‘Goodfellas’ actor Ray Liotta dead

‘Goodfellas’ actor Ray Liotta dead
Actor Ray Liotta attends the ‘No Sudden Move’ premiere during the 20th Tribeca Festival in New York on June 18, 2021. (AP Photo)
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Updated 26 May 2022

‘Goodfellas’ actor Ray Liotta dead

‘Goodfellas’ actor Ray Liotta dead
  • Ray Liotta’s publicist in Los Angeles confirmed his death, saying the actor died in his sleep and that there were no suspicious circumstances
  • Liotta, whose turn as mobster Henry Hill in Scorsese’s crime masterpiece, ‘Goodfellas,’ won universal admiration, was shooting a film in the Dominican Republic when he died

LOS ANGELES: Actor Ray Liotta, who starred in Martin Scorsese’s gangster classic “Goodfellas,” has died in the Dominican Republic, the country’s cinema authority said Thursday. He was 67.
Liotta, whose blistering turn as real-life mobster Henry Hill in Scorsese’s crime masterpiece won universal admiration, was shooting a new film in the country when he died, a spokeswoman for the Dominican Republic’s General Direction of Cinema said.
“We understand that he was accompanied by his (fiancee) and that the (fiancee) asks that you please respect her grief,” the spokeswoman told AFP.
Liotta’s publicist in Los Angeles confirmed his death, saying the actor died in his sleep and that there were no suspicious circumstances.
He was working on a movie called “Dangerous Waters” at the time of his death.
Liotta’s breakout came in 1990 when he was cast alongside Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in what is widely considered one of the greatest films of the 20th century.
“Goodfellas” won one Oscar, and was nominated for five others, and scenes from the movie continue to resonate as cultural touchstones more than three decades later.
A year before “Goodfellas,” Liotta had played baseball star “Shoeless Joe” Jackson in beloved sports movie “Field of Dreams,” opposite Kevin Costner.
The film was nominated for three Oscars, including best picture.
Tributes began to be paid soon after news of Liotta’s death broke, with “Goodfellas” co-star Lorraine Bracco, who played his on-screen wife, Karen, saying she was “utterly shattered to hear this terrible news.”
“I can be anywhere in the world & people will come up & tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas,” she tweeted.
“Then they always ask what was the best part of making that movie. My response has always been the same... Ray Liotta.”
Despite branching out to show his breadth as an actor, Liotta had recently returned to the world of mob films, with roles in Steven Soderbergh’s “No Sudden Move” and “The Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark.”
Liotta was born in Newark, on the US East Coast, in December 1954.
Variety reported he was left at an orphanage at birth and adopted when he was six months old.
At the University of Miami he performed in musicals, and after graduating landed a role in a soap opera that would provide him with three years’ work to 1981.
His first movie came in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1986’s “Something Wild” opposite Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels that he came to wider attention.
The comedy-action-romance was screened at Cannes and scored Liotta a Golden Globe nomination for supporting actor.


What we are watching today: Elvis

What we are watching today: Elvis
Updated 28 June 2022

What we are watching today: Elvis

What we are watching today: Elvis
  • The movie dives into an aspect of Presley’s life that has not been talked about enough — his relationship with his manager Tom Parker, played by the talented Tom Hanks

“Elvis,” directed by Baz Luhrmann, might be one of the most well-done biopics of all time. The movie shows the life of megastar Elvis Presley.

Actor Austin Butler, who donned Elvis’ iconic outfits, outdid himself. He transformed himself for the film with so much commitment. The actor did not play Presley — he became Presley. Butler went through two to three years of voice training, perfecting his tones. The actor ended up with a voice so similar to Presley that audiences are convinced that he was lip-syncing.

He also studied Presley during the different eras of the music star’s life and evolved his character during the movie in a way that was true to each era.

The movie dives into an aspect of Presley’s life that has not been talked about enough — his relationship with his manager Tom Parker, played by the talented Tom Hanks. Hanks played the role so well that audiences came out of the movie hating the character, but also understanding why he did what he did.

The cinematography of the movie is stunning. Luhrmann was able to deliver the exact emotions he wanted the audience to feel. Each scene is carefully crafted to make the audience feel something, whether excitement, anticipation, sadness or loss.

The larger-than-life public personality of Elvis Presley was reduced in the movie. The way “The King” worked himself to exhaustion, his genuine love for his mother and his attachment to his daughter is well done and balanced. There are moments we see him break and moments we see him happy — in these moments we see the human side of Elvis that is often forgotten.

