Guitar great Carlos Santana has set his sights on working with Lady Gaga after the pop superstar's father proposed they hit the studio together. The Maria Maria hitmaker, 66, recruited a slew of younger Latin artists for duets on his new album, Corazon, which features tracks with the likes of Romeo Santos, rapper Pitbull and Miguel, but there are still a few big names he would like to strike off his wish list, and Gaga is among them.
He tells People magazine, "I was approached by Lady Gaga's father, and he was like, 'When are you going to do something with my daughter?'."
British rocker Sting and opera star Andrea Bocelli are also high on Santana's dream list, as is R&B icon Prince.
He says, "I'd like to work with Prince. He's a genius. We've played together at different (events) but never in the studio."
Guitar great Carlos Santana revelled in the recording of his new Spanish collaborative album because he discovered a whole new appreciation for Latin classics he had never heard before. The veteran Mexican musician recruited an all-star line-up to cover famous Latin songs for his new release Corazon, but he admits many of the old tunes were completely new to him as he had grown up in California.
He tells the New York Daily News, "A lot of the songs I never heard before. I was raised in the '60s here in the United States so I wasn't hearing the frequency of the Latinos. But that gave me an advantage. Since I haven't heard it I get to make it new."
Romeo Santos, Pitbull, Lila Downs and Miguel all feature on the album, while Juanes performs La Flaca and Gloria Estefan sings Besos De Lejos.
Many of the guests performed their tunes with Santana at a show in Guadalajara, Mexico in December (13) and the concert special will air in the U.S. on Saturday (03May14).
Mexican writer and journalist Elena Poniatowska has been honoured with top literary award The Cervantes Prize, which is given to the best Spanish language writers. King Juan Carlos of Spain made the presentation on Wednesday (23Apr14) at a ceremony in the town of Alcala de Henares, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. Poniatowska, 81, is only the fourth woman to be awarded the prize.
Classical superstar Andrea Bocelli is to be honoured for his career achievements at the upcoming Billboard Latin Music Awards. The Italian tenor will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 prizegiving and take to the stage for a special performance at the show in Miami, Florida next month (Apr14).
Bocelli follows in the footsteps of previous winners including Carlos Santana and Miguel Bose.
The awards will be handed out on 24 April (14).
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
There is a certain level of enjoyment you are guaranteed when signing on for a movie that boasts a cast of George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, and Bill Murray. And that's the precise level of enjoyment you'll get from The Monuments Men — that bare minimum smirk factor inherent the idea that your favorite stars are getting to play together. In FDR-era army helmets, no less. But what we also get from the film is an aura of smug self-confidence from project captain Clooney, who seems all too ready to take for granted that we're perfectly satisfied peering into his backyard clubhouse.
So assured is the director/co-writer that we're happy to be in on the game that there doesn't seem to be any effort taken to refine the product for the benefit of a viewing audience. An introductory speech from art historian Frank Stokes (Clooney) sets up the premise straight away: the Nazis are stealing and destroying all of Europe's paintings and sculptures, and by gum we need to stop them! The concept doesn't complicate from there, save for a batting back and forth of the throughline question about whether the preservation of these pieces is "really worth it." Stokes rallies his own Ocean's Seven on a fine arts rescue mission, instigating an old fashioned go-get-'em-boys montage where we learn everything we need to know about the band mates in question: Damon has a wife, Goodman has gumption, Murray doesn't smile, Bob Balaban is uppity, and Jean Dujardin is French.
The closest thing to a character in The Monuments Men comes in the form of Hugh Bonneville, a recovering alcoholic whose motivation to take on the dangerous mission is planted in a festering desire to absolve himself of a lifetime of f**king up. When we're away from Bonneville, the weight disspears, as does most of the joy. Without identifiable characters, even master funnymen like Goodman, Murray, and Balaban don't have much to offer... especially since the movie's jokes feel like first draft placeholders born on a tired night.
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
But wait a minute, is this even supposed to be a comedy? After all, it's about World War II. And no matter what Alexandre Desplat's impossibly merry score would have you believe (coupled with The Lego Movie, this opening weekend might be responsible for more musical jubilance than any other since the days of "Make 'Em Laugh!"), warfare, genocide, and desecration of international culture all make for some pretty heavy material. But The Monuments Men's drama is just as fatigued as its humor, clumsily piecing together a collection of mini missions wherein the stakes, somehow, never seem to jump. We're dragged through military bases, battered towns, and salt mines by Clooney and the gang — occasionally jumping over to France to watch Damon work his least effective magic in years on an uptight Cate Blanchett, who holds the key to the scruffy American's mission but doesn't quite trust him... until, for no apparent reason, she suddenly does. We never feel like any of these people matter, not even to each other, so we never really feel like their adventures do.
