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Leonardo DiCaprio, Netflix team up for 'Virunga' documentary

Netflix is teaming up with Leonardo DiCaprio for another film that will be released simultaneously in theaters and on the online streaming service.

Described as “part investigative journalism and part nature documentary,” Virunga follows a group of park rangers in Africa’s oldest national park as they try to protect endangered gorillas from poachers and militia.

DiCaprio will serve as an executive producer on the documentary, which will hit theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Nov. 7, the same day it will be released on Netflix. Appian Way Productions is also producing.

“Films like Virunga are powerful stories that are a window into the incredible culture and natural diversity of our world, the forces that are threatening to destroy it, and the people who are fighting to protect it,” DiCaprio said in a statement to EW. “Partnering with Netflix on this film is an exciting opportunity to inform and inspire individuals to engage on this topic.”

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said, “Leo intuitively understands that there is nothing like the power of film to reach people’s hearts and minds. With Virunga, we’ll work with Leo to introduce viewers around the world to an incredible, gripping story that will have audiences guessing right up until the final act.”

The news comes weeks after similar plans were announced for the release of a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel. Several theaters announced they would not screen the film due to its simultaneous release on Netflix.



Jason Schwartzman gets acerbic in this 'Listen Up Philip' clip

Director Alex Ross Perry takes a chainsaw to the tweedy highbrow literary scene and the toxic men who inhabit it in Listen Up Philip.

Philip Lewis Friedman (Jason Schwartzman) is one of those fully realized personalities. A successful novelist awaiting the publication of his second book, Philip is at turns cripplingly insecure and a megalomaniac who’s unafraid to alienate and offend. In this exclusive clip, you’ll see Philip meeting up with an ex early in the film.

With the droll, unflinching narration (from Eric Bogosian), and bristly intelligent humor, it’s an indicative sample of the belligerent arrogance Philip displays throughout the film as he leaves his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss) in the city and retreats to the country house of his literary idol Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce) for some peace. EW spoke with Perry about his third feature, its cinematic and literary influences, the value in dark humor and why this film transcends the misogyny of the wretched men at its center


Nicolas Cage joins Paul Schrader's protest against the film they made together


Paul Schrader, the Taxi Driver screenwriter and director of last year’s Lindsey Lohan un-comeback The Canyons, has lost his battle to release his version of Dying of the Light. A trailer for the action thriller—which stars Nicolas Cage as a CIA veteran who’s diagnosed with dementia but remains determined to hunt down the terrorist he thought he’d killed years ago—debuted on Wednesday, and it’s officially slated for release on Dec. 5.

The trailer proudly advertises itself as a Paul Schrader film, but he claims that the producers took the film away from him during the editing process. Despite being contractually prevented from disparaging the finished result, he, Cage, co-star Anton Yelchin, and executive producer Nicolas Winding Refn have joined in what appears to be a silent protest. On Facebook, Schrader posted photos of the quartet wearing t-shirts that reflect his stance: READ FULL STORY

'Birdman' composer reveals how he made the film's crazy, drum-heavy soundtrack

Birdman greets theatergoers today, and it does so with a score that sounds not unlike two hours of silverware tumbling down a staircase. (In the best way.)

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu and sound designer Martín Hernández opted for a soundtrack composed almost entirely of percussion to amp up film’s tension and give them greater flexibility with pacing. The man they recruited to make those noises was multiple-Grammy winning jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez, who worked closely with the pair as he riffed and clanged his way through the movie’s sonic backdrop. He explained to EW how the score came together. READ FULL STORY

Scream Factory to release Clive Barker's 'Lord of Illusions' on Blu-ray


Those who appreciate the various macabre and/or fantastical works of author, artist, and auteur Clive Barker are having a happy Halloween, thanks to horror imprint Scream Factory releasing the “Director’s Cut” of his 1990 film, Nightbreed. And it looks like they’re going to have a terrifyingly terrific Christmas as well.

