Mickey Knox, the actor who inspired Woody Harrelson's character in Natural Born Killers, has died, aged 92. The former blacklisted star, who was novelist Norman Mailer's onetime brother-in-law, appeared in films like Knock on Any Door, The Godfather: Part III, and I Walk Alone.
He also served as the English dialogue writer on two classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns: Once Upon a Time in the West and The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.
Knox was blacklisted during the McCarthy era of the late 1950s. He moved to Europe to become a screenplay translator.
Actor Eli Wallach, who starred in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, convinced director Leone to use Knox as a translator on the set.
In 2004, he penned the memoir The Good, the Bad and the Dolce Vita: The Adventures of an Actor in Hollywood, Paris and Rome. Mailer supplied the introduction.
Knox died on 15 November (13).
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
A ton of celebrities have passed through the Scream franchise, and it’s been fascinating to watch them go on to make great movies and advance their careers outside of the horror/thriller genre. Their successes in the box office and on TV probably mean they don’t often reflect on the time they took a minor role that involved them getting knives thrust in their guts, throats and chests. But because the actors have gone on to do bigger and better parts since the days where the makeup chair was for applying red corn syrup, their deaths at the hands of Ghostface are memorable and are considered career highlights. And so with this week’s upcoming release of Scream 4, we thought it was as good a time as any to remember what some now big-name celebrities want you to forget: how they agreed to be in a cheesy slasher flick where nobody’s blood ever seems to coagulate.
In a sense, Drew Barrymore is emblematic of the Wes Craven series because she was the first person killed in the first movie. She was already a successful actress when she agreed to play the role of Casey Becker, with her hair in a bob and her white sweater and her popcorn. She was home alone and preparing to watch “a video” with her boyfriend when a man kept calling her. After she revealed that the movie she was about to watch was a scary one, the voice on the other line was intrigued and began a dialog with her about what her favorite scary movie was. She indulged him in conversation for a while and forgot about her popcorn, but Casey was spooked when the voice told her he wanted to gut her like a fish. After watching her boyfriend’s insides spill out onto her mother’s deck, Casey met her demise while trying to run to her parent’s car that was pulling in to the garage.
Rose McGowen played Tatum Riley, Sidney’s best friend. After students started wearing Ghostface masks to school to celebrate the fact that a killer was on the loose, school was canceled to protect everyone’s safety. But that didn’t do much to protect Tatum’s life from ending with her head in a kitty door. That night Tatum’s boyfriend, Stu, threw a house party, and Tatum went into his garage to get more beer from the refrigerator. While she was retrieving the beverages, the door that led to the house locked. Suddenly, Ghostface appeared, but Tatum thought it was just one of her friends mimicking the killer. He had to prove it to her that he was the real thing by slicing Tatum’s arm, and after she realized that the garage door was locked too and that she was trapped in the same room as Ghostface, she sensed the only way to safety to make like an outside cat and go through the cat door. As she was trying to piece her body through the tiny opening, Ghostface pushed the button to open the garage door and Tatum went with it as it rose off the ground. When the door reached its upright position, Tatum’s neck was snapped and her head was crushed.
Henry Winkler is different than the rest of the actors on this list because he was already successful by the time he signed on to appear in Scream. So even though he didn’t need to appear in the movie, he did for whatever reason (probably because it looked like a lot of fun – you know how old guys are keen on showing everyone they’re still young at heart). But just because he’d already had a pretty great career did not exempt him from getting butchered by Chostface. While other characters’ deaths have been more drawn out, Henry Winkler’s was rather quick. He played the high school principle, who after disciplining several students for impersonating Ghostface around campus, heard several knocks on his door. After inspecting some nearby classrooms and even going through his own closet, he returned to his office and shut the door…only to become one of Ghostface’s many victims.
