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BLOOD FATHER review: Mel Gibson may not be on the A-List but he’s still got it…

Posted on August 29th, 2016
BLOOD FATHER review:  Mel Gibson may not be on the A-List but he’s still got it…

by Coop Cooper

More films with big stars and modest budgets have opted to premiere on Pay Per View or online than ever. Some opt for a limited theater run, with a simultaneous release on services like DirectTV (for rent) or, more often, they bypass the theater release altogether. For example, “Blood Father” starring Mel Gibson, had its premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and is now available to rent on online streaming services like YouTube, Amazon, Vudu and Google Play.

Mel Gibson plays Link, an aging ex-con recently out of the joint and sober. He barely makes ends meet running a tattoo shop out of his trailer when he suddenly gets a desperate call from his runaway addict daughter, Lydia (Erin Moriarty). Lydia has become a target of termination by a drug syndicate after shooting her dealer boyfriend (Diego Luna) during a job gone wrong…

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FREE STATE OF JONES and THE DUEL: Two films with Mississippi connections that could have done better…

Posted on July 4th, 2016
FREE STATE OF JONES and THE DUEL:  Two films with Mississippi connections that could have done better…

by Coop Cooper

Here are two current films that have strong Mississippi connections. One takes place in the state and while the other does not, it was filmed within the state.
“Free State of Jones” – Newt Knight (Matthew McConaughey), a medic in the Confederate Army, deserts for his home in Jones County, Mississippi when a young relative is killed in battle. Upon bringing the body back to the mother, Knight discovers that his family and neighbors – all poor women and children with the men off at war – are being robbed of all of their possessions by Rebel soldiers under the auspice of a 10% war tax. In the act of defending a family from robbery, Knight is identified as a deserter and must hide in the swamps amongst a small band of runaway slaves. Amongst those slaves is a Creole healer named Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) whom Knight forms a relationship with. As more deserters arrive to the swamp, Knight forms a militia and is able to run Confederates out of Jones and the surrounding counties. When the war ends, Knight and his followers suffer repercussions for their efforts…

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Top 10 Best Movies about summer camps and summer vacations…

Posted on June 27th, 2016
Top 10 Best Movies about summer camps and summer vacations…

by Coop Cooper

Summer vacations and summer camp… The films that tackle these two traditions are the inspiration for these lists. “Jaws” could have been #1, but that would have been cheating since the main characters were hard at work and not on vacation. “Dirty Dancing” could have made the list, but I seem to be the only one who doesn’t have fond memories of that film. Nevertheless, here is what I came up with:

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SING STREET is an instant classic for lovers of the 80’s…

Posted on May 16th, 2016
SING STREET is an instant classic for lovers of the 80’s…

by Coop Cooper

Connor, aka ‘Cosmo’ (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), an awkward middle-class kid growing up in 1985 Dublin, Ireland, receives a shock when his bickering parents (Aidan Gillen from “Game of Thrones” and Maria Doyle Kennedy) tell him they can no longer afford his education at a posh Jesuit school. He transfers to a rough, inner-city Catholic school and is immediately bullied by the students and tormented by the hard-nosed headmaster priest. He becomes infatuated with an older orphaned girl, Raphina (Lucy Boynton) who hangs around the school and claims to be a model waiting on a one-way ticket to London to pursue her career. He impulsively invites her to star in a music video for a non-existent band he sings in. She accepts and he scrambles to quickly form a band consisting of his fellow classroom misfits in order to hold her interest. He lucks out and assembles a competent cover group but his slacker older brother (Jack Reynor) insists that only serious bands write their own songs. Cosmo tries his hand at songwriting and has an exceptional talent for it, but life hardships threaten to derail his efforts and his pursuit of Raphina…

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EDDIE THE EAGLE might be the feel-good movie of 2016…

Posted on May 2nd, 2016
EDDIE THE EAGLE might be the feel-good movie of 2016…

by Coop Cooper

Based on a true story, Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) was a sickly, awkward and unathletic British child who develops a tenacious fascination with the Olympics. After being discouraged by everyone – especially his blue collar father – at every turn, Eddie keeps formulating different plans to achieve his dream. He settles on downhill skiing as his best chance, but after years of training, he is kicked off the British Olympic team. He figures his next best chance is to try his hand at ski jumping, except Great Britain hasn’t had an Olympic ski jumper in competition since the 1920’s…

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DOWNTON ABBEY, the end of a TV phenomenon…

Posted on March 7th, 2016
DOWNTON ABBEY, the end of a TV phenomenon…

by Coop Cooper
Although the final episode aired during Christmas in the UK, American audiences got their last glimpse of “Downton Abbey” during the PBS Masterpiece Theatre finale this past Sunday. The show, which chronicled the trials and tribulations of the Lord of Grantham and his royal English family for six seasons could have been easily dismissed as a stuffy, British soap opera with little appeal to American or international audiences. Instead, the series became PBS’s biggest programming hit of all time and captured the imagination of viewers from countries like Argentina and Japan…

