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‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ wins at Gotham Awards

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Source image: https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/wins-gotham-awards-94129123

NEW YORK — “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won best feature at the 32nd Gotham Awards on Monday, taking one of the first major prizes of Hollywood’s awards season and boosting the Oscar hopes of the anarchic indie hit of the year.

Also taking an award for his work on the film was Ke Huy Quan, the “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” child star who made a lauded comeback in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and won for best supporting actor.

“This time last year, all I was hoping for was a job,” said an emotional Quan who had nearly given up acting before landing his role in the film. “For the first time in a very long time, I was given a second chance.”

The Gotham Awards, held annually at Cipriani Wall Street, serve as a downtown celebration of independent film and an unofficial kickoff of the long marathon of ceremonies, cocktail parties and campaigning that lead up to the Academy Awards in March. Presented by the Gotham Film & Media Institute, the Gothams last year heaped awards on Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter” while also, with an award for Troy Kotsur, starting “CODA” on its way to best picture.

But aside from any possible influence, the Gothams are also just a star-studded party that gets the industry back into the awards-season swing. Last year’s ceremony was the first fully in-person award show for many after a largely virtual 2020-2021 pandemic-marred season. This year, the Gothams were held amid mounting concern over the tepid box-office results for many of the top awards contenders. Though moviegoing has recovered much of the ground it lost during the pandemic, adult audiences have inconsistently materialized in theaters this fall.

But in feting “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the metaverse-skipping action adventure directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheiner, the filmmaking duo known as “the Daniels,” the Gothams selected an unlikely runaway success. Released in March, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” made more than $100 million worldwide against a $14 million budget, making it A24’s highest grossing film. The warm affection for the absurdist film now has it poised to potentially play underdog at the Oscars. The film also recently led nominations to the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

“This movie has been celebrated by the Asian American community, by the immigrant community, by people with weird brains, people who are overwhelmed or sad,” said Scheiner accepting the award with his filmmaking partner. “This award is for you guys. Your stories matter. You matter.”

While the Gothams are known for exalting the hardscrabble pursuit of lower budget filmmaking, one of its many tribute awards went to another box-office force in Adam Sandler. The 56-year-old actor-comedian, who this year starred in the well-received Netflix basketball drama-comedy “Hustle,” provided the night’s most raucous speech, after an introduction by “Uncut Gems” filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie.

Sandler, explaining that he had been too busy to prepare remarks, claimed his speech was written by his two daughters. His career, as he read, was launched with two guiding principles: “People in prison need movies, too,” and: “TBS needs content.”

The Gotham award, Sandler read, “means a lot to him seeing as most of the awards on his trophy shelf are shaped like popcorn buckets, blimps or fake mini Oscars that say Father of the Year which he sadly purchased himself while wondering in a self-pitying fog through the head shops of Time’s Square.”

The Gothams give gender neutral acting awards, which meant that some awards favorites this year that wouldn’t normally be head-to-head, like Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”) and Cate Blanchett (“Tár”), were up against each other. Todd Fields’ “Tár,” starring Blanchett as a renowned conductor, came into the Gothams with a leading five nominations and went home with an award for Fields’ screenplay.

But “Till” star Danielle Deadwyler ultimately prevailed in the crowded lead acting category. Deadwyler, who plays Mamie Till-Bradley in the piercing drama, wasn’t able to attend the ceremony. “Till” director Chinonye Chukwu accepted on her behalf.

Deadwyler’s win should add momentum to her Oscar chances, as should the award for Quan, who is best known as the child star of “The Goonies” and “Temple of Doom.”

The breakthrough director award went to Charlotte Wells for “Aftersun,” the Scottish filmmaker’s tender, devastating debut about a father (Paul Mescal) and daughter (Frankie Corio) on vacation. “Aftersun” also earned a shoutout from Daniel Kwan who said “Aftersun” should have won best feature, not “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Steven Spielberg had been scheduled to introduce a tribute award for Michelle Williams, star of Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans.” Filling in was Williams’ co-star Paul Dano, who said Spielberg tested positive for COVID-19. Williams spent much of her speech reflecting on how instrumental “Dawson’s Creek” co-star Mary Beth Peil was to her as a young actor. Williams was also visibly stunned by a standing ovation.

“What is happening?” said a wide-eyed Williams. “I shouldn’t even be out of the house. I just had a baby.”

Other winners included Audrey Diwan’s “Happening” for best international feature. The French abortion drama, set in 1963 France, took on added relevance after the repeal in the United States of Roe v. Wade. “All That Breathes,” Shaunak Sen’s film about a New Dehli bird hospital, took best documentary.

Tribute honorees also included Focus Features’ Peter Kujawski and Jason Cassidy, and a thunderous tribute to the late Sidney Poitier by Jonathan Majors, who announced a new initiative in Poitier’s name to help young filmmakers. “Bravo, Mr. Poitier,” Majors said. “We got your back.”

