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“Drive” harkens back to the days of “Miami Vice”

“Drive” harkens back to the days of “Miami Vice”

Posted on September 30th, 2011

Ryan Gosling plays a tough-guy-with-no-name who works as a stunt driver/mechanic in Hollywood while moonlighting as a getaway driver for high-risk robberies. With no friends or family, he lives a solitary existence until he forms an unlikely bond with his struggling neighbor Irene (Carrie Mulligan) and her cute son (Kaden Leos). His shifty, but good-hearted handler (Bryan Cranston) sets the driver up with a possible stock car racing gig bankrolled by a deceptively genial mob boss (Albert Brooks). When Irene’s ex-con husband returns home, a cascading chain of events pits the Driver up against the mob, threatening the life of Irene and her son.

While the story doesn’t seem all that original and the action is fairly sparse, the style is exhilarating…

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Are all films about Mississippi good for the state?

Are all films about Mississippi good for the state?

Posted on September 21st, 2011

By Coop Cooper

Last week I was interviewed by “The Washington Times” and Tuesday by “SuperTalk” Mississippi radio host Paul Gallo about how Hollywood portrays Mississippi in motion pictures. While I have talked about this subject before in my articles, these interviews got me thinking about the topic again especially now that “The Help” has thrust Mississippi back into the cultural spotlight.

But it wasn’t “The Help” these two media outlets wanted to interview me about. They were curious about the negatively-slanted movies Hollywood continues to produce about the state, particularly the remake of the violent 1971 masterpiece “Straw Dogs” which opened last weekend…






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“Hanna” is a missed gem now available on DVD

“Hanna” is a missed gem now available on DVD

Posted on September 13th, 2011

With sloppy films like “Columbiana” and “Conan The Barbarian” wasting our time at the multiplexes, I feel relieved when I catch something special on DVD that I missed in the theater. Such is the case with “Hanna,” a quirky and fun action/fantasy which borrows heavily from other films but impresses with a fresh and interesting style.

Saoirse Ronan plays Hanna, a spooky girl who knows every fact about the world and every language in it, but doesn’t have a shred of worldly experience. Since her infancy, her ex-superspy father (Eric Bana) has educated her in the Scandinavian wilderness, particularly in advanced survival and combat. Eager to experience the world, Hanna flips the switch on a transmitter her father warned her not to activate until she felt ready. She is quickly thrust into a hostile world where she must separate from her father to flee an insidious intelligence agent (Cate Blanchett) hell-bent on killing her…






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“Apollo 18” is direct-to-video at best

“Apollo 18” is direct-to-video at best

Posted on September 13th, 2011

If you had problems with “The Blair Witch Project,” you’ll find yourself frustrated with “Apollo 18” for the same reasons. The actors have to deal with long takes which cause them to ham it up when on camera for too long. Eerie sounds spring up at convenient points to convey tension, for instance: A sudden heartbeat on the soundtrack isn’t natural when the scene is supposed to mimic reality. Plus there shouldn’t be sound in the vacuum of space. The sound design people seemed to forget that one when adding sound effects to the track (in stereo, no less)…






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“Columbiana” has a strong woman but a puny everything else

“Columbiana” has a strong woman but a puny everything else

Posted on September 13th, 2011

This film utilizes every genre cliché and then some. Back in the Blockbuster Video days you might find this video under what they called the “Super Action” section, usually reserved for direct-to-video films which is exactly where this one belongs. It is designed for absurdity to the point where the only redeeming value is to see a 10 year-old girl dressed in a school uniform leaping Bogata rooftops and base-sliding into open drains.

Despite my intense dislike of this movie, I can deduce an interesting way in which it might have come about. Writer Luc Besson has long talked about trying to woo Natalie Portman into reprising her role as hit man protege from Besson’s 1994 hit “Leon” (a.k.a. “The Professional”). He had planned to call the film “Matilda” and have Portman as a grown-up assassin working for the New York mob, then eventually turning against them. Here’s what I’m guessing happened…






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CONAN THE WEAK SAUCE ruins the name of the original

CONAN THE WEAK SAUCE ruins the name of the original

Posted on September 13th, 2011

Instead of coming up with a slick retread of the original 1982 “Conan the Barbarian,” Hollywood did something much worse. It took the plot from the original film, merged it together with the plot of the lesser 1984 sequel “Conan the Destroyer” and dumped out all the good stuff to create this obnoxious and brainless remake of a film…






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