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Coop’s top 10 movies of 2011

Posted on January 4th, 2012
Coop’s top 10 movies of 2011

By Coop Cooper

10. “Battle: Los Angeles” – This remake of “Independence Day” mixed with “Black Hawk Down” got very little love from critics and a lukewarm response from audiences but I maintain my opinion that it’s the most visually satisfying, most action-packed sci-fi film of the year. I have re-watched “Battle: LA” more than any other film on this list.

9. “Captain America” – This lead-in for “The Avengers” superhero team movie (opening in May of 2012) is second only to “Iron Man” in the series of Marvel Comics films. A “Cap” film was previously regarded as too difficult to sell to a foreign market and potentially corny. Director Joe Johnston allayed all fears by creating a Hollywood blockbuster and introducing new fans to the star-spangled hero…

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HUGO’s surprising twist raises it above the average PG film

Posted on December 20th, 2011
HUGO’s surprising twist raises it above the average PG film

Even the plot of “Hugo” is a mystery.
Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is a clever orphan in post-World War I Paris who lives in the clock fixtures of a train station. He spends his time spying on the various kiosk vendors, especially a mean toy merchant (Ben Kingsley) whom he steals mechanical parts from. He filches these parts to repair a broken robotic automaton his deceased watchmaker father (Jude Law) was repairing when he died. When caught by the toymaker, he begins a tenuous apprenticeship and a fast friendship with the toymaker’s pretty ward (Chloe Moretz). As Hugo begins to unravel the mystery of the automaton, he uncovers an unexpected secret. This secret will prove important to modern history once revealed; however, an overzealous station security guard (Sacha Baron Cohen) with a dislike of thieving orphans threatens to put Hugo in the poor house before he can complete his mission…

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MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE… One of the best movies of 2011

Posted on December 2nd, 2011
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE…  One of the best movies of 2011

“Martha Marcy May Marlene” has an oddly cryptic title but a fascinating premise. It stars Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister to the infamous “Olsen Twins”) as Martha, an impressionable runaway who, after a lengthy disappearance, finally contacts her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) for a place to stay. Lucy, now married and pregnant, takes in Martha who refuses to divulge any information about the past two years in which she was missing. Through flashbacks, we learn that Martha had been seduced and brainwashed by a Manson-like cult lead by a charismatic nihilist named Patrick (Oscar-nominee John Hawkes). As Lucy and her husband (Hugh Dancy) become increasingly disturbed by Martha’s inappropriately erratic behavior, flashbacks reveal key moments in her time with the cult which hint at the reasons behind her shattered sense of reality…

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Coop’s favorite (family-safe) holiday season films…

Posted on November 29th, 2011
Coop’s favorite (family-safe) holiday season films…

Holiday films are a special genre, best viewed during this time of the year. If you’re looking for a few to give you a bit of seasonal cheer, you can do no wrong with the list below…

ELF (2003) – Made at the height of Will Ferrell’s career, Elf tells the story of Buddy, a human raised as an Elf at the North Pole. Definitely Ferrell’s most kid-friendly film, Buddy must restore Christmas spirit to a New York (and his father, played by James Caan) before everyone’s holiday apathy sabotages Santa’s annual mission. Only Ferrell could make a potentially annoying character this funny…

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“Footloose” might be the best 80’s remake ever

Posted on October 14th, 2011
“Footloose” might be the best 80’s remake ever

The current trend of remaking beloved films of past generations is often met with ire by both critics and movie goers alike. In spite of this vicious cycle, Memphian filmmaker Craig Brewer has accomplished a near impossible feat… He remade one of the most beloved pop movies from the 80’s and actually improved upon it. In short, “Footloose” (2011) is an amazingly entertaining film.

