The Cooler
Director Wayne Kramer

Rarely do we have an opportunity to see cinematic perfection. Coppola was kind enough to give us "The Godfather" and Scorcese hit us with "Goodfellas" and John Milius bestowed "Conan the Barbarian" unto the world, just to name a few of the finest films to date. You can now add Wayne Kramer and "The Cooler" to this list. Vegas is the playground Kramer chooses to tell this unlikely story of a serious loser who falls in love with Lady Luck and his fortunes consequently change. We all know that in real estate there are three keys to success: "location, location, location"! In film there are three keys that Kramer knows all too well: "casting, casting, casting"! From top to bottom you are treated to pure genius from a veteran cast that includes the typically fantastic William H. Macy, Oscar nominated Alec Baldwin, the suprising Maria Bello, Paul Sorvino, Ron Livingston, and "Dildo" from "Outside Providence" a.k.a. Shawn Hatosy. Also crucial to this roller coaster ride is the fabulously smooth script. You can't help but feel attatched to the sympathetic central character Bernie Lootz. He is so pitiful and yet has not a single whiney bone in his body. Lootz, played to perfection by Macy, is the most extreme contrast to Casino boss Shelly Kaplow. Shelly seems to have "it" all but actually is self-loathing whereas Lootz is content with his sad life. The Academy has recongnized Baldwin's superior portrayal of Kaplow with a nomination for Best Supporting Actor and it is certainly warranted, but the real scene stealer is Natalie, equisitely portrayed by Maria Bello. Her compassion and "hippieish"intensity as the cocktail waitress who changes life for Lootz is skillful! The story shucks and jives into the seedy world of "Sin City" and back to the most basic human desires of love and loyalty with ease. What else can I say: The lighting is transforming, the score is a subtle storm of mood, the set design had me craving a cigarette, cheap scotch, and a $2.99 buffet! Thankyou Wayne Kramer for your perfect film! (Pat Connor)
Rating: A Naked Eva Mendez