The team recreated some of Presley’s most iconic performances, like the “1968 Comeback Special,” in which the star rebelled against racism. Songs featured in the film include “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock.”

Presley’s wife, Priscilla, is played by Olivia DeJonge, who expertly portrays the character and her relationship with Elvis.

Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’ only child, watched the movie and praised Butler’s performance as Elvis. The movie received a 12-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival and deserved every second of it.

The movie is available for booking in all Saudi cinemas.


Refugee choir performs at UK’s Glastonbury Festival

The choir, which was founded in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, is made up of 50 people. (Instagram)
The choir, which was founded in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, is made up of 50 people. (Instagram)
Updated 26 June 2022

Refugee choir performs at UK’s Glastonbury Festival

The choir, which was founded in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, is made up of 50 people. (Instagram)

DUBAI: The Citizens of the World Refugee Choir performed at the UK’s Glastonbury Festival on Sunday.

The choir, which was founded in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, is made up of 50 people.

Becky Dell, the musical director, told PA that the choir is a 50/50 split of refugees and non-refugees, and calls itself a “rainbow tribe (because) none of us look the same as each other – it’s amazing.”

She said the choir hopes to “elevate the narrative around refugees; too often the story is ‘poor refugees,’ it’s sending them far away. We wanted to show refugees in a different way. They are displaced human beings first and foremost.”

The choir opened the festival’s Avalon Stage on Sunday with a solo 40-minute set.


‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 

‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 
Updated 25 June 2022

‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 

‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 

CHENNAI: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic of the legendary singer “Elvis” is lukewarm at best. 

Given Elvis’s legendary status, Luhrmann’s 160-minute work disappoints, largely because he has chosen to edit the piece so as to make it seem restless — a movie without a soul with frames flashing past so fast that there is no time to sit and savor the spectacle. 

The story is mostly narrated by Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who as Elvis’s shrewd manager was as much responsible for the singer’s rise, pushing him to travel from Memphis to breathtaking heights, as for his fall. It is this strange and sometimes vicious relationship between a domineering Parker and the singer (played by Austin Butler) that the movie fails to explore — it merely skims the surface here and there and audiences are only given glimpses of how the young star was manipulated and controlled, with his dream of becoming a serious actor derailed by his manager.

The story is mostly narrated by Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who as Elvis’s shrewd manager was as much responsible for the singer’s rise. (YouTube)

We do get a glimpse of Elvis’s early life, including his struggles, the influence of black music — which is a relief given the recent realization in the press and on social media that the star was indeed influenced by the music of black artists in an atmosphere of entrenched racism — his two-year military service in Germany and marriage to Priscilla, among other events. However, the director chooses to remain on the brighter side, with the rock ‘n’ roll legend presented as dashing and debonair until the very end, although that was not the reality. 

But what audiences are really here for is the music, and on that note “Elvis” fails to deliver. Presley’s own vocals were used in the later part, and Butler sings the early hits and does offer some electrifying moments, but the soundtrack could have been far more engaging. 

A magnificent Hanks manages to evoke the Jekyll-and-Hyde persona he plays with fair degree of conviction, although he does slip up now and then. Meanwhile, an equally impressive Butler as the hip-swiveling, guitar strumming, foot tapping king is often mesmeric but it is not easy to impersonate a man whose aura is still dazzling. The writing by Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, and Jeremy Doner fails to give balance to the narrative and despite some engaging performances, “Elvis” is a bit of a let down.


Boulevard Riyadh’s mixed bag of summer activities to keep enthusiasts busy

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
Updated 25 June 2022

Boulevard Riyadh’s mixed bag of summer activities to keep enthusiasts busy

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
  • Karting, online gaming, rock climbing and arts all available
  • Wide array of restaurants, areas to relax and enjoy karaoke

RIYADH: Now that summer has arrived and the school year ended, Boulevard Riyadh City is the place to be with activities for everyone. It’s best to go early because entry is free and the place will be packed.

Doos Karting

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills and win podiums against family and friends.

The pre-Formula 1 stage race lasts anywhere between five and eight laps on two tracks. The first is 435 meters and has three challenging turns. The second is more streamlined, at 465 meters, with only two turns.

You can have a great time and experience an adrenaline rush while traveling at a top speed of 80 km/h.

Up to 10 karters can race concurrently on the multi-level tracks.

Takenda

Avoid the summer heat and enjoy a fantastic fun day in Takenda, the Middle East’s most prominent technology entertainment destination.

