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Warrant: Baldwin didn’t know weapon contained live round

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An assistant director unwittingly handed Alec Baldwin a loaded weapon and told him it was safe to use in the moments before the actor fatally shot a cinematographer, court records released Friday show.

“Cold gun,” the assistant director announced, according to a search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court.

Instead, the gun was loaded with live rounds, and when Baldwin pulled the trigger Thursday on the set of a Western, he killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her, was wounded, the records said.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office obtained the warrant Friday so investigators could document the scene at the ranch outside Santa Fe where the shooting took place. They sought to examine Baldwin’s blood-stained costume for the film “Rust,” as well as the weapon that was fired, other prop guns and ammunition, and any footage that might exist.

The gun was one of three that the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, had set on a cart outside the wooden structure where a scene was being acted, according to the records. Assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds, a detective wrote in the search warrant application.

It was unclear how many rounds were fired. Gutierrez removed a shell casing from the gun after the shooting, and she turned the weapon over to police when they arrived, the court records say.

Halls did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment. The Associated Press was unable to contact Gutierrez, and several messages sent to production companies affiliated with the film were not immediately returned Friday.

The film’s script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, said she was standing next to Hutchins when she was shot.

“I ran out and called 911 and said ‘Bring everybody, send everybody,’” Mitchell told The Associated Press. “This woman is gone at the beginning of her career. She was an extraordinary, rare, very rare woman.”

Mitchell said she and other crew members were attending a private memorial service Friday night in Santa Fe.

Baldwin described the killing as a “tragic accident.”

“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation,” Baldwin wrote on Twitter. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

No immediate charges were filed, and sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said Baldwin was permitted to travel.

“He’s a free man,” Rios said.

 

 

Images of the 63-year-old actor — known for his roles in “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” — showed him distraught outside the sheriff’s office on Thursday.

Guns used in making movies are sometimes real weapons that can fire either bullets or blanks, which are gunpowder charges that produce a flash and a bang but no deadly projectile. Even blanks can eject hot gases and paper or plastic wadding from the barrel that can be lethal at close range. That proved to be the case in the death of an actor in 1984.

In another on-set accident in 1993, the actor Brandon Lee was killed after a bullet was left in a prop gun, and similar shootings have occurred involving stage weapons that were loaded with live rounds.

Gun-safety protocol on sets in the United States has improved since then, said Steven Hall, a veteran director of photography in Britain. But he said one of the riskiest positions to be in is behind the camera because that person is in the line of fire in scenes where an actor appears to point a gun at the audience.

Sheriff’s deputies responded about 2 p.m. to the movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after 911 calls described a person being shot there, Rios said. The ranch has been used in dozens of films, including the recent Tom Hanks Western “News of the World.”

Hutchins, 42, worked as director of photography on the 2020 action film “Archenemy” starring Joe Manganiello. She was a 2015 graduate of the American Film Institute and was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019.

“I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set,” said “Archenemy” director Adam Egypt Mortimer on Twitter. “She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”

Manganiello called Hutchins “an incredible talent” and “a great person” on his Instagram account. He said he was lucky to have worked with her.

After the shooting, production was halted on “Rust.” The movie is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database website. The teen goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin) after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.

Lee, son of martial arts star Bruce Lee, died in 1993 after being hit by a .44-caliber slug while filming a death scene for the movie “The Crow.” The gun was supposed to have fired a blank, but an autopsy turned up a bullet lodged near his spine.

In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum died after shooting himself in the head with a prop gun blank while pretending to play Russian roulette with a .44 Magnum on the set of the television series “Cover Up.”

Such shootings have also happened during historical reenactments. In 2015, an actor staging a historical gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona, was shot and wounded with a live round during a show that was supposed to use blanks.

In Hill City, South Dakota, a tourist town that recreates an Old West experience, three spectators were wounded in 2011 when a re-enactor fired real bullets instead of blanks.

