t even sound sexist, because Kane is as much a lethal machine as she is a person, an approach that works just fine in Haywire, Steven Soderbergh’s walloping (literally; everybody gets walloped) spy-action movie.

Ewan McGregor In Perfect Sense

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • January 12, 2012 9:30 AM
  • |
  • 1 Comment
Perfect Sense is one of those clever, minor, almost-good films saved by Ewan McGregor. (It’s kind of shocking how many there are: how about Rogue Trader, Stay and I Love You Phillip Morris for starters?) This one is a too self-consciously poetic yet more ambitious variation on Contagion, with McGregor and Eva Green as lovers who meet at the start of some unexplained blight sweeping across Glasgow.

"War Horse": Is It Steven Spielberg Or Monty Python?

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • December 21, 2011 9:18 AM
  • |
  • 3 Comments
It is as sweeping and as comfortably old-fashioned as a John Ford movie, but War Horse has the soul of a hollow chocolate Santa. It’s not as if Steven Spielberg has forgotten how to make a crowd-pleasing blockbuster. All the pieces of this World War I movie are in place, from Janusz Kaminski’s velvety cinematography to a sweep over time and history that self-consciously -  and in this case falsely - announces some ambition. But Spielberg has never been so lethally cliched before, settling into a tired, sentimental genre without any attempt at either modernization or homage. I’m sure all those people who left the film weeping are sincere, but we know how easy it is for a story about a boy and his dog – or a horse, or whatever – to play on obvious emotions without really registering anything.

Angelina Jolie's Shockingly Good "In the Land of Blood and Honey"

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • December 20, 2011 9:35 AM
  • |
  • 15 Comments
For years, it has been easy to dismiss Angelina Jolie as an extremely beautiful flake. Even her work for humanitarian causes could seem like the image-burnishing, manic-y upside of her earlier, darker bad-girls days. Not anymore. In the Land Of Blood and Honey, which she wrote and directed, is a surprising triumph in so many ways. I have to say, I completely underestimated her.

Robert Downey and Jude Law in Joyful, Sparkling Sherlock Holmes

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • December 14, 2011 10:53 AM
  • |
  • 1 Comment
Poor Watson, a smart guy fated to look dim next to his brilliant best friend, Sherlock, and often underused on screen the way Robert Sean Leonard is as Wilson on House (as the series’ creator has often said, Wilson is Watson to House’s Holmes).  The bright twist in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is that Jude Law’s devoted yet savvy Watson is at least as important as Robert Downey’s smartass Holmes.

Michael Fassbender in Overhyped "Shame"

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • November 30, 2011 9:30 AM
  • |
  • 24 Comments
Steve McQueen’s dark-and-richly-photographed, descent-into-hell Shame is, I suspect, exactly the film he wanted to make, and I respect and admire him for that. But it arrives with such hyperbolic praise, you might want to lower your expectations. The film is likely to leave viewers unsatisfied and empty,  and not in a way that reflects the emotionally-tortured, sex-addicted character Michael Fassbender plays so powerfully. Shame is not really that daring; nudity on screen isn’t exactly hard to find.  And while, scene-for-scene, it is effective and intense, The film doesn’t come close to being a fully realized drama. McQueen and Fassbender offer episodes from a character’s life, which is no replacement for the sense of character the film sets us up to expect. 

A "Marilyn" Smarter Than It Seems

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • November 22, 2011 10:15 AM
  • |
  • 2 Comments
My Week With Marilyn seems like a terrible idea: one more take on the poor-little Marilyn story, this time with fabulous lookalike Michelle Williams. But this sharp little film is much more than that. The story of one week in 1956, when Monroe and Laurence Olivier were making The Prince and The Showgirl in London, creates an evocative portrait of that cultural moment, with layers of complexity.

Hugo: Scorsese's Magical Christmas Gift

  • By Caryn James
  • |
  • November 21, 2011 3:36 PM
  • |
  • 2 Comments
The magnificent opening sequence of Hugo transports us into its enchanting world. In 3-D, we are suddenly under softly falling snowflakes as the camera soars over the cityscape of Paris, the Eiffel Tower in the distance, then in a single shot keeps traveling down to the platform of a train station before soaring again up behind the station’s giant clock, to the room where a boy named Hugo lives. This stunning filmmaking calls to mind the famous uncut tracking shot in Martin Scorsese’s more typical Goodfellas, but that’s the last time you’ll be reminded of the present day.  Hugo is so thoroughly entrancing, for the time you’re watching it you might be living inside a magical Paris of 1931.

Follow Caryn James

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Michel Gondry's Playhouse: 'Mood In ...