Takenda connects to a lounge where people can sit, relax, and enjoy a beverage while taking in the scenery of the boulevard.

You can also have a karaoke night with friends, throw a party with a stage and projector, enjoy a mascot show, and have three hours of VIP parking.

Takenda has over 60,000 games suitable for all ages, whether you are five or 50.

Visitors can play classic ones like bumper cars, arcade, table hockey, novelty, and virtual reality in a modern setting.

Adventure Park

If you like physical activities, the indoor adventure park is for you.

The place allows you to scale 10 different walls inspired by real locations in the Kingdom, including the mountains of Tuwaiq, Shammar, Hijaz, Al-Lawz, Faisal’s Finger, Al-Qara and Souda. There are also other walls mimicking climbing areas in Wadi Lajab, Harrat Rahat and Ain Heet Cave.

Children can also play in the monkey cage or on trampolines.

In the future, the company will open halls in Baha and other regions of Saudi Arabia.

Upark

If you are interested in skateboarding, Upark’s facilities will allow you to enjoy yourself thoroughly.

For beginners, training is provided for one-hour sessions.

Avalanche

Let’s not forget the world’s tallest fun slide in the Avalanche attraction for those daring enough. In the same area, a special section has been set up for those wanting to paint, draw or make pottery.

Up to 10 karters can race simultaneously on the multi-level tracks. (Supplied)

 


REVIEW: ‘Spiderhead’ — Chris Hemsworth fails to convince as a genius scientist in flaccid sci-fi thriller

REVIEW: ‘Spiderhead’ — Chris Hemsworth fails to convince as a genius scientist in flaccid sci-fi thriller
Updated 24 June 2022

REVIEW: ‘Spiderhead’ — Chris Hemsworth fails to convince as a genius scientist in flaccid sci-fi thriller

REVIEW: ‘Spiderhead’ — Chris Hemsworth fails to convince as a genius scientist in flaccid sci-fi thriller

DUBAI: Netflix’s new sci-fi thriller is based on a short story by award-winning author George Saunders that was published in The New Yorker — normally a guarantee of literary quality. It’s odd, then, that the film is stocked with uninspiring dialogue and a narrative that seems light on substance. 

Perhaps the key is that the original material was a short story. By stretching it into a feature film, the screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (the pair responsible for the “Deadpool” movies) have failed to provide sufficient quality material to cover the extra yardage. 

The “Deadpool” link is telling. Reese and Wernick attempt to slip a similar knowing humor into “Spiderhead.” It doesn’t work nearly as well with Chris Hemsworth in the lead instead of Ryan Reynolds. 

Chris Hemsworth as Abnesti and Miles Teller as Jeff in ‘Spiderhead.’ (Supplied) 

Hemsworth plays the genius rogue scientist and megalomaniac Steve Abnesti, who has set up the titular state-of-the-art island penitentiary. It’s his vision of a new kind of prison system, one in which the inmates can roam around without supervision and have their own comfortable rooms. In return, they have agreed to be the subjects of Abnesti’s drug tests — drugs which alter their emotions and perceptions, including the ‘love drug’ N-40, “Laffodil,” which makes everything seem funny, and the sinister “Darkenfloxx,” which induces pain — both physical and mental.

Hemsworth’s charisma is undeniable, but he’s out of his depth here, acting-wise, failing to convince when asked to display the full gamut of emotions supposedly induced by his inventions.

Nathan Jones as Rogan in ‘Spiderhead.’ (Supplied) 

Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett, as inmates Jeff and Lizzy respectively, fare much better, giving the movie an emotional heart that it doesn’t really deserve and doing far more with the by-the-numbers script than can reasonably be expected. They make “Spiderhead” mostly watchable through their convincing portrayals of two damaged people trying to find some light in the darkness of their guilt. 

Director Joseph Kosinski does a mixed job. He manages to pace things well — balancing dialogue-heavy ‘science’ scenes and bursts of violent action with panache ­— but seems unsure exactly what he’s trying to deliver. The film’s light touches (the pink titles; the upbeat pop music; Hemsworth’s jaunty dancing) jar uncomfortably with its darker themes (the dehumanization of criminals; the ethics of altering people’s minds), and the result is unsettling. But not in an interesting way — just in a ‘Have I just wasted 107 minutes of my life?’ way. 

This could have been an intriguingly dark movie. Instead, it’s another dystopian sci-fi film that’s not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.