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Review: Will Smith-led ‘Emancipation’ is an action thriller

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It comes as some relief that Antoine Fuqua’s “Emancipation,” starring Will Smith as a runaway slave in Civil War-era Louisiana, is not, at least traditionally speaking, an Oscar movie.

Despite the film’s important historical backdrop, its awards-season timing and its inevitable connection to last March’s Academy Awards ceremony, the site of the Slap, “Emancipation” is not quite the solemn prestige picture you could easily mistake it for. It’s an action thriller.

Fuqua, a maker of muscular genre movies, has crafted something with less in common than an acutely piercing drama like “12 Years a Slave,” and instead made a film more akin to a gritty, survival actioner — a chase movie that takes its potency less from psychological realism than a brutal B-movie construction. Immersed in the desperate but cunning escape of Peter (Smith), “Emancipation” is a straightforward parable of Black resistance and spiritual perseverance.

That approach makes “Emancipation,” which debuts Friday in theaters and premieres Dec. 9 on Apple TV+, something distinct from many recent big-screen treatments of slavery and also more shallow. Fuqua’s film is often harrowing and gripping but also less nuanced and too narrowly confined in genre conventions than its real-life protagonist deserves.

Peter, whose name was Gordon according to many accounts, was a pivotal historical figure but also a little-known one. In March 1863, he escaped from a Louisiana plantation. Ten days later, after a more than 40-mile flight, he reached the Union army stationed in Baton Rouge. There, a photograph was taken of him seated on a chair with his bare back — mangled by a crisscross of scars — turned to the camera. Gordon went on to join the Union army but the photograph, known as “Whipped Peter,” became one of the most iconic portraits of slavery’s barbarism, and helped fuel abolitionist movements in the North.

“Emancipation,” penned by William N. Collage, takes those few facts and expands Peter’s tale. Fuqua, who drains the nearly black-and-white film almost entirely of color, has given Peter some familiar notes of family and faith. Peter, here depicted as Haitian with a Creole accent, is ripped away from his family to be sent to help build a railroad for the Confederates, his steadfast goal is to get back to his wife (Charmaine Bingwa) and children. With an unflagging belief in God, Peter’s torturous journey takes on Biblical dimensions. So great is the violence that surrounds him and other enslaved men that the monochrome swamps of Louisiana morph into a metaphorical wasteland. “Where is God?” one man asks. “He is nowhere.”

The white man who guards against runaways with a menacing relish, Fassel (Ben Foster), tells Peter that he’s his god. “You walk the Earth because I let you,” he snarls. When Peter grasps his moment to flee, it’s Fassel, with two others, who chase after on horseback. Peter, initially with several others including Gordon (Gilbert Owuor) and John (Michael Luwoye), sets out on his own. Few films reside quite so much in the swamp as “Emancipation” does, as Peter ingeniously navigates through mud, snakes and alligators with the sound, as he says, of “Lincoln’s canons” guiding his way to Baton Rouge.

As Peter, Smith relies less on his natural charisma than perhaps ever before. The character hardly speaks. As a physical feat, Smith’s performance is formidable. But there’s so little here that fleshes out Peter, and little resonates about him. If “Emancipation” is partly a work of historical imagination, the film has supplied Peter little beyond the most basic of characterizations, ones drawn more from countless other thrillers than from history.

Throughout, Robert Richardson’s cinematography is often mesmerizing, if sometimes distracting. The camera draws too much attention to itself, just as do occasional flashes of color peppered throughout. But there are also mesmerizing black-and-white tableaus that seem to want to pull “Emancipation” to a higher realm, albeit at the cost of sticking rigorously to Peter’s perspective.

Still, as Fuqua’s previous films (“The Guilty,” “The Equalizer,” “Training Day”) have shown, a lean thriller can be powerful thing. “Emancipation” isn’t leaden with self-importance, but it is single-minded in its depiction of the savage inhumanity of slavery, and one man’s courageous, indominable refusal to accept it. In the film’s final third, war proves to be just as violent and merciless. Hell, in “Emancipation,” is elsewhere, too.

