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<p>Tom Hanks may star as Robert Langdon again, but with Mark Romanek directing instead of Ron Howard</p>

Tom Hanks may star as Robert Langdon again, but with Mark Romanek directing instead of Ron Howard

Credit: Sony Pictures

Will director Mark Romanek class up Dan Brown's 'Lost Symbol' with Tom Hanks?

This could be an important moment for the director of 'Never Let You Go'

Mark Romanek and Tom Hanks almost worked together before.

"Almost" is a big word in Romanek's filmography, unfortunately.  He almost made "The Wolfman" before famously falling out of the film which went on to be troubled all the way through production. 

And in 2005, he almost made "A Cold Case," which was written by no less than John Sayles and Eric Roth.  Based on a novel, it was the story of Andy Rosenzweig, an investigator for the Manhattan DA's office, who became obsessed with two murders from 1970 that he is convinced were pinned on the wrong person.

Now it looks like there's a chance they'll finally collaborate, and this could be an important film for Romanek, commercially speaking.  He needs it, too.  As gifted as he is, and I believe he's enormously gifted, he has not been a successful filmmaker in terms of box-office so far.  While he's arguably one of the most talented guys to ever work for Propaganda Films, his career since 2002's "One Hour Photo," featuring one of the best performances in Robin Williams's career, has been a slow-motion attempt to make smart films that just didn't quite come together.  His third film was 2010's "Never Let Me Go," and it's a gorgeous, crushingly sad movie that was a hard sell for general audiences.

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<p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size:10pt">Jafar Panahi in &quot;This Is Not A&nbsp;Film.&quot; </span></p>

Jafar Panahi in "This Is Not A Film."

Academy and Hollywood Unions come out in support of jailed Iranian filmmakers

Creative community puttong on the pressure on behalf of Jafar Panahi and Marzieh Vafameh

Hollywood's most powerful organizations released a joint statement today calling for the release of six Iranian filmmakers including director Jafar Panahi and actor Marzieh Vafamehr.  Lauded as one of Iran's greatest living filmmakers, Panahi is serving a six-year jail sentence under house arrest and is banned for making any films for 20 years.  He recently appeared in the critically acclaimed pseudo-documentary "This Is Not A Film" which screened at the Cannes, Toronto and New York Film Festivals.  Vahamehr is an actress who was given a year in jail and 90 lashes for appearing in the 2009 film "My Tehran For Sale" (her fate is currently under appeal).  Along with other filmmakers who have been imprisoned for their work, Hollywood's creative community has taken a rare stand together against these injustices.

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<p>Rihanna and her possessor/possessed in &quot;We Found Love&quot;</p>

Rihanna and her possessor/possessed in "We Found Love"

Watch: Rihanna recalls 'Requiem for a Dream' in 'We Found Love' video

Power, possession, Ireland and... Chris Brown?

It's been years past, and yet I -- along with others -- still watch each Rihanna video, and consider: "Is THIS one about Chris Brown?... Is THIS one?"

I will say this: boxer/extremely hot model Dudley O'Shaughnessy stars in the "We Found Love" music video. And he looks suspiciously like Rihanna's ex-Brown. And the two have a nasty fight in a car, alluding to the assault on Grammy night in 2009. Like Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie," this clip, too, illustrates the cyclical and hurtful nature of love and possession.

It nods to Brown. But then, as the lyrics say, I've just "got to let it go."

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<p>River Phoenix, seen here in 'My Own Private Idaho,' was almost finished shooting 'Dark Blood' when he died</p>

River Phoenix, seen here in 'My Own Private Idaho,' was almost finished shooting 'Dark Blood' when he died

Credit: New Line Cinema

Final River Phoenix film, 'Dark Blood,' will be finished and released

Joaquin Phoenix may help in the form of voice-over

I hardly ever think about River Phoenix's untimely death these days.

I'm still acutely aware of the giant hole his passing left, though.  If you were still young when he dropped dead on Halloween night, 1993, you may not have understood just how much pressure there was on Phoenix as one of Hollywood's biggest young stars.

He was, after all, brilliant.  Not just a good young actor, but a remarkable presence on a set, someone who had very quickly made themselves an indispensable part of the industry.  He made a strong impression early, and then kept delivering on that promise with performance after performance.  Whatever it was that drove him, Phoenix seemed miles ahead of his peers.  When you watch his work in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," for example, pay attention to the way he gets every detail of Harrison Ford's iconic work as Indy into his performance, and then remember that he spent time with Ford playing father and son in "The Mosquito Coast" a few years earlier.  He was a sponge, soaking up the people around him and then perfectly playing back what he observed.  He was movie star pretty, but he also seemed to chafe at the notion of being a movie star.  He was bold in the projects and the collaborators he sought out, and he was trying to find his own voice as an artist in the people he chose to work with.

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<p>Jesse Eisenberg at NYFCC's awards gala last January.</p>

Jesse Eisenberg at NYFCC's awards gala last January.

Credit: AP Photo/Pete Kramer

Is the New York Film Critics Circle petty new date really about LA vs. NY?

East Coast insecurity at work

This pundit certainly isn't one to fuel a fire for no reason, but the eyebrow raising move this morning by the usually classy New York Film Critics Circle deserves some closer scrutiny.

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T.I.
T.I.
Credit: AP Photo

Listen: T.I.'s new track, 'Hear Ye, Hear Ye'

The rapper and Pharrell lay down the law

T.I.’s new track, “Hear Ye, Hear Ye,” opens lightly enough with “There’s a rainbow everywhere depending upon where you stand,” and ends on a similarly upbeat, if deeply cynical, note with “If  wishes had wings, they’d all make it to heaven and we’d all be kings.”

