Julia Roberts

Why is this picture called Larry Crowne? Is it because the filmmaker and star, Tom Hanks, buys into the limp orthodoxy that he is an American everyman figure? Is it because he has vague hopes that this is a story about everyday, good-natured American stick-at-it-ness, in the league of Jerry Maguire or Erin Brockovich? Or is it because no one involved in the making of it really knows what the film is about? Just think for a moment how the film’s attitude toward us, and its sense of purpose, might shift if the title was, For Example, Larry Crowne? And why not?

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My review of Duplicity, the espionage-romance-comedy starring Clive Owen and--in her first lead role since 2003--Julia Roberts, will be up tomorrow morning. (Preview: Fairly disappointing.) In the meantime, I've had them drag from the archives my column on Clive and Julia (and Jude and Natalie)'s previous collaboration, the Mike Nichols film Closer. The gist: Closer is not a bad movie--or rather it is not merely bad. It's flamboyantly bad, bad in a way that can't help but be fascinating and even entertaining.

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Now celebrating her twentieth year as the host of the world's most influential talk show, Oprah Winfrey is to television what Bach is to music, Giotto to painting, Joyce to literature. Time magazine hit the nail on the head when it recently voted her one of the world's handful of "leaders and revolutionaries." (Condoleezza Rice wrote Oprah's citation: "She has struggled with many of the challenges that we all face, and she has transformed her life. Her message is empowering: I did it, and so can you.") Like all seminal creative figures, her essential gift lies in her synthesizing power.

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