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HELL OR HIGH WATER and FENCES… Do either have what it takes to win an Oscar?

Posted on January 9th, 2017
HELL OR HIGH WATER and FENCES… Do either have what it takes to win an Oscar?

by Coop Cooper

With the Golden Globes already given out, awards season is officially in full swing. Although the Academy Awards nominations have not been released, here are reviews for two films which have already received Oscars buzz…

“Hell or High Water” – Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby (Chris Pine) are brothers embarking on a West Texas bank heist spree. Soon-to-retire Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his partner, Alberto (Gil Birmingham) hit the road to try and track down the unknown bank robbers. As the robberies progress, it becomes evident that the brothers have an agenda that supersedes any wealth they will accumulate from these robberies. As the Rangers close in, Toby becomes concerned about Tanner, whose increasingly reckless behavior borders on the suicidal.

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WESTWORLD HBO series has more in common with BLADE RUNNER than the original…

Posted on October 10th, 2016
WESTWORLD HBO series has more in common with BLADE RUNNER than the original…

by Coop Cooper

The original 1973 “Westworld” film written/directed by Michael Crichton starred Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as two yuppies who spend a small fortune to visit the adult theme park of the future where humans can experience the old ‘Wild West’ of the late 1800’s. Since the characters in the theme park are played by emotionless robots, the guests can visit brothels and shoot any robot they want without consequence. However, when a glitch in programming causes a robot uprising, they must fight for their lives as they are relentlessly pursued by a villainous gunslinger robot (Yul Brynner) who won’t stop until they are dead.

That simple setup inspired an entire genre of ‘evil robot’ sci-fi movies, made most famous by “The Terminator” film franchise. The new HBO series “Westworld” takes a completely different and more complex approach to the idea by telling the story mostly from the perspective of the robots and the behind-the-scenes employees…






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THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016) is a remake I can actually get behind…

Posted on September 28th, 2016
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016) is a remake I can actually get behind…

by Coop Cooper

In a Hollywood bloated with remakes, only a few seem like a good idea. Take the recent remake of “The Magnificent Seven” for example. The original 1960 western was actually a remake itself. “Seven Samurai” (1954) was the true original film which has been remade many times, even into a space opera – “Battle Beyond the Stars” (1980). For a classic property that has been remade so many times, it’s hard to blame a studio for attempting to update the western version of it again, especially when it looks as good as this one…






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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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Amazon’s flawed series production model…

Posted on November 20th, 2015
Amazon’s flawed series production model…

by Coop Cooper

Back in January, Amazon released an online-only pilot episode for “The Man in the High Castle”, based on the celebrated 1962 sci-fi novel by Philip K. Dick. The episode was free to watch to Amazon Prime members and gained acclaim by both critics and audiences. Based on the strength of the pilot and the reaction to it, Amazon ordered a full season of the show and went into production. On October 23rd, the second episode was released, and as of November 20th the rest of the episodes have been released all at once, similar to the Netflix release strategy. But unlike Netflix, Amazon took ten whole months between releasing the pilot and the rest of the series. That was plenty of time for most people who saw the original pilot to completely forget about it and lose interest by the time the show released…






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DJANGO UNCHAINED… good movie, makes Mississippi look like hell on Earth?

Posted on January 4th, 2013
DJANGO UNCHAINED…  good movie, makes Mississippi look like hell on Earth?

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has evolved a great deal as a filmmaker since he wrote and directed “Reservoir Dogs” in the 1992. Refusing to join the Directors Guild so that he could sidestep Hollywood bureaucracy and have total control over his projects was a bold move that few could have pulled off. It gave him nearly unprecedented creative control over big-budgeted films spawned from his fertile imagination. The downside to this he has no one to reign him in when he makes dubious stylistic decisions and while “Django Unchained” is a superior films in most regards, Tarantino could have used a few respected advisers who might have discouraged him from lapsing into his more questionable cinematic fetishes…






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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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“Cowboys and Aliens” is not as silly as it sounds

Posted on August 11th, 2011
“Cowboys and Aliens” is not as silly as it sounds

by Coop Cooper

The setup is nothing new. Set in 1873, A man with no name (Daniel Craig) wakes up in a wild west desert with amnesia and a strange bracelet. He runs afoul of an honorable lawman (Keith Carradine) and a ruthless cattle baron (Harrison Ford) who wants his head. Then the aliens attack. Cowboys get blasted and abducted and the Man-With-No-Name suddenly discovers the bracelet on his arm is an alien ray gun. The man teams up with his former enemies and a strange woman (Olivia Wilde) to save the abducted town folk.

