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Kevin Hart sued by an ex-friend for allegedly botching a deal to clear that man's name

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Kevin Hart sued by an ex-friend for allegedly botching a deal to clear that man's name

Kevin Hart is being sued for allegedly botching a settlement agreement that was meant to clear the name of a former friend, Jonathan “J.T.” Jackson, as it related to the events surrounding the comic’s sex-tape cheating scandal.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Jackson accused the “Get Hard” actor of not using the “meticulously negotiated” and agreed-upon wording from their 2021 settlement when he addressed the scandal in an Instagram post that same year, resulting in a $12-million breach of written contract lawsuit. The civil lawsuit, which lists Hart, Hartbeat LLC and several Does among the defendants, also accuses them of fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The 23-page complaint, obtained Wednesday by The Times, said Hart was contractually obligated by their July 2021 settlement to use “specific verbiage” that would “publicly exonerate” the Navy veteran, professional bowler and actor, who was entangled in legal issues in the wake of the scandal.

“The wording of Hart’s statement — which was meticulously negotiated and detailed in the Contract — was absolutely crucial to repairing and remediating the severe damage inflicted upon Plaintiff’s reputation by the baseless extortion allegations that Hart aggressively promoted and publicized,” the complaint said.

Jackson, 47, was the target of a January 2018 raid at his home in which he and his wife were held at gunpoint by investigators with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who were looking into allegations of extortion, which he believes Hart initiated. The charges were eventually dropped by prosecutors (whom Jackson also sued in December), but Jackson claimed that his “reputation was unjustly tarnished due to a series of malicious actions by the defendants,” including when Hart and Hartbeat released the 2019 Netflix docuseries “Don’t F— This Up.”

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The docuseries mentioned extortion and alleged that Jackson had been involved in the creation and dissemination of a sex tape that showed Hart and a woman who was not his wife getting intimate in a Las Vegas hotel room. (Both Jackson and Hart were also sued for $60 million by model Montia Sabbag, the woman who purportedly appeared with Hart in the tape, but that lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, and Jackson was cleared of all allegations.)

According to the new lawsuit, Jackson did not receive any money from his settlement agreement with Hart, as he believed their contract was “not about seeking compensation, but was a means to an end” that would clear Jackson’s name. Hart’s public statement, which was to include agreed-upon language, was crucial for Jackson’s exoneration, the complaint said, and Jackson entered into that contract “with the expectation that it would finally restore his reputation and allow Plaintiff to resume his professional life with integrity.”

Jackson alleged that Hart explicitly agreed in their written settlement to “pursue and advocate for the dismissal of all criminal charges” against Jackson and make a public statement exonerating him. Hart, he said, was required to say that criminal charges against Jackson had been dismissed, that Jackson had been fully cleared of any involvement in an extortion plot and that the legal debacle had cost Hart “a valuable friendship.”

The complaint further said that Hart was supposed to say that he had “lost someone close to me that I loved and still have very much love for or high levels of love for and I’m proud to say that all charges against JT Jackson have been dropped and he is not guilty and had nothing to do with it and this matter at hand that once was so tough to deal with and so heavy for me and my household is now put to bed.”

Instead, Hart’s Oct. 27, 2021, Instagram video “blatantly broke” their agreement and “manipulate[d] the narrative,” the complaint said. Hart ultimately said that “J.T. Jackson has recently been found not guilty, and those charges have been dropped against him, and I can finally speak on what I once couldn’t.” The comedian also said that their friendship “was lost” due to the legal process and noted his relief about the legal saga being over. He did not mention that Jackson “had nothing to do with it.”

