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PACIFIC RIM:  Dumb fun but that’s about it

PACIFIC RIM: Dumb fun but that’s about it

Posted on July 22nd, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Giant robots smashing Godzilla-sized monsters. It’s a summer movie combo made in heaven and “Pacific Rim” delivers, but in a strange twist, it also got critics excited. Not because the giant robot/monster thing hadn’t been done before (critics including me really hated the increasingly poor “Transformers” films), but this project had an acclaimed director, Guillermo del Toro (the “Hellboy” films, “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Devil’s Backbone”) who has a knack for pleasing both critics and audiences. Does he succeed with “Pacific Rim?” Almost…

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WHITE HOUSE DOWN…  new contender for ‘worst movie of the year’

WHITE HOUSE DOWN… new contender for ‘worst movie of the year’

Posted on July 22nd, 2013

I was definitely too hard on “Olympus Has Fallen.” At least it was watchable despite being far-fetched and full of plot holes. “White House Down,” while having a near identical plot, makes “Olympus Has Fallen” look like an Oscar contender. “White House Down” is reprehensible, dumb cinema that thumbs its nose at the audience then demands that we like it. Already it has usurped “World War Z” in my book as the worst film of 2013 so far.

A war veteran and Capitol City cop, Cale (Channing Tatum) arrives at the White House with his history-obsessed daughter to interview for a job with the Secret Service. Unqualified, he mumbles through the interview and is rejected while his daughter takes the tour…






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Mississippi Filmmakers:  Johnson Thomasson

Mississippi Filmmakers: Johnson Thomasson

Posted on July 4th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Johnson Thomasson is a young and enterprising Mississippi filmmaker based in Starkville (with roots in the Delta) whose film career is taking off. He directed his first festival-bound short film “Blood Feud” in 2010 and just completed his latest film “Headrush,” an ambitious and wonderfully shot short that questions the morals of cutting-edge science. He was recently a guest-speaker at the Tupelo Film Alliance meeting in June and has been accepted to the graduate Directing Program at University of Southern California – one of the top three film schools in the world – for this upcoming fall semester. Thomasson is a gifted Mississippi filmmaker who has a knack for production value and direction, and is an inspiration for other Mississippi natives looking to break into the business. Here is my brief interview with him…






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WORLD WAR Z…  The worst movie of the year (so far)

WORLD WAR Z… The worst movie of the year (so far)

Posted on June 27th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

One of my favorite online comic strips theoatmeal.com released a humorous Venn diagram this week called “What the ‘World War Z’ movie has in common with the book.” The answer: “It’s titled ‘World War Z’.” That’s a pretty fair assessment and although I think the film is rotten on its own merits, I cannot write this review without explaining why the book is important in this case.

Max Brooks (son of the legendary Mel Brooks) wrote an in-depth analysis of what a post-zombie apocalypse world would look like if humans had survived it. It features a journalist who trots around the globe collecting stories – a chapter per-story – from people who survived the outbreak and how they may have contributed to saving the world. It also explains how the world had to change in order to live in a post-zombie world should it ever happen again. It was a brilliant, compelling best-seller and would’ve made a great episodic HBO series.

In the film version…






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MAN OF STEEL has flaws but it’s my favorite Superman film so far

MAN OF STEEL has flaws but it’s my favorite Superman film so far

Posted on June 21st, 2013

by Coop Cooper

As the doomed alien planet Krypton self-destructs due to the arrogance of its inhabitants, the military attempts to take over the parliament through a bloody coup led by General Zod (Michael Shannon) who believes he can save the people by seizing control. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is a scientist who understands the gravity of this disaster and evacuates his infant son and an item called the ‘codex’ before Zod can reach him. Years later, Jor-El’s son Kal-El (Henry Cavill), now relocated on Earth and named Clark Kent, wanders the planet, hiding his immense power from humans as he is constantly put in the position of saving them. After discovering his origins, he inadvertently alerts Zod who has been wandering the galaxy aimlessly with his army looking for him. Zod arrives and threatens the entire world with destruction if Clark does not surrender himself and the codex. Now Clark must reveal himself to the world in order to save his adopted home.

