jueves, 30 de diciembre de 2010

My 2010 In Movies

So, 2010 is living its last hours and there's been plenty of cinema this year. I must say the quality hasn't been really good, in my opinion. Too many sequels, superheroes and all that stuff that I've watched anyways (sometimes really wanting the movie to finish, I confess), LOL. Still, I miss quality and stories that move my spirit and make me think. Hollywood needs talented writers!! They exist but they are not given a chance! Take some risks sometimes! I'm one of those people who like to put in the main character's shoes. I like to cry, smile, feel nervous, frightened or laugh when I'm told a story. That hasn't happened much this year, that's why I'm making this reflection.

109, I've counted. Not bad considering there are 365 days in a year. Let's surpass this mark in 2011! My fave films of the years, um, clearly Inception, Black Swan, A Single Man, Rabbit Hole. A bit of Downey Jr, Cruise, Brosnan and Streep always make me happy. Weaknesses that one has.

Here's the list, how many have you seen?

Sherlock Holmes
Up In The Air
The Lovely Bones
It's Complicated
Leap Year
The Fourth Side
Did You Hear About The Morgans?
Love Happens
The Stepfather
Percy Jackson and The Lightening Thief
Shutter Island
Crazy Heart
Alice in Wonderland
Green Zone
Dear John
Remember Me
The Back Up Plan
Date Night
Spanish Movie
Iron Man 2
The Crazies
Letters To Juliet
The Losers
The New Daughter
Sex And The City 2
Knight & Day
Grown Ups
Shrek Forever After
The Ghostwriter
Nanny Mcphee and The Big Bang
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The Greatest
Kick Ass
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Toy Story 3
The Bounty Hunter
Prince of Persia
Despicable Me
The Joneses
El Mal Ajeno
The A Team
The Rebound
Dinner For Schmucks
New York, I Love You
Paris, Je T'Aime
The Switch
The Expendables
I Love You Philip Morris
Piranha 3D
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Resident Evil 3D: Afterlife
The American
The Last Exorcism
Repo Men
Going The Distance
Eat, Pray, Love
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
A Single Man
The Social Network
Saw 3D
Paranormal Activity 2
The Kids Are All Right
Due Date
Harry Potter and the Deathly Shadows: Part 1
Didi Hollywood
Rabbit Hole
The Next Three Days
The Tourist
Life As We Know It
Tron: Legacy
Black Swan
The Extra Man
For Coloured Girls
Little Fockers
Every Dat
Los Ojos de Julia
Never Let Me Go
I'm Still Here
The Town
Let Me In
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

martes, 14 de diciembre de 2010

Golden Globes Nominations: What it is and what it should have been?

So, the Golden Globes nominations have been announced and I'm so happy to see that my predictions were very close to reality. There were some surprises, though. Let's compare what I said yesterday and what happened today.

My predix in drama movies:  Black Swan, 127 Hours, Rabbit Hole, The King's Speech, Inception, The Social Network and The Fighter.

Official nominees in drama movies: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The King's Speech and The Social Network.

* My predix of Rabbit Hole and 127 Hours have not been included but it's normal, the category is for five movies only. I would have put Rabbit Hole instead of The Fighter or The Social Network. The rest have been what I said it would.

My predix in comedy/musical movies: The Kids Are Alright, Love and Other Drugs, Due Date, Easy A.

Official nominees in comedy/musical movies: Alice in Wonderland, Burlesque, The Kids Are All Right, Red, The Tourist.

* Super surprised by this category, two action movies have been included in a comedy category where Easy A, Love and Other Drugs and Due Date should have been. Alice in Wonderland is a good choice but Burlesque is definitely not. Thank God, The Kids Are Alright has been included.

My predix in drama actresses: Natalie Portman, Nicole Kidman, Helena Bonham Carter

Official lead & supporting drama actress nominees: Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams, Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Mila Kunis, Melissa Leo & Jacki Weaver

*The three names I proposed are in the list. I'm happy with this category, they all deserve it. The only name that troubles me is Halle Berry. Don't know if she should have been nominated.

My predix in comedy actress nominees: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Anne Hathaway, Emma Stone

Official comedy actress nominees: Annette Bening, Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, Emma Stone.

*My four choices were included. Angelina's nominees was unexpected. She's a great actress but she doesn't deserve it for The Tourist. I think Anne Hathaway should have had a double nom: one for Love and Other Drugs and the other for Alice in Wonderland.

My predix in drama actor nominees: James Franco, Aaron Eckhart, Colin Firth, Javier Bardem

Official lead & supporting drama actor nominees: Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth, James Franco, Ryan Gosling, Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Michael Douglas, Andrew Garfield, Jeremy Renner, Geoffrey Rush

*2 of my four were included. I cannot believe Aaron Eckhart was left out. He should have taken Jesse Eisenberg's nomination. Happy for Ryan Gosling, Michael Douglas and Geoffrey Rush. Michael Douglas was better in the first Wall Street but as always, awards take pity to the ones who are sick. Shouldn't be that way but every single time happens the same. Take the example of Michael C. Hall last year. And Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, whoa, really??

My predix in comedy actor nominees: Robert Downey Jr.

Official nominees in comedy actor nominees: Johnny Depp, Johnny Depp, Paul Giamatti, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kevin Spacey.

* Must say that Depp's nomination for Alice in Wonderland is understandable but the second for The Tourist isn't. That one should have been taken by Robert Downey Jr, who was super hilarious in Due Date. Giamatti, Gyllenhaal and Spacey are good choices.

Now, on TV, the old family reunited again. It was predictable!
My predix in drama series: Mad Men, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Lost.
Official predix in drama series: Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, The Good Wife, Mad Men, The Walking Dead

*Very deserved nomination for The Good Wife. 2 of my predix were in. Happy not to see True Blood because as I said yesterday, the past season wasn't really good.

My predix in comedy series: Glee, Modern Family

Official predix in comedy series: 30 Rock, Glee, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, The Big C, Nurse Jackie.

*No complains here. It is what it was supposed to me.

My predix in lead drama actress: Julianna Margulies, Anna Paquin

Official nominees in lead & supporting drama actress: Julianna Margulies, Piper Perabo, Elisabeth Moss, Katey Sagal, Kyra Sedwick, Hope Davis, Kelly McDonald and Julia Stiles

*Nice to see that Anna Paquin is not in the list because as I said yesterday, Sookie is annoying. Kyra Sedwick had to be there and more now that The Closer has been cancelled. Thumbs up for Julianna and Elisabeth but Piper Perabo?? Excuse me? I must say that I like Covert Affairs and Piper Perabo but not in a way that it should be considered in awards. Covert Affairs is not Alias, just as Piper Perabo is not Jennifer Garner. Sorry but that Perabo's spot should have been for Anna Torv.

My predix in comedy actress: Laura Linney, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara.

Official predix in lead & supporting comedy actress: Toni Collette, Edie Falco, Tina Fey, Laura Linney, Lea Michele, Sofia Vergara, Jane Lynch

*Same group as last year, no complains.

My predix in drama actor:  Hugh Laurie, Jon Hamm, Michael C.Hall

Official nominees in lead & supporting drama actor: Steve Buscemi, Bryan Cramston, Michael C.Hall, Jon Hamm, Hugh Laurie, Chris Noth, Scott Caan and David Strathairn.

*The family of lead drama actors reunites again. Nice to see Hugh again, it was a relief because wasn't so sure. Noth, Caan and Strathairn really deserve their nomination as supporting actors. Happy overrall.

My predix in comedy actor: Eric Stonestreet

Official nominees in lead & supporting comedy actor: Alec Baldwin, Matthew Morrison, Steve Carell, Jim Parsons, Thomas Jane, Chris Colfer, Eric Stonestreet.

*As in dramatic actor, the same old family joins again. Hello Thomas Jane!

I miss nominations!! Fringe and Lost deserved some! At least to Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson. Maybe the Emmy....

lunes, 13 de diciembre de 2010

Reflections Pre Golden Globe Nominations

It's been a month since my last entry (I still have three or more articles pending about Undercovers, I feel bad about it but the show's already cancelled, what's the point then?) and I've been repressing myself because I have so much to say and very little time to sit down and write without rush. Believe me, I've sit in front of the computer many times these past weeks but when I was beginning to map something up, my mind went back to all the things I had pending to do. (Never underestimate the great power of the brain!). Now, I'm about to start my xmas holidays and I have less stuff to do, that's why you are all reading these lines. LOL

The thing is that tomorrow are the Golden Globes nominations and I couldn't be more excited about it. You may think, why's that? You're not even an actress? True, it's true (although I've been an actress in dreams, LOL) but I'm a massive consumer of cinema, I like to know who's doing what and with whom and believe me, every single day I'm discovering more and more interesting stuff about this business thanks to the master's degree I'm doing and dear friends who are near this fascinating world that my love for cinema is like a great and true love story.