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“Hart’s statement deviates significantly from the agreed-upon verbiage in several crucial aspects,” Jackson’s attorney, Daniel L. Reback, argued in the complaint. “First, Hart’s stipulated verbiage explicitly required him to state that ‘all charges against [Jackson] have been dropped and he is not guilty and had nothing to do with it.’ However, Hart’s actual statement lacks the explicit declaration of Plaintiff’s innocence or non-involvement. Also, Hart’s agreed-upon statement was to acknowledge the incident’s heavy impact on the loss of a valuable friendship due to the legal matter, but Hart’s actual statement focuses entirely on Hart himself ‘moving on’ and does not directly acknowledge the significant personal and professional toll on Plaintiff as outlined in the Contract.”

In addition to $12 million, Jackson is seeking punitive damages to be determined at trial, legal costs and fees and injunctions requiring the defendants to exonerate him, as well as the removal of “all the false statements” about him in “Don’t F— This Up.”

In a statement to The Times, Reback added: “The facts in the complaint speak for themselves. We are confident that the lawsuit will end with Mr. Jackson’s complete victory and vindication.”

A spokesperson for Hart was not available Wednesday to respond to The Times’ request for comment.

Hart has spoken publicly about the sex-tape saga repeatedly over the years, apologizing to his wife, Eniko Parrish, who was pregnant with their first child at the time the tape was allegedly recorded in Las Vegas. Amid reports that an unidentified woman allegedly tried to extort him for a video featuring sexually suggestive content, Hart apologized to Parrish in a September 2017 Instagram video.

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“I gotta do better and I will. I’m not perfect and have never claimed to be,” he wrote in the video’s caption. Months later, he confessed to the infidelity, telling “The Breakfast Club” in December 2017 that he had been “beyond irresponsible.”

“That’s Kevin Hart in his dumbest moment. That’s not the finest hour of my life,” he said. “With that being said, you make your bed, you lay in it. You can’t say what were you thinking, because you weren’t thinking.”

Times staff writer Alexandra Del Rosario contributed to this report.

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Film Review: The Box Man (2024) by Gakuryu Ishii

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Film Review: The Box Man (2024) by Gakuryu Ishii

“Those who obsess over the box man, become the box man.”

Apart from his colleague Shinya Tsukamoto, director Gakuryu Ishii belongs to a certain set of filmmakers which constantly test the aesthetics of the modern era while at the same time making poignant observations about our relationship with urbanity and technology. Features such as “Crazy Thunder Road”, “Burst City” and “Isn’t Anyone Alive” have embraced elements of punk and the absurd, resulting in memorable visuals and scenes. “The Box Man”, an adaptation from the novel of the same title by author Kobo Abe, was a project Ishii originally started in 1997, but as the financial backing fell through, had to abandon it. 25 years later, he was finally able to finish what he started within a cultural landscape where the core metaphor of the story is much more relevant.

Myself (Masatoshi Nagase) is a photographer who witnesses something strange on his walks through Tokyo. A man who is seemingly living in a cardboard box observes the people around him through a small hole, and the photographer cannot help but follow him and become obsessed with him. Eventually, he decides to become a “box man” himself, taking pictures of his environment as well as recording his observations in a small notebook he keeps with him all the time. Over time, he learns to appreciate the new perspective living in the box provides, even though he is also well aware of people now closely watching him.

Among those is a fake doctor (Tadanobu Asano), who, with the help of Yoko, a nurse (Ayana Shiramoto), and a general (Koichi Sato), aims to document the life of the box man. His study has become more of an obsession as he reenacts scenes he has observed in his home, wanting to be the “box man” himself. Because he thinks there is some vital piece missing in him becoming the next “box man”, he wants to get his hand on the notebook. However, he is not the only pursuer of Myself, as there is a mysterious killer chasing after him.

Check the interview with the director

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While the concept of the box man may seem similar to a peeping tom, in the novel and the film adaptation it becomes much more than that. As we are introduced to the way the central character perceives the world in the beginning, with his focus being on the various women who pass him by, we feel our understanding of this person is confirmed. However, with the support of the voice-over and Masatoshi Nagase’s committed performance, the box man turns into a commentator of the events of the outside world, from people’s behavior to relationships, which at times brings him closer to an online troll or hater. Given the absurd developments within the story, with characters from all strands of society becoming obsessed with the box man and the kind of freedom he enjoys, Ishii (as well as Abe) have come up with a poignant and quite funny portrayal not just of the phenomenon of the online troll, but also why the concept is so attractive to people.

