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GOTHAM, SCORPION, SLEEPY HOLLOW… Prepare to set your DVRs for Mondays this fall

Posted on September 26th, 2014
GOTHAM, SCORPION, SLEEPY HOLLOW…  Prepare to set your DVRs for Mondays this fall

by Coop Cooper

Prime time fall TV pilots have arrived and Monday is shaping up to be the must-see night of the season. Here are three you might want to set your DVR for…

“Gotham”:

Possibly the most controversial new series of the season, “Gotham” chronicles the origin of Batman from his days as a pre-teen. The young Bruce Wayne plays a small part in the series as rookie detective Jim “future Commissioner” Gordon (Ben McKenzie) tries to solve the murder of Bruce’s parents, a crime that a young Selina “Catwoman” Kyle is secretly a witness to…

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Syfy TV pilots: Z NATION and HIGH MOON… One is great. The other is freaking terrible.

Posted on September 19th, 2014
Syfy TV pilots:  Z NATION and HIGH MOON…  One is great.  The other is freaking terrible.

by Coop Cooper

“Z Nation”:

Taking place years after a zombie apocalypse ravaged the Earth, a team of soldiers and scavengers (including Harold Perrineau, Tom Everett Scott and “Twilight”’s Michael Welch) must escort the only survivor of a zombie bite across the country to a California research facility in order to help develop a cure. They are guided by radio by a lone communications operator (D.J. Qualls) at a desolate military base in the Arctic Circle.

Cashing in on the massive success of “The Walking Dead,” “Z Nation” tries to duplicate a similar story but with a hammier tone…

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10 gritty ‘Rural Noir’ films to catch up on…

Posted on September 12th, 2014
10 gritty ‘Rural Noir’ films to catch up on…

by Coop Cooper

Rural Noir’ is a category that can include western, horror or Southern Gothic elements, but more accurately, they are dark and gritty crime thrillers based in rural locations, giving them a kind of isolating, ‘country’ feel. Here are ten of my favorites in chronological order…

10. “Deliverance” (1972) – Over forty years later this Oscar winner still packs a punch. Many mistake it for a horror film and while it has become the inspiration for many backwoods horror films to date, it remains a solid and shocking mainstream thriller about four men pursued by bloodthirsty mountain men while rafting on a Georgia river.

9. “Badlands” (1973) – This artfully-scripted Terrence Malick thriller about two teen lovers (Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen) on a killing spree in rural South Dakota was the inspiration for “True Romance” and “Natural Born Killers”, both scripted (but not directed) by Quentin Tarantino…

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COLD IN JULY… Lansdale’s gritty rural noir is destined to become a cult sleeper

Posted on September 8th, 2014
COLD IN JULY…  Lansdale’s gritty rural noir is destined to become a cult sleeper

by Coop Cooper

“Cold in July” fills a genre niche that’s rare in the modern world. Gritty, rural thrillers are few and far between but there have been some notable ones in the recent past. “No Country for Old Men” and “Winter’s Bone” come to mind but this is the first time pulp novelist Joe R. Lansdale has contributed to it in the cinematic sense. Known mostly for his horror fiction and pulp crime novels, Lansdale has developed a cult following over the decades and has now crossed-over into the crime cinema genre aided by iconic horror director Jim Mickle and actor/screenwriter Nick Damici.

In 1980’s rural Texas, mild-mannered frame store owner Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) awakens in the middle of the night to find a masked intruder in his home. To protect his family, he shoots and kills the intruder. The local sheriff (Nick Damici) assures Richard the shooting was clean and that he did the right thing. As Richard and his family attempt to return to normal, the intruder’s father, Russel (Sam Shepard), recently released from prison, begins stalking and threatening Richard. Amidst this dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, Richard uncovers a web of deception with the aid of the flashy, charismatic private eye/pig farmer Jim Bob Luke (Don Johnson). They uncover a horrible truth and must travel a dark path with Russel to put a stop to an evil that is worse than all of them…

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SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR… a day late and a dollar short (but watchable)

Posted on September 8th, 2014
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR…  a day late and a dollar short (but watchable)

by Coop Cooper

The first film was a gritty and grand cinematic experiment. A brilliantly stylish adaptation of a comic book revealed in contrasty black and white with the occasional red blood thrown around and a few other primary colors splashed in for punctuation. It presented an all-star, ensemble cast and hardboiled film noir with a dash of horror. Here it is again, but with a little less of all that good stuff.