It’s in between that the southern rapper, with great assistance from Pharrell Williams,  fills us in on what he’s been going through with his return to prison and the 2006 murder of his close friend, Philant Johnson, whose loss he still feels deeply. “It’s like a piece of me is missing because it never came home.”

[More after the jump...]

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David Fincher's "The Social Network" won the NYFCC's prize last year for Best Film.
David Fincher's "The Social Network" won the NYFCC's prize last year for Best Film.
Credit: Columbia Pictures

NY film critics preempt NBR this year

The group's vote will be held on November 28

FIRST!

In a very surprising twist, the New York Film Critics Circle has announced today that it will be revealing its list of superlatives on November 28, a full two days before the National Board of Review's announcement (the group which traditionally signals the beginning of the precursor season).

A number of awards-giving bodies, from the Gotham Awards (announcing nominees tomorrow) to the Hollywood Film Awards like to consider themselves the starting gun of the precursor season, but it's really always been the National Board of Review, going on 100 years now. It's the first gauge of where things might start going, with a few quirky things thrown in here and there. We all know it's just a bunch of New York film enthusiasts and not a critics group, but nevertheless, that's just been the lay of the land.

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Animal Planet

 Animal Planet

Credit: Animal Planet

'Animal Cops Houston' is not for the faint of heart or stomach

Despite starving horses, petrified dog feces and pet autopsies, inspiration can be found

For some people, pets are just pets. For other people, pets are beloved members of their families, and these are the people who will have the most difficulty watching "Animal Cops Houston" (Wed. 8 pm. on Animal Planet) As it turns out, there's also a third category of people - people who care so little for other living creatures (or who, in the case of animal hoarders, care but are too plagued by mental disorders to care appropriately) that pets are simply forgotten, neglected, starved or abused. There are apparently enough people in this depressing final category for "Animal Cops" to have become a multi-city franchise, with shows based in Detroit, Miami, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York City. 

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<p>John&nbsp;Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen in a scene from &quot;Martha Marcy&nbsp;May&nbsp;Marlene&quot;</p>

John Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen in a scene from "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Interview: Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes talk 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

The film opens in limited release this Friday

The path for "Martha Marcy May Marlene" began way back at the Sundance Film Festival in January. In the cold chill of Park City, Utah, a dark yarn bewitched audiences and a breakout actress was announced to the world.

It might have been a bit of déjà vu for actor John Hawkes. Just 12 months prior, the same narrative was being spun out of the festival.

"I was thinking, 'Wow, this is so odd,'" he says. "'In less than two years I'm working with two young women who are extremely talented and dedicated and smart and have a very healthy approach to their work, and an effective one."

The two actresses in question are Jennifer Lawrence, who starred alongside Hawkes in 2010's "Winter's Bone," and Elizabeth Olsen, who shares the screen this year in "Martha Marcy May Marlene." It's probably a bit unfair that one film is so often compared to the other, but the outward parallels of the two are difficult to ignore.

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Watch: Coldplay's new video for 'Paradise' features dancing elephants

Watch: Coldplay's new video for 'Paradise' features dancing elephants

Can 'Paradise' be found in front of thousands of fans?

We’re all just looking for members of our own tribe, even if we’re a fake elephant. That’s the takeaway from the sweet, whimsical video for Coldplay’s “Paradise.” That, and, apparently, lead singer Chris Martin is a hell of a unicycle rider.

The clip opens as our furry pachyderm is breaking out of the zoo. In addition to being able to walk upright, this elephant can navigate the London Tube system and airplane. There are some wonderfully wacky little scene, like the elephant’s trunk stretching out through the Tube train doors for some peanuts or his little trunk outside of the trunk he’s traveling in on a plane to South Africa.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>A scene from James Cameron's &quot;Avatar&quot;</p>

A scene from James Cameron's "Avatar"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

James Cameron talks 'Avatar' sequels

Oceans of Pandora, get ready for your close-up

Director James Cameron is working on two sequels for his 2009 blockbuster "Avatar" at the moment, writing them back-to-back and gearing up to dive back into the world of Pandora and the Na'vi soon enough. He recently stopped by ABC's Nightline and dropped a few nuggets on what we can expect out of the next film.

"We will see the oceans of Pandora, which we haven't seen at all," he said. "That's an ecosystem that I'm dying to start designing because it's going to look spectacular. But also, again, now it narrows the spotlight instead of just nature in general or the rainforest. It focuses it a little more on ocean issues.

"Because we've got a planet that's a blue planet. From a distance, you look at it, Earth is a lot more blue than it is brown (the landmass). We're making the oceans unsurvivable for a lot of the species right now."

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<p>Stan Lee's comic book creations have been a huge part of the film industry for the last decade.</p>

Stan Lee's comic book creations have been a huge part of the film industry for the last decade.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Stan Lee tapped for Visual Effects Society's Lifetime Achievement Award

His imagination has sparked effects wizards' imaginations considerably as of late

Stan Lee's imagination has certainly given way to a fair share of blockbuster entertainments on the screen. And the comic movie feeding frenzy that started with "X-Men" in 2000 and dominated the last decade owes plenty to him.

So, I guess it makes sense for the Visual Effects Society (VES) to tap Lee for the group's Lifetime Achievement Award. The honor comes on the heels of the announcement that Douglas Trumbull will receive the Georges Méliès Award.

"As a writer there is nothing more rewarding than to see your creations brought to life on the screen," Lee said via press release. "I am indebted to all of the incredibly talented artists who have contributed to my projects."

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