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CAKE, FOXCATCHER, BIG EYES, WILD, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT, SELMA…

Posted on January 30th, 2015
Posted on January 30th, 2015

by Coop Cooper

Here are reviews of seven more films that created a buzz in 2014…

“Cake” – Jennifer Aniston stars as Claire Bennett, a grieving woman suffering through long-term physical therapy after a car accident claimed the life of her child, spirals into substance abuse and self destruction. When her ‘chronic pain’ support group partner (Anna Kendrick) commits suicide, Claire drags her loyal, yet exasperated housekeeper Silvana (Adriana Barazza) around the city to discover why and to finally begin on her own road to recovery. Aniston’s performance is like nothing she has ever done before and keeps things light with deadpan humor despite the grim subject matter. Many believe she was snubbed for a ‘Best Actress’ nomination and sadly, they may be right. Barazza likewise deserved some recognition for her breakout performance as Silvana. 3 and ½ out of 5 stars.

“Foxcatcher” – Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) receives an offer he can’t refuse from eccentric millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) to coach du Pont’s privately funded Olympic wrestling team on du Pont’s sprawling estate. As du Pont’s bad influence and excesses send Schultz onto a path of self destruction, Mark’s brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) arrives to take over the program and get Mark back on track. However, du Pont’s own paranoia and derangement eventually sets the stage for a shocking murder. This real-life, headline-grabbing tragedy relies heavily on Carell’s frightening performance as a childlike man who treats his wrestlers like toy action figures, but no one can say no to him due to his wealth. All of the performances are top notch, especially Carell and Ruffalo who are up for Oscars, but the slow pace and minimalist style to the film will be off-putting to some. 3 and ½ out of 5 stars.

“Big Eyes” – In the 1950’s, talented painter Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) sets the art world on fire with her bizarre, pop-art paintings of children with oversized eyes. The success of her paintings were credited to her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) who bullied Margaret into letting the world think he painted them since men were more marketable artists than women. This lie was perpetuated until the 1970’s when Margaret divorced Walter and took him to court to sue for profits made off of the paintings. Tim Burton’s fantasy style of filmmaking stands out like a sore thumb, especially when he decides to show Margaret’s ‘Big Eye’ hallucinations she sees in other people when stressed. Waltz is great as always, but Adams’s ‘Best Actress’ nomination may have been overestimated. 3 out of 5 stars.

“Wild” – Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) makes a rash decision to hike the 1,100 mile Pacific Crest Trail alone after tragedies and substance abuse leave her feeling empty and unaccomplished. Without experience or the proper equipment, Cheryl struggles to complete a journey which will lead to her own personal healing and an experience upon which to write her inspiring memoir. Although she earned a ‘Best Actress’ nomination for this film, Witherspoon isn’t favored for it although her performance is quite exceptional and her journey is very cathartic for an audience to watch. Laura Dern, who plays her mother briefly in the film, simply didn’t get enough screen time to warrant her ‘Best Supporting Actress’ nomination. 3 and ½ out of 5 stars.

“A Most Violent Year” – An honest, NYC entrepreneur (Oscar Isaac) and heating oil distributor must resist becoming a gangster when competitors begin hijacking his shipments. However, his mob-connected wife (Jessica Chastain) takes actions behind his back making that path difficult to avoid. This slow and dull thriller showcases some great talent from Isaac and Chastain, but thankfully did not receive any Oscar nominations. Isaac and Chastain have far more interesting performances and projects ahead of them. 2 and ½ out of 5 stars.

“Two Days, One Night” – Marion Cotillard plays a struggling Belgian mother who learns she will be laid off from her factory job unless she can convince sixteen of her coworkers over the weekend to give up a $1000 euro bonus. Cotillard has some wonderful moments in the drama (and is up for ‘Best Actress’), but although each of her coworker’s reactions to her request are fascinating, having to listen to her constantly pitching it to them becomes tedious in the extreme. 2 and ½ out of 5 stars.

“Selma” – After winning the Nobel Peach Prize for helping to end segregation in America, Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) launches his campaign to eliminate voter intimidation and voter suppression in the Southern states. After an unsuccessful meeting with President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), King takes his fight to Selma, Alabama which was touted as a hotspot for this type of discrimination. Since it was only nominated for ‘Best Picture’ by the Academy, some vocal critics and organizations blamed racism for the snubs, yet it performed very well at other awards presentations. There are some horrific, riveting scenes and the acting, especially Oyelowo, is fantastic, and his lack of of an Oscar nomination (along with director Ava DuVernay) was unfortunate but it should be obvious to Hollywood insiders that race isn’t the cause of the oversight. LBJ’s antagonistic, sometimes villainous, portrayal might have seemed disingenuous, but the film is important and worthy of a ‘Best Picture’ nomination. 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:
2017 Nightmares Film Festival
2017 A Night of Horror Film Festival
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:
In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…


Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
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
2012 ATLANTA INDIE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
2012 OTHERFEST
2012 MISSISSIPPI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
2012 SUN AND SAND FILM FESTIVAL

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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