So, why do I like the Golden Globes? To me, it's the most spontaneous award show ever. Everybody all together at Beverly Hills Hotel' dining room, having some drinks, eating, chit-chatting, gossiping, standing out to say hello to friends who are on the side of the room. You can see all that from home (yeah, we're peeping tom!) and you comment to your sofa partner how wonderful that dress Anne Hathaway is wearing or how well Hugh Laurie wears his tux (which is true!) or you can't believe your eyes when you see Brad whispering Angie something or George Clooney giving a hug to Julia Roberts. You don't see stars there but normal people hanging out. It's an annual night where everybody sees everybody because otherwise, they won't see each other. Kinda like X-Mas when all the family is all together. It's NOT AT ALL a tight show like the Academy Awards are. I think if the Academy Awards introduced a little sparkle of this spontaneous interaction, people at home and at the Kodak Theater would enjoy it a whole more. Because, let's be honest, the Academy Awards are boring! Another reason why I love this awards is because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gives them and they tend to be very fair. I've been watching these awards for 10 years and I've never felt disappointed. They award people wisely.

The host, this year, will also be Ricky Gervais, who was absolutely great. What can I say? I love witty dark British humour. Every single time he appeared on stage, he took a sip to his beer and bam! great joke. He really can't shut his mouth, he likes flattering people but also say what other people don't dare in a way that 98% of the people would enjoy and the rest would feel offended.

I won't be able to get my predictions 100% but taking into account what I've seen and what I've read, my predictions will be kinda close. So, here are some names that I expect to be called tomorrow.

In movies, Black Swan, 127 Hours, Rabbit Hole (this is a personal choice! even though the movie hasn't been considered in its whole), The King's Speech, Inception and The Social Network (telling you the truth, I'm an avid Facebooker but the movie was kinda blah! to me, don't get why critics think is that good). The Fighter with Mark Wahlberg is getting a lot of buzz but what's the point? Didn't we have The Wrestler two years ago? Sounds like an old story to me. That's in drama. In comedy, The Kids Are Alright, Love and Other Drugs, Due Date, Easy A.

As for actors: Natalie Portman, James Franco, Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart (that's another personal choice), Colin Firth, Javier Bardem, Helena Bonham Carter, Julianne Moore and Annette Bening (although both have done better performances). Probably Anne Hathaway, Emma Stone and Roberth Downey Jr.

I think in the TV category, the same old family will be reunited again and a couple of newbies will get in. Glee, Mad Men, Modern Family (which will win!), True Blood (even though, I think this season doesn't deserve it ), Boardwalk Empire, Lost. Sadly, I have the feeling my dear and loved Hugh Laurie won't get his sixth nomination but I want to be wrong. He already has two GG, can't complain at all but it's always nice to see him win because he deserves and his acceptance speeches are awesome. He's such a SUPERB actor. Jon Hamm, Michael C.Hall, Julianna Margulies, Laura Linney, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet and probably Anna Paquin (although, I must say Sookie Stackhouse is becoming more and more annoying). Please, I'd like to see some Lost nomination, I think it's appropiate and please, give Anna Torv some love. She's fantastic in Fringe, one of the greatest series on TV these days that FOX refuses the good treatment it deserves.

Let's see if my intuition gets close to reality or not tomorrow....

domingo, 14 de noviembre de 2010

TV Review: Undercovers - "Assassin"

"Article first published as "TV Review: Undercovers - "Assassin"" on Blogcritics.org."

First of all, let me apologise for writing the review of the Undercovers episode "Assassin" two weeks after it aired. Still, the episode is worth exploring.

In this new adventure, Agents Samantha (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Steven (Boris Bodjoe) Bloom must travel to Lima (Peru) in order to prevent the assassination of the new president of the country, Alberto Loya.

The opening teaser shows us Steven aiming a gun and ready to shoot the president of Peru but, wait a minute, wasn't Steven a good guy? At this point, the episode goes backwards so we can all get an explanation to why Steven is in this situation. This strategy of storytelling was greatly used in Alias as well. I think it's a good cliffhanger for the audience.

As in every episode, we get to know how the Bloom Catering is doing. This week, the catering's new client is Jennifer Anthony, an old friend of Sam's who opens Pandora's Box again when she mentions a former college professor with whom Sam had a special friendship.

Agent Shaw (Gerald McRaney) pays his weekly visit to the store so he can debrief the couple about their new mission. Shaw tells them about Victor Guzman, a very dangerous hitman who was recently caught by the authorities and who had confessed he was hired by a guy called Ivanov to assassinate Loya.

Sam infiltrates in a junket as a reporter in order to talk with Loya and warn him about being in danger. Like in almost all J.J Abrams' productions, Abrams likes to give small roles to friends or actors who have previously worked with the director. Here, the familiar face is David Anders. Probably if I say he played Sark in Alias, you'd quickly remember him, right?

After the meeting in Lima, the team travels to Rio so Sam could get important data related to Loya and Steven could approach Ivanov and take Guzman's job as he's "dead" - actually Guzman is imprisoned but that's the lie Steven tells to Ivanov. I think now you understand why Steven was aiming that gun at the beginning of the episode.

Thanks to Leo's (Carter MacIntyre) hookup with a member of Loya's administration, we get to know the real (oil) enemies of the politician. Then, the story suddenly takes a twist when Sam gets captured and we realize that the enemy targered by the agents is not who they thought he was.

At the end of the episode, the president and Peru are saved thanks to the team. We again are hinted about the possibility of a romance between Leo and Lizzy (Mekia Cox) as they seem to have very good chemistry together and Sam confesses to Steven the reason why she left the agency. At last, we get to know a little bit of her past!! Too bad, it's so late, because the show won't run for much longer.

NBC announced the cancellation of Undercovers days ago. Don't you find it a bit contradictory? I mean, a few weeks ago, the network ordered nine more scripts and now, the idea has been revoked. I feel bad for the cast and crew because new plots and roles were announced. There are three more episodes pending before we say a definite goodbye to the Blooms & Co, so stay tuned!

viernes, 5 de noviembre de 2010

Five Movies That Scream Oscar Buzz

"Article first published as Five Movies That Scream Oscar Buzz on Blogcritics.org."

Fall is a season I particularly dislike but when it comes to cinema, it represents the very best of the year. Fall season seems to be the time of the year when big studios reveal the greatest treasures they have been working and hiding for months. It also means the beginning of the award season - at least, when it comes to nominations.

In my opinion, 2010 has generally lacked of strong and powerful movies. So, I really hope the last months of the year contribute to great quality. I know there are plenty of offers coming up but here's a short selection of movies I can bet they'd be considered for the Oscar race.

1. The King's Speech by Tom Hooper (Nov. 26th)

Last year's Oscar contender Colin Firth seems to want to return to the Oscar race this year, not as a single man but as king, as George VI of Britain, to be exact in Tom Hooper's The King's Speech. The movie is centered on George VI's sudden ascension to the throne and his constant struggle to overcome his insecurities. Presented in many film festivals such as Telluride, Toronto or London, the cast is completed with Helena Bonham Carter, who plays George VI's wife, Queen Elizabeth; Michael Gambon, Geoffrey Rush and Guy Pearce. A very big and talented British cast in a history drama. The Queen's Helen Mirren reigned the Oscars in 2007; will Firth be crowned best actor this year?

2. The Kids Are All Right by Lisa Cholodenko (in theaters)

Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play a long time and loving lesbian couple with two children conceived by artificial insemination in this dramedy that has delighted critics since it was presented in Sundance. Children are curious by nature, there's no doubt about that! So, what do you think is going to happen when they look for their father (Mark Ruffalo) and decide to bring him to the family life?. This is not American Beauty but the Academy tend to like family issues. Plus, I think it's about time that both Bening and Moore get recognized after many nominations for the golden statuette.

3. Black Swan by Darren Aronofsky (Dec. 3rd)

This movie has travelled all over the world and has visited the most prestigious film festivals you can imagine. In Black Swan, director Darren Aronofsky turns Natalie Portman into a ballerina haunted and pressured by a new dancer (Mila Kunis) who wants to snatch her spot in the ballet company's new production. This fight for the precious spot leads Portman to a deep and dark turmoil we haven't seen the actress portraying before.