It’s difficult to write a synopsis of this film without revealing what makes it so unique to previous Superman films…






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THE PURGE could one day be a great horror franchise… but not today

THE PURGE could one day be a great horror franchise… but not today

Posted on June 14th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

The story takes place in near future America that is now virtually crime and poverty free. The credit for this golden age is given to the annual “Purge” in which for one 12 hour period out of the year, all crime – including murder – is legal. This cathartic moral hiatus allows citizens to release pent up rage, frustration and perceived revenge upon society so that the survivors might live the rest of the year in peace. Security salesman James Sandlin (Ethan Hawke) provides protection systems for his entire neighborhood and with his business booming, he is at ease with the annual event, especially since the system on his house is top-notch. His wife (Lena Heady), son and daughter become less at ease as the beginning of the Purge grows closer. When James’ naïve son witnesses a homeless man (Edwin Hodge) being chased by a bloodthirsty mob, he puts his entire family at risk to let him in. The dangerous gang tears through the house’s security measures to get at them while James and his family fight to survive the night.

It’s a preposterous, yet fascinatingly simple premise that begs for analysis on a ‘what would you do in this situation?’ kind of level…






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AFTER EARTH… I didn’t hate it, but Shyamalan’s H’wood career may be over

AFTER EARTH… I didn’t hate it, but Shyamalan’s H’wood career may be over

Posted on June 7th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

M. Night Shyamalan has been one of the most celebrated and reviled filmmakers in the last 15 years. While his first three Hollywood-caliber films (“The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable” and “Signs”) gained high critical and popular praise, his last four have been disastrous box-office flops. If the box office returns from the past weekend are any indication, you can add “After Earth” to his growing list of flops. However, while Shyamalan bears the brunt of the burden of these failures, I believe he is still a misunderstood, if not highly flawed cinematic savant.






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10 Mississippi actors the state can be proud off…

10 Mississippi actors the state can be proud off…

Posted on May 31st, 2013

by Coop Cooper

While there are many famous actors technically born in Mississippi, not all of them grew up here or have a strong connection to the state. Here are a few who do…

10. M. C. Gainey (Jackson) – This prolific, gruff character actor often plays crooked cops, cowboys, bikers and convicts in films and is recently most recognizable as the scripture-spouting, whip-wielding slave overseer Big John Brittle in “Django Unchained”. He appeared in 20 episodes of the hit TV show “Lost” as character Tom Friendly and is also notorious for his bizarrely hilarious full-frontal nude scene in the movie “Sideways” (2004)…






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STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS…  big plot holes, still better than the last one

STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS… big plot holes, still better than the last one

Posted on May 24th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

After the last “Star Trek” film was released in theaters, I saw it numerous times on DVD and cable and with each viewing, it held up less and less. Eventually, I got really down on it and would probably downgrade my original rating if I ever resorted to that kind of thing. “Star Trek: Into Darkness” is an improvement over the last film and although it suffers from many of the same problems, at some point you have to stop counting all the plot holes and enjoy the ride.

While bungling the rescue of a primitive race from extinction, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) breaks Starfleet’s number one rule in an attempt to rescue Spock (Zachary Quinto) from certain death.