Since this seemed like a goofy, high-concept gimmick, I was curious as to why it had attracted A-list heavy hitters like Craig, Ford and “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau…






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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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MICRO REVIEWS (via Twitter!) EXPENDABLES, SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD, THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD, THE EDUCATION OF CHARLIE BANKS, VIRUS, RUNAWAY, I AM THE CHEESE…

Posted on August 26th, 2010
MICRO REVIEWS (via Twitter!) EXPENDABLES, SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD, THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD, THE EDUCATION OF CHARLIE BANKS, VIRUS, RUNAWAY, I AM THE CHEESE…

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

New stuff and old! Run out and see “Scott Pilgrim”!…

EXPENDABLES: Supergroup of action stars battle a banana republic dictator and CIA traitor. Watchable but sloppy filmmaking. 2&1/2 out of 5

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD: Bassist must defeat 7 evil exes of new gf in order to woo her. Brilliant videogame-styled romp. 4 out of 5

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD: Outrageous Korean remake gives new life to the Spaghetti Western classic. Kang-ho Song = amazing! 3 out of 5

THE EDUCATION OF CHARLIE BANKS: Sociopath befriends a college boy who ratted on him as a teen. Great characters, lame conclusion. 3 out of 5

VIRUS: Energy being lands on ship, declares humans a “virus” & proceeds to kill a salvage crew. Cheesy despite big budget. 2&1/2 out of 5

RUNAWAY: Cop who takes down malfunctioning robots discovers a plot to use robots as assassins. Selleck, Simmons, Crichton, cool. 3 out of 5

I AM THE CHEESE: A mentally unbalanced kid trying to find out what happened to his parents. Depressing drama delivers. 3&1/2 out of 5

Thy Twitter has spoken.






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TOP 10 GREATEST MOVIE TITLES EVER by COOP

Posted on May 13th, 2009
TOP 10 GREATEST MOVIE TITLES EVER by COOP

Here are the movie titles that – when you see them – completely grab your attention. Whether they are the best piece of cinema of all time or a complete piece of crap, one thing cannot be denied… You gotta love that title. Here are the 10 best movie titles of all time in descending order all the way down to #1…






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Not a Xenu’s chance in hell… Travolta + Cruise does NOT = BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID!!! by JAY

Posted on April 9th, 2009
Not a Xenu’s chance in hell…  Travolta + Cruise does NOT = BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID!!!  by JAY

(NOTE: Jay is a master of observational sarcasm and a welcome new contributor to The Small Town Critic. Behold his wit and satire in this news item that rightfully scores a solid 10 on the ludicrous scale)… So Tom Cruise is teaming up with BFF and fellow Scientologist John Travolta to remake the Newman / Redford […]

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10 TOUGHEST MOVIE HEROES OF ALL TIME by COOP

Posted on April 8th, 2009
10 TOUGHEST MOVIE HEROES OF ALL TIME by COOP

These are the heroes that just won’t go down no matter what you thow at them. The best of the best. The Greatest. Here’s the criteria I used while making the list… a. The heroes must survive to the end of their film/franchise. b. No superheroes with superpowers. c. Pick heroes who represent cult phenom films. These are my results:






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DUCK, YOU SUCKER! (AKA “A Fistfull of Dynamite” 1971) ***** lost classic review by COOP

Posted on November 17th, 2008
DUCK, YOU SUCKER! (AKA “A Fistfull of Dynamite” 1971) ***** lost classic review by COOP

I love everything about Spaghetti Westerns. No doubt, Sergio Leone made the best of them. His “Once Upon a Time in the West” ranks as my favorite western of all time. His “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” ranks as my second favorite. Now after having seen his near-forgotten “Duck, You Sucker!”… I believe […]

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APPALOOSA (2008) ****1/2 advanced screening review by COOP

Posted on October 2nd, 2008
APPALOOSA (2008) ****1/2 advanced screening review by COOP

Ever since “Dances with Wolves” and “Unforgiven” won big Oscar gold in the early 1990’s, the studios have put out at least one big-budget western per year in the hopes of attracting the same critical and commercial success. While some of these are rootin’, tootin’ action films, many fall under the category of “revisionist westerns.” […]

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THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD ***** DVD review by ELLIPSO

Posted on September 24th, 2008
THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD ***** DVD review by ELLIPSO

2007 was such an excellent year for mainstream American art films, that I’d hate to pick a favorite. “No Country For Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood,” and this film are three films that I never would have imagined sharing the same Oscar nominations… but there they were. They all deserved it. All three of […]

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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 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

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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