Caryn James

From X-Men, to Keira Knightley in Love, A Wealth of DVDs

  • By Caryn James
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  • September 6, 2011 1:00 AM
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You know that feeling of overload when too many big fall films arrive at once? Today is one of those days for DVD and streaming video, as many of spring and summer’s best movies arrive.

Separating Art From Gossip: Mel Gibson in "The Beaver" On DVD

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 23, 2011 5:11 AM
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There's celebrity and then there's art, which means you don't have to be a Mel Gibson apologist to appreciate his stunning performance in The Beaver. (Public opinion might be swinging back his way, but that's a different conversation.)

The Conspirator on DVD: Robert Redford and James McAvoy Breathe New Life Into History

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 16, 2011 1:10 AM
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Robert Redford’s taut, atmospheric drama The Conspirator arrives on DVD and VOD today, offering a second chance to discover a film that is far more than a disguised history lesson about the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln.

Javier Bardem's Oscar-Nominated Role: Biutiful on DVD

  • By Caryn James
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  • May 31, 2011 1:30 AM
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No one actually expected Javier Bardem (or anyone other than Colin Firth) to win the Oscar for Best Actor, but Bardem’s nomination for Biutiful was an unlikely, supremely deserved triumph anyway. In what may be his best performance to date (that’s saying a lot) he is extraordinarily subtle and moving in a exquisitely poignant foreign-language film.

DVD: Sofia Coppola's Lovely "Somewhere," One of 2010's Best

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 19, 2011 1:00 AM
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Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere won the Golden Lion, the main prize, at the Venice Film Festival in September, but when it was released in December the small-scale film seemed to get lost in the flood of louder, more crowd-pleasing awards-bait movies. This Hollywood story of an actor getting to know his 11-year-old daughter - with two magnificent, natural performances by Stephen Dorff and the super-talented Elle Fanning - was not the liveliest movie of the year. It was simply the loveliest.

DVD: Kevin Spacey At His Best as Corrupt, High-Flying Lobbyist

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 5, 2011 3:12 AM
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In Casino Jack, Kevin Spacey gives the kind of performance few actors can: he's both satiric and believable as Jack Abramoff, the D.C. lobbyist who befriended and bought off Congressmen, duped Indian casino-owners, and eventually landed in prison. The film, directed by George Hickenlooper (who died shortly before its release last December), flags a bit when Spacey is off screen, but that doesn't happen often.

DVD: "Upstairs, Downstairs," the Series Everyone Steals From

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 28, 2011 8:41 AM
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Before there was Gosford Park or the recent hit series Downton Abbey, there was Upstairs, Downstairs, the 1970’s series that created the template for masters and servants mingling on screen, wearing fussy Edwardian clothes, getting into all sorts of scandalous adventures, from a servant with dirty gloves (the horror!) to stolen babies, suicide, illegitimate children, adulterous affairs. All those scandals and more are in Upstairs, Downstairs. Jean Marsh, who played the maid Rose (photo above), and Eileen Atkins – yes, the actress – created the series’ inspired formula, which many others have shamelessly borrowed.

Best Fairy Tale Films For Grownups

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 4, 2011 2:21 AM
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Fairy tales for grownups are everywhere, fraught with love, sex and menace. Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood, wonderfully cast with Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman, arrives next week. Catherine Breillat's smart revision of Sleeping Beauty opens in July. (Here's my review from the French film festival.)

"Kings of Pastry": Hegedus and Pennebaker In a Different Kind of War Room

  • By Caryn James
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  • February 22, 2011 2:18 AM
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The great documentary team of Chris Hedegus and D A Pennebaker have made enormously influential films like The War Room, which changed the way we see political theater. But they also have a taste for lively, entertaining docs like their latest, Kings Of Pastry, a delightful bon-bon of a film which shows why they’re such masters: they find the narrative, the personal story and the unexpected high drama in a pastry competition in France.

The Oscar Gem on the "Fish Tank" DVD

  • By Caryn James
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  • February 22, 2011 1:59 AM
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Andrea Arnold’s Oscar-winning short, Wasp, is every bit as accomplished and harrowing as her amazing feature, Fish Tank, and takes the same gritty, realistic approach to its working-class characters.

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