4. Rabbit Hole by John Cameron Mitchell (Dec.17th)
I'm really excited about this movie because I think it'll represent Nicole Kidman's comeback to drama; to her best, strong and almost flawless performance level she used to give us years ago in movies like The Others, The Hours, and Eyes Wide Shut. Based on David Lindsay-Abaire's play, the story revolves around a young happy couple (Kidman and Aaron Eckhart), whose life is turned upside down after their son dies in an accident. I haven't seen the movie yet but it seems the movie is not only centered on the grief and helplessness of losing a child but also on how a marriage is affected by such loss. A very delicate matter and by the trailer, we can see all the cast is giving very heartfelt performances.

5. 127 Hours by Danny Boyle (Dec. 22nd)

Slumdog Millionaire gave success and excellent recognition to Danny Boyle, will the same happen to 127 Hours? Based on a true story, the movie focuses on Aron Ralston (James Franco), a young fearless climber who gets trapped under a boulder in Utah and resorts to very desperate measures in order to stay alive. This is a story about survival - we are Aron's company during those terrible 127 Hours and we suffer with him - but also about how extreme situations could make us re-examine our lives and look for things to improve if we are able to move on safe and sound.

Other contenders: Inception by Christopher Nolan, Biutiful by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Somewhere by Sofia Coppola, The Social Network by David Fincher and True Grit by Joel & Ethan Coen.

What do you think of these movies? Which one are you really looking forward to watch? Share your thoughts!

lunes, 1 de noviembre de 2010

TV Review: Undercovers - "Xerxes"

"Article first published as TV Review: Undercovers - "Xerxes" on Blogcritics.org."

Let's all refresh our memory and go two weeks back. Just forget about last week's episode "Not Without My Daughter" because that episode was not in order. Focus on the episode "Jailbreak" where we all started to get hints about Agents Samantha (Gugu Mbatha-Law) and Steven (Boris Bodjoe) Bloom's past, Agent Shaw (Gerald McRaney) having a mysterious conversation on the phone about being careful with the Blooms or else they would find out the truth of their reactivation and their mission was solid and interesting. Are we all placed in the context? Ok, let's proceed, then.

This week, the Blooms travel to Tuscany to purchase at auction a painting containing an encrypted formula for a biological weapon, (tested succesfully in an Australian tour bus). They are to apprehend Xerxes, a dangerous arms dealer eluding the authorites for the past three years; he is interested in getting the formula for Lord knows what evil reason why.

One of the most interesting aspects to this mission is that Sam has to assume one of her old covers and have as partner (a.k.a fake husband for the mission) an MI-5 agent called Clive instead of her husband Steven. Tension arises! So, Sam and Clive are the big frontrunners in Italy while Steven and Hoyt (Ben Schwartz) are backups along with Tessa, a young beautiful girl who comes with Clive and draws Hoyt's attention. Love is in the air...

Now, Clive is an interesting fellow because thanks to him, we get more hints about Sam and Steven's pasts. It's clear that Clive has worked with them separately and wants to take a trip to memory lane and revive some anecdotes but Sam stops him in time by mentioning the non-past talking pact we got to know in "Jailbreak".

Later, as they hack the history of every painting so they can locate the piece of art containing the lethal formula, Sam forgets about this pact. Clive starts telling her why Steven was brought out of the agency's training programme.

Hoyt likes Tessa more and more and asks advice of Steven, whom Hoyt considers a master in "risky" love relationships. Who better to play Dr. Love than Steven, who's married to a fierce sexy spy?

The story has its first twist when Hoyt and Steven are caught in the act as they proceed to exchange the painting for a replica. The day of the auction arrives and, Sam supervises the event herslef to see if Xerxes makes his appearance. Instead he has sent a lead to do the bidding. Tracing the phone used by the lead for bidding, the agents learn that the call was coming from a secured location in the villa, specifically, the room used by Sam and Clive, which had been previously set in a secured mode. Sam goes to the room and finds Clive shot on the floor.

Clive tells Sam that Xerxes is not a "he" as they assumed but a she. Why do we always initially think that villains are male? Xerxes is Tessa and she has been able to escape with the formula!! A very very nice twist for the plot! In my opinion, Tessa has been the best villain the show has had so far. Who could suspect that this innocent and nice looking girl who has stolen Hoyt's heart is actually a cold-bloodied killer? Poor Hoyt, he was so attracted to her, I feel bad for him.

In Florence, Agent Shaw informs the Blooms that the case will now be handled by the British, but Hoyt suddenly recalls hearing Tessa saying some numbers and code names on the phone in the villa. Thanks to Hoyt's good memory, they are able to trace Tessa in Hong Kong. There, the team is able to find the painting with the formula and Hoyt takes the lead in apprehending Tessa.

At the end, back home, Steven continues the story Clive started to tell Sam during the mission. Sam tells him there's no need but he proceeds telling her that he was kicked out of the training programme because he hacked in a highly classified database in order to get Sam's name and where she was because he had seen her before and was instantly attracted. He followed her until he got to marry her. A sacrifice gave a reward in return. Awwwwwwwww! But is that the real reason or was Steven just trying to sweeten the story?

So, what do you think of the episode? Did you miss Leo Nash in the mission? How about Tessa? Share your thoughts!

TV Review: Undercovers - "Not Without My Daughter"

"Article first published as TV Review: Undercovers - "Not Without My Daughter" on Blogcritics.org."

In this week's episode of Undercovers, Agents Samantha (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Steven (Boris Bodjoe) Bloom are assigned to bring in a North Korean physicist called Shin Won and retrieve a device called Delta, which is able to change an object's state of matter.

The episode opens with Lizzy (Mekia Cox) speaking secretly on the phone while browsing her sister's closet in search for the perfect dress to wear in her 90-day sober celebration. Over the phone, Lizzy is clearly worried about the possibility of them (that is, her sister and husband) figuring something out but what is it they are going to figure it out? Last week, we got Agent Shaw talking mysteriously on the phone and this week, it's Lizzy. It may not be a coincidence, and it got me thinking that Lizzy could also be a part of the plot of the Bloom's reactivation. Could it be? What do you think?

While on the mission, Sam gets emotionally attached to Shin Won because he wants to renegotiate the terms of his defection in exchange of his daughter's safety. It is at this moment that Sam realizes that despite the fact that her job is crucial for the world's security, family always comes first.

The Blooms travel to North Korea despite Agent Shaw's disapproval. Once in Pyongyang, Agents Bloom encounter their doppelganger, a French intelligence couple who are also there to save May. You have the right to be suspicious of these two because the French are not there to help May; their main target is getting hold of he Delta device and kill the Blooms.

The mission causes Sam to miss her sister Lizzy's 90-day sober celebration. I truly understand Lizzy's disappointment at the end of the episode and more after Sam promises her to be there in that important day. After all, Lizzy forgives her sister because deep down, it seems to me that Sam has always been there with Lizzy during her alcohol detox.

I was really pleased with last week's episode as it presented an interesting and solid mission and what seemed to be the beginning of the exploration of Agents Bloom's past. This week, the show seems to have taken a step back with an episode that looks a bit off because Leo (Carter MacIntyre), a crucial backup for the couple, isn't on screen and Steven, Sam or Hoyt don't even mention him during the mission. Was this episode to be aired before last week's "Jailbreak"? I'm thinking that's the case! And here I was hoping to discover something new and shocking about the spies. Next week, I guess!

Even though NBC has ordered four more scripts of Undercovers for this season, the show really needs more powerful and good episodes as the one from last week to boost its audience because it's still not as good as it was expected.

So, what did you think of "Not Without My Daughter"? Do you feel that the show needs a big guest star to draw the audience's attention? Share your thoughts!

viernes, 15 de octubre de 2010

TV Review: Undercovers - "Jailbreak"

"Article first published as "TV Review: Undercovers - "Jailbreak"" on Blogcritics.org."

This week's target for our Undercovers Agents Bloom (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Bodjoe) is travelling to Ireland and England to recover a CIA hardrive in danger of falling into enemy hands.

Before talking about the mission itself, let's focus at Sam's sister, Lizzy. As in every episode, we can see the action moving to the catering company that Sam and Steven own as part of their cover. There, the couple find Lizzy working hard at 7 a.m. which seems really suspicious for Steven. We know that Lizzy is a bit of a troublemaker and always has second intentions. Steven has the right to be suspicious and he even has the guts to joke about Lizzy's past alcoholism in order to understand why she's working in the business that early in the morning. Steven, don't be bad! There's a reason she's there; she needs money for her cooking classes! Do you believe that? I don't! Steven doesn't help her, and warns Sam that Lizzy is going hit her up for money. In the end, Sam, always the very nice and supporting sister, gives $700 to Lizzy with the promise to pay them back soon.

