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THE RAID 2… quality over the quantity of action in the original

Posted on April 18th, 2014
THE RAID 2… quality over the quantity of action in the original

by Coop Cooper

Martial arts movies seem to have fallen out of favor in America. With all of the great English-speaking karate stars aging themselves out of the business, there are no strong contenders to take on the mantle on this side of the pond other than former MMA stars with zero acting ability and very little charisma. However, Asia still has a heck of a martial arts market and Indonesia has surprisingly stepped up to take the current crown in Kung Fu (or in their case, Silat) action cinema. The phenomenal 2011 action film “The Raid: Redemption” put them on the map and now the anticipated sequel has arrived in theaters to up the ante…

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER is an early summer blockbuster that can’t possibly be outdone

Posted on April 11th, 2014
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER is an early summer blockbuster that can’t possibly be outdone

by Coop Cooper

It seems the trend of Marvel attempting to top previous superhero films continues with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. This ambitious attempt to expand on the Captain’s mythology and continue to tie it in with other Marvel properties, especially the upcoming “Avengers 2”, is another giant leap in quality and scope. This new effort is not only overwhelming successful, it could be the best Marvel Comics film so far.

When we last left Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) he was saving New York from an alien hoard with the help of the other Avengers. Now Rogers works directly for S.H.I.E.L.D. as their top operative with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as his partner. When he witnesses his agency put people in jeopardy to ensure its own interests, Rogers develops trust issues with his superiors, particularly Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who is preparing to launch a new global defense system with questionable moral implications…

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BAD WORDS is a dark comedy worth checking out

Posted on April 4th, 2014
BAD WORDS is a dark comedy worth checking out

by Coop Cooper

One of the hardest movie genres to pull off is the ‘dark comedy’. Done wrong, it can be the ultimate disaster like “Joe Versus the Volcano” . Done right, it can become a cult hit like “Heathers” and “Harold and Maude”. “Bad Words” attempts this genre and succeeds, even though it’s more of an amusing, mean-spirited distraction than an instant classic.

Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), a 40-something loser, has found a loophole in the grade school-level spelling bee circuit that allows him to compete against children for the national championship. This enrages the parents of the other competitors and baffles the administrators of the contest who try to block Trilby from competing at every match. Against her better judgement, Trilby’s lawyer (Kathryn Hahn) travels with him to ensure he is allowed to compete in each bee, although she is starting to suspect that Trilby has a hidden agenda for going to such great lengths to remain in the competition. Meanwhile, a precocious little competitor (Rohan Chand) befriends Trilby and begins to look up to him as a mentor, despite Trilby’s wildly irresponsible influence on him…

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I DIDN’T DO IT: upcoming documentary about a Mississippi man framed for sending ricin-laced letters to Obama…

Posted on March 24th, 2014
I DIDN’T DO IT: upcoming documentary about a Mississippi man framed for sending ricin-laced letters to Obama…

by Coop Cooper

Directly after the Boston Marathon bombing in April of 2013, Federal authorities intercepted deadly ricin-laced letters addressed to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and a Tupelo Judge Sadie Holland. The Feds traced the letters back to Elvis/celebrity impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis in Corinth, MS where they raided his home, arrested him and charged him with federal crimes that could have potentially put him away for life. In a bizarre twist, the charges against Curtis were suddenly dropped when evidence was uncovered that he was framed by Tupelo karate instructor Everett Dutschke who apparently had a long-standing feud with Curtis. Although Curtis was cleared of charges, he was released from jail with his home destroyed by the raid, his reputation ruined and his life in shambles.

Award-winning Oxford filmmakers Melanie Lynn Addington and Daniel Lee Perea obtained the rights to film a documentary on Curtis and the stranger-than-fiction story surrounding his arrest…

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NEED FOR SPEED just as irresponsible as a movie that glorifies guns?

