Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Cooler (2003)

The Cooler (3 Stars)

The key players in the story are old-fashioned casino owner Shelly (Alec Baldwin), a cocktail waitress Natalie (Monica Bello), and his good luck charm Bernie Lootz (Macy). By `good luck' charm, I mean that Bernie is referred to in Vegas lingo as a `Cooler,' which is good for Shelly who's financial success depends on how much gamblers lose on his floor. Bernie's asset is that he is so unlucky that he can break any gambler's hot streak, simply by getting near them. Obviously the question that pops out here is `What?? How can this guy change the outcome of cards and dice?.' The answer is in reality, no, Bernie couldn't alter the outcomes of anything, but the key to the film lies within how it treats Bernie's powers as scientifically plausible and because the film's entire plot is based on something that doesn't happen in reality, the film lies within an abstract world. With respect to that, the surreal explanation for Bernie is that being a Cooler for him is easy, because off the job he's extremely unlucky, so it's just a constant state. This just makes Bernie a very down-on-himself guy, but his luck changes when Natalie comes along and the two fall in love. Unfortunately for Shelly, a love struck Bernie is incredibly bad for business, and with the new management breathing down his neck, he has to resort to extreme measures. Alec Baldwin had no hype, whatsoever, before this movie came out, and yet he managed to work his way to a front-runner for a golden globe and oscar nomination this past year, so that says a lot about his performance in itself. In this film, Baldwin's character starts out as just your typical mobster, someone we even feel sympathetic for, because he has to deal with a younger business-oriented guy brought in to modernize the casino, but Shelly is so persistently stuck in his ways and his ways are so crude and violent that Baldwin makes a true villain out of the character. The film is brooding and slow but it's well-made and eventually things do end up happening.