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?