This film seems to take place after the Bruce Willis segment of the first film but before the Mickey Rourke and Clive Owen segments of the the first film – that’s going to confuse some people, especially since it was out of sequence to begin with. It starts with psychopathic protector of women, Marv (Mickey Rourke), doing what he does best, killing scumbags and not remembering how he got there. Meanwhile gambling shark Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) comes to town with a reckless agenda and a hankering for a game of poker, and runs into exactly the trouble he was looking for. Exotic dancer Nancy (Jessica Alba) still bitter over the death of her would-be lover, Hartigan (Bruce Willis), self-mutilates and plots revenge while the ghost of Hartigan tries to talk her out of it. Private investigator Dwight gets in over his head with Ava (Eva Green), a fem fatal who appears to be in danger but obviously cannot be trusted…

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THE KNICK… Skinemax’s new show pilot is gory good

Posted on September 8th, 2014
THE KNICK… Skinemax’s new show pilot is gory good

by Coop Cooper

Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen), a drug-addled New York City surgeon in the year 1900, attempts an experimental C-section with his superior Dr. Christensen (Matt Frewer) with disastrous results. Despite the setback and the tragedy it causes for the Knickerbocker Hospital, also known as “The Knick”, Thackery’s resolve strengthens to develop new procedures to cure previously fatal conditions. As he battles his own out-of-control addiction, he puts pressure on his colleagues and nurses to think out of the box and strive for perfection. Meanwhile, Thackery’s new assistant, an African-American surgeon, Dr. Edwards (Andre Holland), is forced into the position against Thackery’s will, causing further tensions at The Knick.

Among other factors, the success of this show could be based on whether audiences can withstand the extremely graphic surgery scenes…

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OUTLANDER… Starz TV series could be a hit (if you have a subscription)

Posted on September 8th, 2014
OUTLANDER… Starz TV series could be a hit (if you have a subscription)

by Coop Cooper

British military nurse Claire Randall (Caitrionia Balfe) returns from World War II after VE Day to her intelligence officer husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies). They abscond to Inverness, Scotland on a ’second honeymoon’ to catch up on their love life and to indulge Frank’s genealogical interests. In the hills near the city, Claire witnesses a Halloween ritual performed by druids around an ancient shrine. The power of the ritual transports Claire back in time to 1743 in the midst of a battle between British Redcoats and Scottish Highlanders. There she finds herself on the run with a band of Scots where she quickly proves herself useful with her advanced first aid skills and medical knowledge. She forms a fast bond with the young fighter Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) after saving his arm, but she soon discovers that they are being hunted by her husband’s villainous Redcoat ancestor “Black Jack” Randall (Tobias Menzies).

This popular series of novels written by Diana Galbaldon has been described as a “Game of Thrones” for the romance novel crowd…

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY… Marvel has another huge winner on their hands

Posted on September 8th, 2014
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY…  Marvel has another huge winner on their hands

by Coop Cooper

A strange chain of events lead up to the making of this film. A couple of years ago, if you had suggested that an adaptation of Marvel’s comic book “Guardians of the Galaxy” could be turned into blockbuster film that would break box office records, I would have called you crazy. However, the franchise did have a lot going for it, creating an unlikely yet instantly likable formula from which to base a “Star Wars”-like space opera. It was a huge gamble and somehow it worked.

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is abducted as a child by alien mercenaries and grows up to be the planet-hopping, swashbuckling scoundrel ‘Star-Lord’ who inadvertently steals a powerful weapon from the fanatical alien conqueror, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). While on the run, Quill is intercepted by Ronan’s second-in-command, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who has an agenda contrary to her master’s. Also hunting him are two bumbling bounty hunters: Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a genetically enhanced raccoon and his almost mute partner, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a plant being with magical powers. The four collide and get thrown into prison by the Nova Corps, the intergalactic police force, where they run afoul of the hulking warrior Drax the Destroyer (wrestler Dave Bautista) who has declared revenge on Ronan and Gamora for the death of his family. The five form a contentious truce in order to escape but soon discover they hold the key to saving the galaxy from destruction…

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THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL… an oustanding Netflix-only documentary

Posted on September 8th, 2014
THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL… an oustanding Netflix-only documentary

By Coop Cooper

Netflix continues their domination of TV and film. It seems they have now exclusively distributed the best sports documentary since ESPN released the “30 for 30″ series. That documentary is “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” and as of now it can only be watched on Netflix Instant.

