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The Two Jakes (Or Are They?). Gyllenhaal in 'Enemy'

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 13, 2014 8:33 AM
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If you saw someone who looked exactly like you, how freaked out would you actually be? Enough so that music recalling Hitchcock films plays in the background? Would you leap to some wildly sinister conclusion or would you take a minute, calm down, and do something commonsensical, like have a serious question and answer session with your mom?

'Non-Stop': Liam Neeson and Killers on a Plane (Review & '60 Mins.' Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • February 26, 2014 12:30 AM
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  • 1 Comment
I will see Liam Neeson in anything, which doesn't mean I want to. So it was a relief to find that Non-Stop -- Taken meets Speed on a plane, with a dash of Agatha Christie -- was as breezily entertaining as a commercial action thriller is supposed to be.

Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal In Surprising 'Prisoners'

  • By Caryn James
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  • September 16, 2013 9:02 AM
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Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners sounds cookie-cutter conventional, and in fact there is nothing fresh in the concept: two little girls are abducted, and the father of one of them goes after a suspect the police have released. The clock is ticking ... and other cliches we've heard way too many times before. But the film is so sharply directed, tautly edited, so rich and believably acted -- Hugh Jackman is the fierce and desperate father, Jake Gyllenhaal the obsessed but coolly rational detective -- that you quickly forgive its tired story. Nothing else is tired in Prisoners, one of the most intense, satisfying thrillers to appear in years.

Top Ways (Sarcastic and Not) Futuristic 'Elysium' Reflects Today

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 2, 2013 9:45 AM
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Matt Damon can save almost any film for me, and the perfectly competent, entirely predictable Elysium may be where "almost" kicks in. Like most summer action movies -- from Man of Steel to World War Z -- it has an intriguing premise that gets lost mid-way through in the barrage of special effects and action. Elysium was written and directed by South African-born Neill Blomkamp, who also made the much smaller, more sharply dystopian District 9, with its sci-fi allegory of apartheid. Even here his skewering social observations shine through, at least in the early scenes.

'World War Z': Deja Vu, Plus Brad PItt and Zombies

  • By Caryn James
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  • June 21, 2013 8:49 AM
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Brad Pitt chasing zombies should not be boring to watch, especially if you like Brad Pitt, which I do, and zombies, which I'm perfectly OK with. Improbable though it sounds, Marc Forster's World War Z is dull and pretty easy to dislike, partly because it so slavishly follows the tired and increasingly tiresome formula of summer action movies: family in danger, hero springs into action, then we're all bludgeoned with an hour of uninspired special effects.

'The Master' Review: Egotists and the Cultists Who Love Them

  • By Caryn James
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  • September 22, 2012 9:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments
With its expansive 70 mm images, The Master almost pounces on you as it announces its epic scope and ambition – even though the impressive vistas of the sea don’t have anything to do with the heart of the film. In its intelligent, chilly essence, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is an intense, eye-to-eye war between two different yet interdependent psyches. Philip Seymour Hoffman is magnificent as the charming, voracious, monomaniacal charlatan who needs worshippers the way he needs air, a man so much The Master that his name, Lancaster Dodd, isn’t mentioned for most of the film. Joaquin Phoenix is nearly as effective as the jittery, off-putting Freddie Quell, a GI back from World War II, belligerent yet so unconsciously needy he is swooped into Dodd’s cultish vortex almost without realizing what’s happening.

Herzog's "Into The Abyss": Crime, Punishment, Humanity

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 2, 2011 1:00 AM
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Dennis Farina as "Joe May" and Other Gangsters We Love

  • By Caryn James
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  • October 31, 2011 3:00 AM
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"The Rum Diary": Johnny Depp Plays His Old Friend Hunter Thompson

  • By Caryn James
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  • October 24, 2011 1:00 AM
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One thing (among thousands) you can say about Johnny Depp: he’s loyal to his friends, to the point of veneration. He was the driving force behind Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary, rescuing the never-finished 1959 novel from the author’s basement while researching his role as Thompson himself in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

NYFF Review: Paradise Lost 3 and Its Serpent's Tail of Media

  • By Caryn James
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  • October 10, 2011 12:30 PM
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The legal bargain that freed the West Memphis 3 after 18 years in prison is Lewis Carroll by way of Orwell. They proclaimed their innocence in court while pleading guilty to the murders they were accused of – a trick that prevents them from suing the state of Arkansas. (And what a suit that would have been.)

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