“Emancipation,” an Apple TV+ release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association for strong racial violence, disturbing images and language. Running time: 132 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

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Jamie Lee Curtis to receive AARP Career Achievement Award

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis will be this year’s recipient of AARP The Magazine’s Movies for Grownups Awards career achievement honor.

Curtis will receive the honor at the AARP’s annual Best Movies and TV for Grownups ceremony, the group announced Thursday. Alan Cumming returns to host the ceremony, which will be telecast on “Great Performances” on PBS on Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. Eastern.

“Jamie Lee Curtis’ longstanding, ever-increasing career shatters Hollywood’s outmoded stereotypes about aging, and it exemplifies what AARP’s Movies for Grownups program is all about,” AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said in a statement.

Since stepping into the role of Laurie Strode in “Halloween” in 1978, the 64-year-old horror queen starred in her last installment of the slasher series “Halloween Ends,” and the blockbuster indie film, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” this year.

“We are delighted to honor Curtis, who at 19 became an iconic ‘scream queen’ in ‘Halloween,’ then grew up to be a master in comic and dramatic roles, too,” Jenkins said.

Curtis, whose other credits include, “True Lies,” “A Fish Called Wanda,” “Freaky Friday,” “Knives Out” and the television series “Scream Queens,” is an Emmy nominee and a British Academy Film Award winner. Her films have, over her four-decade-long career, earned $2.5 billion at the box office, the statement said.

The AARP’s Movies for Grownups program champions movies that resonate with viewers 50 and over, and fights ageism in the entertainment industry. Previous honorees include Lily Tomlin, George Clooney, Annette Bening, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas.

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Review: In ‘Wakanda Forever,’ an empire mourns and rebuilds

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Made in the wake of tragedy, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” reverberates with the agony of loss, piercing the usually less consequential superhero realm. Like someone going through the stages of grief, Ryan Coogler’s movie is at turns mournful and rootless, full of rage and blessed with clarity. In the fantastical Marvel Cinematic Universe where mortality is almost always a plaything, wrestling with the genuine article, in the death of T’Challa star Chadwick Boseman, makes for an unusually uncertain, soul-searching kind of blockbuster-scale entertainment.

It’s a fine line, of course, between paying tribute and trading on it. I did cringe a little when the Marvel logo unspooled with images of Boseman within the letters: Eulogy as branding. That “Black Panther,” a cultural phenomenon and a box-office smash, would get a sequel, at all, was momentarily in doubt after Boseman’s unexpected death from colon cancer in 2020. Radically reworked by Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole, “Wakanda Forever” pushed ahead in hopes of honoring both Boseman and the rich Afrocentric world of the landmark original. In its admirably muddled way, it succeeds in both.

Part of the profound appeal of Coogler’s first “Black Panther” resided in its deft channeling of the real world into mythology. It fed centuries of colonialism and exploitation into a big-screen spectacle of identity and resistance. In an invented African nation, Coogler conjured both a fanciful could-have-been history and emotional right-now reality.

“Wakanda Forever,” which opens in theaters Thursday, expands on that, weaving in a Latin American perspective with a similar degree of cultural specificity in the introduction of the Aztec-inspired antagonist Namor (Tenoch Huerta), king of the ancient underwater world of Talokan. At the same time, Boseman’s death is poignantly filtered into the story from the start, beginning with off-screen death throes.

This image released by Marvel Studios shows Danai Gurira in a scene from "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." (Marvel Studios via AP)

Danai Gurira in a scene from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” (Marvel Studios via AP)

“Time is running out,” we hear whispered while the screen is still black. Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s tech-wiz sister, is frantically trying to craft something in her AI lab to save her brother. But in a moment, their mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), informs her: “Your brother is with the ancestors.” He’s laid to rest in a glorious, celebratory procession, carried through a multi-tiered channel of white-clad, singing-and-dancing Wakandans. It’s as stunning as anything Coogler has shot.