So are we getting a bit of mystery in this week's episode? The answer is yes but just a little! We see Agent Shaw (Gerald McRaney) speaking on the phone with an unidentified male about the Blooms and the need to be careful or else they will find out the true reason of their reactivation. Nice way of teasing us but we want to know what's behind!! Please, try to be more specific!

Another hint is dropped during the mission when Leo (Carter MacIntyre) asks Sam why she hasn't told Steven her true reason for leaving the agency five years earlier. So, does this mean that Leo knows the real reason? Does that reason involve him? Still, we have to thank Leo because at least, we got to know something new about the Blooms. It turns out Sam and Steven made a pact about not talking about their past. Whoa!

Overall, this week's mission is much more interesting than those we've seen so far. There are some turns in the storyline, but what's important to point out is that the Blooms are doing their job way better. We discover that they are excellent interrogators (especially Sam) and Steven is a human lie detector. It is clear that the couple has things more under control, and despite Leo's presence to help them, I felt they could have solved the mission without him.

One moment really surprising to me was when Leo is taken hostage. Facing the dangerous situation, Sam allows no negotiations with hostage takers, despite the fact that the victim is her friend Leo. What if it was her husband in the same situation? Do you think Sam would act the same way? This kind of behaviour made me think that we don't know Sam's personality at all.

We are not the only ones, Steven doesn't know his wife as well as he thinks he does either. He can be a lie detector and find out if Sam has given Lizzy the money she wants but the mutual communication and understanding he shows off in front of Agent Shaw once the mission is over is not that apparent from Sam's side.

At the end of the episode, a nervous Sam mentions the "non-speaking about the past" pact and wants to tell Steven something about her past because she feels not telling is no different than lying. Sam is not able to tell him the real reason why she left the agency because Steven assumes and only accepts that Sam left because she fell in love with him and wanted to live a normal life. It's clear that Sam wants to confess but Steven shuts her up with nice and romantic words. Keep insisting, Sam! Do it for us, we want to know!!

What do you think of this week's episode? What do you think Sam is hiding? Share your thoughts!!

TV Review: Undercovers - "Devices"

"Article first published as "TV Review: Undercovers - "Devices"" on Blogcritics.org."

This week's mission of Undercovers centers on recovering a code breaking device that could crack open the identities and covers of all CIA agents around the world and put them in jeopardy.

The episode opens in Germany where two armed men infiltrate a secluded hospital and extract Mathias, a psych patient who loves jelly beans, with the promise that he'll back to the hospital safe and sound if he does what they say. This beginning could ring a bell because the procedure (entering-killing-kidnapping) is exactly the same as last week's episode "Instructions". I truly believe writers should change this format as soon as possible because the audience will get tired of the same old story over and over again. Think about more possible scenarios!

The action moves to Samantha and Steven Bloom's (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe) bedroom where they are enjoying the aftermath of a nice morning loving. it seems the couple has brought back the sparkle they used to have in the very beginning of their relationship.

In the pilot, we saw a very different picture of the couple. We saw them as a young beautiful couple who had fallen into a monotone relationship pattern, and by the way Samantha moved around Steven, they only had sex every so often. What on earth happened between these two? A five year old marriage suggests they are not in the so-called honeymoon phase but why acting so cold? Now, everything has taken a turn; they are both more passionate and devoted to each other, and despite all the bantering, their relationship is healthier and solid. So deep down, the Blooms must thank the agency for reactivating them as spies because it has mended their marriage.

I think we are able to describe Agent Shaw (Gerald McRaney) as a sarcastic, witty and tough boss that is able to do anything to make a point. His point being that the Blooms are not qualified for the job. His breaking and entering into the Blooms' residence in order to brief them about their new case (going to Germany, talk with Hans Bauer about the code breaking device and stop him) makes us smile but at the same time, it makes us believe Shaw's point somehow. Five years off the field is not such a long time for the Blooms to forget what is like to be spies and what precautions have to be taken.

After Shaw leaves the premises, Samantha expresses her concern about working with her husband, worrying that their marriage could get in trouble if they work together. Steven assures her that nothing wrong is going to happen; they have worked with many people in the past and this time won't be different. They are married, yes!, but when they're working, they are partners. Period! Do you want to know my opinion? There's no way this couple will be able to separate their personal and private lives.

In the Bloom Catering, we are introduced a new character, Lance (Jay Scully), a gay cook who has a rather tense relationship with Lizzy (Mekia Cox). They are all the time bantering making their interactions very funny to see. Now, why does it seem that Lizzy is a much more interesting character than Samantha? Last week, there were hints about Lizzy's possible past alcoholism. This week, we discover Lizzy's dating problems. What's best, real dating or online dating? Sam thinks dating and advises her sister to try to look for someone in the real world rather than virtually. It's not going to be easy, I'm sure.

Lance's introduction to the show adds an element of tension in the kitchen. His constant disapproval and concern about how things run in the business when Lizzy is involved proves that Sam treats Lizzy as her protegée. Ok, they are sisters but it's a fact that Lizzy works in the catering because her sister is there and not for her skills as a cook or as someone who can be in charge of a client's catering.

In Berlin, Bauer dies during the meeting and Steven put himself near death for not obeying Sam's orders which causes another moment of tension between the couple. One of the things I truly adore about the show is the nice touch of the writers when relieving moments of tension like this one with smart dialogues and hilarious situations. In this episode, the change of tone happens thanks to Hoyt (Ben Schwartz), our Gadget Man, who appears in his pajamas (96% silk and 4% Lady Gaga) and tries to put some peace between the couple.

In my opinion, Hoyt is a very endearing and funny character, he always seems to be in the middle of the Blooms when they are scolding each other. In a way, he acts as their peacemaker when it comes to marriage issues and as their guardian angel in missions. His abilities as tech man are unquestionable but why do I have the feeling that he'd like to be Steven's skin every now and then? He always shows such admiration and respect towards the Blooms - he never refers to them as Steven or Samantha but as Mr or Mrs. Agent Bloom - that makes us think he really thinks of them as mentors.

Leo Nash makes his entrance to the mission as extra support for Sam, Steven and Hoyt again. We can see there's a very good comradeship between the Blooms and himself as it's seen in the scene at the club where Steven asks Leo to follow the lead they used in a past mission in Budapest. Leo is also a very interesting character to explore. He was their partner and he even dated Sam in the past but are his feelings towards Sam a thing of the past? Does Leo really want to help the Blooms to restablish the good status as spies they used to have or does he want to win Sam back?

Despite Leo's help, the Blooms fail at the mission and as you can imagine Shaw is not happy about it. Shaw takes them off the case but the couple doesn't surrender and keeps working in the case on their own. Don't miss Steven standing up to Shaw, it's priceless!! Deep down, the Blooms are good spies, they speak several languages, they have experience, they know how to use gadgets and everything but they are not efficient.

The mission takes a turn when they realize the code breaking device is not machine but a person, Mathias. Once the mission is over, the baddies are taken into custody, Mathias is safe and the Blooms are able to save the identity and covers of all the CIA agents.

The episode ends the same same way it started: in Sam and Steven's bed, reprising the conversation about separating their professional life from their private one. It's clear that both tried their best to stay focused on the mission, but let's face it, they are married and care about each other: that's the deal, no matter what.

I think it was a nice episode but it seems the show is (so far) very formulaic. I really hope we get to know about the real reason why the Blooms left the agency five years ago and how they both were as independent agents. Ratings show the series is not doing as well as expected but I have the feeling that Undercovers is going through the same thing Fringe went through in its first season. Quite regular ratings and then a big boost as the plot developed. It seems next week some of the issues from the Blooms' past will be dealt, so stay tuned, please! J.J Abrams' shows never tend to disappoint.

Meet Gugu Mbatha-Raw: J. J Abrams' Fresh New Face

"Article first published as "Meet Gugu Mbatha-Raw: J.J Abrams' Fresh New Face" on Blogcritics.org."

Not only is J.J Abrams well known for his successful and smart productions but also for taking talented "newcomers" and turn them into successful, popular, and prolific stars, see the examples of Keri Russell (Felicity), Jennifer Garner (Alias), Evangeline Lilly (Lost) and most recently, Anna Torv (Fringe). He has always made good choices when casting the leading ladies of his shows and I'm sure Gugu Mbatha-Raw won't be an exception in Undercovers.