Lillard played Stu, one of Sidney’s boyfriend Billy’s friends. After things had heated up between Billy and Sidney in the bedroom, Stu (dressed in a Ghostface costume) made it look like he killed Billy. Sidney went running, but once she got back to the house, she found out that Billy was alive. As their friend Randy was trying to tell them of how Stu had lost his mind, Billy shot him and then explained to Sidney that everyone goes a little crazy sometimes, and showed her that the blood all over his body was just corn syrup. Stu suddenly showed up again, and he brought the device he and Billy had been using to disguise their voices (which revealed that he and Billy, together, were Ghostface). After a struggle, Sidney threw the living room television down on his head and electrocuted him.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada played Maureen, and was one of the first people to get killed in Scream 2 -- but not before she made a pretty valid point that horror movies very rarely feature African American characters. She met her demise when she and her boyfriend (played by Omar Epps) went to see Stab at the movies. While her boyfriend went to the bathroom, Maureen sat alone and watched as Drew Barrymore’s scene from the first movie was re-enacted by Heather Graham. Then a man who she thought was her boyfriend (but dressed up in one of the Ghostface costumes that the theater was handing out to celebrate the movie’s release) sat down next to her and stabbed her. No one heard her cries for help because all the other people in the theater were screaming too, and reacting to what they saw on screen.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
The same year she appeared in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Sarah Michelle Gellar played Cici in Scream 2, a sorority girl who was home alone watching scary movies while the rest of her sorority sisters were at an event. Ghostface called her, and after she chatted with him for a while, she felt like he was in the house with her and became the first girl to try and leave the premises. Cici brought the phone outside with her so she could call campus police and tell them that she thought there was an intruder in the sorority, but Wes Craven cleverly kept her inside the house (and easily killable) by adding the twist that the phone didn’t have reception outside on the porch. Once she was back inside, Ghostface made his move by lunging out of a closet and following her upstairs. He then threw her through a window and onto a balcony, stabbed her a few times, and then hurled her off the second floor and down onto the concrete.
Before Olyphant was nailing it on Justified (actually, way before that), he played Mickey in Scream 2. Mickey was Sidney’s boyfriend Derek’s (played by Jerry O’Connell) best friend. He revealed himself to be Ghostface in the college theater while Sidney was trying to untie Derek, whose fraternity buddies had mounted up on a set piece as a prank. Mickey suggested to Sidney that he and Derek had planned each and every one of the murders on the campus together, and this made Sidney reluctant to free Derek. Derek denied everything, which caused Mickey to shoot Derek and explain that unlike the Stu and Billy (who was Ghostface during the Woodsboro murders and who wanted to get away with everything), Mickey actually wanted to be caught. He also said his defense in court was going to be that horror movies made him commit all these murders because they’re too violent and damaging to society’s youth. And after a series of punches and struggling for a gun, Billy’s mom revealed herself as Mickey’s accomplice. Then she shot Mickey three times because she thought his defense strategy was dumb.
In Scream 3, Jenny McCarthy played Sarah, one of the actresses that had a small part in Stab 3. When the director of the movie, Roman (Scott Foley), called her and told her to meet him in his office so they could run her lines together, Sarah went over to the studio but was upset to find out he hadn’t yet arrived. When Roman called his office to tell Sarah he was running late, she told him she was having major issues with her part, and Roman tried to calm her down by going through her scene with her. The voice on the other line turned out not to be Roman’s, and instead was that of Ghostface. This sent Sarah running through the studio, and she chose to hide in the prop room between various Ghostface costumes that were hanging on a rack. When the real Ghostface popped out from the collection of black robes, he punched Sarah in the face, threw her through the glass window of a door and then stabbed her.
Parker Posey played Jennifer, who was also one of the actresses starring in Stab 3. While at a party at the producer’s house, Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Dewey (David Arquette) realized that Ghostface was really the one who lured them to the producer’s house so he could kill everyone. Gale and Dewey began rounding all the other actors and actresses up so they could tell all of them they needed to escape. When Ghostface located Jennifer, Gale and Dewey in the mansion, he chased them into a bedroom and Jennifer locked herself in a closet to try and get away. She pressed up against the wall and fell through a trap door and ran through a series of secret passageways until Ghostface finally caught up with her. Trying desperately to get away, she stumbled upon some two-way mirrors that allowed her to peek into a room and watch Dewey and Gale talking. She pounded on the glass and screamed for them to help her, but all they could see were the room’s mirrors shaking and. Dewey whipped out his gun after he heard screams coming from behind them and shot through the glass, but he was too late. Ghostface had already sliced up Jennifer.
The Independent Spirit Awards kicked off the night with prizes going out to James Franco and Penelope Cruz for their supporting roles in Milk and Vicky Cristina Barcelona respectively.
Click Here: Watch Spirit Awards Live & Uncut
The night ended with The Wrestler and Mickey Rourke taking took top honors for best film and lead actor. Melissa Leo, who some may have seen as the under dog, rounded out the night winning best female lead for her performance in Frozen River.
The complete list of nominations & winners:
Rachel Getting Married
Wendy and Lucy
The Wrestler -- WINNER!
Ramin Bahrani, Chop Shop
Jonathan Demme, Rachel Getting Married
Lance Hammer, Ballast
Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Thomas McCarthy, The Visitor -- WINNER!