Teen orphan Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves from Boston to a small town in Georgia after his mother dies of cancer. His good-hearted uncle (Ray McKinnon) takes him in and makes him feel at home, but Ren soon runs afoul of a county ordinance that bans loud music and dancing…

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“Drive” harkens back to the days of “Miami Vice”

Posted on September 30th, 2011
“Drive” harkens back to the days of “Miami Vice”

Ryan Gosling plays a tough-guy-with-no-name who works as a stunt driver/mechanic in Hollywood while moonlighting as a getaway driver for high-risk robberies. With no friends or family, he lives a solitary existence until he forms an unlikely bond with his struggling neighbor Irene (Carrie Mulligan) and her cute son (Kaden Leos). His shifty, but good-hearted handler (Bryan Cranston) sets the driver up with a possible stock car racing gig bankrolled by a deceptively genial mob boss (Albert Brooks). When Irene’s ex-con husband returns home, a cascading chain of events pits the Driver up against the mob, threatening the life of Irene and her son.

While the story doesn’t seem all that original and the action is fairly sparse, the style is exhilarating…

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Why negative movie reviews really don’t matter

Posted on August 19th, 2011
Why negative movie reviews really don’t matter

Why negative movie reviews really don’t matter

Article by: Coop Cooper

Energized by the power and fantastic performances of “The Help,” this weekend I ventured online to see what my fellow American movie critics thought. The website Rottentomatoes.com averages the positive and negative reviews from critics of major print publications and assigns a percentage value. Anything under 60% is considered “rotten” and anything over that number is deemed “fresh.” While “The Help” gained a respectable 73% average, compared to the averages of “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” (76%), Captain America: The First Avenger” (79%) and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (82%), its average seemed rather low. Considering the film’s box office and awards potential, I wondered where most of the negativity was coming from…

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“The Help” will win Oscars and prestige for Mississippi

Posted on August 11th, 2011
“The Help” will win Oscars and prestige for Mississippi

by Coop Cooper

There is so much to talk about regarding the film adaptation of the bestselling book “The Help,” I won’t waste time reminding everyone of the setup or plot. In full disclosure, I helped the director and producers secure locations within Clarksdale, Mississippi in order to make sure the production filmed here. Although I helped “The Help,” I always intended on writing a non-partial review of the finished product. The short: It’s a glowing review. The long: My (possibly biased) opinions will be vindicated on the day of the 2012 Academy Awards nominations. I believe “The Help” will emerge as one of the most important and highly decorated films of the year.

Director Tate Taylor (a Mississippi native) and the rest of the principle crew have a lot to celebrate. They took an unpublished novel and elevated it to A-list standards in a matter of months. Secondly, they succeeded far beyond the expectations of myself and fans of the book…

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DVD REVIEWS: BLACK SWAN and TRON LEGACY

Posted on April 12th, 2011
DVD REVIEWS:  BLACK SWAN and TRON LEGACY

By Coop Cooper

One highly anticipated sequel (“Tron Legacy”) and one Oscar-winning film (“Black Swan”): Both are now available on DVD for you to buy or rent.

“Black Swan” tells the harrowing story of a talented, yet emotionally repressed ballerina named Nina (Natalie Portman) who suddenly receives the role of her career playing the Broadway lead in “Swan Lake.” When the sleazy and demanding director (Vincent Cassel) challenges Nina to tap into the dark side of her personality in order to play the sinister Black Swan role, she begins a slow spiral into madness. The conniving upstart Lily (Mila Kunis) both seduces Nina and threatens her career, propelling Nina’s insanity into disturbing realms of paranoia and hallucination.

“Black Swan” emulates the unsettling art-house horror films of Roman Polanski and David Cronenberg, but manages to remain explainable enough for general audiences to digest. It punctuates the more disturbing scenes of… CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW AT THE CLARKSDALE PRESS REGISTER WEBSITE

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Academy Award Nominated Films Available on DVD This Month by COOP

Posted on March 8th, 2011
Academy Award Nominated Films Available on DVD This Month by COOP

