Lenny Cooke & Wrong Cops
You needn’t look any further than the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park for a couple of new films that are below the radar of awards season. Too often a lot of media gets diverted to talking about the same five or six films when in reality there’s a dozen unknown titles opening in the next few weeks.
Wrong Cops offers up an absurd police comedy as seen through the eyes of Quentin Dupieux. When he’s working with inanimate objects like in Rubber (about a killer tire) or normal concepts played for weirdness as in Wrong (about a search for a lost dog) Dupieux can carry the ball all the way down the court for the score. Unfortunately Wrong Cops is full of fouls and errors.
The conceit of Wrong Cops has a group of L.A. cops acting badly. Not referring to their thespian skills but to their own amoral behavior. Holding their revolvers on civilians and forcing them to disrobe; or, investigating a possible murder and just laughing and ignoring the body. You get the idea. You may recognize a couple of the actors like Eric Wareheim (of Tim & Eric infamy) or Marilyn Manson, and there are even a couple of stunt cameos like Eric Roberts and Ray Wise. Wrong Cops is just a wrong move for Dupieux.
Lenny Cooke is a fascinating documentary that explores the pressure and the rewards of being considered as a first-round contender for the NBA. The doc takes place between 2001 and 2003. Cooke may possibly be the highest rated high school basketball player at that time and his chance of being drafted by a major basketball team is all but assured.
There’s a gritty realism to the camerawork, some of it low-fi video of the time. There’s also a bold look at Cooke’s inner life, hanging out with his pals, or even questioning his ability to match the athletic standards of his life’s goal. One segment shows a group of teenage basketball contenders listening to a motivational speaker explain how little a million dollars actually buys for a professional league player. The talk, filled with the dollar amount of expensive cars and agent’s fees and entertainment taxes, is riveting. Ultimately Cooke must choose between going to college or becoming eligible to be drafted straight out of high school. The ending is a revelation both in terms of what actually happens and in how persnickety pro sports can be. Lenny Cooke the person seems to be gobbled up and spit back out by the sport that is his passion.
Both films are playing exclusively at the Vintage Park cinema this week: Wrong Cops nightly, and Lenny Cooke on Tuesday night (January 7) at 7:30.
- Michael Bergeron