Posted on March 21st, 2014
NEED FOR SPEED just as irresponsible as a movie that glorifies guns?

by Coop Cooper

A scummy street racer with a heart of gold (Aaron Paul) is framed for a vehicular homicide by a wealthy sociopath (Dominic Cooper) who deals in high-end ’supercars’ and illegal racing. When the racer gets out of prison, he plans revenge by attempting to win a massively illegal cross-country race bankrolled by the same wealthy sociopath. For some reason, he brings a condescending English woman (Imogene Poots) along for the ride. Just getting to the starting line of the race becomes hazardous when the arch villain puts a bounty on the rebellious duo.

The idea of illegal road racers being an organized, high-tech operation which utilizes hacking city surveillance cameras and air planes/helicopters to spot police patrols is laughable…

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RESSURECTION and BELIEVE: Will these TV shows survive until season 2?

Posted on March 14th, 2014
RESSURECTION and BELIEVE:  Will these TV shows survive until season 2?

by Coop Cooper

Since primetime TV is turning into a seasonal free-for-all where new shows are released almost haphazardly, two new supernatural dramas have now premiered on major network channels in an attempt to compete with the increasingly popular cable dramas…

“Resurrection” – In a rice paddy in China, a young American boy appears out of nowhere, confused and practically mute. Upon the boy’s return to America, FBI officer Marty Bellamy (Omar Epps) is tasked with finding the boy’s parents and returning him safely. Despite attempts to discover the boy’s identity, all signs point to the boy originating from a town called Arcadia, Missouri…

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What we learned from the 2014 Oscars…

Posted on March 7th, 2014
What we learned from the 2014 Oscars…

by Coop Cooper

Now that the 2014 Academy Awards are over and the Oscars have been handed out, there were a few things I noticed about this year’s ceremony that confirmed some of my suspicions about Hollywood and the Oscars telecast:

Choosing the right host is risky – Ellen did fine, mostly benign jokes – except for suggesting Liza Minnelli was a man in drag. Seth McFarland was funny but offended EVERYBODY. Whoopi was awful and offensive in general the second time she hosted. Steve Martin and Billy Crystal were always a lot of fun. For a good laugh, google “Worst Oscar Hosts” to find out why some people might never be invited to host ever again…

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TV might be surpassing the movie industry…

Posted on February 28th, 2014
TV might be surpassing the movie industry…

by Coop Cooper

This past weekend, a friend of mine mentioned how they rarely go to the movies anymore. This is a common remark I hear when the topic of my movie reviews come up. The interesting part of this particular remark was that she claimed there was now so much good fictional programming on TV that she had all the entertainment she needed right at home. As the discussion progressed, I realized that not only was she right, but that I myself was looking more forward to watching my favorite shows on a weekly basis rather than the most anticipated summer blockbusters set to release this year.

It appears that television might be finally catching up, or possibly surpassing, the movie industry in terms of quality entertainment…

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ROBOCOP remake omits everything I loved about the original…

Posted on February 21st, 2014
ROBOCOP remake omits everything I loved about the original…

by Coop Cooper

The new “RoboCop” film is a textbook example of how Hollywood can mix all of the right elements together and still produce a vastly inferior remake when compared to the original.

Undercover Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) steps on the wrong toes and gets blown apart by a car bomb. Omni Consumer Products salvages enough of Murphy’s body to transform him into RoboCop, the next generation of robot technology merged with a human being. Designed to soften the image of the company’s militarized drone industry to make way for global expansion, Murphy is left with his free will intact. As he tries to come to terms with the loss of his organic body and his endangered relationship with his family, OCP has become concerned with his human-like hesitation and occasional panic attacks. They fiddle with his circuitry resulting in the loss of his humanity, turning him into an uncompromising, fascist drone. However, while solving his own attempted murder, Murphy begins to regain his humanity and take down those responsible, much to the chagrin of the corporation’s CEO (Michael Keaton)…

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The State of the Union: Hollywood edition

Posted on February 14th, 2014
The State of the Union: Hollywood edition

by Coop Cooper

Now that we have heard a State of the Union address from our president, here is the Small Town Critic State of Hollywood address for 2014…

Micro-budget indie films are increasing in quantity and quality. Expect to hear more rags-to-riches stories in 2014 of successful indie films (in the vein of “Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity”) made by very young filmmakers for almost no money…