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Routine 2013 TV series cancellations turn into a primetime massacre…

Routine 2013 TV series cancellations turn into a primetime massacre…

Posted on May 17th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

I was a little bummed that my favorite major network, primetime show “Last Resort” got cancelled before Christmas. It was like “Battlestar Galactica” inside of a U.S. nuclear sub and was set up to be the most intense action thriller of the season. Instead it got lost in the sea of mediocre primetime entertainment and sunk before it could reach a first season resolution. But that’s the nature of the TV network biz and with each passing year, the competition gets more brutal. With the traditional TV season coming to a close, the word has come down and over 20 primetime shows on the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) have been unceremoniously cancelled. Here is a list of the primetime shows getting the ax so far…






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THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES = slow, forgettable indie

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES = slow, forgettable indie

Posted on May 10th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Ray Liotta… That’s a pretty decent cast for a wide-release Hollywood blockbuster. But that’s not what “The Place Beyond the Pines” is. Audiences might expect a tense thriller in the vein of “Heat” or “Drive” but if that’s the impression the previews and commercials are giving you, I’m going to stop you right there. “Pines” is a slow and plodding indie effort that wants to be something meaningful and point out a big problem plaguing American society. It doesn’t quite cut it, even though it features some fine acting.

A traveling motorcycle stuntman/carny, Luke (Ryan Gosling), discovers a fling he had a year before with a waitress (Eva Mendes) produced a son He feels guilt and a desperate obligation to provide for his unexpected family so he quits the circus and resorts to robbing banks. His brash actions and violent nature begin to strain his relationships. Eventually his increasingly risky scores puts him on a collision course with a police officer, Avery (Bradley Cooper), who himself is in cahoots with a band of corrupt cops…






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IRON MAN 3 nearly ruins a franchise

IRON MAN 3 nearly ruins a franchise

Posted on May 3rd, 2013

by Coop Cooper

The first disappointment of the summer season, “Iron Man 3” suffers from similar trilogy woes in which films like “X-Men 3” and “Spider-Man 3” diverged too far from the canon and fell flat with fans. I’ll blame some of this on writer/director Shane Black who took the reins from Joss Whedon to add his “Lethal Weapon” flair to the story, but obviously didn’t have enough respect for the original “Iron Man” comics.

Shaken after the Avengers vs. aliens battle in New York, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) barely sleeps and spends every waking moment designing new Iron Man suits for every dangerous situation imaginable…






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Amazon challenges Netflix in the digital content market

Amazon challenges Netflix in the digital content market

Posted on April 30th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Amazon.com is taking a cue from Netflix and has launched over a dozen of their own TV show pilots exclusively online. They plan to utilize user ratings and comments to determine which shows they will produce full seasons of which will air on the Amazon.com website.

Paired with the ‘Amazon Prime’ service, the first episode of each of these shows is free for all users, but subsequent episodes will be available only to Amazon Prime subscribers. Like Netflix, Amazon Prime also offers many free online movies to watch, but nowhere near as many as Netflix. It does however come with free 2-day shipping on anything ordered from Amazon.com which is a huge bonus for frequent online shoppers (and frankly, the only reason I have a subscription). As an added bonus you can rent some ebooks for free instead of buying them, but Amazon intentionally makes this perk difficult and confusing to execute as they would rather you buy them.






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THE COMPANY YOU KEEP glorifies some bad company…

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP glorifies some bad company…

Posted on April 30th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

“People make mistakes.” Those are the words of Robert Redford’s character, Sloan, in “The Company You Keep.” Sloan is a fictional member of the real-life Vietnam War era group the Weather Underground. Dissatisfied with peaceful protesting, this radical group decided to ‘officially’ declare war on the U.S. Government by bombing government buildings and attacking domestic targets. Normally they would warn of an imminent bombing in order to facilitate the evacuations of citizens, but it didn’t always work out that way. The “mistake” in question is the murder of two police officers and a security guard when the organization robbed an armored truck in 1981. This actually happened and serves as the catalyst for the characters in this story…






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EVIL DEAD is as evil as original, not as cool…

EVIL DEAD is as evil as original, not as cool…

Posted on April 30th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

The original “The Evil Dead” (1981) was a little horror picture that could. Despite its ultra low budget and goofy acting, it earned rave reviews from Stephen King and achieved cult status for its relentless carnage, groundbreaking camerawork and sly comedic touches. It’s official sequel “Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn” (1987) – which was actually more of a remake – topped the original in every way and is considered one of the greatest horror comedies ever made. Its final sequel “Army of Darkness” (1992) eclipsed the cult status of the first two as a fantasy action comedy that owed just as much to “The Three Stooges” as it did to the horror genre…






