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Kevin Spacey gets support from Liam Neeson and others after fresh assault allegations

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Kevin Spacey gets support from Liam Neeson and others after fresh assault allegations

Sharon Stone, Liam Neeson and Stephen Fry are all voicing support for disgraced actor Kevin Spacey following a new documentary out of the U.K. containing fresh sexual assault allegations.

The “House of Cards” star disappeared from the public eye nearly seven years ago after he was accused of assaulting and harassing a number of young men. A variety of allegations from the United States and United Kingdom have been dropped or dismissed, or resulted in the actor’s acquittal, but “Spacey Unmasked” aims to revitalize the controversy with new allegations of inappropriate behavior from 10 men in Britain.

Spacey has denied the new allegations, but some of his peers were so outraged by the documentary that they spoke publicly to the Telegraph to offer their support for the actor.

“I can’t wait to see Kevin back at work,” Sharon Stone told the outlet. “He is a genius. He is so elegant and fun, generous to a fault and knows more about our craft than most of us ever will.”

Liam Neeson also reached out in alliance with Spacey, saying that “Kevin is a good man and a man of character. Personally speaking, our industry needs him and misses him greatly.”

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Stephen Fry conceded that Spacey had been “clumsy and inappropriate,” but said that “surely it is wrong to continue to batter a reputation on the strength of assertion and rhetoric rather than evidence and proof?”

“Unless I’m missing something,” Fry said in criticism of the documentary, “I think he has paid the price.”

F. Murray Abraham and Trevor Nunn, who directed Spacey in productions at the Old Vic Theatre in London, where some of the incidents allegedly occurred, also wrote letters of support.

“I vouch for him unequivocally,” Abraham said. “Who are these vultures who attack a man who has publicly accepted his responsibility for certain behaviour, unlike so many others?”

Spacey, who won Oscars for best actor in 2000 for “American Beauty” and supporting actor in 1995 for “The Usual Suspects,” saw his legal troubles start in 2017 when Anthony Rapp accused the actor of molesting him at age 14. He was later cleared of those charges, but subsequent ones have kept him out of Hollywood.

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Spacey himself told the Telegraph that all he wanted with regard to the allegations was “for people to ask questions and investigate” rather than rush to judgment. “And I am well aware that that did not happen.”

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Movie Reviews

‘Black Dog’ Review: Man Bites Dog, Becomes His Best Friend in Gorgeously Offbeat Canine Caper From China

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‘Black Dog’ Review: Man Bites Dog, Becomes His Best Friend in Gorgeously Offbeat Canine Caper From China

Chinese director Guan Hu’s visually stunning new feature, Black Dog, starts off with a familiar premise: After spending a decade behind bars, an ex-con named Lang (Eddie Peng) returns to his tiny native city in Northwest China on the outskirts of the Gobi Desert. He tries to integrate into regular life, but certain demons from his past come back to haunt him.

If this sounds like any number of throwaway B-movies, or like the plot of the recent Sylvester Stallone series Tulsa King, be advised that Black Dog is not that kind of thing at all. First off, it’s unclear who, exactly, the title is referring to. Is it the film’s total outcast of a protagonist, who barely utters a full sentence to anyone — including his own father — as he attempts to settle into a place that doesn’t want him? Or is it the stray black greyhound he meets in town, with whom he winds up forming a special bond?

Black Dog

The Bottom Line

Not your average pup.

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Venue: Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard)
Cast: Eddie Peng, Tong Liya, Jia Zhang-ke, Zhang Yi, Zhou You
Director: Guan Hu
Screenwriters: Guan Hu, Ge Rui, Wu Bing

1 hour 46 minutes

Black Dog isn’t really a man’s-best-friend movie either, even if the relationship between Lang and his rabid mutt forms the crux of the plot. Set against a backdrop of urban blight and canine chaos, Guan’s highly original, deadpan thriller begins with a jarring sequence of dogs causing a bus to flip over on a desert road, only to get weirder and wilder from there. But at its heart, the film is really a classic story of redemption, taking lots of unexpected turns as it follows a down-and-out hero toward recovery.

The director’s previous efforts, including big-budget action flicks like Mr. Six and The Eight Hundred, are a far cry from the oddball tone and arthouse stylistics of Black Dog, which sits somewhere between the Coens’ No Country For Old Men and recent Chinese noirs like Diao Yinan’s The Wild Goose Lake. There’s some violence, but never of a particularly graphic kind, and there’s definitely some cruelty to animals. But the film is mostly about a very strange time and place, where men and dogs seem to be forever chasing each other around a desolate city on the verge of state-sponsored demolition.

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Set in 2008 during the months leading up to the Beijing Summer Olympics, the story picks up Lang — lanky, brooding and with a shaved head — after he survives the opening bus crash and wanders into town to take up residence in his childhood home. We learn that his father has moved out and lives at the local zoo, while a mob boss named Butcher Hu (played by Chinese auteur Jia Zhang-ke) is seeking revenge for the crime that put Lang in jail for a decade, details of which are divulged much later. 

