Caryn James

Melissa McCarthy Gives Physical Comedy a Good Name On SNL (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 7, 2013 11:12 AM
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Even if you're not a fan of physical comedy - and I'm usually not - the brilliant Melissa McCarthy makes it hilarious and sophisticated. She began her latest SNL hosting gig by entering on sky-high, red-sequined platform heels, stumbling her way on stage in a routine that was also a goof on the absurdity of actress' shoes today.

Watch Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno's Duet 'Tonight,' About 'Tonight' (UPDATED)

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 2, 2013 1:59 AM
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Here, ironically enough, is the ultimate proof that Jimmy Fallon should take over for Jay Leno: a congenial duet between the two men commiserating about the media flap and speculation that Fallon will replace Leno in 2014, singing "Tonight" from West Side Story rewritten to suit their story. It's a bit of satiric and public relations genius, acknowledging and trying to defuse the rumors at the same time. (UPDATE: Two days after this video appeared, NBC announced that Fallon would take over Tonight in February; everyone obviously knew this was coming and decided to spin the transition right this time.)

Al Pacino, 'Phil Spector,' and Media Justice

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 21, 2013 9:12 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The gigantic frizzed-out wig on Al Pacino's head might be enough to make you curious about Phil Spector, the new HBO drama written and directed by David Mamet. In a multitude of wigs as conspicuously creepy as the actual Spector's, Pacino plays the fantastically successful music producer and reputed loony-tunes guy convicted of the 2007 murder in his home of Hollywood wannabe and club hostess Lana Clarkson. The first question the film raise isn't about the murder though. It's an issue that comes up with both Pacino and with Mamet today: are you getting the good or the evil twin? Pacino the actor who can still dazzle, or the over-the-top sputtering blowhard? Mamet the disciplined writer of The Untouchables and Glengarry Glen Ross or the self-indulgent filmmaker (The Winslow Boy) who dictates that everyone to speak in artificial, terse Mamet-talk?

Justin Timberlake's All-Star, All-Good SNL (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 10, 2013 12:13 PM
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Justin Timberlake was totally aware of the high expectations for his hosting gig on SNL - "Thank you, Internet," he said during the monologue - but there was no need to worry. He was so on, he even gave just the right sly, I-know-it's-hokey reading to the line "Five Timers Club" when announcing his membership as a five-time host.

Stephen Colbert Asks James Franco, 'Are You a Fraud?'

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 6, 2013 11:06 AM
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  • 2 Comments
James Franco has taken on one of his most mainstream roles in the new Disney film, 'Oz the Great and Powerful'; nothing is more mainstream than Disney. (You can read my review here.) But his entire career still has the shape of wide-ranging performance art -- and with a lot more focus, Stephen Colbert's on-screen right-wing persona has so overshadowed the "real" Colbert that the character can be considered one of the most successful, long-running pieces of performance art of all time. So consider the many layers of reality and artifice when Colbert asks Franco, the professor-filmmaker-writer-actor-whatever: "Are you a fraud?"

Watch Justin Timberlake's 'SNL' Promo

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 6, 2013 11:05 AM
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  • 1 Comment
I don't believe in jinxes, so I'll flat-out say that nothing is a safer bet for fantastic television than Justin Timberlake hosting 'Saturday Night Live'. He's back this week, and even his promos are better than SNL's usually are (better than some of the sketches lately.)

'Zero Dark Thirty' Parodies: With Lena Dunham and As A Rom-Com

  • By Caryn James
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  • February 28, 2013 12:10 PM
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Who knows if these parodies might have helped Zero Dark Thirty in the Oscar race? (Could they have hurt more than the controversy about torture?) Laughing about the subject probably wasn’t in anybody's awards strategy, but these two very funny videos reveal how firmly the film has pervaded the cultural conversation.

Review: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Stoppard and HBO's Dreamy 'Parade's End'

  • By Caryn James
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  • February 26, 2013 9:07 AM
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In Part 3 of HBO’s lyrical, nuanced, romantic and tough-minded World War I era series, Parade’s End, the aloof Sylvia Tietjens says of her aristocratic husband, “Christopher is the last decent man in England. How dare they put their knives into him – he’s mine.” By then we know that she is not simply complaining that Christopher’s colleagues in the British government have turned on him; she is saying the he is hers to manipulate and torture in an endless dance of love and hate. This is the most fun we’ve had with Edwardians since Downton Abbey.

Oscar Review: Seth MacFarlane's Badness Explained

  • By Caryn James
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  • February 25, 2013 2:39 AM
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  • 30 Comments
Was Seth MacFarlane the victim of some terrible time-travel accident that caused him – and all his Oscar-show material – to be trapped in the 1950’s (and not in a successfully ironic way)? That’s the most generous explanation I have for his pathetically unfunny job as Oscar host.  

'Downton Abbey' Ends Season 3: What Will We Do Without You-Know-Who?

  • By Caryn James
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  • February 17, 2013 10:45 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Oh dear, just when things were looking better. . . . If you haven’t watched the game-changing final episode of Downton Abbey, Season 3, you might want to turn back now, because all will be revealed.

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