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Coop’s Top 10 movies of 2013

Posted on January 13th, 2014
Coop’s Top 10 movies of 2013

by Coop Cooper

Many critics are claiming that 2013 was an exceptionally strong year for film with many “best of” lists showing a wide variety of favorites with no clear winners agreed upon. Here is my list for “Best Films of 2013”…

10. “Dallas Buyer’s Club” – This true life story about a Texas roughneck/AIDS victim who becomes a drug smuggler and activist to legalize non-FDA approved anti-AIDS drugs was one of the surprises of the year. McConaughey should get a Best Actor nomination and Jarred Leto should get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for their powerful, chameleon-like performances…

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THE INTERVIEW has a lot in common with ISHTAR (and that is never a good thing)…

Posted on January 2nd, 2014
THE INTERVIEW has a lot in common with ISHTAR (and that is never a good thing)…

by Coop Cooper

The most controversial film of the 21st Century has been released. Was it worth all that fuss? Of course not.
Cheesy entertainment talk show host, Dave Skylark (James Franco), and his producer, Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen), suddenly find their meager show getting a lot of attention when rapper Eminem spontaneously comes out of the closet, live on their show. With their sudden boost in ratings, celebrities begin to come onto their show to air out their darkest secrets. When they find out that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is a big fan of the show, they land an interview with ‘The Supreme Leader’ who has recently detonated the country’s first nuclear bomb. The CIA sends Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) to Skylark and Rapaport to convince them to assassinate Un (Randall Park) for them which they reluctantly accept…

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Hollywood continues to go PC (except for raunchy comedies)

Posted on December 13th, 2013
Hollywood continues to go PC (except for raunchy comedies)

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

Posted on November 28th, 2013
CATCHING FIRE…  A rare case where the sequel outshines the original

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

Posted on November 15th, 2013
THOR: THE DARK WORLD…  more like “Star Wars” than “Lord of the Rings” (a good thing!)

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

Posted on November 8th, 2013
ENDER’S GAME review…  An excellent adaptation

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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“Captain Phillips” and the new Oxford Commons Theater

Posted on November 4th, 2013
“Captain Phillips” and the new Oxford Commons Theater

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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Most anticipated films of Oct./Nov. 2013

Posted on November 4th, 2013
Most anticipated films of Oct./Nov. 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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RIDDICK, YOU’RE NEXT, THE WORLD’S END… only one of them is awesome

Posted on September 13th, 2013
RIDDICK, YOU’RE NEXT, THE WORLD’S END…  only one of them is awesome

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…

Posted on August 30th, 2013
Six Mississippi-themed films you haven’t seen…

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…

Posted on August 16th, 2013
ELYSIUM has epic sci-fi politics…

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

Posted on August 9th, 2013
OBLIVION…  one of the best movies of the year that nobody saw is now on video

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?

Posted on August 2nd, 2013
THE WOLVERINE…  A robot Silver Samurai?  Seriously?

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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PACIFIC RIM: Dumb fun but that’s about it

Posted on July 22nd, 2013
PACIFIC RIM:  Dumb fun but that’s about it

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’

Posted on July 22nd, 2013
WHITE HOUSE DOWN…  new contender for ‘worst movie of the year’

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

Posted on July 4th, 2013
Mississippi Filmmakers:  Johnson Thomasson

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)

Posted on June 27th, 2013
WORLD WAR Z…  The worst movie of the year (so far)

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

Posted on June 21st, 2013
MAN OF STEEL has flaws but it’s my favorite Superman film so far

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

Posted on May 24th, 2013
STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS…  big plot holes, still better than the last one

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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IRON MAN 3 nearly ruins a franchise

Posted on May 3rd, 2013
IRON MAN 3 nearly ruins a franchise

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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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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