Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning director of Crash, has been sued for $9 million by publicist Haleigh Breest over an alleged 2013 rape. Haggis has responded by declaring the suit a shakedown and has already filed a countersuit for “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Breest claims that after a film premiere, Haggis took her back to his New York apartment. According to Variety, she says that after he kissed her without her consent he said, “You’re scared of me, aren’t you?”
At this point she “realized she was unable to escape the apartment. Haggis brought her to the bedroom, where he ripped off her tights, and forced her to perform oral sex, according to the suit. She said she repeatedly said no, but that Haggis violently raped her, and that she passed out.”
Last summer, according to Breest, she started to see a therapist who diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder. But it was not until she learned that Haggis had condemned Harvey Weinstein that she decided to file the suit.
“The truth she knows and has lived is that behind the façade of these comments lies another predator, a man willing to force himself on a young woman less than half his age and take pleasure in the fear and pain he caused her,” the lawsuit reads. “Ms. Breest will not look the other way any longer.”
Haggis received the unfiled suit in November. On a phone call with Breest’s lawyer in mid-December, the demand was allegedly made for the $9 million.
The countersuit not only charges Breest with extortion, but claims that due to a back surgery Haggis had around this time, he could not have physically forced himself on anyone.
Deadline describes the Haggis countersuit as “odd” and often-purple” with references to the criticism Haggis received after leaving and becoming an outspoken critic of Scientology. Also mentioned are the “Plaintiff’s extensive charitable efforts, which support thousands of children in impoverished communities.”
Haggis describes the current culture as a “public hanging” where “headlines pour down like rain every day with ‘explosive’ new claims and allegations of sexual misconduct and impropriety, particularly targeted at the Hollywood male ‘elite.’”
Referencing the charitable work again, the Haggis lawsuit wants the court to know that “it is one thing to live in fear of losing one’s career, but quite another to bear the anxiety caused by the knowledge that Defendant’s threats could destroy Plaintiff’s ability to continue to effectively raise money for these children.”
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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.