Caryn James

Can Aubrey Plaza Time Travel? 'Safety Not Guaranteed'

  • By Caryn James
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  • June 8, 2012 9:01 AM
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Safety Not Guaranteed is not a sci-fi movie, even though the story is about a group of reporters following up on an ad for a partner to time-travel with: “Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed.” And it’s not a Duplass Brothers film even though the droll, low-key style, not to mention Mark Duplass as the would-be time-traveler, make it feel that way. It is a totally charming, un-hokey romantic comedy that above all gives Aubrey Plaza a chance to break away from her character of eye-rolling, deadpan April on Parks and Rec without actually straying too far. If you like April ( and don’t we all?) you will love Plaza’s character of Darius and this wacky, touching film.

Jane Fonda Brings Back the 60's in 'Peace, Love & Misunderstanding'

  • By Caryn James
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  • June 7, 2012 9:05 AM
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Please don’t take this as an endorsement of the film, but Jane Fonda’s casting and witty performance add a clever layer of history to the otherwise dismal Peace, Love & Misunderstanding. This clunky, obvious comedy about a fractured family is ludicrous from its premise on.

Let's Ask Again: Can Robert Pattinson Act?

  • By Caryn James
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  • June 6, 2012 9:02 AM
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  • 11 Comments
Robert Pattinson has made some daring artistic choices apart from his most famous, pasty-faced role; too bad so many of those fillms have been clunkers.

Josh Lucas in Chris Eyre's Eloquent "Hide Away"

  • By Caryn James
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  • May 29, 2012 10:28 AM
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Josh Lucas usually plays the charming sidekick or caddish ex-boyfriend, and more recently starred as the hunted-down lawyer in the predictable, quickly-cancelled television version of The Firm. He gets a better chance and gives a powerfully touching performance in Chris Eyre’s eloquent, beautifully-made little indie Hide Away.

Bill Murray, Kids and Madras Pants: Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom"

  • By Caryn James
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  • May 25, 2012 9:00 AM
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“I had to work with a bunch of scouts, kids. No money can make that right, can it?” asks Bill Murray, wearing ridiculous Madras pants as a 1965 Dad, in a delightful, droll little 3-minute behind-the-scenes look at Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. The featurette is exactly what Anderson and Murray fans might have hoped for. Moonrise Kingdom itself is a chilly disappointment.

Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal In Witty, Slyly Feminist "Hysteria"

  • By Caryn James
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  • May 17, 2012 9:38 PM
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Hysteria, one of the highlights of the Tribeca Film Festival, is now opening in theaters. If you misssed my Tribeca review of this sharp witty film, here it is:

The Vampire Who Came To Dinner: Johnny Depp and Tim Burton Do Dark Shadows

  • By Caryn James
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  • May 8, 2012 9:30 AM
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I’m a big fan of Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and vampires in general, so Dark Shadows is a film with my name on it. But you don’t need that perfect storm of tastes to fall for this funny pop confection. You don’t even have to be familiar with the 60’s afternoon soap opera the film is based on, but you do need to appreciate of the movie’s tongue-in cheek wit. Burton sets the story in the disco 70’s period of the television show, then tweaks the horror genre and bubblegum culture. Take one look at Depp as 200-year-old undead Barnabus Collins in the daylight – a visual homage to Michael Jackson complete with pasty-white skin, sunglasses, black fedora and giant umbrella – and you have a sense of the movie’s light-hearted, spoofy tone.

Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal In the Witty "Hysteria"

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 24, 2012 12:34 PM
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Hysteria, one of the highlights of the Tribeca Film Festival, is now opening in theaters. If you misssed my Tribeca review of this sharp witty film, here it is:

Tribeca Highlight: Emily Blunt In Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 21, 2012 3:32 PM
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It’s a small relationship film with a big bold impact: witty, nuanced, beautifully acted, Your Sister’s Sister is one of the best movies so far at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The Secrets of Monsieur Lazhar

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 13, 2012 9:02 AM
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Monsieur Lazhar may have lost the Best Foreign Language Oscar to A Separation – I can’t argue with that; A Separation is extraordinary – but if any film could have given it a real challenge, it might have been this unexpectedly powerful, subtle little film from Canada: exquisitely made, enormously moving and politically-charged. Don’t be put off by its hokey-sounding subject: a substitute teacher takes over a class. This gem from director Philippe Falardeau is far from the inspirational snooze that description suggests.

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