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

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

Posted on December 27th, 2013

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

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

Posted on December 20th, 2013

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)

Hollywood continues to go PC (except for raunchy comedies)

Posted on December 13th, 2013

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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Aerial Drones:  Bad for delivery, great for other things

Aerial Drones: Bad for delivery, great for other things

Posted on December 6th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

As publicity for its ‘Cyber Monday’ holiday sale, Amazon.com announced a ‘Prime Air’ service which will use aerial drones to deliver packages to customers. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos claimed the delivery ‘octocopters’ (a helicopter drone with eight motorized propellers) should be ready to deploy in four or five years within a ten-mile radius of any of their distribution centers, for compact packages up to five pounds. Theoretically, this would allow for quick, thirty minute deliveries for limited items within major metropolitan areas. It’s a neat idea, but highly unlikely it will ever happen. Here’s why…






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CATCHING FIRE…  A rare case where the sequel outshines the original

CATCHING FIRE… A rare case where the sequel outshines the original

Posted on November 28th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

A few months have passed since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) survived their Hunger Games ordeal and they are now expected to go on a ‘Victory Tour” as propaganda shills for the oppressive government. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has noticed that Katniss and Peeta have drifted apart and that Katniss has renewed a secret courtship with her childhood friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth). Snow warns Katniss to maintain the appearance that she and Peeta are in love and to encourage obedience among the citizens. This proves impossible as Katniss has become a symbol of revolution to the more oppressed districts. Her presence only incites uprisings, prompting the government to carry out executions for any minor show of protest. In attempt to humiliate and destroy Katniss, Snow drafts all former Hunger Games winners into a final, deadly battle royale. This time, some of the more dangerous contestants have an agenda other than their own survival.

This sequel successfully builds upon everything that was set up in the first film and has ten times more emotional resonance…






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CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN…  this is not the self-discovery movie you’re looking for

CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN… this is not the self-discovery movie you’re looking for

Posted on November 22nd, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Quirky self-discovery comedies are a difficult to pull off. They go like this: A guy or girl suffers a tragedy/existential crisis and is compelled to go on a trip where they will learn their true purpose in life and meet their destiny. Along the way they meet wise men and gurus who have it all figured out and who give the main character a gentle nudge in the right direction. They also meet a soulmate who has the potential to change their life, but they must make the right choices. Usually, a villain or massive obstacle gives the hero the final push they need to triumph in the end or fail and learn a harsh lesson about life. The newly released indie film “Charlie Countryman” follows this formula to the letter, but it doesn’t come very close to mastering it…






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THOR: THE DARK WORLD…  more like “Star Wars” than “Lord of the Rings” (a good thing!)

THOR: THE DARK WORLD… more like “Star Wars” than “Lord of the Rings” (a good thing!)

Posted on November 15th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Since the events of the “Avengers” movie, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been traversing the ‘Nine Realms’ of the Universe with his Asgardian army, putting an end to longstanding wars with his wisdom and might. Meanwhile on Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has tried to move on with her life, although her investigations into the mystical energy of Thor’s world leads her body to become possessed by a hidden, Universe-ending energy source. The creators of this source, the Dark Elves, existed before all other life in the universe and wish to use this destructive energy to undo all life besides their own. Thor must return to Earth to destroy this energy and save Jane, but can only reach Earth through the help of his imprisoned, adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who cannot be trusted due to his role in the destruction of New York in “The Avengers”.

It’s a preposterous premise and the plot description does it no justice. This film is a vast improvement over the original “Thor” film and feels more like “Star Wars” than “Lord of the Rings”…






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ENDER’S GAME review…  An excellent adaptation

ENDER’S GAME review… An excellent adaptation

Posted on November 8th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Although it never had the level of exposure as “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games”, the “Ender’s Game” series of books predates those blockbuster franchises and has a large fan-base dating back to the mid-1980’s when it won the Nebula Award for ‘Best Novel’. Its adaptation to film has been attempted several times in the past but budget restrictions and the difficult special effects scenes (much like the situation with “John Carter of Mars”) kept the adaptation from going into production until F/X technology could affordably catch up to the story’s demands. Now the film adaption has finally come to pass and its potential success could initiate a new blockbuster franchise, but only if it meets the expectations of fans, critics and most importantly… the box office…






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CARRIE remake review…  the best of the remakes

CARRIE remake review… the best of the remakes

Posted on November 4th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Based on the bestselling book by Stephen King, Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a shy, sensitive high school girl who is mercilessly picked on by the other students. After a particularly cruel moment where Carrie is bullied in the gym shower, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) a popular girl who took part in the bullying becomes overcome with guilt and tries to find a way to make amends. She convinces her goodhearted jock boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort) to ask Carrie to the prom to give the meek, tormented girl a confidence boost. Carrie accepts but along with puberty, she has developed a frightening power, the emergence of which her psychotically religious mother (Julienne Moore) has been dreading since Carrie’s birth. When the school’s meanest girl plans a humiliating prank on Carrie at the prom, Carrie is pushed too far causing her powers to erupt with deadly results…