Mbatha-Raw is yet another example of British actress who trying her fortune with a role in TV across the pond, following the footsteps of Hugh Laurie (House), Tim Roth (Lie To Me) and Stephen Moyer (True Blood). Born in Oxford (just like Laurie), the actress is definitely a newcomer in the U.S but she’s had a quite intense career on TV in shows like Doctor Who and MI5 and in theater in her native England. There is no doubt that her Broadway debut next to Jude Law in Hamlet is her best letter of presentation to the American audience.

Now, every Wednesday, Gugu Mbatha-Raw embodies Samantha Bloom, a sexy former spy who is reactivated next to her spy husband, Steven Bloom (Boris Kodjoe) after years out of the field in NBC's Undercovers. Expect action, sexy chemistry, bantering, and Abrams' trademark essence in the new show.

Reading her recent interview on Essence's website, it seems clear that we're going to be seeing a lot more of Mbatha-Raw in the future. The piece covers her debut on U.S TV, how she's prepared for her role, her opinion about her co-star Boris Kodjoe, and more. It's definitely good reading for those wanting to find out more about this actress.

domingo, 3 de octubre de 2010

TV Review: Undercovers - "Instructions"

"Article first published as TV Review: Undercovers - "Instructions" on Blogcritics.org."

With the second episode of Undercovers, we can see that the show seems to follow the formulaic path we all know: first a teaser about the mission to come followed by the assignment itself, and then its development and conclusion. Nothing new.

As in many spy/action shows and movies, one of the things that can make the path more dynamic is to take the action into new and different locations. This week, the action starts in Pakistan, where a pair of armed men escort some business men into a science lab located in the middle of the desert. What seems to be a business meeting turns into a massacre when one of the men (John) suddenly opens fire, surprising his comrades (John's brother, Bruce and Hollis Krueger) killing the business men and all the scientists working in the lab. With everybody dead, John finds what he had been seeking: Dr. Nassir, the only survivor of the massacre, a scientist whom John hopes to coerce into creating a bomb once she learns that they have her husband.

The action now moves to the Bloom's catering company, the business Samantha and Steven Bloom opened together after marrying and leaving the espionage; now it serves as cover-up after they got reactivated as agents in the pilot episode. In this scene, we see Samantha and Steven bickering over a coffee machine he broke after not reading the instructions. It's impossible not to smile at this situation because it is so domestic and fun, plus the chemistry between these two make it believable. As you probably can imagine the bickering could continue on and on but Lizzy (Sam's sister, who also works in the catering) interrupts them by announcing Carlton Shaw (Sam and Steven's boss at the agency), or as she calls him, the "hotel guy".

In Bloom's little office, Shaw informs them of Dr. Nassir's kidnapping and presents them the suspects (John, Bruce and Krueger). Once he explains the mission, Shaw shows some distrust to the couple's spy abilities, which are a bit rusty after years off the field.

Shaw has definitely a point; after all, if Steven doesn't even know how to make a coffee machine work, how can he complete this complex mission successfully? Afterwards, Sam announces that she must leave for a trip again, leading Lizzy to believe that they are planning to sell the catering business to the "hotel guy" (you know, spies, they always have that double life!), which could leave her without a job and, possibly relapsing to alcoholism.

(Is Lizzy a former alcoholic? What happened to her in the past? I guess we'll have to wait and see.)

Before travelling to Turks and Caicos to find Krueger, we see another domestic scene of Sam and Steven at home packing and mission planning. This time, the lady takes the lead in the mission.

Once in the exotic location, Sam approaches Krueger using her charm while Steven supervises from a distance. A third party, Hoyt (the Gadget Man and backup support for Sam and Steven in the missions) enters the game, which later gives Steven access to the tools needed to enter Krueger's room while Sam keeps "distracting" him.

The tropical action takes a brief break and moves to Stockholm where we see Dr. Nassir being rushed to finish the bomb. Back in Krueger's room at Turks and Caicos, Steven cracks a safe and finds some documents in Arabic that he cannot read — but his wife can.

I'm starting to wonder what Steven's abilities are in this game; his wife seems more prepared for the job. Steven asks Sam to lure Krueger into the room while he plants a tracking device into Krueger's watch without following Hoyt's instructions on how to do it properly. You know what is going to happen, right?

Sam and Krueger get into the room, Krueger gets knocked out and after Hoyt joins the couple, the interrogation starts. Krueger blames everything on John Sidel and tells them that he has to deliver the Arabic documents to an unidentified contact tonight at the bar. While examining the documents, Sam discovers the address of John's residence in Caracas, and Steven suggests Sam and Hoyt to travel there while he supervises Krueger's meeting with the contact. As you can imagine, the debate of who goes where and with whom starts another bantering moment between the Blooms.

In Caracas, Sam and Hoyt pick the lock of John's residence and after doing some search around the house, they find nothing, but they encounter John's brother Bruce, initiating a chase between him, Sam and Hoyt. Hoyt stops him with their car and the two agents urged him to tell them what is really going on. Bruce reveals that initially everything that took place in Pakistan was John's plan but once they got Dr. Nassir, everything turned and Krueger took the lead and shot him and his brother resulting in John's death. The target of the agents is not John or him but Krueger. In the meantime, Steven, who is supervising Krueger's meeting with the unidentified contact in the bar, gets distracted when a bunch of ladies approach to seduce him and loses sight of Krueger.

Back home, Shaw again questions the espionage abilities of the couple (especially Steven's) because not only did he let Krueger go but the tracking device isn't activated. What did I say? Oh, yeah, it was bound to happen.

Shaw's patience has a limit and brings Leo Nash in to activate the tracker and finish the mission. As you can imagine, Steven is not really happy with this decision because Leo has a kind of romantic past with her lovely wife. Leo exploits his charm in flirting with Sam's sister, who happens to be in the room asking them to try the quiche she's cooked. Of course, Sam doesn't really like the flirting because Leo is an alcoholic and Lizzy is recovering from her alcoholism. Whoa!

At the Bloom's house, Leo tries to reactivate the tracking device which is in silent mode while Steven tries to fix the coffee machine. While doing that, both men start talking about Leo and Sam's former relationship and about what was the real cause that led Sam and Steven to leave the espionage in the past. Steven says it was because they wanted to have a normal married life but Leo doesn't buy it at all. The tracking device activates and locates Krueger in Stockholm.

In Stockholm, Krueger tries the effectiveness of the first bomb, which causes a big explosion and confirms Dr. Nassir's abilities. Later, he urges her to prepare the other bomb but she demands to see her husband, which Krueger refuses. Sam, Steven and Leo pick up Hoyt and lead their way to the location the tracking device indicates, a ship. There they find Dr. Nassir on the floor bleeding after Krueger shot her. She tells them Krueger plans to detonate a bomb in the Global Business Summit taking place in the city.

Hoyt stays with Dr. Nassir while Sam, Steven and Leo dress up to infiltrate into the summit. Once there, they learn the bomb is attached inside Krueger's cell phone, which he has left at the metal detector entranceway by security request. Sam decides that she'll find the cellphone and asks Steven and Leo to go after Krueger. Sam finds the place where all the cellphones are taken into custody, but the problem is, which one is it?

While Steven and Leo chase Krueger and fight against him, Sam finds the cellphone, takes it into a rather safer place and tries to deactivate the bomb with Hoyt's help. Moment of tension: which wire should Sam cut? Two red wires, which one of the two? One of the red wires doesn't deactivate the bomb, oh, wait, there's a black wire, let's cut it! Deactivation completed! Well done, Mrs. Bloom!

Mission completed! Everybody is safe at the Summit and Krueger is not longer a menace. Shaw appreciates Leo's input to the mission and announces to the Blooms that he's going to be joining them in future missions as his expertise is a lot more proficient than theirs together. Leo keeps flirting with Sam and Steven gets upset. These three together in further missions could lead into... trouble in paradise? At home, Steven - after he fixes the coffee machine and serves a cappuccino to Sam - voices his concern about Leo to her because he has the feeling she still feels something for him. At that, Sam tells him that her relationship with Leo was something from the past, and what happened in the past, remains in the past. If you ask me, I really don't find this explanation very convincing. We gotta stay tuned!

