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BLUE JASMINE and HER… Two reviews

Posted on January 31st, 2014
Posted on January 31st, 2014

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.

This film is very difficult to talk about as it is basically two people having a long phone conversation. The conversation is a charming one and both Phoenix and Johansson give fine performances, but I felt the film went completely the wrong direction at the end. There are so many issues and questions the story sidesteps, such as: Would an A.I. ever be allowed civil rights? Could there be marriage and why difficulties would arise from that? How would a breakup be handled if one person has ownership of the other? How would physical affection be dealt with? Could child A.I.s be created by merging the personalities of the two parents? Etc…

Unfortunately the film decides to avoid these questions in favor of an easier, more familiar (and potentially sinister) way out. I understand what writer/director Spike Jonze was trying to go for but I see this film as a huge missed-opportunity to explore some deeper questions. The 1984 film “Electric Dreams”, although a comedy, mined similar territory with a bit more edge and the 1999 film “Bicentennial Man” tackled some of the deeper philosophical issues. “Her” was a charming film and a nice diversion but it could’ve been a bit more challenging.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Blue Jasmine” – The story starts out with Jasmine(Cate Blanchett) haranguing a nice old lade with too much information about her love life on a San Francisco-bound plane. Apparently Jasmine had a whirlwind marriage with a rich Bernie Madoff-type (Alec Baldwin) who gets incarcerated, leaving her penniless and homeless. She arrives at her blue-collar sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) house and immediately becomes an insufferable burden, bragging about her expensive possessions/luxuries she won’t give up, even though she is in miserable debt. The story often flashes back to Jasmine’s lush, former life where she fits into high-society despite being aggressively self-centered and snobbishly rude, even in a socialite setting. Her sister’s, her rough-around-the edges friends constantly remind her of her hardships. As bad luck and poor decisions exasperate the situation, Jasmine inches closer to massive nervous breakdown.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because this is a very obvious remake of “A Streetcar Named Desire”, but with flashbacks and expanded scenes where Jasmine meets and develops a relationship with a government official (Peter Sarsgaard) and deals with pill addiction. This actually fleshes out the character of Jasmine more so than Blanch and gives Blanchett a lot of juicy scenes to chew on. Likewise with Sally Hawkins – the ‘Stella’ character – who gets no less than three men (Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale and Louis C.K.) to have relationships over the course of the story, although Cannavale’s ‘Stanley’-like character isn’t interesting enough to pull it off and he’s completely toothless compared to Tennessee Williams’ version of the character. Maybe he was written that way for “Blue Jasmine” because there’s no Brando’s around the fill the part.

This movie really is Blanchett’s triumph and the Oscar for Best Actress is hers to lose. Jasmine is just as haunting of a character as Blanch and while Cate Blanchett probably has many Oscar-worthy performances in her future, she should remain very proud of this one.

Sally Hawkins may not have done enough to deserve a Best Supporting Actress nomination, but she’s fine in the part. I liked her better in other roles, especially “Happy-Go-Lucky”, but she’s paid her dues so anything is possible. Andrew Dice Clay gives a surprising performance, including a particularly heartfelt one near the end that is shocking in its sincerity and poise.

This is a Woody Allen movie. Although he is not usually to my tastes, he created a very interesting expanded-universe version of a classic that somehow does the original justice.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…


A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
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2017 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
2017 Oxford Film Festival
2017 Crossroads Film Festival
2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
2017 Tupelo Film Festival
2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
2017 End of Days Film Festival
2017 Grenada Afterglow Film Festival
2017 Shiver International Film Festival
2017 Southern States Indie FanFilmFest

Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…


Northern Mississippi 1932:
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Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…


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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

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
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2012 MISSISSIPPI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
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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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