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“Captain Phillips” and the new Oxford Commons Theater

“Captain Phillips” and the new Oxford Commons Theater

Posted on November 4th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

In addition to the film “Captain Phillips”, I will also talk about the newly opened Oxford Commons Malco Theater which has been refurbished from the former ‘Amp’ theater on the east side of Oxford, MS. Few people remember the Amp as it had a short and unsuccessful run but Malco is betting that due to Oxford’s rapid growth, the town can now support a second movie theater. I sincerely hope they are right because the venue is classy and pleasant, but first the movie review…






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GRAVITY review…  Probably the best film of the year

GRAVITY review… Probably the best film of the year

Posted on November 4th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

A purely original cinematic experience is exceedingly rare these days. Even the best movies can feel like a (well-done) rehash of old ideas no matter how fresh the packaging is. A great cop movie is essentially the same cop movie you’ve always seen, only with excellent performances, dialogue, script, etc… Never before have I seen a film the likes of “Gravity.”…






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Most anticipated films of Oct./Nov. 2013

Most anticipated films of Oct./Nov. 2013

Posted on November 4th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

With blockbuster season over, Hollywood will release their holiday and wild card films to get audiences into theater seats. Here are a few that have potential…

“Gravity” (releasing Oct. 3rd) – Sandra Bullock plays a medical engineer on her first space mission with a soon-to-be retiring veteran astronaut played by George Clooney. On a routine spacewalk while the two are tethered, their shuttle explodes, hurling them far away from the space station leaving them stranded and helpless, floating in the vacuum. I wasn’t quite sure where a story like this could go (other than certain death for main characters) but unfortunately the TV spots promoting the film give far too much away. However, early word from critics has been overwhelmingly glowing and many are saying this film could sweep the Oscars…






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The pitfalls of film/TV marketing

The pitfalls of film/TV marketing

Posted on November 4th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Marketing a movie or TV show is a tricky business.

Ron Howard’s latest film “Rush” is a prime example of an original film idea that clearly nobody new how to market. It is being advertised as director Ron Howard’s ‘best film’ and as possibly ‘the best film of the year’ but it’s not really explaining what it’s about other than Formula One racing… a sport that is not terribly popular in America. It also stars Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth and that Nazi hero sniper (Daniel Bruhl) from “Inglorious Basterds” whom you probably forgot about. The film utilizes a strange orange and teal color palette and Opie from “The Andy Griffith Show” directed it. That’s about all anyone knows about it even if they studied the TV promos. “Rush” is also a very generic title also utilized by a 1991 undercover narc film starring Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Lee which only adds to the confusion. Despite how good the film might be or how many awards it could win, it does not scream ‘blockbuster.’ One would have to do some digging to find out the film is actually based on the real-life rivalry between two European F1 racers in the 1970’s named James Hunt and Niki Lauda (who???)…






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THE EAST, THE BLING RING, SPRING BREAKERS…  all on DVD and once again, only one is interesting

THE EAST, THE BLING RING, SPRING BREAKERS… all on DVD and once again, only one is interesting

Posted on September 20th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Here are three films currently available on DVD which seem to have a common theme: People getting mixed up with the wrong crowd with disastrous consequences…

“The East” – Sarah (Brit Marling), a corporate spy, goes undercover for a security firm to infiltrate a group of highly destructive eco-terrorists who are plaguing morally questionable big businesses. Sarah gains the trust of the cult-like group and its charismatic leader Benji (Alexander Skarsgard) and pulls off a few ‘jams’ with them. At first she feels guilty for taking part, but eventually she sees justification for their actions… until things start going wrong. Soon she begins walking a line between joining the group or taking them down.

What showed promise in premise becomes a pretentious, preachy fairy tale in practice that takes direct aim at corporations the filmmakers think are immoral, but wags its finger only because the terrorist group goes too far and not because their philosophy may have been fundamentally flawed…






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RIDDICK, YOU’RE NEXT, THE WORLD’S END…  only one of them is awesome

RIDDICK, YOU’RE NEXT, THE WORLD’S END… only one of them is awesome

Posted on September 13th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

“Riddick” – Based off of the prequel films “Pitch Black” and “The Chronicles of Riddick,” Vin Diesel once again finds himself stranded on desert planet full of hostile wildlife after his duplicitous compatriots double-cross him and leave him for dead. Raising an alien wolf and becoming an interplanetary version of Robinson Crusoe, Riddick discovers a secret about the planet that compels him to quickly find a way off of it. He locates a remote mercenary supply depot and alerts them to his presence despite the ever-increasing bounty on his head. Two competing bounty hunter ships arrive, causing a dangerous standoff between them, Riddick and the impending alien danger that approaches…






