RIP Ray Liotta

R.I.P. Ray Liotta; Kevin Spacey charged with sexual assault in the UK; a Frontline doc explains the simple reason the NRA keeps winning; we’re at a fascinating moment in the story of Tom Cruise. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.

R.I.P. Ray Liotta: Soon after the initial publication of this post, we were saddened to learn of the death of one of our favorite actors, Goodfellas star Ray Liotta, at the age of 67. Deadline reports that he died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was shooting a film called Dangerous Waters. He was a magnetic, captivating presence in 1990’s Goodfellas, in which he very skillfully played Henry Hill as a lovable sociopath, and in films including Copland, Blow, Marriage Story and last year’s Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark. He was understated and heartbreaking in Field of Dreams. We will miss him and are grateful for his films.

Kevin Spacey charged

Kevin Spacey in his odd 2019 Christmas video.

Spacey Charged: Kevin Spacey has been charged with four counts of sexual assault in the United Kingdom. “The CPS has authorised criminal charges against Kevin Spacey, 62, for four counts of sexual assault against three men,” Rosemary Ainslie, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Special Crime Division, said in a statement. “He has also been charged with causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent. The charges follow a review of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police in its investigation.”

Background: Spacey has denied wrongdoing of any kind since actor Anthony Rapp first accused him, in 2017, of making sexual advances toward him during a party in the 1980s when Rapp was underage. Since then, several other men have accused Spacey of misconduct. Here is a good summary of the past accusations by ABC News. British prosecutors say the crimes that led to the new charges occurred in 2005, 2008 and 2013. Spacey has largely kept out of the public eye since 2017, except to issue the occasional strange Christmas message on YouTube.

The NRA: The latest PBS Frontline documentary about the NRA is filled with unconventional wisdom, but my biggest takeaway is this: In a few weeks — when you and I are no longer talking about the Texas atrocity and are instead focusing on Ukraine or COVID or racism or any number of other problems — NRA members will still be focused on guns. Guns will always be their focus, and they will always vote. Their single-mindedness serves them well, whatever the costs to anyone else. Frontline’s NRA Under Fire is very worth watching and is available here in its entirety:

 

Parkland: The doc also explains why Parkland students — yes, a bunch of kids — might be the NRA’s most powerful opponents. That is, if you don’t include NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who is accused of spending NRA money on things like private jets to the Bahamas and Pretty Woman-style Beverly Hills shopping sprees.

Why the NRA Always Wins

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre in Frontline’s documentary NRA Under Fire.

In His Defense: I’d rather he spend it on planes and fancy suits than on buying more congressmen.

JJ Abrams Budget Dispute: Warner Bros. and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot are at odds over the budget for  Abrams’ planned sci-fi drama Demimonde, Deadline reports. The site adds that a wider examination of Bad Robot’s overall deal is expected as Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav re-examines all of the company’s costs. Deadline adds that the planned budget for Demimonde is in the mid-$200 million, and that Bad Robot will not budge on it.

What Is Demimonde? It’s the first TV show Abrams has created on his own since Alias two decades ago, and is about a woman (Danielle Deadwyler) who must unravel a conspiracy in order to reunite with her husband and daughter, who are lost in a dark, faraway world.

A Good Tweet: This made me laugh:

Comment of the Day: “You think they made up a story and stuck to it for 50 almost freaking years to avoid losing 10% on a logging contract? Give me a break.” — Geoff Oliver, who recently came across our August 2021 story about Netflix’s Top Secret UFO Projects: Declassified. Honestly, I’m pretty neutral on whether a bunch of loggers encountered a UFO back in 1975. But as a person born in 1975 I have to insist that it was a youthful 47 years ago, not 50.

Tom Cruise Takes James Corden on a Jet: I watched this whole thing. It’s very funny.

Why Do I Like Top Gun: Maverick So Much? Besides the fact that it’s great, I think we should take a moment and enjoy the fact that we’re in the middle of a huge moment in the story of Tom Cruise, and movie history. Cruise, our last global movie star, is on the verge of his biggest opening ever at the age of 59 after surviving the couch-jumping years, the collapse of movie stardom, the takeover of superhero films, COVID almost destroying the theatrical experience, and qualifying for AARP. This is a hell of a thing. Cruise is a guy who, after starring in a plane movie 35 years ago, decided to himself become a ridiculously capable pilot, while also becoming a remarkably good motorcyclist, climber, and runner. None of which are his actual job. We’re witnessing a major moment in the life of a fascinating human, whatever you think of him. When Tom Cruise leaves the stage, the closet we’ll have is Tom Holland. He seems charming, but can he even fly a plane?

Main image: The great Ray Liotta as Henry Hill in Goodfellas.

 

 

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