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“Game of Thrones” phenomenon begins a new season

Posted on April 23rd, 2012
“Game of Thrones” phenomenon begins a new season

A year ago, the first season of “Game of Thrones” premiered on HBO and thus began a phenomenon, leading up to several season finale cliffhangers that had fans salivating for more. Now the second season (based on George R. R. Martin best-selling book series) has begun and so has the well-deserved hype for this outstanding series.

Like the series of books, the TV series takes place in a fictional Medieval world in which mythical creatures have vanished and the lords of “Westeros” battle to take over the “Iron Throne” after an insane king’s assassination causes a power vacuum. Many make claims and form alliances, but in this Machiavellian world, no one can be trusted. Only the Starks of Winterfell are honorable beyond reproach but murder and treachery from the more ambitious houses destroy and scatter their family. As these houses cut each others’ throats over power, an exiled princess plots to retake her kingdom with the help of exotic armies from the Far East… and once extinct dragons who obey only her commands. All the while a neglected, desperate order of monk soldiers guard a massive frozen barrier in the North in an effort to keep feral men, deadly mythical creatures and a zombie plague from invading the kingdom…

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THE HUNGER GAMES: blockbuster of the year?

Posted on April 23rd, 2012
THE HUNGER GAMES: blockbuster of the year?

In the same league as “Harry Potter” and the “Twilight” series, Suzanne Collins’ 3-part novel series “The Hunger Games” now has a film adaptation in theaters. Based on the early numbers at the box-office, it could be the blockbuster hit of the year.

The story takes place in the future, 75 years after a near-apocalyptic American civil war. The country is divided up into 12 districts and oppressed by a cruel dictatorship that supports itself through the slave labor of these districts. As a means of control and entertainment, the government created the Hunger Games in which each district must offer up a young male and female representative to fight other district representatives to the death in a wilderness arena. The sole winner gets to live out a life of luxury and their district is awarded extra food rations for the year…

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“John Carter” box office bomb? It’s Disney’s fault, not the filmmakers!

Posted on March 20th, 2012
“John Carter” box office bomb?  It’s Disney’s fault, not the filmmakers!

Exactly 100 years ago, “Tarzan” creator Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the novel “A Princess of Mars” which was serialized and published in “The All-Story” magazine beginning in 1912. Thus began the “John Carter of Mars” novel series which ended in 1964, fourteen years after Burroughs’s death.

Now in 2012, after many tries and failures reaching all the way back to 1931, the first film adaptation of the series has released in theaters under the title “John Carter.” The result is a rousing spectacle of a sci-fi/fantasy film, the likes of which were common in the 1980’s, but are sorely missed today…

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More critically acclaimed movies of 2011

Posted on January 23rd, 2012
More critically acclaimed movies of 2011

by Coop Cooper
All of the following films are on the short list for Academy Awards nominations, and while they all have Oscar-caliber qualities (particularly acting), I felt they fell short as “Best Motion Picture” contenders… except for one.

1. “War Horse” – Based on a book and a stage play (????), “War Horse” chronicles the story of a boy searching for his remarkable horse that is lost in the chaos of the battlefields of World War I. Possibly the best film ever in which a non-talking animal is the main character of the story, “War Horse” didn’t unfold as maudlin as I expected. Director Steven Spielberg tends to serve his weepy dramas with an overdose of sugar, but this film has just enough action and skillful execution, it rises above the typical “Lassie” story. While the plot is episodic and awkwardly paced, it’s just too…

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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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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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