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Six Mississippi-themed films you haven’t seen…

Six Mississippi-themed films you haven’t seen…

Posted on August 30th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Most people are aware of the more famous, feel-good Mississippi films such as “The Help” and “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?” as well as the infamous, not-so-feel-good ones like “Mississippi Burning” and “Ghosts of Mississippi.” However, there are a few Mississippi-themed films (and some that take place on the Big River) that have flown under the radar and are definitely worth a look…

“Mud” (2013) – Recently released on video, “Mud” tells the story of a young teen Ellis and his friend Neckbone who run across the charismatic fugitive Mud (Matthew McConaughey) hiding out on an island in the Mississippi River. Mud convinces them to help him fix a derelict boat and get word to his girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon) so the two can make a fast getaway, but little does Ellis know the magnitude of the trouble Mud could be getting him into…






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ELYSIUM has epic sci-fi politics…

ELYSIUM has epic sci-fi politics…

Posted on August 16th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Hollywood often plays politics but in the past decade or so it has had a tough time profiting from films that take a hardline partisan stance on a hot-button issue. In the case of “Elysium,” there is more than one political issue at play. In fact, one could argue it’s a fiercely unapologetic socialist propaganda film. One could also argue that it’s a visually masterful and exciting sci-fi film that upstages every single summer blockbuster of 2013.

150 years in the future where overpopulation, disease and poverty has turned Earth into one giant third-world slum. The wealthy live on the luxurious space station Elysium where all is provided for, including cures for all diseases and even death. Max (Matt Damon) is a blue collar ex-thief turned straight who catches a fatal dose of radiation while on the job at a factory that builds Earth’s brutal robotic police force…






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OBLIVION…  one of the best movies of the year that nobody saw is now on video

OBLIVION… one of the best movies of the year that nobody saw is now on video

Posted on August 9th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

I’ve been waiting since April for this film to release on video so I could give it the review it deserved. Sometimes when I catch a great film too late in the theaters it makes little sense to write a review at that point because the film will be out of theaters before readers get a chance to watch it. Now “Oblivion” is available on VOD/Blu Ray/DVD and I’m happy to finally review it since it’s my favorite film of 2013 (so far).

The film takes place in the future long after a war against aliens rendered the Earth uninhabitable. Jack (Tom Cruise) works as a technician, repairing defense drones and giant collectors which suck up the remaining ocean water to convert it into nuclear fuel. The drones help protect him and the collectors from remnants of the alien invaders known as ‘Scavs.’ Jack awaits discharge so he can return to the ‘Tet’, a massive orbital space station, which will soon depart for a base on the Saturn moon of Titan where the last surviving humans now live…






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THE WOLVERINE…  A robot Silver Samurai?  Seriously?

THE WOLVERINE… A robot Silver Samurai? Seriously?

Posted on August 2nd, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Logan a.k.a ‘Wolverine’ (Hugh Jackman) has been hiding out in the Yukon wilderness after being forced to kill his lover Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) back in “X-Men 3.” He is tracked down by a mutant ninja named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) who was ordered to bring him to Tokyo meet Yashida, a man he saved from the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki back in World War II. He reaches Yashida to learn he is the most powerful man in Asia, a pioneer in medicine and technology, but he is dying and claims to be able to grant the immortal Logan the gift of mortality. Yashida’s beautiful and wise daughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) stands to inherit the family fortune but her father (Hiroyuki Sanada) is plotting against her along with the Yakuza and a clan of ninjas known as ‘The Hand.’ Logan falls for Mariko and becomes embroiled in the family power struggle, but does not realize the forces working against Mariko have plans for him as well.

What a disappointment…






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The internet is winning the film market…

The internet is winning the film market…

Posted on July 26th, 2013

Indie underground Memphis filmmaker Mike McCarthy had mentioned Black Lodge Video in Midtown Memphis to me more than once. He said it was one of the best cult film and out-of-print video stores he had ever seen, so this past weekend I had an opportunity to drop in and browse their stock. I had been to similar independent movie rental stores in Dallas and Los Angeles that cater to fans of obscure and hard-to-find films and Black Lodge had a better selection than all of them. However, when I left the store I was a little dismayed. Nearly every film in the store I was interested in watching was already available online.

Not long ago I predicted things would eventually go this way but it would appear it is escalating more quickly than I imagined. I figured poor internet speeds, lack of connectability/infrastructure and worrisome overage fees would keep internet domination at bay. A few things have come to my attention that convinced me otherwise…






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