Iglesias was crowned Film Composer of the Year for his body of work and picked up Best Original Film Score for espionage thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy at the Ghent Film Festival in Belgium.
Irish composer Brian Byrne also enjoyed a stellar evening, with his song Lay Your Head Down from Albert Nobbs winning the Best Original Song Written for Film prize. He was also named Discovery of the Year.
The ceremony's annual Lifetime Achievement honour went to Pino Donaggio, who composed the scores for horror films Don't Look Now and Carrie.
The nautical heist thriller Contraband is a remake of Reykjavik-Rotterdam an Icelandic film from 2008 which admittedly I’ve yet to see. (It’s curiously difficult to find stateside.) Presumably there must have been something about it that was compelling enough to warrant the effort and expense of an American adaptation. Whatever it was it didn’t survive the no doubt complicated process of translating it into a proper Mark Wahlberg vehicle.
Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday once a legendary New Orleans smuggler but now happily law-abiding as a home-security contractor. The same however cannot be said of his punk brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) who runs illegal shipments for a tattooed hoodlum named Tim Riggs (Giovanni Ribisi). When Andy makes the unwise decision to dump his valuable narcotics cargo in advance of a Customs raid earning the dreaded pay-up-or-die ultimatum from his unsavory boss Chris tries in vain to intervene on his behalf only to be rudely rebuffed. Which leaves him with only one option to save Andy’s skin: One Last Job.
The director of Contraband Baltasar Kormakur actually starred in Reykjavik-Rotterdam – a piece of trivia which unfortunately proves far more interesting than anything found in his remake. It seems his familiarity with the material bred banality if not necessarily contempt. His approach is a kind of Bourne-lite: the shaky-cam is restrained enough to minimize audience headaches but the ultimate result is stultifyingly generic.
Essential to any successful Mark Wahlberg film from Boogie Nights to The Fighter has been to surround Wahlberg with more accomplished and versatile actors thereby allowing him to focus on his core competencies of scowling cursing and otherwise radiating his unique brand of low-watt charisma. Kormakur assembled capable-enough performers for Contraband only to saddle them with uniformly bland characters.
Having grown accustomed to Kate Beckinsale as the leather-clad heroine of the Underworld films I found it odd – and a bit disappointing – to see her reduced to the role of the protagonist’s fretful wife. Ribisi’s novel strategy for transcending his miscasting as a clichéd white-trash villain is to adopt a bizarre high-pitched accent presumably Southern in origin but unlike any Southern accent I’ve ever witnessed. Ben Foster plays Wahlberg’s best friend an ex-con and recovering alcoholic who seems doomed to relapse on both fronts if only because he’s being played by Ben Foster. Diego Luna J.K. Simmons Lukas Haas are underutilized in one-note roles.
I confess to be unfamiliar with the vagaries of illicit foreign-goods transport but I have to think it’s more exciting than what unfolds in Contraband. No one expects it to rival the glamour and of say casino robbery but Kormakur depicts smuggling with all the verve and panache of a tax audit. The film’s lone fireworks occur on land during a stop-off in Panama City when Wahlberg’s character is forced by the local crime boss (Luna) in an armored-car hold-up. A heist-within-a-heist if you will. But soon it’s back on the boat where the momentum ceases and the movie sinks.
Rob Schneider has small roles in most of his buddy Adam Sandler’s movies that inexplicably, and invariably, become blockbusters. Said movies are pretty much uniformly terrible (not including Punch Drunk Love and Funny People, which are entirely cut from a different cloth), crass, crude, easy, broad, occasionally vaguely racist, etc. Here’s where I’m going with this: Schneider’s new sitcom, ¡Rob!, makes any of those movies – even Jack and Jill – look like [insert your pick for the best movie of all time]. It is indeed SO lowbrow, SO altogether God-awful, it’s as though the Adam Sandler Movie Goons (aka the team of geniuses, including the Sand Man himself, responsible for conceiving and writing his “comedies”) farted out – or at least fart-noised out – the ¡Rob! idea and deemed it not worthy of exploring … and CBS came in and said, “We’ll give it a shot. Nobody seems to mind the borderline racism on 2 Broke Girls!”
