domingo, 14 de noviembre de 2010

TV Review: Undercovers - "Assassin"

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

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"

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"

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"

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!