Caryn James

Paul Dano Saves Flawed 'For Ellen'

  • By Caryn James
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  • September 5, 2012 9:03 AM
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Paul Dano -- pale and gangly, nobody’s preconceived image of a movie star -- is a wonder of an actor, who has made some great choices in films, from There Will Be Blood, to the recent Ruby Sparks and a small but crucial role in the upcoming Looper. In So Yong Kim’s deliberate, meticulous For Ellen, Dano proves he can even make a flawed film worth watching.

'The Big Chill' Speaks French in 'Little White Lies' (Review)

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 23, 2012 9:13 AM
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In the raucous club scene that opens "Little White Lies," the actor playing the obnoxious, drug-snorting lech named Ludo looks so familiar you might find yourself thinking, “Who’s that loud guy?” That guy is Jean Dujardin from "The Artist," so at least in the U.S. loud is definitely going against type. Don’t expect him to stick around for long. He’s the one left behind in Paris (we quickly find out why) while his closest friends, all seven of them,  escape for their annual vacation by the sea.

'Cosmopolis,' Beyond the RPatz Publicity Tour (Review)

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 16, 2012 10:19 PM
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Whatever David Cronenberg thought he was doing while making Cosmopolis, he could never have imagined the most relevent cultural nerve it would hit: the film has become the inadvertent cause of Robert Pattinson’s first post-KStew publicity tour. (If you missed Pattinson’s appearance with Jon Stewart, eating Ben & Jerry’s as breakup comfort food, watch it here. It’s a classic of obliquely addressing an issue without really saying anything.) In itself, Cosmopolis is smart and stylized – which doesn’t innoculate this story of a sad young Wall St. billionaire against lethal familiarity and dullness.

Ghostbuster at Downton Abbey: 'The Awakening' (Review)

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 16, 2012 9:25 AM
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If you approach 'The Awakening' as I did, a fan of Dominic West from 'The Wire' (gritty West) and 'The Hour' (dashing West)  -- well, we’ll always have 'The Wire' and 'The Hour.' He is is so underused that he barely gets to raise an eyebrow in 'The Awakening,' a modest, watchable but pedestrian ghost story set just after World War I.

'The Campaign' Asks: Does Baby-Punching Kill A Political Career? (Review)

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 8, 2012 9:05 AM
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The funniest scene in the political spoof The Campaign  -- and there are plenty -- has nothing to do with politics even though it takes place at a debate. The Democratic candidate played by Will Ferrell is clueless, womanizing Cam Brady, desperate to save his Congressional seat, not to mention his cheating ass. Zach Galifianakis is the Republican challenger, Marty Huggins, an innocent nitwit controlled by a super-rich Super-Pac. When Huggins demands that his Godless opponent recite the Lord’s Prayer, Brady gets some down-to-earth help.

Stranger Than Life: Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano In The Fabulist 'Ruby Sparks'

  • By Caryn James
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  • July 24, 2012 9:45 AM
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Neurosis hasn’t seemed this adorably sane since Woody Allen. Clever, funny, expertly walking the line between arty and mainstream, "Ruby Sparks" is a lovable romantic comedy, with Paul Dano as a novelist who writes a dream girl, and Zoe Kazan – Dano’s real-life partner, who wrote the screenplay  - as the fictional woman who fantastically comes to life, leaving her underwear around his apartment, cooking him eggs.

'Savages': Oliver Stone Collides with the World of 'Breaking Bad'

  • By Caryn James
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  • July 6, 2012 9:36 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Savages begins with an image of severed heads, and like so many Oliver Stone films, the story sounds as if it has substance beneath all its violence. A Mexican drug cartel  has sent this head-rolling video as a warning to a trio of beautiful young things living in idyllic Laguna Beach: Andrew Johnson as Ben, a smart and sensitive grower of the world’s best weed; Taylor Kitsch as Chon, his tattooed, hot-headed Iraq-vet partner and best friend, and Blake Lively as O. (for Ophelia) the lithe blonde they share equally and happily. Character, suspense, action, what could go wrong? Well, like so many Oliver Stone films, this one turns out to be vapid after all.

White House Secrets Revealed In 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'

  • By Caryn James
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  • June 21, 2012 3:58 PM
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So let’s get this straight: slavery in the U.S. lasted so long because vampires supported it. In fact, Jefferson Davis made a deal between the Confederacy and the undead. That explains a lot, including why Abraham Lincoln was so determined to obliterate vampires, even to the point of sneaking out of the White House in the dead of night wielding a silver-edged ax, which he used to decapitate vampires while on top of a moving train. Obviously, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is not the kind of movie to launch a million is-this-historically-accurate articles. The real question is whether the film can sustain its self-consciously playful mashup for more than five minutes. Seth Grahame-Smith’s novels certainly don’t.

Steve Carell and Keira Knightley On The Run From The Apocalypse: 'Seeking a Friend ...'

  • By Caryn James
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  • June 21, 2012 9:33 AM
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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is something rare: a sunny, charming apocalypse film. Even the off-beat pairing of Steve Carell and Keira Knightley – what?! – works better than you’d imagine, evidence that Carell really can do anything, even play a romantic lead. Not the dashing sweep-you-off-your feet kind, but the best friend who makes you open your eyes one day and see how great he is. (Watch Carell here as he promotes the movie in a totally non-promotional way on The Daily Show, pretending to have written many serous books.)

'Your Sister's Sister': Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass In The Week's Best New Film

  • By Caryn James
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  • June 15, 2012 9:00 AM
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Since I saw Your Sister’s Sister at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Lynn Sheldon’s lovely, witty romantic comedy about a totally unlikely love triangle -- try this: a girl and her dead ex-boyfriend’s brother and her lesbian sister – has only come to seem more impressive against the season’s competition. It's a small relationship film with a big bold impact - witty, nuanced, beautifully acted.

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