Character actor Bing Russell (father of actor Kurt Russell) grew up obsessed with baseball, becoming a friend to some of the most famous Yankees of the day, eventually becoming a pro player himself. After an injury ended his pro baseball career, he returned to Hollywood, making some in-depth instructional baseball films starring his son Kurt. Although he loved both film and baseball, he felt compelled to leave Hollywood and become more involved in the sport. In 1973, upon seeing an opportunity to buy a AAA minor league team in Oregon, he took it and turned it into the only independent minor league Baseball team in the nation. Now the single-A Portland Mavericks, Bing announced tryouts would be open to the general public, drawing a huge crowd of misfits and former MLB rejects…

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THE PURGE: ANARCHY… far superior to its promising predecessor

Posted on September 8th, 2014
THE PURGE: ANARCHY…  far superior to its promising predecessor

by Coop Cooper

When the first “The Purge” movie was released last year, I reviewed it and decided it was an exciting idea for a franchise but the execution did not live up to the intriguing concept. I made a wish list of what I wanted to see in the next “Purge” film: 1. Take the action outside to the streets to show the carnage going on in a more open environment. 2. Show what different classes of people have to do to survive the night. 3. Show the futility of society in this version of America. Not only did “The Purge: Anarchy” completely fulfill my wish list, but it added a few new ideas by expanding on its mythology.

Set in a future, dystopian version of America, crime and population-related problems have become nearly non-existent thanks to the annual ‘Purge’. On that day, for a period of twelve hours, all emergency services are suspended and all crime is legal. Citizens are allowed to hunt each other down with impunity. The only rules are that high-level public officials are off-limits as are ‘class 4 weapons’ (explosives)…

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THE STRAIN and THE LEFTOVERS… supernatural TV shows with potential?

Posted on July 18th, 2014
THE STRAIN and THE LEFTOVERS…  supernatural TV shows with potential?

by Coop Cooper

“The Strain” (FX channel Mondays at 9pm Central) – “The Strain” is a modern update of “Dracula” that mixes science into the mysticism of vampires. When a international flight from Berlin lands in New York with all of the crew and passengers either dead or in some strange state of hibernation, Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and his Center for Disease Control team investigate, suspecting a rare viral outbreak. They soon discover a giant sarcophagus filled with dirt, teeming with worm-like parasites. After a series of brutal deaths, they begin to suspect that something larger is responsible for the outbreak and is attempting to escape the airport. Meanwhile, a shadowy millionaire (Jonathan Hyde), who arranged the delivery of the sarcophagus, attempts to secure it while a mysterious old pawn broker with a sword cane (David Bradley) tries to convince Goodweather to destroy the coffin before it leaves the airport.

Adapted from a series of comic books, this story isn’t very original as it culls many derivative ideas from a multitude of horror films…

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NOAH (on DVD)… too weird to recommend to anybody

Posted on July 16th, 2014
NOAH (on DVD)…  too weird to recommend to anybody

by Coop Cooper

The movie narrates hastily through the book of Genesis, explaining how after Cain killed Abel, Cain’s progeny – with the help of fallen angels – spread across all the land and created a Godless industrialized nation. Only the last of the descendants of the third brother, Seth, continued to protect creation, the last of which is Noah (Russell Crowe) and his family. When Noah receives a vision that the Creator will destroy the world by use of water, he seeks out his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) for guidance with the help of the fallen angels who become his protector. Methuselah gives him a seed, a relic from the Garden of Eden and the vision suddenly becomes clear to Noah. He must save as many of Earth’s creatures by building an ark using wood from the planted seed to carry them through the coming flood. The life-bringing streams created by the seed attract the animals to the ark, but they also draw the attention of bloodthirsty humans, especially Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), the self-proclaimed king of all men.