So what did you think of the episode? Did you like this one more than the pilot? What do you think it's going to happen with this triangle?

miércoles, 29 de septiembre de 2010

"House" Season 7 premieres

Little interview I gave to Brooke Shafranek about House Season 7

Season 7 of FOX's hit drama series House M.D. premiered last night to anxious audiences, as the last season ended with a closing-scene shocker: long-time love interest Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) finally opened up into a relationship with Gregory House (Hugh Laurie).

Audiences have been waiting for the pairing since the end of season 4. However, the belated couple is getting mixed reviews from long-time fans.

Freshman international politics major Amber Jones is rooting for the couple. "It's about time that they got together!" Jones said.

Olga Parera, webmistress of the Hugh Laurie Fan website, has a more complicated analysis of the relationship.

"I believe House is capable of a relationship," Parera said. "I've always thought that House is a big romantic and passionate person under a strong and cold façade."

Parera also offered an explanation as to what makes House tick romantically.

"House is a person who's suffered a big heartbreak," Parera said. "He gave himself to a person and that person betrayed him and left him alone in the worst moment of his life. He has trust issues, that is why we've only seen him involved in one night stands."

"He truly understands the word love and all its consequences," Parera continued, "and because of that he is so diligent in giving a go to a serious relationship. I think his stay at Mayfield made him take a different perspective about this subject and give a second chance to love."

However, Parera understands the trepidation over the relationship. "Well, I can say that there are fans that are on the verge of stop watching the show because they feel that House has turned into a soap opera rather than the show it was presented in season 1."

Sophomore electrical and computer engineering major Olesandr Boyko said that House and Cuddy are "going to break up eventually."

"House will use the relationship for his benefit because Cuddy is higher-up than him [being his boss]," Boyko said.

Season 7 could be a make-it or break-it year for the television show depending on how the relationship progresses and how audiences perceive said relationship. House airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX.

Music Review: Robbie Williams - In And Out Of Consciousness: The Greatest Hits (1990 - 2010)

"Article first published as Music Review: Robbie Williams - In And Out Of Consciousness: The Greatest Hits (1990 - 2010) on Blogcritics.org."

Robbie Williams returns to the spotlight on October 12th with his CD, In And Out Of Consciousness – The Greatest Hits 1990 - 2010, which compiles all the best of his 20 years in the world of music. Though he is versatile, creative, and extravagant, it has always struck me as odd that Williams hasn't been able to fully succeed outside Europe and become a hit in the US.

From present to past, Williams opens this album with two new songs: "Heart and I" and "Shame," a feel good ballad duet with Gary Barlow that is Williams's first collaboration with Barlow after leaving Take That in 1995. From his latest studio album, Reality Killed The Video Star, we can listen to "Morning Sun" and "You Know Me," a classic Robbie Williams ballad with lovely backing vocals that makes us go back in time a little bit, and "Bodies," the lead single of the album which is meant to be Williams' great comeback.

Three songs summarise Rudebox (released in 2006): "She's Madonna," a love song to the pop star that was made in collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys; "Lovelight," a cover from Lewis Taylor's 2003's original song and Williams' approach to dance electro pop, and "Rudebox" where the singer moves away of his style by trying a hip-hop song, taking as basis a sample from "Boops (Here I Go)" by Sly & Robbie.

From Intensive Care (2005), Williams has taken out "Sin, Sin, Sin," "Advertising Space," an elegy to a superstar's tragic fall, "Make Me Pure," and "Tripping," a very catchy song where Williams plays with different changes of voice and some reggae and Arabic sounds.

In 2004, Williams released his first Greatest Hits and the chosen songs are "Misunderstood," featured in the soundtrack of the movie Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and the powerful "Radio." In my opinion, one of Williams's best albums is Escapology (2003), and it's so nice to see that the beautiful "Sexed Up" has been added to this compilation next to the soulful "Something Beautiful," the controversial "Come Undone," and the hit "Feel," another trademark song with beautiful and deep lyrics.

With Swing When You're Winning (2001), an homage to his idol Frank Sinatra, Williams proves that he's also a great crooner: "I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen" and his covers of "Mr. Bojangles" and "Something Stupid," where Nicole Kidman puts her delicate voice to Nancy Sinatra's part are examples of the singer's softest side. Sing When You're Winning (2000) offers to this compilation "The Road To Mandalay," a touching song written in France while on holidays; "Eternity," a sequel to the previous song and a tribute to Williams's close friendship with former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell with Queen's Brian May on lead guitar; "Let Love Be Your Energy," "Supreme," which takes Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" melody and gets mixed up with some intelligent lyrics giving as a result a supreme song; the sexy "Kids," where Williams duets with Aussie Kylie Minogue, an indisputably sweet and spicy chemistry that led to one of the best duets ever, and "Rock DJ," another important song for the singer's career featuring a very controversial video where he literally strips off to his bones.

Five songs have been extracted from his second album I've Been Expecting You (1998): "It's Only Us," the theme song for the Sony Playstation Fifa 2000 football game; "She's The One," "Strong," "No Regrets," an autobiographical song about his past experiences with the great collaboration in the backing vocals of Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. When the new millennium was approaching, Williams honored that event with "Millennium," inspired by John Barry's Bond music.

His first solo album Life Thru a Lens (1999) has also a remarkable spot in this compilation: the anthem "Let Me Entertain You," a clear homage to The Rolling Stones as their movie Rock "n" Roll served as inspiration. This song contains a piano riff similar to the Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil," and it's the perfect reflection of Williams's devotion to entertain all of us. Energetic and powerful, it serves as the opening of most of his concerts. "Angels," a song that saved the singer's solo career and is included in most of his concerts as the grand finale; "South of the Border" and "Lazy Days," which were minor hits outside the UK and "Old Before I Die," the first original solo success of Williams after leaving Take That.

Finally, the album closes with a cover of George Michael's "Freedom" and "Everything Changes," a song from his latest collaboration with Take That before leaving the band.

viernes, 10 de septiembre de 2010

TIFF 2010: Toronto Taken By The Power of A Spectacular Film Festival

Article first published as "TIFF 2010: Toronto Taken By The Power of A Spectacular Film Festival" on Blogcritics.org."

With the Venice Film Festival still taking place in Europe, the Toronto International Film Festival opens its 35th edition with a broad offering of movies that promise to enlight us this upcoming fall/winter season. This festival is known for its non-competitive nature compared to Cannes, Berlin or Venice but it is considered the launching pad for the studios to start the so-called "Oscar buzz."

This Oscar buzz is clearly seen when you take a look at the lineup and observe that there are many movies which have been going from one festival to another such as Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, François Ozon's Potiche, or Ben Affleck's The Town, all of which were screened in Venice, or Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu's Biutiful which earned the Best Actor Award to Javier Bardem in Cannes.

Of course, there are plenty of other movies which look for the maximum media exposure during these 10 days of cinema in Toronto. Robert Redford gets behind the camera again in The Conspirator, a story of a Union war hero who must defend a mother accused of helping her son in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, starring James McAvoy and Tom Wilkinson. I'm specially intrigued by Rabbit Hole, starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, based on a play by David Lindsay-Abaire. The French essence comes from Guillaume Canet who directs his partner, Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard, in Little White Lies, and the British one comes thanks to Helen Mirren (The Debt), Rosamund Pike (Barney's Version), and Colin Firth (The King's Speech).

In Special Presentations, we'll be able to check out the new films of Vera Farmiga (Henry's Crime), Keira Knightley (Never Let Me Go), Ewan McGregor (Beginners), Hillary Swank (Conviction), and Robert De Niro (Stone). Clint Eastwood presents Hereafter, a story of three people haunted by mortality in different ways starring Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard, and Danny Boyle, after the success of Slumdog Millionaire, presents 127 Hours, starring James Franco.

In recent years, vampires have been so trendy on TV and in the movies and that couldn't be forgotten in Toronto. Darkness will come with Let Me In, the American remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In, starring Chloe Moretz and Richard Jenkins. Now, most of us know David Schwimmer for his role of Ross in Friends, but he doesn't travel to Toronto as an actor but as a director with Trust. Seeing Schwimmer outside of his comfort zone is reason enough for me to take a look at this movie starring the always outstanding Catherine Keener and Clive Owen. And how about Ryan Reynolds presenting Buried in his native Canada? It's impossible not to think about Tarantino when we see Reynolds buried alive but the movie hides something else — at least that's what Sundance and the great reviews said.

Finally, Toronto also indulges in some Midnight Madness with Brad Anderson's Vanishing on 7th Street and John Carpenter's The Ward.

