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Caryn James

Michael Fassbender in Overhyped "Shame"

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 30, 2011 9:30 AM
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  • 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
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  • November 22, 2011 10:15 AM
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  • 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
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  • November 21, 2011 3:36 PM
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  • 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.

George Clooney In Alexander Payne's Brilliant, Touching "Descendants"

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 16, 2011 10:13 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Watch George Clooney as he runs around a corner in The Descendants,  shot from a distance. If he had a little more weight he might waddle, but that flat-footed run  -- in boat shoes and shorts and a golf  shirt - is enough. This is the way a middle-aged guy moves, and the character,  Matt King, is no movie star. He’s a family man racing to ask his best friends to give him the name of the Other Man his critically injured wife had been sleeping with.    

Leo Plays J. Edgar: What Didn't We Know?

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 8, 2011 2:21 PM
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  • 1 Comment
J. Edgar Hoover had a fascinating life: wire-tapping unsuspecting Americans, using the dirt on politicians’ personal lives to keep his job as head of the FBI for nearly half a century, reorganizing the Agency and bringing it into the modern age of forensics, being way too close to his Mom -- and those are just the facts, never mind the gossipy details about wearing women’s clothes in private and his murky relationship with his second-in-command in the Agency, Clyde Tolson. So there is absolutely no excuse for "J. Edgar," Clint Eastwood’s disappointingly conventional biopic, to be so yawn-inducing.

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