Director Darren Aronofsky is a self-proclaimed atheist which makes this biblical subject matter an odd choice for him to adapt…

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THE LEGO MOVIE (on DVD)… the surprise twist makes the movie

Posted on July 16th, 2014
THE LEGO MOVIE (on DVD)…  the surprise twist makes the movie

by Coop Cooper

Anyone who reads my weekly articles knows I often avoid reviewing rated G and PG films. Most kids are easily entertained and having them read my review of “The Lorax” where I theorize the film represents a political ideology, probably isn’t going to dissuade them from wanting to see fluffy Dr. Seuss creatures. The review would actually be for the parents who would probably appreciate knowing if the film is laden with incessant bathroom humor or if the disturbing nature of the story might make little Timmy cry. Sorry parents, but with a few exceptions (see my review of the wonderful “How to Train Your Dragon 2”), I’m not often willing to take one for the team when there are so many other, interesting offers out there. But every once in awhile when I get enough recommendations from those whose opinion I trust to see a children’s-film, I can’t ignore it. For this reason, I watched “The Lego Movie” which was released on DVD last week…

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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2… best movie of the year?

Posted on July 16th, 2014
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2…  best movie of the year?

by Coop Cooper

If the first “How to Train Your Dragon” was “Star Wars”, then the second film is both “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” all rolled into one. I was a huge fan of the first film, going so far as to say it was the best Dreamworks Animated film ever, possibly surpassing anything put out by Disney’s Pixar as well. This sequel ups the ante with a more mature story, more action, continuing character development and gorgeously updated animation.

Set five years after the first film, the Viking village of Berk has fully embraced and integrated pet Dragons into its culture. Astrid (America Ferrera) and her friends compete in dragon racing games while Chief Stoick (Gerard Butler) and the other citizens collaborate with the dragons to provide for the community. Meanwhile, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless, explore the surrounding lands, charting new territories and new species of dragons. They soon run afoul of a band of mercenaries who are capturing dragons for the warlord Drago (Djimon Hounsou) who is enslaving dragons to expand his massive army to conquer Berk and then the world. Opposing Drago is the mysterious ‘Dragon Rider’ Valka (Cate Blanchett) who is a protector of wild dragons and has a secret connection to Hiccup. In order to save the dragons, Hiccup, Stoick and Valka battle Drago and his evil ‘Alpha Dragon’ which has the ability to turn the benevolent dragons against their masters…

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EDGE OF TOMORROW… great, but ALL YOU NEED IS KILL is still a better title

Posted on July 16th, 2014
EDGE OF TOMORROW…  great, but ALL YOU NEED IS KILL is still a better title

by Coop Cooper

Taking place in the near future, the Earth’s United Defense Forces attempts to repel a invasion of alien machines nicknamed ‘mimics’ from the European mainland. A cowardly military bureaucrat, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), is ripped from his cushy PR position after offending a commanding officer. Branded a deserter, demoted to private and thrust onto the front lines, Cage is promptly killed in the first battle. Instead of staying dead, Cage wakes up to find himself repeating the same day over and over again, only to be killed in the same battle every time. Using his foresight in battle, he saves the life of Rita (Emily Blunt), also known as the ‘Angel of Verdun’, a legendary soldier who learned her skills while trapped in a similar time loop. Rita recognizes Cage’s condition and resolves to train him to become the ultimate soldier so they can finally win the battle, close the time loop and change the outcome of the war.

The film does make some very nice homages, particularly to Robert A. Heinlein’s novel Starship Troopers which “Edge of Tomorrow” is almost an adaptation of – minus the time travel…

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MALEFICENT… a surprisingly good fairytale upgrade

Posted on July 16th, 2014
MALEFICENT…  a surprisingly good fairytale upgrade

by Coop Cooper

In a Medieval era-like fantasy kingdom, a wise, winged fairy named Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) guards her enchanted woodland and its creatures from the harm of outside forces. She befriends a human boy, Stefan (Sharlto Copley), who strays into her domain and they develop a deep bond. Years later, Stephan’s father aims to conquer the woodlands, prompting a vicious battle with Maleficent and her creature army. After Maleficent critically wounds his father, Stephan begrudgingly betrays Maleficent, but opts to amputate her wings instead of killing her. Stephan eventually becomes king and the embittered Maleficent retreats into solitude.