What do you think of the movies that are going to hit the TIFF? Which one are you most interested in?

viernes, 3 de septiembre de 2010

Ciao, Venezia! La Mostra Film Festival Features Films by Aronofsky, Coppola, and More

"Article first published as "Ciao, Venezia! La Mostra Film Festival Features Films by Aronofsky, Coppola, and More" on Blogcritics.org."

La Mostra Internationale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia is one of the most elegant, popular, and interesting film festivals in the world: 11 days of new cinema that will delight movie lovers. The festival has five different sections: Venezia 67, Orizzonti, Controcampo Italiano, Luigi de Laurentiis, and Persol 3-D.

The most important section is Venezia 67, which offers the films competing for the Golden Lion and the actors competing for the Copa Volpi. Now, having Quentin Tarantino as president of the jury is reason enough to draw people's attention. We all know how the director is: he likes different and attractive and that's exactly what we'll be able to see during this festival.

Some examples are Darren Aronofsky's long-awaited (and possible festival winner) Black Swan, which opened the festival yesterday evening; it stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Vincent Cassel. In the trailer, we can see that Aronofsky returns to his origins — to the style of Pi and Requiem For A Dream that made him one of the directors to watch. Black Swan is a psychological thriller that revolves around the world of ballet and tells the story of Nina (Portman), a perfection-obsessed ballerina who fights against Lily (Kunis) for a spot in a new production. This is not a musical but an exploration of the mind, of how perfection and ambition can obsess and push a person into a deep crisis.

Another attraction in Venice is Sofia Coppola's first film since Marie Antoinette. Somewhere, starring Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, and Benicio del Toro, explores the relationship between a father — a hard-living Hollywood actor played by Dorff — and his daughter (Fanning) after the latter visits him by surprise. It's inevitable not to think about the personal connotations of this movie for Coppola (she's daughter of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola) and the recurring concern of the director about creating stories revolving around fame.

Julian Schnabel presents a dramatic vision of a Palestinian girl growing up in the first Arab-Israeli War in Miral. The director offers the audience a political drama and reinforces it with Freida Pinto, Willem Dafoe, and Vanessa Redgrave. German filmmaker Tom Tykwer wants to repeat the success that the fantastic Run, Lola, Run had in 1998 with Drei. Finally, François Ozon returns to Venice to present Potiche. Once more, Ozon counts on his muse, Catherine Deneuve, in this comedy based on a 1970s hit comic play of the same name. Completing the cast are Gerard Depardieu and Judith Godreche, seen next with Leonardo Di Caprio in The Man In The Iron Mask. Other titles in Venezia 67 are Balada Triste de Trompeta by Spaniard Alex de la Iglesia and Vincent Gallo's Promises Written In Water, and La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi starring Isabella Rossellini.

In the section Orizzonti (chaired by Shirin Neshat) it is important to point out El Pozo by Babel screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, Stardust by Nicolas Provost, the second part of a trilogy which investigates the limitations between fiction and reality and that includes collaborations with Dennis Hopper, Jon Voight, and Jack Nicholson. The prolific Manoel de Oliveira presents Panéis de Sao Vicente de Fora, Visao Poetica. Controcampo Italiano (chaired by Valerio Mastandrea) is exclusively centered on the new trends in Italian cinema; Luigi de Laurentiis (chaired by Fatih Akin) is centered on the debuting directors, and Persol 3-D (chaired by Shimizi Takashi) is focused on creative 3D films.

These five sections will comprise the official award categories of La Mostra, but it's also nice to mention the section Italian Comedy, a special retrospective on Italian comedy from 1910 through 1988 and all the movies out of competition. And what's interesting to see in this last section?

Well, first off, let's go back in time a little. Do you remember the erratic behaviour of Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman's show during the promotion of Two Lovers? What was going on? Some said he had lost his mind; others said he was acting. The answer is he was working under the orders of Casey Affleck for the documentary I'm Still Here, a portrait of an artist who decides to reinvent himself and a vision of how public life affects him. Casey's brother Ben also travels to Venice to present The Town, starring Jon Hamm, Affleck himself, and Rebecca Hall. Another pair of brothers, Oxide and Danny Pang, present The Child's Eye 3D. Robert Rodriguez presents Machete, starring Jessica Alba, Martin Scorsese presents A Letter to Elia, a documentary dedicated to the life of Elia Kazan, and on the closing night we'll see Helen Mirren taking the role of Prospera, not Prospero, in Julie Taymor's adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Finally, John Woo, director of films such as Broken Arrow, Face/Off, and Mission: Impossible II, will be presented the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, a well deserved homage indeed!

Who do you think will be the winners at Venice? Which movies are you most interested in?

domingo, 29 de agosto de 2010

What to expect at the 2010 Primetime Emmy Awards?

"Article first published as "What to expect at the 2010 Primetime Emmy Awards?" on Blogcritics.org."

It's that time of the year! It's the last award show of the season until we start again with the Golden Globes in January. The 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards! The "Academy Awards" of television that will award the very best of the small screen.

Neil Patrick Harris hands over his hosting duties to Jimmy Fallon, who is hosting the Emmys for the first time but has quite an experience in hosting award shows - he's been the host of the MTV Movie Awards twice and the MTV Video Music Awards. Next to Fallon, a long list of presenters such as Will Arnett, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, the newlyweds Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, Jon Hamm, Sofia Vergara, Eva Longoria Parker, Betty White and music performances of the Glee cast and Jewel, who will be in charge of the In Memoriam segment.

This year and for the first time ever, winners will have the chance to express their emotions or thank people they have forgotten during their speeches in "Thank You, Camera", a part of a backstage event, which will also show how presenters, nominees and performers get ready to take the stage, that NBC.com and Emmys.com will stream live worldwide. As part of the Emmy experience, viewers will also be able to send red carpet questions which will be asked by Access Hollywood.com’s popular "Dish Of Salt” correspondent Laura Saltman. If you want to submit some questions, you can either do it via the NBC.com Emmy website or via Twitter at #emmys10

Now, we have seen how things headed at the Golden Globes (awards voted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) and the Screen Actors Guild Awards (awards voted by all the members of the Screen Actors Guild), so, in some way, we have a hint of whom will be awarded or not. I have the feeling that sometimes the Academy rewards what's trendy/popular rather than what's fair related to quality and effort. There are times I feel some fantastic actors are snubbed at the nominations and others aren't rewarded with the precious Emmy after years and years of flawless performances. And what about full year shows versus summer season shows? Should they be considered in the same way when voting or not? Should the Academy split the nominations between full year and summer shows instead of putting them all together? What's your opinion about these points?

One thing we know is one actor is gonna get his award for sure, so no need to feel nervous about winning or about ab-libbing a nice speech, ok, Mr. Clooney? You can relax, enjoy the show and have your speech ready before hitting the red carpet. George Clooney will receive the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award for his efforts in setting up the TV special Hope For Haiti and raising funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina and awareness about genocide in Darfur, This award was established in 2002 and Clooney will be the 4th person to receive it after Oprah Winfrey (2002), Bill Cosby (2003) and Danny Thomas (2004). Congrats, Mr. Clooney! It's definitely very well deserved!

But what about the nominees? As every year, the newbies mingle with the veterans. Superb performances and shows that give us a hard time when making our bets. Will this be the year that the Academy gives an ex-aequo award? Will overdue nominees get their reward? Which dark horse will surprise us?

Joining me in placing the Emmy predictions in the main categories, the two Blogcritics TV editors, Josh Lasser and Barbara Barnett and two talented and great Blogcritics (fellow TV) writers: Mindy Peterman and Gerry Weaver.

My predictions:

Outstanding Comedy Series: Modern Family. I think it is the big revelation of the season. A very interesting peek to the everyday life of three types of family we can find anywhere these days. The dialogue is fresh, smart and hilarious and its documentary format is really attractive for the viewer.

Outstanding Drama Series: Lost. The Academy tends to be very generous with concluded shows. The last season was very intense, nerve-wracking and featured great performances by all the actors. I think it's fair to reward the show that has caused so much debate and theories in the last six months. Still, Mad Men is there looking menacing. Alternative: Mad Men

Outstanding Actress In A Comedy Series: Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie. Versatile, funny and strong. These are the three adjectives to describe Falco's performance but be careful because Toni Collette could repeat last year's win.

Outstanding Actor In A Comedy Series: Jim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory. He's the frontrunner in this category. Alec Baldwin is his strong opponent but it seems 30 Rock doesn't generate as much attention as it used to.