Indeed, “The Box Man” is social satire at its core, with some of the funniest scenes in Ishii’s filmography. This is also due to a, as mentioned before, a committed central performance by Nagase, as well as by the other members of the cast, such as Tadanobu Asano, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Ayana Shiramoto and Koichi Sato, to name just a few. Each one of them becomes obsessed with the idea of the box man, the freedom, the anonymity and independence granted by it. When Asano’s fake doctor attempts to re-create some of these moments, accompanied by the laconic remarks of Shiramoto’s nurse Yoko, this is comedy gold. At the same time, it seems to suggest how we are tempted by the “box man”, as it enables something deep within ourselves, a desire that we cannot experience within society, unless we hide in a box and cannot be recognized any more.

“The Box Man” is a comedy and social satire on society’s obsession with commenting on everything, and how stating an opinion (no matter how inappropriate and false) has become more important than worthwhile interaction. Gakuryu Ishii manages to tell a story which is both throught-provoking and entertaining, supported by a great cast and good grip on the source material, and how it is relevant in today’s world.

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Review: In 'Touch,' a kitchen, curiosity and some bridges that can't be crossed

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Review: In 'Touch,' a kitchen, curiosity and some bridges that can't be crossed

Director Baltasar Kormákur, who’s forged a comfortable career toggling between Hollywood tales set in far-flung spots (“Beast,” “Adrift”) and films set in his native Iceland, returns to his home country for the sweet/sad love story “Touch,” only to continent-hop again within its two-hour running time.

Restlessness is built into the story, adapted from a novel by Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson and centered on a romantic memory animating a widower’s attempt to solve a mystery from his past. The result, anchored by enchanting performances and Kormákur’s reliably visceral storytelling, is an appealing pivot for a filmmaker who tends to gravitate toward adrenalized tales of survival.

Veteran Icelandic actor-singer Egill Ólafsson stars as Kristofer, who at the beginning is in the process of shuttering his Reykjavik restaurant, leaving home (“Forgive me,” he says to a picture of whom we presume is his late wife) and getting on a plane for London. Radio snippets and masked workers let us know the pandemic is starting, and we see Kristofer doing memory exercises, an indication that his dementia is in its early stages. But the more pressing unknown driving Kristofer is what happened to a woman he fell for during his radical-youth college days in the UK, when he worked as a dishwasher at a Japanese restaurant.

Egill Ólafsson in the movie “Touch.”

(Baltasar Breki Samper / Focus Features)

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Cue swinging ‘60s London, where we’re introduced to young Kristofer — played by the director’s shaggy-haired beanpole of a son, Pálmi, an untrained actor — and kind-eyed Miko (a radiant Kōki), daughter and fellow employee of the restaurant’s hard-working owner, Takahashi-san (Masahiro Motoki). Very quickly, thanks to cinematographer Bernsteinn Björgúlfsson’s warm, inviting cinematography and production designer Sunneva Ása Weisshappel’s lived-in, detail-rich restaurant set, we sense that this flashback is the movie’s central story, a comforting haven for a makeshift family of immigrants.

Before long, a mentor relationship develops between the restaurant’s alternatingly stern and gregarious proprietor and his unlikely new employee, who drops out of school to immerse himself in Japanese culture, from learning the language to cooking the food and even writing haikus. At the same time, an intimacy develops between the two young people under this thriving eatery’s roof, in stolen exchanges away from everyone’s eyes. But it’s a passion which English-speaking Miko has reasons to keep from her watchful dad, who still wrestles with the real and psychological scars of their lives in Japan as survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima.