Here’s where the classic Disney “Sleeping Beauty” story kicks in… When news arrives that Stephan has had a baby girl named Aurora (Elle Fanning), Maleficent invokes a vengeful curse that dooms Aurora to a never ending sleep on the event of the girl’s sixteenth birthday. The only antidote to this curse once it sets in is a kiss given out of true love. Stephan exiles Aurora to the countryside to be raised by three good fairies (Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple) in an attempt to thwart the curse. Since the inept fairies continually fail to keep the pure and joyful Aurora safe until she is sixteen, Maleficent finds herself in the ironic position of protecting the child…

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X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST… almost the quality of THE AVENGERS

Posted on July 16th, 2014
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST…  almost the quality of THE AVENGERS

by Coop Cooper

In the near future, the world is all but destroyed as out-of-control robots known as ‘Sentinels’ hunt down and eliminate the last of the mutants. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) hatches a plan with a handful of surviving X-Men to stop the Sentinels by using a form of mental time travel to prevent a key event in 1973 that lead to the mass production of the killer robots. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), the only one with the brain-healing capacity to survive the trip, has his knowledge/memories transported back into his younger body in the 70’s and goes about tracking down the 60’s-era X-Men team which has disbanded since averting the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. In that same timeline, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) wages a one-woman war with the U.S. Government, ultimately targeting Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), a scientist who created the Sentinels and has been experimenting on mutants to discover how to best destroy them…

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GODZILLA… epic

Posted on July 16th, 2014
GODZILLA…  epic

by Coop Cooper

Godzilla is back! It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the venerable lizard in American theaters. One of my favorites was “Godzilla 1985” that was Japan-produced, but released in the U.S. as a sort of remake of the original. However, after the disastrous 1998 Roland Emmerich production that had New York overrun with ‘baby Zillas’, like some sort of “Jurassic Park” knock-off, the giant monster hasn’t been in demand. Then in 2008, “Cloverfield” unexpectedly renewed interest in the genre and talk of re-resurrecting Godzilla began. The biggest risk was turning off modern adult viewers by making the film too goofy. I’m very relieved this wasn’t the case here…

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PENNY DREADFUL… please don’t be the next HEMLOCK GROVE

Posted on July 16th, 2014
PENNY DREADFUL…  please don’t be the next HEMLOCK GROVE

by Coop Cooper

Not since “Dexter” has Showtime taken a stab at another ambitious cable horror series. Now, with “Penny Dreadful”, the premium network attempts to capture lightning in a bottle again by putting famous horror literary figures in a weekly show. ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ were cheap pulp fiction novellas produced during the turn of the century. If Showtime does this show justice, they have a shot at emulating the tone and atmosphere of those namesake novels.

In Victorian London, American gunslinger Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) is roped into an underworld where vampires hunt freely, scientists resurrect the dead and the supernatural is commonplace. Hired as muscle by the mysterious psychic, Vanessa Ives (Eva Green), Chandler aids Ives and a famous explorer named Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) in a rescue attempt to save Sir Malcolm’s daughter Mina from a vampire nest. Intrigued by this dark world he has discovered, Chandler is drawn in by Ives but seems to have his own dark agenda. Meanwhile, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) helps dissect vampires for Sir Malcolm and accidentally creates new life…

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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2… they blew it

Posted on July 16th, 2014
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2…  they blew it

by Coop Cooper

After a quick and confusing prelude that shows the last moments of the lives of Peter Parker’s parents, we learn that Spidey/Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is now at the hight of popularity in New York City. He thwarts a plutonium robbery by Aleksei “Rhino” Sytsevich, saves nerdy electrical engineer/Spidey superfan Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) and makes it to his graduation in time to accept his diploma from his valedictorian girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. Despite his hubris, Parker is still haunted by the promise he made to Gwen’s dying father to stay away from her due to his dangerous lifestyle, so he begins to push her away. Meanwhile, Peter’s wealthy childhood friend Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan) discovers he is dying from a rare genetic condition that claimed the life of his father, Norman (Chris Cooper)…

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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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