‘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

  • 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.

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Olivia Newton-John, ‘Grease’ star and singer, dies aged 73

Updated 08 August 2022

Olivia Newton-John, ‘Grease’ star and singer, dies aged 73

  • Olivia Newton-John gained worldwide fame as high-school sweetheart Sandy in the hit musical movie ‘Grease’

LOS ANGELES: Australian singer Olivia Newton-John, who gained worldwide fame as high-school sweetheart Sandy in the hit musical movie “Grease,” died Monday, her family said. She was 73.
The entertainer, whose career spanned more than five decades, devoted much of her time and celebrity to charities after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992.
Newton-John “passed away peacefully at her ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” said a statement from her husband John Easterling posted on her official social media accounts.


Cannibals, comedy and a cinema icon share Venice limelight

Updated 26 July 2022

Cannibals, comedy and a cinema icon share Venice limelight

  • The world's oldest film festival runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10
  • Among the leading lights expected to show up on the red carpet will be Timothée Chalamet, Sadie Sink, Adam Driver, Olivia Wilde and others

ROME: A Marilyn Monroe drama, a cannibal road movie and a black comedy about family life are among the stories showcased at this year’s Venice Film Festival.
The world’s oldest film festival, regarded as a launch pad for Oscar contenders as awards season approaches, runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10, and features dozens of hotly anticipated movies both in and out of competition.
Among the leading lights expected to show up on the red carpet will be Timothée Chalamet, Sadie Sink, Adam Driver, Olivia Wilde, Harry Styles, Penelope Cruz, Ana de Armas, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Christoph Waltz and Sigourney Weaver.
International art house directors will share the stage with established Hollywood figures, as pictures by Darren Aronofsky, Andrew Dominik, Alejandro Inarritu, Luca Guadagnino, Joanna Hogg, Koji Fukada and Jafar Panahi get their first outing.
Four originals by the TV streaming giant Netflix line up in the 23-title competition section, including Dominik’s “Blonde,” which stars de Armas in a fictionalized take on the tragic life of US actress Monroe.
For the first time, Netflix gets the honor of opening the festival with Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise” starring Driver and Greta Gerwig — a satiric chronicle of family life that is based on a novel of the same name by Don DeLillo.
One of the most anticipated films is likely to be “Bones and All” featuring Chalamet alongside rising star Taylor Russell as impoverished cannibal lovers in a picture directed by Italy’s Luca Guadagnino.
“It analyzes the poorest and most marginalized in America, the failure of the American Dream,” the festival’s artistic director, Alberto Barbera, said on Tuesday.
Festival regular Cate Blanchett, who presided over the jury in 2020, returns a competition hopeful the film “Tar,” directed by Todd Field — a fictional tale about a famed composer and conductor, who leads a major German orchestra.
“Tar” is one of nine US-produced movies in competition, with five from France, four from Italy and two from Iran — including “No Bears” by Panahi, who is serving a six-year prison sentence in Iran after being convicted of propaganda against the Islamic Republic in 2010.
Venice often provides a first glimpse of future Oscar winners such as “Birdman” in 2015. Its director, Inarritu, returns to the city’s Lido Island with his latest movie — “Bardo” a Spanish-language Netflix comedy set in Mexico.
Likewise Martin McDonagh premiered “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” in Venice in 2017 which went on to scoop multiple awards. His follow-up “The Banshees Of Inisherin,” set in Ireland and starring Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, will get its first showing on the Lido.
As ever, some of the out-of-competition films will get as much attention as those pushing for the Golden Lion top prize.
These include psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling,” directed by Wilde and featuring Florence Pugh and Styles, “Dead For a Dollar,” a Western by Walter Hill starring Waltz and a documentary “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” by Evgeny Afineevsky.

