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

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

Posted on September 26th, 2014

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.

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

Posted on September 19th, 2014

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…

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

Posted on September 12th, 2014

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

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

Posted on September 8th, 2014

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)

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

Posted on September 8th, 2014

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

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

Posted on September 8th, 2014

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)

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

Posted on September 8th, 2014

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

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

Posted on September 8th, 2014

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

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

Posted on September 8th, 2014

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

THE PURGE: ANARCHY… far superior to its promising predecessor

Posted on September 8th, 2014

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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