The only true companion Lang makes upon his return is a mangy greyhound he runs into by one of the city’s many abandoned buildings, which is set to be destroyed in a massive urbanization plan that’s left much of the area populated by packs of stray pups. Guan makes sure to include a canine or two in nearly every shot of his movie, whether they’re silently watching the action from afar, strolling in the background, rushing through empty streets, or, in one standout stunt scene, crashing through a window.

Cinematographer Gao Weizhe’s superb widescreen images, bathed in dust and washed-out colors, constantly place Lang and his canine pal (who is never given a real name) within the vast uninhabited cityscapes and surrounding desert. With sand constantly blowing in from all sides, dogs running amok and other animals (serpents, tigers, monkeys) wandering about, it’s as if nature is taking its revenge on the forgotten town while the rest of China prepares to triumph when the Summer Olympics kick off in August.

Lang eventually reconnects with his father and manages to deal with Butcher Hu — an actual butcher who specializes in the local delicacy of snake meat — but more importantly, he winds up taking the black dog under his wing and nursing her back to health. Initially, it’s because Lang fears the greyhound gave him rabies, but their story gradually transforms into one of love at first bite. Man and hound not only get to know each other, but they start helping each other out in special ways that improve both of their lives.

Hollywood seems to put out a new mainstream dog flick every few months — the latest example being the Mark Wahlberg starrer, Arthur the King — but there’s also a subgenre of international films that treat canines with more depth and artistry. Guan’s strange and seductive new work belongs to the latter pack, joining other movies that have premiered in Cannes over the past decade, such as last year’s Palme d’Or and Oscar winner Anatomy of a Fall, where dogs become a pivotal feature of the plot.

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While Black Dog didn’t walk away with Cannes’ cheeky Palme Dog prize for films of that category (it went to French actress-director Laetitia Dosch’s Dog on Trial), it did scoop up a well-deserved Prix Un Certain Regard — no small feat in a sidebar that many believed outshined this year’s main competition. This should give Guan’s latest some traction beyond China, where he has already proved his bona fides as a major commercial filmmaker (The Eight Hundred grossed a whopping $460 million), and now proves he’s capable of making something both out-of-the-box and oddly captivating.

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A 'hero': Johnny Wactor's family, friends remember slain 'General Hospital' star

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A 'hero': Johnny Wactor's family, friends remember slain 'General Hospital' star

To Johnny Wactor’s loved ones, he was more than just a “General Hospital” star. He was a kind son, a best friend, a former lover and a recovering alcoholic, according to the friends and family mourning the TV star, who was killed Saturday.

“They took a wonderful person,” Wactor’s mother, Scarlett Wactor, said in an interview with “Good Morning America” that aired Monday.

Family and friends in Wactor’s close circle are remembering the actor, who was fatally shot early Saturday after he encountered three men attempting to steal the catalytic converter from his car in downtown Los Angeles. He was 37.

Wactor was best known for portraying Brando Corbin on “General Hospital” from 2020 to 2022. He was shot when he was walking a co-worker to her car after their bartending shift at a downtown L.A. bar, his brother Grant Wactor confirmed to The Times on Sunday.

“Johnny stepped in front of the co-worker [and was] shot,” Scarlett Wactor said in an interview with “Today.” .

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When asked to reflect on her son’s efforts to protect his co-worker, Scarlett said she would “use the word ‘hero,’” to describe her son. “Thankful that person’s OK, and that when he died he wasn’t alone,” she added in her “Today” interview.

Wactor’s immediate family, including brothers Grant and Lance, weren’t the only ones remembering the actor. A person who says she is his godmother wrote in a GoFundMe benefiting the actor’s family that “Johnny was the kindest soul” and called for justice. Actor and filmmaker Tessa Farrell called for justice and stricter law enforcement as she paid tribute to her ex-fiancé in a lengthy Instagram video.

“Johnny’s above now looking down and I’m so happy that I think we found happiness before he went because that was his dream in life is to be happy,” Farrell said as she detailed Wactor’s “fun” personality, their “too fiery” romantic relationship and “phenomenal” acting skills.

“We brought out the best in each other, and then also the darkest parts of each other; our lives were both forever changed,” she continued. “I’m so happy that he found sobriety after that relationship.”

Wactor’s slaying sparked anger from his loved ones. As his brothers lamented the “emptiness that doesn’t get filled,” Ferrell directly addressed the shooter in her video.

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“I’m sorry but you shot the wrong guy. You know you can get a real job, like I know the job market’s hard, but we’re all in it together,” she said. “You don’t have to steal. Especially take a life over it?”

In a press release Monday, LAPD said the three unnamed suspects “were wearing all dark clothing and driving a dark colored sedan.” They went northbound on Hope Street after the incident, according to the press release. An investigation is ongoing, police said, and people with more information about the incident should contact officials, the statement added.