The 2011 Academy Awards have passed and now it is time for most of the public to finally see the darned movies that won. The majority of the films projected to receive Oscar nominations release in theaters at the very end of the year as to remain fresh in the mind of the voters. Much of the general public completely miss the films in theaters either due to lack of buzz or by the fact that many people (especially in rural areas) rarely make it to the movies anymore. Luckily the DVD, internet and pay-per-view movie market is there to pick up the slack and now you can see many of the current Academy Award winners and nominees on video. No matter your preferred method of movie-viewing (Netflix, Redbox, Blockbuster Online, etc…), you should be able to find nearly all of the below films… READ ARTICLE AT THE CLARKSDALE PRESS REGISTER WEBSITE

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Jay’s Oscar Picks…

Posted on February 27th, 2011
Jay’s Oscar Picks…

Once again, my friendly competitor (and uncle), Jay, has revealed his 2010 Oscar picks. What’s interesting this year is how vastly he and I differ in our prediction strategies. Looks like it’s going to be a real competition this year! En garde, Jay!…

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COOP predicts the 2011 Academy Awards!

Posted on February 26th, 2011
COOP predicts the 2011 Academy Awards!

No nonsense this year. I have not the taste nor the stomach for it. I just hope that James Franco understands the folly of hosting during his own nomination. The acid may dissolve him permanently due to overexposure and he shows no signs of relenting. Don’t push our buttons too hard, Frank…

Besides that, Hi :)…

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The 8th Annual Oxford Film Fest Reviewed by COOP…

Posted on February 15th, 2011
The 8th Annual Oxford Film Fest Reviewed by COOP…

Once again the fine staff of the Oxford Film Fest have topped themselves to produce the biggest turnout yet. My congratulations to all involved and I already can’t wait to see what is on the menu for 2012.

Films I saw (in no particular order):

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COOP’S TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2010

Posted on January 4th, 2011
COOP’S TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2010

Wow, shooting even a short film takes a lot out of you. Especially if you’re handling the writing, producing, directing, etc… It distracts you from things, such as the website you’ve been building for the past few years.

No, the Small Town Critic site is not defunct, just transitioning to encompass all of my projects, including movie reviews, short films, festival screenings, screenwriting seminars and whatever else I’ve got going on.

To get things on track for the New Year (2011? When did that happen?), here are my top 10 movie pics of the last year…

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MICRO REVIEWS (via Twitter!): MOTHER, MONSTERS, THE KILLER INSIDE ME, INTRUDER, DRILLBIT TAYLOR, THE TOWN, CENTURION…

Posted on September 27th, 2010
MICRO REVIEWS (via Twitter!):  MOTHER, MONSTERS, THE KILLER INSIDE ME, INTRUDER, DRILLBIT TAYLOR, THE TOWN, CENTURION…

Got a slew of them here. MONSTERS is currently available as a $10.oo rent on iTunes and THE KILLER INSIDE ME will be available on DVD/Blu-Ray tomorrow (Sept. 28)…

MOTHER – Poor Korean mom turns detective in an attempt to free her alleged murdering, simple-minded son. Powerful cinema. 5 out of 5 stars.

MONSTERS – Immigration statement thinly disguised as arthouse sci-fi. Watchable for critics, unsatisfying for mainstream. 3 out of 5 stars

THE KILLER INSIDE ME – C. Affleck plays a psycho lawman in 1960’s TX. Brilliant, brutal and one of the best of the year. 5 out of 5 stars

INTRUDER – Sam Raimi & crew try to survive a slasher attack in a supermarket. Nice camerawork but lame considering the talent. 2 – 5 stars

DRILLBIT TAYLOR – Innocuous comedy where 3 nerds hire a homeless buffoon to protect them from a bully. Cute but hollow. 2&1/2 out of 5 stars

THE TOWN – A guilt-ridden Boston bank robber falls in love with a former hostage. Affleck remakes HEAT with kick-ass results. 4 out of 5 stars

CENTURION – Spec fiction about what may have happened to the 9th Roman Legion. Sloppy pacing/high watchability. Bloody brutal! 3 out of 5

Thy Twitter has spoken…

-Coop

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MICRO REVIEWS (via Twitter!): The best of the FEEL GOOD FILM FESTIVAL by COOP

Posted on August 18th, 2010
MICRO REVIEWS (via Twitter!):  The best of the FEEL GOOD FILM FESTIVAL by COOP

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Coop’s most recent MICRO REVIEWS (via Twitter):

I got to conduct some great Q & A’s for some terrific films at the FEEL GOOD FILM FESTIVAL this past weekend. I met some truly gifted filmmakers and inspirational people.