After this prologue, “Wakanda Forever” shifts to a year later. “Black Panther” took some of the spy-thriller shape of a Bond movie, and the sequel carries that on in a new geopolitical context. At the United Nations, the United States and France are pressuring for access to vibranium, the rare metal that Wakanda has built its empire on. Soon after, a U.S. military expedition discovers vibranium at the bottom of the ocean. But just as they’re celebrating, a mysterious tribe of blue underwater people, led by Namor, a pointy-eared monarch in green short-shorts with wings on his ankles, ruthlessly wipe out the entire expedition.

You can feel “Wakanda Forever” searching for a way forward in these early scenes. After such an anguished beginning, how much care can we summon for the whereabouts of magical ores? And more blue people? “Avatar,” you might think, has already laid claim to them. What steadies the film is Bassett. Her awesome presence leads “Wakanda Forever” through grief with a staunch defense of Wakanda that rebalances the newly king-less kingdom. She carries on.

This image released by Marvel Studios shows Danai Gurira, left, and Letitia Wright as Shuri in a scene from "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." (Marvel Studios via AP)

Gurira, left, and Letitia Wright as Shuri in a scene from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” (Marvel Studios via AP)

What follows is a globe-trotting plot that draws the film away from perhaps its greatest asset in Wakanda but uncovers new places of latent power among historically exploited people. Shuri and Okoye (Danai Gurira), the Dora Milaje general, travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to seek the student (Dominique Thorne) who created a vibranium detector. In the Washington D.C. area, Wakanda’s friendly CIA officer (Martin Freeman) experiences new scrutiny from his boss, played by an unannounced comic actress familiar to Beltway politics.

But, mostly, a series of exchanges draw Wakanda and Talokan closer. Are they friends and foes? They are, at least, a captivating tweak to the mythology of Atlantis. Talokan, dark and watery, is no Wakanda, though, and there’s less hint this time of a larger society. Still, Huerta brings a magnetism to Namor. In many ways, he’s a corollary to Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, a non-villain whose fury is in many ways justified. His anger appeals to the still-grieving Shuri who finds herself ready, after T’Challa’s death, to “burn the world.”

This image released by Marvel Studios shows Letitia Wright in a scene from "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." (Marvel Studios via AP)

(Marvel Studios via AP)

As in the first “Black Panther,” the question again hangs in the balance of whether, in a pain-ridden and prejudiced world, rage is the answer. This time, it applies to another powerful civilization, too. “Wakanda Forever,” where the role of Black Panther is passed down, is in more ways than one about the transfer of power.

Wakanda and Talokan are brought together a little haphazardly in conflict, as Namor pressures the African nation to join his brewing surface war. “Wakanda Forever” proceeds as a murky, middle-act film that may ultimately serve as a bridge to future “Black Panther” chapters. But along the way, there are countless marvels that Coogler conjures with returning magic-workers like production designer Hannah Beachler and costume designer Ruth E. Carter. How the Talokan are flung into the air by whales. The fierce friendliness of Gurira’s performance. Lupita Nyong’o is unfortunately less central here, but every time her Nakia (who has been laying low in Haiti) is present, she graces the film.

“Wakanda Forever” is overlong, a little unwieldy and somewhat mystifyingly steers toward a climax on a barge in the middle of the Atlantic. But Coogler’s fluid command of mixing intimacy with spectacle remains gripping. He extends the rich detail and non-binary complexity that distinguished “Black Panther” in sometimes awkward but often thrilling ways. “Wakanda Forever,” grappling in the aftermath of loss, ultimately seeks something rare in the battle-ready superhero landscape: Peace.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” a Walt Disney Co. release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for sequences of strong violence, action and some language. Running time: 161 minutes. Three stars out of four.

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