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Caryn James

Kathryn Bigelow's Extended Interview with Stephen Colbert (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 23, 2013 12:22 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Kathryn Bigelow couldn’t be clearer about the issue of torture in Zero Dark Thirty: “Torture is reprehensible” she told Stephen Colbert, and went to say that the enhanced interrogation shown in her film was one element in the attempt to track down Osama bin Laden, not, as some critics of the film have claimed, the single indispensable element. Directors don’t always have the best takes on their own films, but Bigelow’s explanation is the one that makes the most sense to me.

SNL's Preview of The Next 18 Hobbit Movies (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 20, 2013 11:26 AM
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Some people (and I‘ll never be one of them) can’t get enough of Perter Jackson’s Hobbit movies. SNL offers a preview of how Jackson plans to take advantage of that – split the next Hobbit installments into 18 different films: in one, Frodo forgets something back at the shire and has to turn around, in another the whole crew (including Jennifer Lawrence as the Elf Queen) splits a complicated dinner bill. There's "Apple Maps: An Unexpected Detour," and the dwarves assembling an Ikea dresser.

Pants On Fire: SNL Cold Open Takes on Lance Armstrong, Manil Te'o, Jodie Foster (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 20, 2013 10:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Jennifer Lawrence was a likable host on SNL, pretending to trash-talk her Oscar contenders, but the writers didn’t give her their sharpest material. There was a commercial for Silver Linings Playbook during the show, but no sketch about it – what a lost opportunity (although Jason Sudeikis did wear Bradley Cooper’s trash bag workout clothes in a promo). Instead, the cold open gave us SNL at its topical best, with Piers Morgan welcoming a pants-on-fire lineup of guests.

'The Daily Show' Visits Sorkin's 'Newsroom' (Video)

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 15, 2013 12:54 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Jon Stewart and the cast of The Daily Show are fond of saying they’re pretend journalists, even though they often do a better job of delivering actual news stories than the circus that is CNN. In this segment about the loss of investigative journalism -- too expensive, too ratings-challenged – John Oliver interviews Kaj Larsen, a victim of CNN cutbacks; reminds us of the time that Jessica Yellin was a hologram (and really, I don’t blame her for that news-meets-Star-Trek moment), and visits Will McAvoy -- or is it Jeff Daniels? -- in a really fictional newsroom.

'Girls,' Season 2: Where Does Lena Dunham End and Hannah Begin?

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 8, 2013 9:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
With the ultra-sharp new season of Girls,  I finally understand – though I don’t agree with – the Lena Dunham backlash. For all I know, in real life she’s perfectly likable. But her character, Hannah, is the most squirm-inducing character on television. Hannah’s total self-absorption (as if the world should be interested) and defiantly strong self-image is combined with its reverse: the cringingly bad self-image her bravado masks, and utterly self-destructive relationships. Who would want to be this whiny mess’ friend? But Dunham plays her so convincingly that the distance  between herself and Hannah seems to vanish – which is especially weird, considering that Dunham is the writer/director/actor/ and Judd Apatow protegee with a  reported $3.5 million book deal and Hannah is a struggling, post-college mess.

'Downton Abbey,' The Middle Class and Money ('Ya Gotta Spend It on Somethin' ')

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 3, 2013 9:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Season 3 of Downton Abbey – as soapy, dramatic and witheringly funny as ever, and at times shatteringly sad – begins in the spring of 1920, and everything now has a whiff of the modern. Daisy the kitchen maid rides a bike through the village, Mary and Matthew are planning their wedding, Anna is determined to find the evidence that will free Bates from prison, and in the midst of all that comes the real bombshell. Lord Grantham has made a very bad investment, losing most of his American wife’s fortune; they may have to put Downton on the market. Viewers caught in the 2008 economic crisis can relate.

Cast of 'Downton Abbey' Does 'Breaking Bad' on 'Colbert Report'

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 14, 2012 10:45 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Much of the cast of Downton Abbey  -- including Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, but not Magge Smith or Michelle Dockery -- has been in New York promoting the Jan. 6th premiere of the new season, and they have faced a flood of uninteresting questions. But if the low point was Savannah Guthrie’s vapid, gushy group interview on Today, the best idea came from The Colbert Report, which enlisted a few of the Downton actors to reenact their series as if it were Breaking Bad.  

Charlotte Rampling and Michelle Dockery Go Spying in Sundance Channel's 'Restless'

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 7, 2012 9:00 AM
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  • 6 Comments
Once a spy, always a spy – that’s the premise of the sleekly entertaining and wonderfully (if sometimes implausibly) cast thriller Restless. The two-part period piece on Sundance Channel (Part 1 premieres tonight, Part 2 next Friday) offers a double-whammy of time periods. The story begins in the 1970’s with a single mother and graduate student named Ruth Gilmartin. Because she is played by Michelle Dockery  -- Lady Mary from Downton Abbey – and is every bit as commonsensical as that character we get the added wit of seeing Lady Mary transported to the future, where she wears hippie-chic bellbottoms and oversize sunglasses.

An Irresistible Mix: Smart Meets Soapy in 'The Hour'

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 28, 2012 8:45 AM
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  • 1 Comment
When smart meets soapy, the results can be delicious and addictive television – as long as the show proudly owns its soap opera qualities (that’s one of the secrets of Downton Abbey) and integrates them into the drama (the gap between soap and preaching is what dooms The Newsroom.) The Hour, beginning its second season on BBC America, gets that formula, and if anything tips toward the lurid with its new episodes.  

Anne Hathaway and SNL Do Homeland

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 11, 2012 11:17 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Someone at SNL really likes Homeland (don’t we all?) Last week, in their hurricane press-conference sketch, Mayor Michael Bloomberg explained to Spanish-speaking New Yorkers that white people were cranky because they were missing Homeland. This week, Anne Hathaway was at the center of a sketch that perfectly captured the actors’ quirks, with Hathaway recreating Claire Danes’ constantly quivering chin and Taram Killam capturing Damian Lewis’ teeny tiny mouth. And when you think about it, as Saul (Bill Hader) says about Carrie, why wouldn’t you trust a CIA agent who swills wine while popping pills, and is sexually obsessed with her source?

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