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Caryn James

Oprah and Forest Whitaker in 'Lee Daniels' The Butler'

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 26, 2013 10:27 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Lee Daniels' The Butler is some serious, probably effective Oscar bait. It is also -- these things so often go together -- audience-pandering History Lite. Forest Whitaker, as a butler who serves at the White House through eight Presidents, from Eisenhower to Reagan, gives a dazzling performance; he is by far the film's greatest strength. But even he can't make up for a movie calculated to spoon feed viewers a civil rights lesson that lets us feel good about the country's progress, without adding much substance or nuance to the conversation.

Jimmy Kimmel Hosts the Emmys (UPDATED With New Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • September 23, 2012 11:45 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Jimmy Kimmel was a perfectly smooth host for the Emmys, though not a perfect fit. One of his trademarks, prankish humor – he asked viewers to Tweet that Tracy Morgan had passed out – didn’t translate to an awards show. His other trademark, irreverently taking swipes at the self-importance of show busines, was oddly missing. That was left to a few clever nominees. What worked best were the pre-arranged comic bits by winners and the people they beat. Julia Louis-Dreyfus read an acceptance speech Amy Poehler had supposedly slipped into her hand (that piece of paper was too big and crumpled to be anything other than a prop). Even better, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert wrestled Jon Stewart to the ground to keep him from heading to the stage when The Daily Show won Best Variety show.

'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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  • 0 Comments
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.

"You Gotcha!": Andy Samberg Plays Sarah Palin (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 11, 2012 11:12 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There are Sarah Palin impersonations eerily close to reality: Tina Fey’s instant-classic comic version, and Julianne Moore’s dramatic one in the current HBO film Game Change. Then there’s Andy Samberg’s Sarah, unveiled on SNL.

Game Change: Julianne Moore, Sarah Palin and Lamebrain Politics

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 7, 2012 8:45 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Sarah Palin can whine all she wants, but no reasonable person believes that the creators of Game Change went out of their way to make her look shallow and ridiculous – she didn’t need any help with that. But the HBO film will certainly play better to people who see Palin as a blight on politics. This behind-the-scenes dramatization of her abrupt choice and disastrous campaign as John McCain’s running mate is a fast, smart and totally enjoyable tragi-comedy. Julianne Moore is an impressive Palin clone, right down to her confident walk and wave. But Game Change is also a cynical (if all too obvious) cautionary tale about the bubble-headed way elections work today. Palin just happens to be the best example we have.  

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