Eventually, as the past reaches its expectedly woeful end and the present’s possibility takes over, the older Kristofer — keenly underplayed by Ólafsson — makes his way to Hiroshima, where all is revealed about a romance cut brutally short 50 years prior. But it’s also when what had been a quietly engaging tale, one of strong-willed individuals from wildly different backgrounds bonding in a foreign land, is ultimately hamstrung by the added weight of historical incident. Though Miko’s connection to the bombing is sensitively handled, especially considering how the pandemic plays into the final scenes (which are marked by a touching performance from Yoko Narahashi, the film’s casting director), it also feels shoehorned in as a plot device.

But even after the pall of historical tragedy thickens, “Touch” is still perfumed with much to admire for a love story, especially where Kormákur’s compassionate way with actors is concerned. His résumé of action films obscures the fact that he also loves what can happen in a small space with looks, words and gestures. He sees sparks between humans everywhere, and that consistency of tenderness is an infectiously apt approach for a gentle movie in which an old man has clung to the memory of such feelings for decades, hoping to give them life one more time.

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‘Touch’

In Icelandic, English and Japanese, with subtitles

Rating: R, for some sexuality

Running time: 2 hours, 1 minutes

Playing: In limited release July 12.

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'Indian 2' movie review: Go back, Indian

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'Indian 2' movie review: Go back, Indian

What does Senapathy feel about having to clean up his society all over again? This film presents him as though he were rather amused by it all. The police almost catch him when he lands in India, but he escapes and before doing so, meows at them. Senapathy didn’t seem like a man who enjoyed his kills; he did it because he knew no other way. It’s a disagreeable strategy, but this man is flawed, given that he spent his youth in a time of war. Where is such detailing here? Where is any reference to his family? Perhaps the idea was for Indian 2 to skip all personal angles and jump straight into becoming a ‘social’ film. Where then is the deep socio-psychological commentary on our society and its people? From out of nowhere, Senapathy comes up with the brainwave of inspiring people to rat on their near and dear ones—and it’s an idea that could well have been the theme of this whole film. Senapathy thinks country first, but what’s a country if not its many units of people? How do you get people to look past their families? The portion that touches upon this late into the second half is the film’s best. Shankar’s Indian deserved a sequel that was ready to sink into nuances, but Indian 2 doesn’t even address the fundamental question of whether a black-or-white extremist can understand/inspire the greyness of his country’s people.

Even the manner of Senapathy’s executions in this film is laughably childish. In the first film, you got the haunting image of a killed man, whose mouth fills up with rice spilling from a sack. Here, one victim trots like a horse on the road. Another becomes feminine—and all of this is supposed to make us laugh. Bobby Simha, playing Pramod, is restricted to looking rather irritated from start to finish. If this were a film interested in anyone’s emotions, it would focus on telling us why for Pramod, catching Senapathy is a ‘life ambition’. Instead, we get a 100-something man racing along on a unicycle for what seems like an eternity. The director’s films aren’t exactly remembered for well-informed politics, considering they aim to offer populist catharsis. But you still don’t expect a dig at government freebies. I suppose nuances of social equality are tall ask for a film whose protagonist’s important dialogue comes with fundamental lip-sync issues. You know a film is not working when even the late Vivekh struggles to get going with his one-liners. The man, known for dropping nuggets of knowledge in his humour, uses light-year as a unit of time (when it’s a unit of distance)—but as I said, nothing really works in Indian 2.

You know how sometimes a sequel is called a ‘spiritual sequel’? Indian 2 can be called a deeply dispiriting sequel, I think; it’s a film that shows almost no understanding of the soul and strength of the first film and its protagonist. For these reasons, it’s really hard not to join the chorus of citizens in this film as they fling objects at the protagonist and yell, “Go back Indian!”

Film: Indian 2

Director: Shankar

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Cast: Kamal Haasan, Siddharth, Vivekh, Jagan, Priya Bhavani Shankar, Samuthirakani

Rating: 1.5/5 stars

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