Gina Prince-Bythewood, “The Woman King” filmmaker, was also honored after being introduced by Katheryn Bigelow. Prince-Bythewood said the “Hurt Locker” filmmaker inspired her to believe she could be a director. “Kathryn was my possible,” said Prince-Bythewood.

“When you see the trailer to ‘The Woman King,’ do you see incredible women or do you see other? Do you see incredible women to be inspired by or do you see other?” said Prince-Bythewood. “I want you to see yourself in my characters the same way I see myself in yours.”

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/wins-gotham-awards-94129123

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Vatican Swiss Guard slayings back in spotlight with new book

ROME — The mother of a Swiss Guard member accused of committing one of the most sensational crimes in recent Vatican history – fatally shooting his commander and the senior officer’s wife before killing himself — is turning to the United Nations and Pope Francis in hopes of getting some closure nearly a quarter-century after the slayings.

Muguette Baudat was on hand Tuesday as her lawyer, Laura Sgro, a veteran defense attorney in Vatican criminal trials, detailed her efforts to pry information out of the Vatican and access the court file into the May 4, 1998 slayings that are recounted in Sgro’s new book, “Blood in the Vatican.”

“I’ve been waiting for more than 24 years, so I don’t expect anything,” Baudat said at a book launch event. But she added: “The book is very important.”

Within hours of the slayings, the Vatican spokesman announced that Baudat’s 23-year-old son, Cedric Tornay, a noncommissioned Swiss Guard officer, had killed Col. Alois Estermann and Estermann’s Venezuelan-born wife, Gladys Meza Romero, with his service revolver and then turned the gun on himself. The spokesman said a buildup of resentment over a reprimand by Estermann and the denial of a decoration, combined with a ″peculiar″ psychology, led to Tornay’s violent acts.

Nine months later, in February 1999, the Vatican released a 10-page summary of its internal investigation that confirmed its initial assessment. It concluded that Tornay was solely responsible for the murder-suicide but added that his marijuana use and a brain cyst the size of a pigeon’s egg could have impaired his reasoning.

Baudat spent two decades campaigning for more information and hired Sgro in 2019, asking for the Vatican investigation to be reopened. She said her request was not spurred by a belief that the Vatican was responsible, but rather to end the secrecy with which it has always handled the case.

Last year, the Vatican secretary of state intervened personally in the case and asked the Vatican tribunal to pay “particular attention” to Baudat’s request. Sgro was granted access to the court file.

In the book, Sgro details what she found in the file, as well as the conditions imposed on her by the Vatican prosecutor for viewing it: She wasn’t allowed to make copies but could only view the documentation in the tribunal, with two gendarmes standing behind her back monitoring her at all times. She was allowed to take some notes but not too many since she was explicitly barred from copying the text. She had to submit her notes to the prosecutors’ office after each viewing session, which took place over the course of a year.

And what she discovered in reading the court file, she said Tuesday, “confirmed all the doubts that the mother had about an investigation conducted in an absolutely superficial way.”

Sgro noted that at least 20 people were allowed access to the crime scene in the moments after the slayings, including chaplains, monsignors and the Vatican spokesman, none of whom wore protective gear. No fingerprints or blood samples were taken, and no DNA tests performed.

A handwriting analysis of a letter, purportedly from Tornay to his mother and foreshadowing the killings, was done on a photocopy, not the original document. The corpses were moved around the Estermann apartment, as was furniture, according to 38 photographs taken by a Vatican newspaper photographer that were in the court file. Autopsies were performed not in a hospital morgue but in the crypt of a chapel inside the Vatican walls.

“After one hour, Cedric was given up as the guilty one and the investigation was built around this, and this is absolutely the most alarming thing,” Sgro said.

The lawyer alleged that the conditions in which she was forced to work to view the file, as well as the mother’s long fight to find information about her son, constituted human rights violations that should be taken up by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

There was no indication Tuesday whether the U.N. might take up her case, since such complaints must show a consistent pattern of “gross violations” of human rights, such as the policy of apartheid in South Africa.

Sgro said she had little other recourse since the Holy See is not a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, and therefore not a party to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where such appeals would normally be heard. The Holy See enjoys observer status at the U.N. and has received criticism from U.N. human rights experts over the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Sgro said she sent a copy of “Blood in the Vatican” to Pope Francis and he responded with a personal letter. His response, she said, gave her hope that the Vatican might be ready to acknowledge that its original investigation was flawed and that Tornay’s legacy might somehow be rehabilitated even if he is confirmed as the killer.

“It’s a small drop after 24 years of silence,” Sgro said. “Let us hope this drop becomes a glass of water, then a lake.”