In reality, the concept is Schneider’s, “loosely based on his whirlwind romance and marriage to Patricia Azarcoya Arce, a TV producer from Mexico," according to CBS. Schneider plays a "landscape architect" named, oddly enough, Rob, who in the first few minutes of the show has just married his ridiculously out-of-his-league girlfriend, Maggie (Claudia Bassols). What should be newlywed bliss turns into anxiety when Maggie says she wants to go tell her parents of the nuptials, in person. And there’s an even bigger problem: Maggie’s parents (Cheech Marin and Diana Maria Riva), and the rest of her family, are Mexican! Dun-dun-dun (or womp-womp-womp, as it were). Naturally, things don’t go well when Rob and Maggie meet the parents. It’s stuff we all go through, though: perpetuating broad racial stereotypes, winding up in a sexual position with a grandmother (Lupe Ontiveros). That’s right! True to Adam Sandlerian form, it doesn’t take long for the incredible hijinks to lead to Rob finding his way to “Abuelita’s” room, losing his pants, quasi-groping her from behind and getting caught by almost everyone. Comedy! The pilot episode is the equivalent of that gag, repeated between commercial breaks, punctuated by an attempt at tenderness to close the show. Which fails, but needless to say, is the best moment. Comic relief in the truest sense.
¡Rob! is a bad show on two levels: The writing is horrendous, and it is genuinely mildly offensive and racist. We’re not prudes – culture clash is great fodder for awkward, subtle humor; see Modern Family, for one – but there’s a right way to churn laughs out of this subject and a wrong way. Smarter comedians (Louis C.K. comes to mind) might reference specific examples of something funny that happened to them; ¡Rob! and its star/creator, on the other hand, are very content to rely on and resort to caricatures of the people at whom they’re trying to poke "good-natured" fun. I mean, the mere mention of the word “guacamole” sets off the howling laugh track – as do lines like “It feels like I’m at a Julio Iglesias concert” (on a side note, it’s amazing to think how much doesn't make it past the standards people, but that one? No problem.) and “These people – they’re all Mexican?”
Schneider, too, has less than zero appeal as a protagonist – which isn’t to say he’s deplorable, but there’s absolutely nothing compelling, as has always been the case. If forced at gunpoint to find a bright spot, Cheech Marin (oh, poor Cheech) would be it almost by default. It’s sad to see him playing such a character on such a show, but at least he seems to be giving it his all, elevating the worst lines imaginable to … something barely above that. There’s genuinely so very much sad about this show. It’s bad; really bad. Maybe even too bad to become CBS’ next hit sitcom.
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
It's not enough that she's one half of country music's biggest couple or a Cover Girl model on the side.
But Faith Hill had to go and steal the thunder from the teenybopper world, grabbing a field-best four nominations for the 28th Annual American Music Awards, announced this morning at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., by executive producer Dick Clark and country group SHeDAISY.
Toppling double nominees 'N Sync and Britney Spears (who will serve as host of the awards show), Hill won her kudos by scoring crossover nods in the Pop/Rock, Country and Adult Contemporary fields. Rock group Creed and salsa king Marc Anthony tied at three nominations apiece by also being eligible in other categories.
Hill, whose album "Breathe" has sold 4 million copies to date, will also be cheering on husband Tim McGraw, who was nominated for Favorite Country Male Artist.
Winners for the American Music Awards, which are selected by the public, will be announced during the telecast Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. on ABC. Scheduled performers include Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Toni Braxton and SHeDAISY; confirmed presenters include 'N Sync and Brian McKnight.
Here's a list of the nominees:
POP/ROCK Favorite Male Artist: Marc Anthony; Eminem; Kid Rock Favorite Female Artist: Christina Aguilera; Celine Dion; Faith Hill; Britney Spears
Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Backstreet Boys; Creed; 'N Sync
Favorite Album: "Human Clay," Creed; "No Strings Attached," 'N Sync; "Oops!...I Did it Again," Britney Spears
Favorite New Artist: Macy Gray; Jessica Simpson; 3 Doors Down
SOUL/R & B Favorite Male Artist: D'Angelo; Brian McKnight; Sisqo Favorite Female Artist: Toni Braxton; Whitney Houston; Kelly Price
Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Destiny's Child; Jagged Edge; Lucy Pearl
Favorite Album: "The Heat," Toni Braxton; "The Writing's on the Wall," Destiny's Child; "Unleash the Dragon," Sisqo
Favorite New Artist: Donnell Jones; Mary Mary; Pink
COUNTRY Favorite Male Artist: Alan Jackson; Tim McGraw; George Strait Favorite Female Artist: Faith Hill; Martina McBride; Reba McEntire
Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Brooks & Dunn; Dixie Chicks; Lonestar
Favorite Album: "Breathe," Faith Hill; "Under the Influence," Alan Jackson; "How Do You Like Me Now," Toby Keith
Favorite New Artist: Alecia Elliott; Billy Gilman; Keith Urban
OTHER CATEGORIES Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist: Marc Anthony; Celine Dion; Faith Hill Favorite Latin Music Artist: Marc Anthony; Enrique Iglesias; Shakira Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist: DMX; Dr. Dre; Eminem
Favorite Alternative Music Artist: Creed; Limp Bizkit; Red Hot Chili Peppers
Favorite Soundtrack: "Coyote Ugly"; "Mission: Impossible 2"; "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps"