Ken Fox

Set a Date for Violent Saturday!

Original one-sheet poster from Richard Fleischer's Violent Saturday courtesy Film Forum/Photofest.

Contrary to popular cliches, a film noir doesn't have to be in set on the mean, rain-slicked backstreets of a cramped, malevolent city, nor does it even have to be in black-and-white ("noir" is really a world-view than a palette). And although purists may argue otherwise, a movie need not have been produced during the tumultuous years of WWII and its immediate aftermath to be considered a true "noir." Case in point: Richard Fleischer's Violent Saturday, a brightly colored, black-hearted look at crime and the American character from 1955 that's just now being re-released in a sparkling new 35mm print. This rarely seen pulp masterpiece was not only shot in blazing DeLuxe Color and ultra-wide CinemaScope, it's set in a seemingly idyllic desert mining town, and most of it unfolds in bright, broad daylight -- the better to see the corruption festering just below the happy surface. Noir? You bet.The Yale-educated Fleischer -- son of the maverick animator Max Fleischer -- kept busy right t... read more

Be Kind Rewind Scandal?

A mob of angry customers storm the counter of their local video store, complaining that the VHS cassettes they've rented aren't the actual movies but cheap homemade reenactments. The plot of the new Jack Black comedy Be Kind Rewind? Not quite: This funny premise was actually the basis for a sketch on the popular Nickelodeon comedy series The Amanda Show, starring Amanda Bynes. Eight years ago.The skit, which recently surfaced on YouTube, features Bynes and costar Drake Bell as a pair of clerks in a "Blockblister" video store who've replaced tapes of Austin Powers, The Wizard of Oz, Titanic and others with their own crappy, basement quality versions — just what Black and his costar, Mos Def, do in Be Kind Rewind, which was written and directed by video-wunderkind-turned-feature-director Michel Gondry (The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Each time a customer complains, Amanda and Drake's boss argues in a comically heavy accent, "This movie better!" before the kids chime ... read more

Depp, Law and Farrell to Replace Heath Ledger?

Johnny Depp by Eamonn McCormack/, Heath Ledger by J. Vespa/

From Bela Lugosi’s heart attack during Plan 9 from Outer Space and Natalie Wood’s drowning midway through Brainstorm to Brandon Lee’s fatal shooting on the set of The Crow, a number of productions have had to work around the unexpected death of a leading actor. Now it seems Terry Gilliam, the director of Heath Ledger’s last project, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, may have found a most creative way around his own tragic dilemma. According to Ain’t It Cool News, Ledger’s role in the film will now be played by not one but three alternating replacements: Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law.Not much is known about the plot of the film, but Ledger’s character has been described as a man in love with a young woman whose soul has been sold to the devil by her father, the traveling showman of the title, in exchange for eternal youth. No word yet on how the rather extreme differences in the four actors’ looks will be explained.If any one could pu... read more

Paris Hilton's Hottie Is Definitely a Nottie

The Hottie and the Nottie courtesy Regent Releasing

Not that we needed anyone but our own Maitland McDonagh to tell us exactly how bad The Hottie and the Nottie -- cultural time- and attention-waster Paris Hilton's latest attempt to star in something that isn't shot in night-vision -- turned out to be (the divine Ms. M's excoriating exegesis is currently topping the "The Bad Review Revue" list over at the hilarious It seems IMDb users have also weighed in with their own carefully considered opinions. According to the folks over at, Hottie has unseated the 2004 horror-indie Zombie Nation as the absolutely worst rated movie ever on a site that tracks roughly a bazillion titles. How low is the rating? It's #1 in the bottom 100. Out of ten stars, it's currently sporting a 1.5. That's bad, people. To make matters even worse, is reporting Hottie grossed an embarrassing $27,696 on 111 screens during its opening -- and presumably biggest -- weekend (that breaks down to about $249.51 per scr... read more

Heath Ledger: A Career Cut Short

Heath Ledger in Candy courtesy THINKFilm

Not long before 3:35 pm on January 22, 2008, the short life and promising career of actor Heath Ledger came to a sudden, tragic end. It was around this time that Ledger's housekeeper and his masseuse discovered the body of the Australian-born actor in the bedroom of the Broome Street apartment he'd been renting in lower Manhattan. Ledger was not yet 29 years old.News of Ledger's death came as a terrible shock to nearly everyone, even though it now seems the low-key, Oscar-nominated actor had been privately battling his own demons for quite some time. His passing is the terrible surprise ending no one saw coming, an abrupt finale to a life and career that seemed to be all about the unexpected.Born and raised in Perth, Australia, and named after the darkly romantic anti-hero from Wuthering Heights (he has a sister named Katherine), Ledger left school at the age of 17 to pursue a career in acting. He eventually landed a role in Blackrock, a small independent feature about teen rape, fo... read more

Indiana Jones Sneak Peek!