Outstanding Actress In A Drama Series: Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife. Just like the category of outstanding actor in a drama series, this category is full of talented and strong performances. Margulies has some very important awards behind thanks to her solid portrayal of Alicia Florrick and that is reason enough to say that she's the favourite.

Outstanding Actor In A Drama Series: Hugh Laurie - House. Six seasons, two Golden Globes, two Screen Actor Guild Awards and two Television Critics Awards later, Hugh Laurie, the eternal nominee, has zero Emmys. How is that possible?! I really hope this year justice is done for him. His submission for the award "Broken" shows us Gregory House in all his best. A two-hour episode in which we see a sweet, hurt, broken, tender, funny, playful, suffering House, a flawless performance by Laurie, period!

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series: Jane Lynch - Glee. She definitely steals the scene every time she appears on screen and in her submitting episode, her revival of Madonna's Vogue is precious and memorable.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series: Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family. His portrayal of friendly and devoted dad Cameron is fresh, hilarious and full of emotions. His Meryl Streep reference in one of the episodes is reason enough to reward this wonderful actor.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series: Elisabeth Moss - Mad Men. This one is going to be a mano-a-mano between Moss and Christina Hendricks but I bet on Moss because her character has grown up and along with her performance.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series: Terry O'Quinn - Lost. This category is about two Losties: O'Quinn and Michael Emerson. I won't mind that Emerson wins instead because Ben Linus has always been one of my favourite characters of the show but I think O'Quinn is going to get this one because John Locke has been crucial this final season and his intense performance has been really enjoyable to watch.

Josh Lasser's predictions:

Comedy Series: Modern Family. I should be going with Glee here and will go with Glee a lot on the Emmys this year but Modern Family is just excellent.

Drama Series: Mad Men. It's just so good. Lost could be a sentimental favorite due to it finishing its final season, but I think there were too many missteps in that season – really, did we need all those episodes in the temple?

Outstanding Actress In A Comedy Series: Lea Michele - Glee. It's a tough category with a lot of deserving people, but people love their Glee.

Outstanding Actor In A Comedy Series: Matthew Morrison - Glee. Because, hey, Glee could win just about everything, right?

Outstanding Actress In A Drama Series: Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife. Margulies in her return to television after ER in another show which both critics and fans like seems like a good choice.

Outstanding Actor In A Drama Series: Jon Hamm - Mad Men. I may like Kyle Chandler better right now, but I think that Mad Men has more momentum.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series: Neil Patrick Harris - How I Met Your Mother. He is so deserving in his role as Barney Stinson and has earned this award for several years even if he hasn't gotten it. Modern Family may be a favorite but with three nominees I think they'll split the vote.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series: Jane Lynch - Glee. Say it with me now in that high-pitched, stick your finger and your thumb up way – Glee! Lynch as Sue Sylvester is such a great villain and completely deserving of the award.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series: Christina Hendricks - Mad Men. I think Mad Men is going to do very well tonight and I'm not sure whether this award should go to Hendricks or Moss, but Hendricks just strikes me more as the potential winner.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series: Terry O'Quinn - Lost. O'Quinn was forced to do a lot of heavy-lifting in the final season of Lost and did a great job. Someone else may get the award, but I think it should go to O'Quinn.

Mindy Peterman's predictions:

Outstanding Comedy Series: Modern Family. A show that succeeds in covering all the bases: showing a gay, bi-racial, and "normal" family living in "harmony" under the same matriarch, and doing it with masterful ease. The show is often hilarious and occasionally heartbreaking. The documentary style has never been used to been put to better use.
Outstanding Drama Series: Lost. The last chance the show has to take the award and it certainly is deserving. The scope and magnitude of this project is in itself worthy of accolades. Its heartbreaking yet uplifting conclusion will be discussed and argued about for years to come.

Outstanding Actress In A Comedy Series: Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie. No actress up for the award this year exhibits Falco's range. Getting us to sympathize with the drug addicted, philandering Jackie Peyton is a challenge but Falco wins us over every time.

Outstanding Actor In A Comedy Series: Jim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory. The only show I've watched more than once in this batch is "Monk". And I wouldn't vote for Shaloub. He's won every year and enough is enough. The little I've seen of Parsons tells me he does a bang-up job with what could be an unlikable character (such a geek!). Not a truly educated pick but it is one from the gut and the heart.

Outstanding Actress In A Drama Series: Not familiar enough with the nominees to cast a vote.

Outstanding Actor In A Drama Series: Hugh Laurie - House. An award that is long overdue for this actor who has proven himself time and time again. Submitting the magnificent two-hour episode "Broken" was a smart move, giving him an excellent chance to finally win. Hopefully this will be Laurie's year to take Emmy home.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series: Kristin Wiig - Saturday Night Live. I would love to see Wiig take this. Not since the early days of Saturday Night Live has a cast member created so many memorable and hilarious characters.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series: Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family. Stonestreet's portrayal of Cameron on Modern Family is frequently hilarious, sometimes poignant and always masterful.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series: Elisabeth Moss - Mad Men. As Mad Men's Peggy Olsen, Moss gives a stellar performance as the first woman to be respected for her smarts in a male dominated 1960's advertising agency.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series: Terry O'Quinn - Lost O'Quinn's bowled us over with his extraordinary portrayal of John Locke, the crippled hero who eventually becomes the embodiment of evil on the island.

Gerry Weaver's predictions:

Outstanding Comedy Series: Modern Family. Last year, Glee had all the buzz, but I think there's some perception this year it was over-hyped. I think new comedy Modern Family will win this year.

Outstanding Drama Series: Mad Men. My personal favourite out of the nominees is True Blood, but I don't think it will take home the prize. Despite being hip, popular and run by Alan Ball, the genre works against it and it's had some uneven storylines. But look for Denis O'Hare for best guest actor in a drama next year! This year, Mad Men still seems to have the buzz, so I think it will be a repeat winner. Alternate: Lost

Outstanding Actress In A Comedy Series: Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie. She's the favourite and I think she's going to win.

Outstanding Actor In A Comedy Series: Steve Carell - The Office. Though Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons are strong contenders, I'm going with Steve Carell, as he's never won for The Office and this is his last year.

Outstanding Actress In A Drama Series: Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife. The series is a critical darling and Margulies already has a Golden Globe, a SAG and a TCA award this season.

Outstanding Actor In A Drama Series: Hugh Laurie - House. I hope Hugh Laurie finally gets his Emmy; it's long past due and with his powerhouse submission, "Broken," he has an excellent chance. However, he will have to fight it out with Michael C. Hall, who is on a roll with a Golden Globe and the SAG award. The actor is not only excellent on his series, he's just a won a battle with cancer—the combination has made him a favourite this year among a lot of voters. And really, in this category, every nominee deserves to win. But I'm sticking with my favourite, Hugh Laurie.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series: Jane Lynch - Glee. Here's where I think Glee will be recognized. Jane Lynch steals all her scenes as Sue Sylvester and is the front runner in this race.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series: Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family. Neil Patrick Harris on How I Met Your Mother is an audience favourite who is also well-liked by his peers. However, Stonestreet on Modern Family has the advantage of being on the new buzzed about comedy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series: Christina Hendricks - Mad Men. Just going on the fact that I like her, I’m picking Hendricks. It never hurts to generate sparks with Jon Hamm.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series: Michael Emerson - Lost. I think Lost is going to get some love as it goes out with style.

Barbara Barnett's predictions:

Outstanding Comedy Series: Glee. It's sharp, sassy, and has captured the imagination of many television viewers.

Outstanding Drama Series: Mad Men. Ah, to relive the '60s of my parents. Excellent acting and writing will make this the favorite.

Outstanding Actress In A Comedy Series: Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie. Just a feeling.
Outstanding Actor In A Comedy Series: Steve Carell - The Office.

Outstanding Actress In A Drama Series: Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife. Margulies should add another major award to her collection for this season.

Outstanding Actor In A Drama Series: Hugh Laurie - House. It's so long overdue, and he is amazing in the submitted episode "Broken"

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series: Jane Lynch - Glee. She is just great and everyone loves Glee.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series: Neil Patrick Harris - How I Met Your Mother

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series: Sharon Gless - Burn Notice.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series: Andre Braugher - Man Of A Certain Age. Braugher is always great. I think the Academy will celebrate his return to series TV.

What do you think of our predictions? Are yours the same?

Red Carpet Arrivals to be streamed live on NBC.com, Access Hollywood.com, Ustream.com and Emmys.com at 4 pm PT, 7 pm ET.

The Primetime Emmy Awards airs coast-to-coast on NBC (5-8 pm PT, 8-11pm ET)