Caryn James

Stories by Caryn James

  • ben-affleck-the-company-men-tease

    Goodbye 'Gigli,' Hello the New Ben Affleck

    In the company men, Bobby Walker is a Porsche-driving golden boy laid off from his middle-management job. He smugly expects an easy landing somewhere, but the economy has other plans, which is how he ends up delivering one of the most wrenching lines in a movie that’s full of them: “I’m a 37-year-old unemployed loser who can’t support his family.”
  • Movies: Kevin Spacey in 'Casino Jack' Abramoff

    George Hickenlooper’s fact-based satire, starring Kevin Spacey and his ever-sharp comic timing, offers an antic version of the wheeler-dealer whose ambition and blinkered morality were close to caricature all along.
  • Movies: Javier Bardem in 'Biutiful'

    Alejandro González Iñárritu and Javier Bardem aren’t the cheeriest pair around, but in the deeply felt, eloquent 'Biutiful,' their collaboration is inspired.
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    Holiday Movie Preview

    No one in their right mind leaves home to do their holiday shopping anymore—except to shop for a holiday movie. In our ongoing effort to help you save your money for more important things (food, for instance), we've made our annual guide the most user-friendly ever.
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    OK, Mr. Ben Affleck. You Can Quit Your Day Job.

    Affleck’s heist movie, "The Town," is part of a career turnaround so amazing that he looks like the new Clint Eastwood. Seriously. Affleck directed, stars in, and co-wrote "The Town," a suspenseful, fiercely paced movie about bank robbers that is also about love, brotherhood, and the desperate need to escape a crooked life.
  • Nancy Mitford's Dirty Family Laundry

    Nancy Mitford rejected an offer to reprint her pre–World War II satire Wigs on the Green, explaining to her friend Evelyn Waugh, “Too much has happened for jokes about Nazis to be regarded as funny or as anything but the worst of taste.” She had other reasons to worry. The novel’s bubble-headed heroine, Eugenia Malmains, was a portrait of Nancy’s Nazi sister.
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    Movie Review: 'Salt,' Starring Angelina Jolie

    Ever since "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" became a hit largely because it played off headlines about her blooming romance with costar Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie's offscreen celebrity has overwhelmed her onscreen roles. Her new movie—with the tagline "Who is Salt?"—knows how to use her outsize fame.
  • sally-potter-cu02-films-wide

    The Return of Sally Potter

    Director Sally Potter has been nearly forgotten in the 18 years since her sumptuous, androgynous "Orlando" vaulted her from the avant-garde to the mainstream, but no worries. That all may change soon.
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    Movie Review: Taking Joan Rivers Seriously

    We know Joan Rivers can be tacky, abrasive, self-mocking. On her way to winning Celebrity Apprentice last year, she berated professional gambler Annie Duke, screaming “You’re a pokah playah—that’s beyond white trash!”And the second season of her TV Land series How’d You Get So Rich? in which she gushes over homes of the nouveau riche—the gaudier, the better—has just begun. But culturally significant? Turns out she’s that too.
  • TV Review: Tom Hanks's "The Pacific"

    Deep into HBO's megabudget miniseries The Pacific, as Americans fight the Japanese in a gruesome battle to control tiny Peleliu island, a sensitive officer comforts a horrified young Marine, assuring him that the brutality is "worthwhile because our cause is just." It all seems so quaint: the idea that war is about controlling battlefields; the sentimental certainty that justice is on our side; and, most of all, the arrival of another old-fashioned World War II extravaganza that has no cultural resonance today. Post-9/11, well into the war on terror, we live in the age of Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino's over-the-top tribute to—and takedown of—creaky combat dramas. With a film like Basterds slyly making up-to-the-minute assumptions about warfare today—it's about terrorism, not turf; ideology, not moral certainty—no wonder a bloated patriotic ode like The Pacific lands with a thud.Historical movies always reflect two eras: the ones in which they are set and the ones in which...