“This person is evil,” Scarlett Wactor told “Today” about the person who shot her son. “I think they are cowards. As a parent, you never expect to bury a child.”

Ferrell said her ex-fiancé, whom she had not seen in recent years, was a “rising star” and a “bright soul to this world” who was “full of gifts.” Now among them, she said, is the need for people to come together against criminal activity.

“Human life is disregarded too easy, guys, we gotta make some changes as a community,” she said. “We gotta support each other, come together.”

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As news of Wactor’s death spread Saturday, “General Hospital” mourned its cast member in a social media statement.

“He was truly one of a kind and a pleasure to work with each and every day,” the statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones during this difficult time.”

Times staff writers Richard Winton and Tony Brisco contributed to this report.

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Movie Reviews

The Beast (2023) – Movie Review

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The Beast (2023) – Movie Review

The Beast, 2023.

Directed by Bertrand Bonello.
Starring Léa Seydoux, George MacKay, Kester Lovelace, Julia Faure, Guslagie Malanda, Dasha Nekrasova, Martin Scali, Elina Löwensohn, Marta Hoskins, Félicien Pinot, Laurent Lacotte, and Xavier Dolan.

SYNOPSIS:

The plot is set partly in a near future in which artificial intelligence is in control of everyone’s lives and human emotions are perceived as a threat.

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An ambitious story of tragic and toxic love sprawled across the past, rearview window present,  and near future, Bertrand Bonello’s The Beast wonders what it would be like if, in one of those three timelines, a well-intentioned man in one of them was also a raging misogynist making deeply disturbing YouTube videos promoting a violent cleansing coming by his hand as retaliation for women having always rejected his advances. This is a love story that is also anything but a love story, which is part of what makes it so compelling.

It certainly makes for a deeply uncomfortable moment when, roughly halfway into the film, present-day Gabrielle Monnier (Léa Seydoux impressively pulling off three variations of the same character, layering them all with a wide range of emotions and one haunting final shot that sticks in the mind sonically and visually) meets that man, Louis Lewanski (George MacKay, also terrific pulling off polar opposite depictions of this character and, at times, scarily finding a bit of humanity in the deranged variant), feeling that unexplainable gravitational connection, urging him to walk her home after a California earthquake. Louis repeatedly declines, insisting that something bad might happen, signifying that his hatred towards women comes less from the way they treat him and is more about his deep-sea-level fears and insecurities. 

While that dynamic does make for some traditional thrills, perhaps the real horror comes from a psychological place that, for anyone fascinated by stories about reincarnation or love across different timelines, there could be an utterly psychotic version of all of us out there. Or that we could be longing for someone so unhinged without knowing it. However, the film is, and rightfully so, much more concerned with Gabrielle’s emotional and physical journey returning to those past timelines as part of an AI-mandated process in the future to eliminate feelings from humans to make them “less dangerous” and more fit for a barebones workforce.  

This Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind reminiscent procedure takes Gabrielle to early twentieth-century France, where she is in a loveless marriage to the wealthy Georges (Martin Scali), encountering Louis at a glamorous party who is taken aback by her, vowing to protect her after she speaks of this inexplicable connection and an intense feeling that something disastrous is eventually going to happen. They remain in contact, and he is interested in her and her fascination with crafting dolls (a recurring motif across the film.) It is also worth mentioning that, yes, George MacKay and Léa Seydoux speak English and French in the respective timelines, only adding to the commitment and depth of these tremendous performances. Essentially, he is her savior in one life and her worst nightmare in the next; it’s a loaded juxtaposition that the filmmakers don’t waste.

There is also an experimental visual style that plays with pixel distortion and the nature of filmmaking, chiming in on how green screen and AI remove realism. The script (written by Bertrand Bonello, Guillaume Bréaud, and Benjamin Charbit, loosely based on aspects of the Henry James novel The Beast in the Jungle) brilliantly brings some of these conversations back into a portion of the grand, mind-shattering finale, sharply making that point. Without giving away, the ending sequence is a variation of one earlier scene that brings forth immense dread not only because of what is happening but also on a metatextual level in the filmmaking process. 

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The Beast is primarily split into two halves, with each containing stops in the future world, which is also fleshed out as a numbing existence overrun by technology and aesthetically detailed nostalgia nightclubs, which does work, especially if one has no idea about the second half-wild direction for George MacKay’s character. However, most viewers might already know about that going in (it’s not worth writing around in a review to be vague about what gives the film such unnerving depth) and become somewhat restless during the slower first half.

The Beast grows on the viewer as it gradually reveals more information and ideas, which is a lot considering the 146-minute running time. Nevertheless, there is love and danger here, packaged together in one cruel, psychologically torturous package. It is sweet and hellish, yet also clued into a depressing future informing its characters and ideas. 

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/playlist

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