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Clarence Gilyard, ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Matlock’ actor, dies at 66

Clarence Gilyard Jr., a popular supporting actor whose credits include the blockbuster films “Die Hard” and “Top Gun” and the hit television series “Matlock” and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” has died at age 66

NEW YORK — Clarence Gilyard Jr., a popular supporting actor whose credits include the blockbuster films “Die Hard” and “Top Gun” and the hit television series “Matlock” and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” has died at age 66.

His death was announced this week by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he taught stage and screen acting. Additional details were not immediately available Tuesday.

“Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him at UNLV,” the school’s film chair, Heather Addison, said in a statement. “Whenever we asked him how he was, he would cheerfully declare that he was ‘Blessed!’ But we are truly the ones who were blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years.”

Gilyard was a Moses Lake, Washington, native. He had a prolific career as an actor, starting in the 1980s with appearances in “Diff’rent Strokes,” ”The Facts of Life” and other shows. He then appeared in two of the biggest movies of the decade: “Top Gun,” in which he played Sundown, a radar intercept officer, and “Die Hard,” when he was featured as a villainous computer maven whose one liners included “You didn’t bring me along for my charming personality.”

In the 1990s, he was on the side of law enforcement in “Matlock,” playing opposite Andy Griffith, and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” which starred Chuck Norris. His other credits include “The Karate Kid: Part II,” a stage production of “Driving Miss Daisy” and an appearance alongside “Die Hard” star Bruce Willis in a commercial for DieHard batteries.

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Review: Slice into the holiday spirit with ‘Violent Night’

The holiday season is upon us and how better to celebrate than watching Santa slip several pool balls into a Christmas stocking, swing them in the air menacingly and see him cave in someone’s face?

Such is “Violent Night,” a film that clearly no one wanted but somehow nicely acts as a chaser to all the sticky sentimentality this time of year. It is billed as an “alt-Christmas action-comedy” and it may be a litmus test of who is your real tribe: If you think watching Santa try to strangle a guy with Christmas lights is funny, this is the film for you.

Directed by Tommy Wirkola, “Violent Night” has taken the season’s naughty or nice dichotomy deeply to heart, offering pounds of gore and wounds that spurt mini-fountains of blood along with tooth-aching sweetness about believing in Santa and the true meaning of Christmas.

It’s easy to initially dismiss it as an “SNL” digital short that got high on its own tinsel but there is a sort of perverse glee to seeing Santa suck on the tip of a candy cane until it is a sharp shard and then plunge it into a bad guy’s neck. Isn’t it time for Kris Kringle as a sociopath?

Few people can balance all these demands as Santa except David Harbour, who specializing in gruff-on-the-outside, sweet-on-the-inside teddy bears. This time, his beard soaked in blood, he must save an ultra-rich family from a murderous group of home invaders with automatic weapons and military training.

On his side: “Christmas magic,” which he reveals multiple times he does not understand and which allows the screenwriters — Pat Casey and Josh Miller — a yuletide-sized logical loophole. They’ve even given Santa an origin story as a centuries-old Viking raider with a fondness for crushing skulls with a hammer. He’d be on the naughty list, naturally.

We initially meet Santa in the present day at an English pub. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s hammered. There are other men dressed as Santas this night, but they’re just pretenders, like “Bad Santa.” He’s the real thing.

Tonight, Santa is worn-out and fed-up. The children these days just demand more and more presents — just grubby consumers. He even calls them junkies. “I forgot why I started doing it in the first place,” he says. “Maybe this is my last year.”

During his rounds, he happens to linger too long at the Lightstone family compound in Connecticut. A ruthless gang has just stormed inside hoping to relieve the family of $300 million and trapping Santa with just his magic bag of presents and a pent-up desire to hurt people.

John Leguizamo, so often the comedy relief in films, here is as heavy as it gets, an anti-Christmas madman who tortures with a nutcracker and gets some of the best over-the-top lines like “Christmas dies tonight” and “Time to kill Santa.” The film soon moves into “Die Hard” territory as terrorists play cat-and-mouse with a good guy inside the building.

Santa connects with one of the hostages — a little girl (Leah Brady, sparkling like an ornament) — who still believes in Santa. “You are more than the presents you bring,” she tells him. And so he proves that Christmas is indeed alive by systematically murdering every single bad guy and girl with a sledgehammer, aided by his new friend’s “Home Alone” boobytrapping skills and all to a soundtrack of Christmas songs by Burl Ives, Bryan Adams and Slade.

This is not a Norman Rockwell vision of Santa, of course. He has a torso full of tattoos and sutures his own wounds with Christmas tree ornament hooks. He vomits, impales baddies in spiky Christmas decorations and uses the sharp parts of a pair of ice skates with surgical precision. Few films have earned their R rating better. All that’s missing is you as long as you think it’s time to add a little blood to Christmas?

“Violent Night,” a Universal Pictures release that opens nationwide in theaters Friday, is rated R for “strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references.” Running time: 112 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

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MPAA definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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Online: https://www.violentnightmovie.com

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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