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UK to host 2023 Eurovision instead of Ukraine

Updated 25 July 2022

UK to host 2023 Eurovision instead of Ukraine

LONDON: Britain said Monday it had reluctantly agreed to take Ukraine’s place as hosts of next year’s Eurovision song contest after organizers said there was no prospect of the event going ahead in the war-torn country.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said it was his “strong wish” for Ukraine, this year’s winner, to host the 2023 edition and found it “deeply regrettable” that was no longer possible, with the BBC stepping in to host.


Depp’s lawyers urge judge to leave jury verdict intact

Updated 12 July 2022

Depp’s lawyers urge judge to leave jury verdict intact

  • Depp’s lawyers argue that if Heard’s team had concerns, they should have spoken up at the time

FAIRFAX, Virginia: Lawyers for Johnny Depp are urging a Virginia judge to leave his $10 million defamation judgment intact after attorneys for his ex-wife, Amber Heard, asked the judge to set aside the verdict on multiple grounds, including an apparent case of mistaken identity with one of the jurors.
In court papers filed Monday, Depp’s lawyers dispute arguments from Heard’s team that the jury’s verdict was nonsensical and unfounded. They also say that the Heard team’s complaints about the juror’s identity are irrelevant.
Last month, a civil jury in Fairfax awarded $10.35 million to Depp after they found he was defamed by Heard when she wrote a 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post about domestic violence.
The jury also awarded $2 million to Heard on her counterclaim that she was defamed by one of Depp’s attorneys after he called her allegations a hoax.
Heard’s lawyers filed motions earlier this month asking the judge to toss out the verdicts on a variety of legal theories.
On Monday, Depp’s lawyers filed their response. They argue that there was nothing inconsistent in the fact that the jury awarded judgments in favor of both Depp and Heard. They said the jury verdict form allowed jurors to be very specific about which statements were libelous, and that the verdict makes sense when you look at the specific statements cited by the jury.
As for the confusion over the juror’s identity, Depp’s lawyers say it’s too late for Heard’s team to object. According to court papers, a summons went out to a 77-year-old man. But the man who responded in his place was his 52-year-old son, who has the same name and lives at the same address.
Depp’s lawyers argue that if Heard’s team had concerns, they should have spoken up at the time because it was apparent that the man who served was not 77 years old, even though court paperwork described him as such.
Judge Penney Azcarate has not yet indicated if she plans to hold a hearing to hear arguments on the motions to set aside the verdict.
The verdict in Depp’s favor in Virginia came about two years after a similar trial in the United Kingdom in which Depp sued a British tabloid after he was described as a “wife beater.” The judge in that case ruled in the newspaper’s favor in 2020 after finding that Heard was telling the truth in her descriptions of abuse.
Jurors in the Virginia case were not told that the judge in the British case had ruled against Depp.


What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh

Updated 01 July 2022

What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh

  • This Arabic card game is a great deal of fun to play with a large group

Akfosh is an Arabic game that contains 55 picture cards on various subjects, including Saudi cultural items, well-known locations across the country, and even fruit and vegetables.

The Saudi-specific fashion items include the shemagh (male headdress), burqa, madas (sandal), dallah (coffee pot), finjan (coffee cup), and miswak (twig to clean your teeth). The landmarks include Jeddah’s fountain and the Kingdom Center in Riyadh, while the other cards feature Arab-related icons such as tents and camels.

The game allows between two and eight players to participate. There are different styles of playing, with the most popular having every player with one card face down in front of them, and the rest of the deck placed in the middle. When the game starts, each player flips their card to see it and then tries to grab a matching one from the middle first. The player with the most cards wins.

Akfosh is one of my favorite Arabic card games and is a great deal of fun to play with a large group. It relies on your visual observation, and it gets everyone competitive because it is so fast-paced.

Carrying the small box is quite easy, it fits perfectly in my handbag. I always have my Akfosh cards with me if I know many people will be at a gathering or outing. It is a fun activity that brings people together.

The game suits all ages and can be found across the Kingdom at Virgin megastores, Jarir bookstores, and even through online platforms such as Noon, Lifestyley and Amazon.