The Monuments Men doesn't have much of a challenge ahead of it. Its heroes are movie stars, its bad guys are Nazis, and its message is one that nobody's going to refute: art is important — a maxim it pounds home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, through countless scenes of men staring in awe at the works of Michelangelo and Rembrandt. And in this easy endeavor, Clooney decides to coast. How could it possibly go wrong? Just grab hold of the fellas, toss 'em in the trenches, and let the laughs and danger write themselves. "This is what they came to see," Monuments Men insists. "Just us guys havin' a ball." But we never feel in on the game, and it isn't one that looks like that much fun anyhow.
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The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
Colombian singer Carlos Vives refused to let torrential rain dampen his big night at the Latin Grammys on Thursday (21Nov13) after picking up three top prizes. The 14th annual ceremony got off to a stormy start as heavy rain arrived in Las Vegas, forcing producers to call off a glamorous photocall at the Mandalay Bay Events Centre when the special green carpet flooded.
The prize-giving finally got underway, with Vives becoming the night's big success story after picking up three out of the five awards he was nominated for, including Song of the Year for Volvi a Nacer, Tropical Fusion Album and Best Tropical Song.
Stars Marc Anthony and rapper Pitbull also went home with prizes for Recording of the Year and Best Urban Performance respectively.
Ricky Martin performed with his former Menudo co-star Draco Rosa, who won the Coveted Album Of The Year Grammy for his record Mas y Mas. The pair is set to head out on tour together next year (14).
Martin was also on hand to present Miguel Bose with the Latin Recording Academy's Person of the Year award in recognition of his career and philanthropy work.
Carlos Santana is planning another collaborative album with a series of Latino stars. The guitar great has tasted great success with his albums Shaman and Supernatural and now he's planning another star-studded release full of acts and artists with ties to South America.
Corazon, which will be released next year (14), will feature tracks with Gloria Estefan, Pitbull, Juanes, Lila Downs and Miguel as well as a song Santana has recorded with his son Salvador.
Many of the guests on the album will perform their tunes with Santana at a concert in Guadalajara, Mexico on 14 December (13), which will take place a week after the guitarist joins Billy Joel among this year's Kennedy Center honourees.
U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will salute the two musicians, among others, at the 36th annual ceremony in Washington, D.C. on 7 December (13).
Natalie Cole is celebrating after her first Spanish-language album scored her two top nominations for the 2013 Latin Grammy Awards. The soul star, daughter of the legendary Nat King Cole, took a gamble by releasing Natalie Cole En Espanol this summer (13), despite not being able to speak a word of the language.
The album shot to the top of America's Top Latin Albums chart in July (13), and now it has been shortlisted for the coveted Album of the Year title at the prestigious awards ceremony, while Bachata Rosa, her duet with Juan Luis Guerra, will compete for Record of the Year.
She will face off in the Album of the Year category against the likes of Miguel Bose's Papitwo, Draco Rosa's Vida, Alejandro Sanz's La Musica No Se Toca and Corazon Profundo by Carlos Vives, and she'll be up against Marc Anthony (Vivir Mi Vida), Rosa and Ricky Martin (Mas Y Mas), Sanz (Mi Marciana) and Vives (Volvi A Nacer), among others for Record of the Year honours.
Colombian singer Vives, who will also compete for Song of the Year for Volvi A Nacer, leads the nominations with five nods, alongside Argentinian duo Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas, who are shortlisted in categories including Best Urban Performance and Best Alternative Music Album for Chances.
Other nominees include rapper Pitbull (Best Urban Performance), Giberto Santa Rosa (Best Salsa Album) and Los Bunkers (Best Rock Album).
As previously reported, Oscar D'Leon, Juan Formell, Roberto Menescal and Toto La Momposina are among the stars who will be honoured with lifetime achievement accolades at the awards, while Mario Kreutzberger, aka Don Francisco, and Pedro Ramirez Velazquez have been named the recipients of Latin Recording Academy Trustees Awards.
The winners of the 14th Annual Latin Grammy Awards will be announced during a ceremony in Las Vegas on 21 November (13).