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SPOTLIGHT and THE BIG SHORT are pretty good as far as heavy-handed, outrage pieces go…

Posted on January 19th, 2016
SPOTLIGHT and THE BIG SHORT are pretty good as far as heavy-handed, outrage pieces go…

by Coop Cooper

Outrage pieces aimed at real-life institutions and events are compelling but like documentaries covering similar topics, they deserve skepticism and scrutiny in their presentation of the facts as well as their intentions, both political and personal. One thing that makes these films so polarizing is that they have an agenda and rarely present both sides of an argument, so they should be taken with a grain of salt even if they appear to be correct. Here are two Oscar-nominated films up for Best Picture that fall under this category…

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THE REVENANT must be seen in theaters!…

Posted on January 12th, 2016
THE REVENANT must be seen in theaters!…

by Coop Cooper

Every year I find at least a handful of movies that surprise me enough to earn my highest rating. It’s always a short list but it takes special mixture of originality, superior storytelling, spot on acting and spectacle for a movie like “The Revenant” to come along and surpass all expectations.

Based on a true story from the 1820’s, frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his half-breed Pawnee son (Forrest Goodluck) leads a party of fur trappers through the bitter cold of the American wilderness when they are attacked by marauding natives. Forced to leave most of their haul behind, the party flees for their outpost and Glass is mauled by a grizzly along the way. Unable to carry him further, the Captain (Domhnall Gleeson) offers a reward to those who stay behind to care for Glass until he either heals or expires. Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) stays behind but betrays Glass by killing his son and leaving Glass for dead. Despite his grave injuries, Glass somehow survives and makes his way hundreds of miles across dangerous country to track down Fitzgerald and get his revenge…

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT is proof that Tarantino’s ego has reached critical mass…

Posted on January 8th, 2016
THE HATEFUL EIGHT is proof that Tarantino’s ego has reached critical mass…

by Coop Cooper

There are a few famous filmmakers out there who I feel have developed an unhealthy contempt for their audiences. At some point in their career, their inflated egos take over and they no longer care if anyone enjoys their films as long as they get what they want out of it. They give grandiose speeches on why everyone else is wrong or stupid but them and frequently lash out at critics and fans over the pettiest of nitpicks. Their movies become increasingly self-indulgent, less accessible to general audiences and their creative choices become questionable at best and spiteful at worst. We’ve seen this happen with M. Night Shyamalan, Kevin Smith and George Lucas, all of whom polarized and alienated many fans with their toxicity (well, “The Visit” was terrible but Shyamalan is at least trying to get back in our good graces). Although he may have already succumbed to this long ago, I believe Quintin Tarantino presently falls squarely into this category and I offer “The Hateful Eight” as evidence…

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BEASTS OF NO NATION… beautiful, brutal, one of the year’s best

Posted on November 6th, 2015
BEASTS OF NO NATION… beautiful, brutal, one of the year’s best

by Coop Cooper

Netflix has been breaking new ground both in the original content it produces and in the way that content is delivered. They changed the model of serialized shows by releasing all episodes of an entire season at once (a brilliant idea) and made their original shows only available to watch through their online service, securing their dominance over other subscription services. Now Netflix hopes to change the model for releasing original feature films and “Beasts of No Nation” is the film that will push the boundaries of Hollywood distribution and possibly spell doom for the future of major theater chains…

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Ridley’s THE MARTIAN washes away the stank of Ridley’s PROMETHEUS

Posted on October 16th, 2015
Ridley’s THE MARTIAN washes away the stank of Ridley’s PROMETHEUS

by Coop Cooper

“Gravity” took an admirable stab at creating a realistic space drama in 2013, and while I found it to be a near-perfect film in terms of photography, acting and effects, it seemed to leave some people cold. Some disliked having to watch one character act alone through most of the film, while others decried its unrealistic scientific aspects. Whatever the case, Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” seems to avoid a few of those problems and while I found it no better than “Gravity”, it sure proves that Scott hasn’t lost his touch after directing the space fiasco that was “Prometheus”…

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SICARIO has it all, including a possible franchise opportunity for Del Toro…

Posted on October 9th, 2015
SICARIO has it all, including a possible franchise opportunity for Del Toro…

by Coop Cooper

Every once in awhile, an action/crime drama will raise the bar in what is often a humdrum and stagnant genre. The style has become more sophisticated over the decades. Actors stopped shooting from the hip and got training from professionals. Lengthy and over-the-top, Hong Kong styled shootouts eventually gave way to a more realistic form of screen combat. The excitement now seems to come from seeing the actors performing accurate tactical reloads and dealing with the tension before impending violence and the traumatic aftermath. “Sicario” utilizes this new style effectively and even manages to elevate the genre…

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MISSISSIPPI GRIND doesn’t insult your intelligence about gambling…

Posted on September 18th, 2015
MISSISSIPPI GRIND doesn’t insult your intelligence about gambling…

by Coop Cooper

I’ve never been a huge fan of gambling films. They tend to glorify an unrealistic amount of luck while passing off the luck and the skill as heroic or virtuous qualities. Fortunately, “Mississippi Grind” is not your typical gambling film.

