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Ledger helps make ‘Knight’ a Can't Miss film

The late Heath Ledger will draw moviegoers to "The Dark Knight." Other top picks this week include "Project Runway" and a new John Mellencamp CD.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Movies

Naturally, it will be unsettling to see the late Heath Ledger on the big screen once again, especially in the role of a psychopath. But when he appears as The Joker in the new Batman sequel, “The Dark Knight,” it will provide an opportunity to remember what a unique and passionate talent he was. Directed with gusto and imagination by Christopher Nolan, this installment again stars Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader. This time he has to try and thwart the Joker, who has stolen all the money in town and tries to use it to unite all the criminals in an effort to eliminate Batman once and for all. Goodbye, Heath, but perhaps, hello Oscar. (Warner Brothers, opens Friday)

Television

PROJECT RUNWAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia, Michael Kors -- Bravo Photo: F. Scott SchaferF. Scott Schafer / Gallery

Be honest, you’ve been playing “Project Runway” for most of your adult life, and probably before that. You look at somebody walking down the street and say of their outfit, “Yecch!” or maybe “What cross-eyed, color-blind bird-brain designed that mess?” You probably never dreamed they’d make a reality show out of that pastime. Yet “Project Runway” returns this week with its fifth-season premiere, as supermodel Heidi Klum and a gaggle of celebrity judges preside over a competition in which designers dive into the fashion biz and create the very same ensembles that you’re likely to make fun of on the street. Meanwhile, feel good about what you’re wearing. At least it looks good on you. (Bravo, Wednesday, 9 p.m.)

Music

Earlier this year, John Mellencamp was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Also earlier this year, John McCain used a couple of Mellencamp songs in his campaign — until the singer-songwriter asked him to stop. And now Mellencamp has a new album out. And it’s only July. See, you think a rock star’s life is easy? “Life Death Love and Freedom” is a collection of 14 folksy-bluesy anthems that might not qualify as uplifting, but represent some of his best work in years. Working with producer T. Bone Burnett and recording at Mellencamp’s own studio in Bloomington, Ind., the highway poet emotes on such inspired cuts as “Don’t Need This Body,” “My Sweet Love” and “Jena.”  The CD is strong enough that he could take the rest of the year off. But you know he won’t. (Hear Music)

DVD

If you just want a fun ride, pull a bank job. Check that, I mean pull “The Bank Job” out of your local DVD establishment. Starring Jason Statham of “Transporter” fame, it’s about some small-time crooks who rob a bank after they learn the security system will be out for a short time, but then find themselves immersed in a web of intrigue involving the government and organized crime. “The Bank Job,” directed by Roger Donaldson (“No Way Out,” “Thirteen Days”), is out on DVD this week in a 2-Disc Special Edition with extras that include a documentary about the real bank heist this movie was based upon, plus a making-of featurette, extended scenes and more. If times are hard and you walk into your local bank and you start to fantasize how you might rob it, go to the video store and rent this instead. You’ll be glad you did. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

Books

It’s the middle of summer. Time for relaxing on the beach, or lazing in the backyard, or just vegging in your living room easy chair. Whichever manner of leisure you choose, you need a good book. But not just any book. You need a summer book, something that will keep your mind wandering and get your heart racing. “Killer View” by Ridley Pearson is such a book. It’s about a sheriff in Sun Valley, Idaho, who sends out a search party to find a missing skier. But a member of his team ends up dead, and another goes missing. And there is more to the tragic turn of events than just a mishap on a mountain, because a conspiracy seems to be brewing involving dark, powerful forces. The only problem with reading a book like this on a hot summer day is that you may become so wrapped up in it that you’ll forget to put sunblock on. (Penguin Group)