I’d like to thank these special guests for affecting me the most: Cheryl Hines for her big intro, Shirley Jones for classing up the joint with her presence, Marty Ingles for reminding us what this festival is really about, Leeza Gibbons for singling me out with a nice compliment, writer/director Lexi Alexander for the lively discussion, producer/actor Googy Gress for his sincere enthusiasm, the League of S.T.E.A.M. for entertaining us all weekend and motivational speaker/actor Nick Vujicic for the sheer inspiration he gave to us all with his fantastic short film The Butterfly Circus (watch here!).

I’d also like to give big high-fives to all of the coordinators and volunteers for making the festival such a fun and engaging experience. I had a great time bonding with you all.

Finally a big congratulations to producer/actor Joe Russell and writer/actress Casey Strand from the short film “Strawberries” whose engagement I helped orchestrate during one of the more memorable Q & A’s.

I wish I had seen them all but of the ones I did see, here are the films that I felt were the best (in no particular order)…

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INCEPTION (2010) ***** movie review by COOP

Posted on July 19th, 2010
INCEPTION (2010) ***** movie review by COOP

Every few years or so, a film comes along that changes the way you look at cinema… One that incites scholarly debates, spawns books dedicated to analyzing it and inspires lesser filmmakers to shamelessly imitate it. Critics have to watch a lot (a whole lot) of bad movies to find these diamonds in the rough. I had a sneaking suspicion “Inception” might be a “crown jewel” in the rough, but often when I get that feeling I shuffle out of the theater with nothing but lumps of coal in my pocket. Not this time…

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KICK-ASS (2010) ***** movie review by COOP

Posted on April 20th, 2010
KICK-ASS (2010) ***** movie review by COOP

We’ve all heard the urban legend about the kid who put on a red cape and jumped out of his bedroom window after watching “Superman” back in 1978. While that story may or may not be true – and I’m honestly afraid to look it up to find out – it presents us with a cautionary tale that we are all merely human. Trying to live out foolish fantasies of superheroism could easily shorten our already limited lifespan. This is also the basic premise of the Mark Millar/John Romita comic book “Kick-Ass”, criticized for its portrayal of youth engaged in graphic violence and it’s cavalier approach to the subject. The film adaptation shares…

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I Predict the Predictable 82nd ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS (and I dare you to beat me) by COOP

Posted on March 3rd, 2010
I Predict the Predictable 82nd ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS (and I dare you to beat me) by COOP

In what looks to be one of the most predictable Oscar races of all time, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made a few changes to their nomination format, but those changes have not ramped up the suspense in many of the categories. For the first time, 10 movies have been nominated for “Best Picture”. While that sounds unorthodox, I believe it’s a perfectly altruistic and fair move to some of those great films that don’t usually get a lot of attention come awards season. Many voters (and the media) have jumped on highly influential bandwagons to champion a select few of the nominees, so the chances for an upset or two seem few and far between. However, in the Academy Awards, upsets do happen and with the changes to the voting system this year, things could get interesting…

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Jay’s Picks for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards: (Nostradamus, eat your heart out.)

Posted on March 1st, 2010
Jay’s Picks for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards: (Nostradamus, eat your heart out.)

A note from Coop: Jay has once again thrown down the gauntlet to declare his annual Oscar picks. With my own queued up and ready to go (you can go ahead and download my picks ballot, but my reasoning behind my choices won’t be posted for another couple of days), he gets first crack at doing the convincing. To download his ballot, go here.

Below are some jpegs of his picks. For a clearer, more readable version, go to the link above to either view or download the ballot…

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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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