Best First Feature
Medicine for Melancholy
Sangre de Mi Sangre
Synecdoche, New York -- WINNER!
John Cassavetes Award
In Search of a Midnight Kiss -- WINNER!
Prince of Broadway
Turn the River
Best First Screenplay
Dustin Lance Black, Milk -- WINNER!
Lance Hammer, Ballast
Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Jonathan Levine, The Wackness
Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married
Woody Allen, Vicky Christina Barcelona -- WINNER!
Anna Fleck and Ryan Boden, Sugar
Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York
Howard A. Rodman, Savage Grace
Christopher Zalla, Sangre de Mi Sangre
Best Female Lead
Summer Bishil, Towelhead
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Melissa Leo, Frozen River -- WINNER!
Tarra Riggs, Ballast
Michelle Williams, Wendy and Lucy
Best Male Lead
Javier Bardem, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Sean Penn, Milk
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler -- WINNER!
Best Supporting Female
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona -- WINNER!
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
Rosie Perez, The Take
Misty Upham, Frozen River
Debra Winger, Rachel Getting Married
Best Supporting Male
James Franco, Milk -- WINNER!
Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker
Charlie McDermott, Frozen River
JimMyron Ross, Ballast
Haaz Sleiman, The Visitor
Maryse Alberti, The Wrestler -- WINNER!
Lol Crowley, Ballast
James Laxton, Medicine for Melancholy
Harris Savides, Milk
Michael Simmonds, Chop Shop
The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Encounters at the End of the World
Man on Wire -- WINNER!
The Order of Myths
Up the Yangtze
Best Foreign Film
The Class (France) -- WINNER!
Secret of the Grain (France)
Silent Light (Mexico/France/Netherlands/Germany)
Robert Altman Award: (Given to one film's director, casting director and ensemble cast)
Synecdoche, New York
Director: Charlie Kaufman Casting Director: Jeanne McCarthy
Ensemble Cast: Hope Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Tom Noonan, Dianne Wiest, Michelle Williams
Someone to Watch Award
Barry Jenkins, Medicine for Melancholy
Nina Paley, Sita Sings the Blues
Lynn Shelton, My Effortless Brilliance -- WINNER!
Truer Than Fiction Award
Margaret Brown, The Order of Myths -- The WINNER!
Sacha Gervasi, Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Darius Marder, Loot
Lars Knudsen and Joy Van Hoy, Tireless Mountain and I'll Come Running
Jason Orans, Goodbye Solo and Year of the Fish
Heather Rae, Frozen River and Ibid -- WINNER!
MORE NEWS: Is It Puppy Love for 'Slumdog' Stars?
Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil writes from the Toronto Film Festival that although several Oscar contenders are absent from the Great White North this year, some in town are positioned as awards-season favorites while others have stumbled out of the gate.
Click here for photos from the festival
O’Neil comments that a handful of actresses garnered strong buzz including Sally Hawkins in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky, Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married (she also started Oscar prognosticators’ tongues wagging a week ago at the Venice Film Festival), and Keira Knightley in another period turn in The Duchess. Knightley was also hot coming off of last year’s Venice opener Atonement, although she ultimately did not snag an Oscar nom.
Encouraging early word also hovered around Kate Beckinsale’s role in Nothing but the Truth, while some were excited about Dakota Fanning in The Secret Life of Bees.
Among other actresses folks are paying attention to this awards season are Angelina Jolie in Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, Melissa Leo in Sundance hit Frozen River, Meryl Streep in John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, Kristin Scott Thomas in the French film I've Loved You So Long and Kate Winslet with both her husband Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road (which reteams her with Titanic costar Leonardo DiCaprio) and maybe The Reader from Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry. Of those gals, Thomas, Streep and Winslet seem especially strong at this early point on the track, says O’Neil.
In the lead-actor race, Viggo Mortensen didn’t fare too well in Toronto with either the Ed Harris-directed Appaloosa or Vicente Amorim’s Good. But he still has The Road, adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel, ahead.
Cannes best-actor winner Benicio del Toro also generated some excitement in Toronto with Steven Soderbergh’s Che, but the big news was the return of Mickey Rourke in Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. The film just won the top prize at the Venice festival and was acquired for North American distribution by Fox Searchlight for a reported $4 million after a bidding war.
Based upon audience reaction to The Wrestler’s screening, Rourke seems like a sure bet for a lead-actor nod, says O’Neil. But it's still unclear if the film can strong-arm a bid for best picture or director.