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2014 Academy Award controversies…

Posted on February 7th, 2014
2014 Academy Award controversies…

by Coop Cooper

At this time each year the Academy voters cast their ballots to determine which nominees will win the coveted gold statue and each year controversies threaten to factor into that process. Here are a couple of famous examples: In 1999, only half of the award attendees stood and clapped for producer Elia Kazan when he received a Lifetime Achievement Award due to his turning over names of colleagues to the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952 resulting in many of them being ‘blacklisted’ as suspected communists. In 2002, Roman Polanski won an Oscar for Best Director for “The Pianist” despite being wanted in America for a statutory rape charge dating back to 1977, discouraging him from entering the country to attend the ceremony.

This year, new controversies could once again overshadow the awards themselves…

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BLUE JASMINE and HER… Two reviews

Posted on January 31st, 2014
BLUE JASMINE and HER…  Two reviews

by Coop Cooper

It’s easy for critics to miss even the most important films during their theatrical runs. Now that the Oscars are fast approaching, here are a couple of 2013 films I have recently seen and are worth mentioning….

“Her” – Taking place in the near future, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) upgrades his new all-in-one operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) that is so human-like, it is indistinguishable from the personality of a real human. As Theodore interacts with the A.I. (artificial intelligence) it enriches his life as both a personal assistant and friend. As their relationship grows it turns into something romantic, but a sudden evolution in the operating system could put a stop to it…

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The 2014 Clarksdale Film Fest was a hit!

Posted on January 27th, 2014
The 2014 Clarksdale Film Fest was a hit!

Definitely a blast had by all with the award-winning documentary “Muscle Shoals” taking the primetime Saturday spot. It was one of my favorites at the Oxford Film Fest last year and it was a pleasure to see it again. Also great was “Cheesehead Blues”, a documentary starring Clarksdale’s own Dutch transplant Theo Dasbach as he goes around town and meets the various musical personalities here in town. It’s a work in progress and I am impressed with director Jon Doense for his dedication to the project (and the fact that hew flew all the way to Mississippi from the Netherlands for the premiere)…

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Movies to anticipate in 2014 (part 1)…

Posted on January 24th, 2014
Movies to anticipate in 2014 (part 1)…

by Coop Cooper

The slate of films releasing into theaters in 2014 is more crowded than ever. Here are the ones I think have most potential to either be critically-acclaimed blockbusters or disappointing flops…

“The Monuments Men” (Feb. 7) – With a stellar cast, this film about academics sent into Nazi Germany to save works of art from becoming casualties of war could be a big hit as long director George Clooney doesn’t drop the ball.

“RoboCop” (Feb. 12) – It was a bad idea in the first place to try to remake one of the most iconic and beloved sci-fi movies of the 1980’s but with this version jettisoning much of the source material and R-rated content, I predict this could be one of the worst remakes ever…

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Coop lists the Top 10 Performances of 2013

Posted on January 17th, 2014
Coop lists the Top 10 Performances of 2013

by Coop Cooper

2013 was a strong year for performances and of the films I saw, these were the ones that affected me the most…

10. Moises Arias in “Kings of the Summer” – This living cartoon of a human being gave the breakout comedic performance of the year as a weird Italian kid who tags along with two teen runaways to build a clubhouse out in the woods to escape their crazy parents. Although he gave an excellent, serious performance in “Ender’s Game”, in “Summer” Arias provokes laughs every time he appears on screen. He stands a good chance at growing into a memorable adult comedic actor…

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Coop’s Top 10 movies of 2013

Posted on January 13th, 2014
Coop’s Top 10 movies of 2013

by Coop Cooper

Many critics are claiming that 2013 was an exceptionally strong year for film with many “best of” lists showing a wide variety of favorites with no clear winners agreed upon. Here is my list for “Best Films of 2013”…