Ray Winstone, Shia LaBeouf, and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by David James/© Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All rights reserved.

For Indiana Jones fans who can't wait another second for the smallest scrap of news about 2008's most eagerly awaited flick, you're in luck. The folks over at Lucas Films are graciously whettting our collective appetite for their top-secret sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with this production still featuring Shia LaBeouf, who reportedly plays Indy's son, alongside a decidedly older, and a bit more grizzled, fortune-hunting Harrison Ford. The dude in the background is none other than Ray Winstone, looking at lot more like his real-life portly self than the hunky, nearly naked motion-capture avatar he played in the computer animated Beowulf. Need more? You'll have to wait: Paramount isn't planning on releasing what promises to be the summer's biggest blockbuster until May 22, 2008, just in time to break a few Memorial Day records.Frankly, it all looks an awful lot like the previous three installments of the franchise; if LaBeouf were a small Vietnamese boy, ... read more

Jessica Simpson's Blonde Ambition Could Set Record

It seems Jessica Simpson's new movie, Blonde Ambition, may have set some sort of record. With an opening day gross of $384, it may be one of the lowest grossing theatrical films ever. In what sounds like a shamelessly uncredited remake of Mike Nichols' Academy Award-winning comedy Working Girl, Simpson stars as a sweet, small-town gal from Oklahoma who climbs the corporate ladder at a construction firm in big, bad New York City. My guess is that a credited Luke Wilson stars as the Harrison Ford character. Now in all fairness, Blonde Ambition, which was produced by father Joe Simpson's ickily named Papa Joe Productions, was only released into eight theaters, all in Simpson's and Wilson's home state of Texas. To put this in perspective, I Am Legend opened across the country on over 3600 screens, and Blonde Ambition, which is scheduled to come out on DVD on January 22 anyway, arrived with none of the ad muscle accompanying its holiday season competition, like this week's box-office cha... read more

ABBA’s Mamma Mia! Trailer Unleashed!

How can I resist you? Hot on the heels of Hairspray, Mamma Mia! -- the hugely popular NYC tourist must-see based on the naggingly memorable ABBA songbook -- is also making the transition from Broadway stage to screen, with original stage director Phyllida Law behind the camera and a pretty stellar cast out front. Amanda Seyfried (Veronica Mars, Big Love) plays Sophie, the young bride-to-be determined to solve the mystery of her birth dad's identity on the eve of her Greek Isle wedding. Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Pierce Brosnan are the three likeliest suspects; Meryl Streep stars as her mom. Universal will be releasing Mamma Mia! in Summer 2008, but the trailer is starting to make the rounds. Will it be the summer’s biggest guilty pleasure? Probably, but who am I to get snarky about ABBA? “Waterloo” was the very first record I ever bought. It cost 98 cents, which makes me kind of pathetic and old. read more

The Dark Knight: The Joker Revealed!

Heath Ledger as the Joker on the January 2008 cover of Empire Magazine

Aside from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Sandman Mystery Theatre and Rex Mundi, I’m really not a very big comic-book fan. But I’ve got to admit I can’t wait for The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan’s sequel to the supremely excellent Batman Begins that’s scheduled to hit theaters in July 2008. The reason: The advent of the Joker, one of the greatest pop-culture villains since Richard III. I’m one of the few people who doesn’t really like Tim Burton’s Batman, mainly because I’ve always hated Jack Nicholson’s buffoonish turn (let the flaming begin). The Joker should inspire giddy fear, not goofy laughs (check out Allan Moore’s classic Joker story arc in The Killing Joke for what I think is the best – and scariest – take on this endlessly fascinating character). So I was thrilled to learn that Heath Ledger had been cast in the role, since he’s a good actor who, I suspect, has a dark side worth explori... read more

Zac Efron: The New David Cassidy?

Cover photos: Zac Efron by Matthew Rolston for Rolling Stone; David Cassidy by Annie Leibovitz for Rolling Stone

It's really really hard for me to even fake the slightest bit of interest in High School Musical 2 and its unprecedented success. As TV Guide Channel's Nikki Boyer put it so succinctly the other night on Watch This!, if the record-breaking numbers prove anything, it's simply that kids love crap. But like a lot of people, I was struck by the recent cover of Rolling Stone and the magazine's positioning of HSM2's squeaky-clean "hunk" Zac Efron as "America's Latest Heart Throb." I realize a lot has changed over the years, and Rolling Stone is hardly the countercultural force it was in the early '70s, but the Efron cover — and the toothless interview within — immediately brought to my mind the staggeringly popular teen idol David Cassidy's appearance on the cover of the same magazine back in 1972.Already a huge star thanks to the runaway success of The Partridge Family — and the grueling, nonstop touring schedule he endured over his weekends away from the set — Cassid... read more

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