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G. I. JOE: RETALIATION is a bad example of ‘Extreme Action’

G. I. JOE: RETALIATION is a bad example of ‘Extreme Action’

Posted on April 30th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

One of my favorite sections in Blockbuster Video when I was growing up was the ‘Extreme Action’ shelf. Sort of a mixture between superhero stories and shoot-em-up action blockbusters, extreme action films are usually R-rated ‘B’ movies or big-budget PG-13 popcorn films. With a heavy emphasis on martial arts and/or sci-fi, they feature over-the-top scenes which escalate in intensity over the course of the film. The Asian market perfected this type of film in the 90’s after America invented it in the 80’s. “G. I. Joe: Retaliation” fits squarely in that category and after seeing it, I had two thoughts: 1. It was a horrible movie. 2. I may have outgrown the extreme action genre…






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OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is ‘meh’, might get whooped by WHITE HOUSE DOWN

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is ‘meh’, might get whooped by WHITE HOUSE DOWN

Posted on April 30th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

I haven’t seen a good, original ‘Go America!’ movie in a long time. They were such Hollywood staples during the 80’s and 90’s, but they eventually gave way to superhero films, tepid remakes and R-rated comedies. The best, recent example of this sub-genre done right was “Battle: Los Angeles” in 2011, but it was eviscerated by critics, much to my dismay and many other movie-goers who liked it and made it a minor box office success. Can an ultra-patriotic action film like “Olympus Has Fallen” succeed where “Battle” did not?

Disgraced Secret Service agent turned cop, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) watches the White House from afar after losing a member of the First Family to a tragic accident under his watch.






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PBS boosts programming quality with DOWNTON ABBEY

PBS boosts programming quality with DOWNTON ABBEY

Posted on April 30th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

I never thought I would care about “Masterpiece Theater” on PBS, but it seems even stuffy British period TV dramas can be compelling under the right talent. With three seasons completed, “Downtown Abbey” has slowly but surely become the talk of the internet and entertainment circles.

“Abbey” follows the lives of the Crawley family, lead by the Earl of Grantham and their servants at a wealthy English estate in the early 1900’s. The highborn family follows strict traditions and the servants work hard to maintain their positions until word comes down the family heir has been killed during the sinking of the Titanic. This throws years of tradition to question as both family and servants are subjected to modernism, social changes and World War I…






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HOUSE OF CARDS is keeping Netflix on top

HOUSE OF CARDS is keeping Netflix on top

Posted on April 30th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Can a high-budget TV series produced exclusively for a streaming web service like Netflix become a huge success and a model for TV/internet entertainment to come? If the original web series “House of Cards” is any indication, we may be looking at the end of traditional TV as we know it.

Based on a popular British series, “Cards” stars Kevin Spacey as Francis “Frank” Underwood, a South Carolina Rep. and Majority Whip who is passed over for a promised Secretary of State appointment by a new president he helped get elected. Enraged, Underwood concocts a plan to manipulate and usurp power using an ambitious young reporter (Kate Mara) and a disgraced a freshman Congressman (Corey Stoll) to game the system…






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IDENTITIY THIEF steals your precious time

IDENTITIY THIEF steals your precious time

Posted on April 30th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

The thought of having your identity stolen is a frightening and all-too-real possibility for any honest citizen. With the sprawling bureaucracy that goes hand in hand with modern life, it’s surprisingly easy for an opportunistic sociopath to steal someone’s personal information and go on a shopping spree, doing damage that is difficult to reverse. This type of crime can ruin reputations and lives. Strange that someone would think that kind of scenario it would make a passable mean-spirited, R-rated comedy…






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