10. “Dallas Buyer’s Club” – This true life story about a Texas roughneck/AIDS victim who becomes a drug smuggler and activist to legalize non-FDA approved anti-AIDS drugs was one of the surprises of the year. McConaughey should get a Best Actor nomination and Jarred Leto should get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for their powerful, chameleon-like performances…

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AMERICAN HUSTLE review… It’s going to win a bunch of awards it doesn’t really deserve

Posted on January 3rd, 2014
AMERICAN HUSTLE review…  It’s going to win a bunch of awards it doesn’t really deserve

by Coop Cooper

In 1970’s New York, con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) discovers a new partner in the alluring and ambitious Sydney (Amy Adams). While they pull off scores and form a romantic relationship, Rosenfeld strains his relationship with his irresponsible wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) who uses their young son to keep Rosenfeld under her thumb. When FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) busts Sydney and Rosenfeld in a sting, he strong-arms the couple into a series of undercover cons to entrap some corrupt political figures as part of the infamous ABSCAM operation. They inadvertently become involved with some frightening underworld figures and get in over their heads. Meanwhile, Rosalyn’s loose lips threaten to ruin everything…

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SAVING MR. BANKS… A moving tribute to the creative process and “Mary Poppins”

Posted on December 27th, 2013
SAVING MR. BANKS…  A moving tribute to the creative process and “Mary Poppins”

by Coop Cooper

The 1964 Disney film “Mary Poppins” holds an important place in the hearts of many who grew up with the songs and the movie. It is no surprise that Walt Disney himself orchestrated it that way, but few know what great lengths he went through to get permission to film it. The original series of books it was based on was beloved by Disney’s daughter and he made a promise he would turn it into a movie for her. Little did he know that P. L. Travers, the author of the books, would be such a difficult negotiator and it took Disney twenty years to secure the rights…

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Movie trailer mechanics: GODZILLA 2014 = good, INTERSTELLAR = bad

Posted on December 20th, 2013
Movie trailer mechanics:  GODZILLA 2014 = good, INTERSTELLAR = bad

by Coop Cooper

Trailers, or ’sneak previews’ as they used to be called, are effective for advertising an upcoming film. Ranging from thirty seconds all the way up into four minutes, trailers edit together key parts of the film in order to give the prospective audience a sample of what they will be seeing if they decide to (hopefully) pay to see the whole feature. Everyone is familiar with them but there are a few things about trailers many people don’t know about unless they are intimately linked to the business (or read a bunch of movie blogs)…

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Hollywood continues to go PC (except for raunchy comedies)

Posted on December 13th, 2013
Hollywood continues to go PC (except for raunchy comedies)

by Coop Cooper

As I browsed the online Hollywood rumor sites and trade publications (a daily ritual of mine), I came across a poster for a new Tom Cruise film scheduled to release this summer that I wasn’t familiar with. The sci-fi/action film “Edge of Tomorrow” wasn’t something I remembered hearing advanced word about which was surprising considering Tom Cruises’ films are often hyped long before they even begin shooting. I did some quick digging and realized I had heard of this film, but under a different title. “All You Need is Kill”, based on a Japanese novel, was a much more clever and memorable title than the generic one that replaced it. It could be dismissed but this is the second time this year that the word “Kill” has been removed from a major studio film title…

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Coop’s latest! The teaser for the upcoming short GOD MAKER…


Northern Mississippi 1932:
In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

GOD MAKER is Coop's latest, most ambitious short film and will be ready for a late 2013 festival season.

Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS which is currently screening the 2013 festival circuit…


Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

Watch the teaser for Coop’s 1970’s grindhouse movie spoof…


I'm not even going to mention the freaky-deaky title of this film on the blog. Watch it to find out.

Full trailer coming in 2013...

Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…


WINNER: 2012 MAGNOLIA FILM FESTIVAL "Best Homegrown Film"
WINNER: 2012 SEATTLE TRUE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL "Best Scream"

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2012 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CLARKSDALE FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL
2012 NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI FILM FESTIVAL
2012 ATLANTA INDIE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
2012 OTHERFEST
2012 MISSISSIPPI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
2012 SUN AND SAND FILM FESTIVAL

Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…


My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

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