Scream Factory announced today that on Dec. 16, it will release a collector’s edition Blu-ray of Barker’s third—and so far final—film as director, 1995’s Lord of Illusions. The 2-disc set will include both the theatrical version of the film and a director’s cut, a commentary from Barker, deleted scenes, previously unseen on-set footage, a photo gallery, and a new interview with storyboard artist Martin Mercer. Barker-heads who order the title from will receive an exclusive 18″x24″ poster featuring the Blu-ray’s newly commissioned artwork, while supplies last.


'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby' director on love, loss, and The Beatles


Eleanor Rigby (Jessica Chastain) does disappear in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, but that’s not necessarily the film’s focus: Ned Benson’s directorial debut is instead a look at how a couple (Chastain and James McAvoy) grieves after a shared tragedy and what happens to their relationship in the process.

Benson wrote the first script 10 years ago and gave it to Chastain to take a look. She pointed out major holes in Eleanor’s story, so Benson took action by writing another script focusing on Eleanor’s point of view that would later be called Her. Now, the film exists in three parts: Her, Him, and Them. While Her and Him detail the individual perspectives of the two spouses, Them combines their experiences into one film.

The films are about love and relationships, but they’re also about loss and how differently we all deal with life’s obstacles. “I didn’t just want to make another relationship movie,” Benson tells EW. “I wanted to show the difficulties of love and how we endure through those difficulties. And I wanted to be as hopeful as possible.”


Despite slumping box office, movie ticket prices continue to rise in third quarter

Much has been made of 2014’s lagging box-office results, but that hasn’t stopped theater owners from charging a premium for a seat this summer.


Film festivals divided on whether to show Stephen Collins short film, 'Penance'


After news broke that Stephen Collins is under investigation for child molestation, the focus turned to the short film Penance directed by Jeff Wolfe, which centers on the ideas of abuse and forgiveness, and depicts Collins as a pedophile priest.


George Romero's son crowdsourcing 'Night of the Living Dead' prequel

We know what happened after the events depicted in George Romero’s classic 1968 zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead, thanks to the director’s string of sequels, including 1978’s Dawn of the Dead and 1985’s Day of the Dead. But what happened before Barbra and Johnny made that doomed cemetery visit?

It is a question Romero’s son, Cameron, hopes to answer in a Night of the Living Dead prequel called Origins, an Indiegogo campaign for which was launched today. The younger Romero is hoping to raise $150,000 for a film which, according to the official synopsis, will detail how a brilliant scientist “strikes a deal with the military that will give him all the resources he needs to finalize his work in exchange for what he later learns is a price all mankind will have to pay.”


Critical Mass: Michael Keaton takes flight in 'Birdman'

Michael Keaton was the first movie actor to say, “I’m Batman.” In 1989, Keaton defied the skeptics who’d shrieked when Tim Burton cast him as the Caped Crusader when Batman became a blockbuster, laying the groundwork for the future of superhero franchises and, hence, Hollywood. But after a popular sequel, Keaton hung up the cape, and despite some memorable performances since then—The Paper, Jackie Brown, The Other Guys—he’s never found another role with either the depth or profile of Batman.

Until now, perhaps.

In Birdman, Keaton plays someone we immediately identify—even if he claims he does not. Riggan Thomson is an actor best known for walking away from the fame and riches of playing a franchise superhero, now trying to recapture a modicum of that fame with a Broadway play. His personal life is messy, his alter ego still lurks in his head, and his make-or-break play for Broadway respectability is complicated by the actorly antics of his co-star, played by Edward Norton.

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and lensed by Gravity magician Emmanuel Lubezki, the film is set in and around New York’s St. James Theatre. Filmed to feel like real time, with long cut after long cut, Birdman blends what seems to be real with what’s flapping around in Riggan’s head at any given moment. “The film breaks with reality too, jackknifing into a trippy detour that audiences will either go with or not,” writes EW’s critic, Chris Nashawaty. “For me, there was never any question. I was so all-in on Keaton’s vanity-free, go-for-broke metamorphosis I would have followed him, or the movie, anywhere. Which is pretty much where it asks you to go.”

Read more from EW’s review, as well as a roundup of other notable critics, below. READ FULL STORY

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