Caryn James

Poetry, Politics and Memory in "The Missing Picture"

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 19, 2014 8:23 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The opening images -- rusted film canisters, unspooled movie reels spilling across the floor like some beautiful, serpentine ruin of a sculpture -- signals that The Missing Picture is like no other film you've seen.

'The Paperboy': Nicole, Zac and Alligators

  • By Caryn James
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  • October 4, 2012 9:11 AM
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  • 1 Comment
On screen in The Paperboy and on stage at the New York Film Festival press conference afterwards, Nicole Kidman seemed – and this is compliment though it may not sound like one—less plastic than she has in the recent past. She is fearless and pretty convincing in the film. If she looks too well-scrubbed and well-dressed for the character – Charlotte, a woman you can only call trashy, who writes sexy letters to prisoners and falls in love with a convicted killer – you can almost justify it because her Barbie look fits the conventions of Lee Daniels’s pulpy psycho-sexual drama. As Daniels explained in his part of the press conference, he wanted the film, set in 1969, to reflect the colors and style of a 70’s thriller.

Angelina Jolie's Shockingly Good "In the Land of Blood and Honey"

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 20, 2011 9:35 AM
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  • 15 Comments
For years, it has been easy to dismiss Angelina Jolie as an extremely beautiful flake. Even her work for humanitarian causes could seem like the image-burnishing, manic-y upside of her earlier, darker bad-girls days. Not anymore. In the Land Of Blood and Honey, which she wrote and directed, is a surprising triumph in so many ways. I have to say, I completely underestimated her.

Robert Downey and Jude Law in Joyful, Sparkling Sherlock Holmes

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 14, 2011 10:53 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Poor Watson, a smart guy fated to look dim next to his brilliant best friend, Sherlock, and often underused on screen the way Robert Sean Leonard is as Wilson on House (as the series’ creator has often said, Wilson is Watson to House’s Holmes).  The bright twist in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is that Jude Law’s devoted yet savvy Watson is at least as important as Robert Downey’s smartass Holmes.

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. 

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