Finally, says O’Neil, one best-picture contender stood out amongst the offerings thus far in Toronto (the festival ends on September 13). That honor belongs to Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.
As O’Neil writes, “Thrillingly, it pursues the two greatest quests of man--love and riches--with plot twists that surprise and satisfy.”
More and more Oscar gurus believe it's a crowd-pleaser like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, which were also distributed by Fox Searchlight.
More than anything else, what Slumdog has going for it, says O’Neil, is the Rooting Factor, which is essential considering how Oscar balloting works. Although voters rank their five choices on nomination ballots for the first ballot round, only No. 1-ranked votes really count, and Slumdog is the kind of pic that will generate lots of those, O’Neil opines.
Top Story: Duff and Disney Part Ways
'Tween girls everywhere are going to be bummed. Hilary Duff, star of the Disney Channel's hit show Lizzie McGuire and the recent movie of the same name, has decided to take her leave from the company that helped launch her career. A spokeswoman for the Walt Disney Co. told Reuters the studio and the 15-year-old actress were "going their separate ways," after contract negotiations between Disney and Duff's representatives broke down. Reports say Duff was asking for $5 million for a Lizzie McGuire sequel and $100,000 per episode of the show. "We gave them a very generous offer and unfortunately they passed. Hilary is a great girl and we truly wish her the best of luck," the spokeswoman said. A Disney Channel spokesman told Reuters there were no plans to produce new episodes of the Lizzie McGuire show, but said the cable network plans to continue broadcasting the program.
Minnelli Show Must Go On
Liza Minnelli broke her right kneecap in a fall in Italy Sunday but continued her plans to sing in a charity concert for Iraqi refugees, doing a duet with opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti Monday. "She will leave hospital [Monday] evening to sing 'New York, New York' in a duet with Pavarotti. After the concert, she will return to hospital to undergo a knee operation," Pavarotti's spokeswoman told Reuters. The "Pavarotti and Friends Annual Charity Show" in Modena, northern Italy, aims to raise money to help Iraqi refugees return home after the war.
Simpsons' Groening Named Best Cartoonist
Matt Groening, the mad genius behind The Simpsons, was awarded the Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year at the 2003 Reuben Awards, The Associated Press reports. The 57th annual award ceremony was held Saturday at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, with presenters and past Reuben winners such as "Dilbert" creator Scott Adams, "Doonesbury" creator Gary Trudeau, and Cathy Guisewite, creator of "Cathy," AP reports.
Gay Reality Show Gets a Shot
Cable network Bravo, owned by NBC, will air the first primetime gay-themed reality dating series called Boy Meets Boy. As usual, an eligible bachelor will choose among 15 potential mates--the twist is some of the men are actually heterosexual who have been paid to pretend to be gay. "I think this will be truly groundbreaking television," series executive producer and co-creator Douglas Ross told The Hollywood Reporter. "Several of the straight men have very intense experiences," he said, declining to divulge specific behavior. "We anticipate a lot of both gay and straight viewers will have their assumptions challenged about what it means to be gay and what it means to be straight."
Mighty Wind Singers Give Free Concert
They enjoyed it so much on-screen they decided to do it for real. The cast of the mockumentary A Mighty Wind, which follows three sets of folk singing icons as they come together for a memorial concert, gave their own free concert at the Getty Center museum in Los Angeles Friday, AP reports. Performing were Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean as the Folksmen; Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara as Mitch & Mickey; and John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch and Parker Posey as young members of the nine-person New Main Street Singers.
Once-Blacklisted Actress Gets Star
Betty Garrett, best known for her role as Edna Babish on the TV sitcom Laverne & Shirley, got her own Hollywood Walk of Fame star Friday. Garrett, 84, and her late husband, Larry Parks, were both briefly blacklisted in the early 1950s during the McCarthy era.
Role Call: Curtis Hanson Turns Crimson, Old School's Boys Go Back to Class, Miramax Lands Barbarian
Director Curtis Hanson (8 Mile) is in final negotiations to direct The Crimson Petal and the White. Based on Michael Farber's Victorian novel, the story focuses on a 19-year-old prostitute living in 1860s London who becomes the secret mistress to a member of a powerful London family…meanwhile, the trio of funny guys--Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn--who made Old School a hit will likely return to make the sequel, currently in development, Variety reports…and also in Variety news, Miramax picked up the distribution rights to director Denys Arcand's French-Canadian film The Barbarian Invasions, which recently won awards at the Cannes Film Festival for best screenplay and best actress (Marie-Josee Croze). The story follows an estranged son who reunites with his divorced parents when his father faces a life-threatening illness.