Ben Mendelsohn plays Gerry, a gambler in Iowa who owes every bookie in town and can’t seem to catch a break. At a poker game, he meets the charismatic Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) who inspires him with confidence and a winning attitude. The two become fast friends and Gerry begins to see signs from on high that his luck is about to change. Gerry suggests to Curtis that they take all that they have and hit every casino along the Mississippi River down to New Orleans to make one big score to solve all of their problems. Unfortunately, Gerry’s luck takes a turn to for the worse, and his good luck charm, Curtis, may have some dark secrets of his own…

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Football season means it’s time to revisit the pigskin cinema classics!

Posted on September 11th, 2015
Football season means it’s time to revisit the pigskin cinema classics!

by Coop Cooper

With football season upon us, it is time to reflect upon (and revisit!) some of the best football movies out there. Whether they are about high school, college, pro… or prison, all are either funny, exciting, inspirational or all three…

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What looks good for the rest of 2015?…

Posted on August 21st, 2015
What looks good for the rest of 2015?…

by Coop Cooper

“Straight Outta Compton” about the rise of gangster rap group N.W.A. has been a critical and commercial success with impressive box office numbers this past weekend, and it also marks the end of the summer movie season. Here are ten other highly anticipated movies audiences have to look forward to for the rest of 2015…

“Black Mass” (Sept. 18) – Johnny Depp once again makes a bizarre physical transformation to play real-life murderous mobster-turned FBI informant, Whitey Bulger. Depp seems most comfortable when he finds a role he can disappear into, but he always walks the line between drama and parody. Could this be a sincere attempt by the actor to gain the attention of the Academy?

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MAGGIE shows you a Schwarzenegger you’ve never seen before…

Posted on May 15th, 2015
MAGGIE shows you a Schwarzenegger you’ve never seen before…

by Coop Cooper

I once joked many years ago that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career would have another shot in the arm if he ever took a role as a transvestite prostitute in an indie drama. I didn’t say that to insult the guy, I just meant he’s never taken a risk to try a starring role outside the bombastic action film genre (and the occasional high-budget, goofy comedy) he worked so hard to define in the 80’s and 90’s. Now, after 46 years of working in the film industry, ‘The Governator’ has finally taken that risk with the minimalist zombie indie tearjerker, “Maggie”…

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MR. TURNER is slow, long, sometimes beautiful and it’s on DVD…

Posted on May 8th, 2015
MR. TURNER is slow, long, sometimes beautiful and it’s on DVD…

by Coop Cooper

Arriving this week to DVD is an Academy Award-nominated film which did not get as much hype as the rest. “Mr. Turner”, a biographical drama directed by Mike Leigh, received nominations for cinematography, costume design, original score and production design, although it won none of these categories. With the exception of the score, I’d say it could’ve been a strong contender in three of those categories, but the film simply couldn’t compete with the more interesting of last year’s nominees…

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BETTER CALL SAUL is a worthy heir to BREAKING BAD and maybe then some…

Posted on February 13th, 2015
BETTER CALL SAUL is a worthy heir to BREAKING BAD and maybe then some…

by Coop Cooper

Anyone who regularly watched “Breaking Bad” through most of its run remembers how the shady ambulance-chasing lawyer character of Saul Goodman helped former chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) manage his crystal methamphetamine empire. While Saul was an amusingly good-natured and funny guy, he was a crook, but it was plain to see he had no stomach for the violence his job sometimes required. Now in a genius stroke, “Bad” creator Vince Gilligan has opted to tell Saul’s story which takes place before, during and after the timespan of “Breaking Bad” with the new series “Better Call Saul”…

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

Posted on January 30th, 2015
CAKE, FOXCATCHER, BIG EYES, WILD, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT, SELMA…

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…

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More exceptional films from 2014…

Posted on January 16th, 2015
More exceptional films from 2014…

by Coop Cooper

I’m still powering through many of the 2014 films that are up for awards and here are five more I think are exceptional and worthy of a watch…

“Birdman” – A washed up actor (Michael Keaton) tries to salvage a troubled play production that could revitalize his career, but a narcissistic, unhinged co-star (Edward Norton), a zany cast of misfits and his own psychosis could derail his comeback. Shot to look like it was filmed in one continuous shot (it wasn’t), “Birdman” is an actor’s dream film which will be most well known for singlehandedly – if not temporarily – resurrecting Michael Keaton’s career…

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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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