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A futuristic drama set in a time where love doesn't exist -- but it can be bought, in the form of a costly computer chip implant -- and centered on a couple struggling to maintain their link to one another.
The unluckiest man in Vegas - a guy whose bad luck is contagious - is used by the last of the old time mob run casinos to kill high rollers' action. That is, until he falls in love with a cocktail waitress and gets "lady luck," which throws the situation into reverse. Things turn nasty when the casino director tries to break up the romance. Written by
This film originally received an NC-17 rating and was re-cut to achieve an R. The details of the rating dispute are documented in the film This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006), which shows some of the deleted footage. See more »
During the opening credits, the croupier of a roulette table which Bernie has cooled puts the win marker on (00) double zero. However, the ball is still in motion and hasn't yet landed in any slot. See more »
Where's Bernie, they're killing us. Yeah, we need him right away.
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"The Cooler" has really divided viewers. Some, definitely not all, are taken with William H. Macy's first-ever sexy role where he shows his buns (and a bit more) as Bernie the Cooler, a key employee at the Shangri-la, a Las Vegas casino a bit shopworn and out of touch with the latest and hottest on the Strip. A cooler is a guy who shows up by the side of a punter on a long winning streak and, somehow, extinguishes his luck merely by hanging around the table and acting like a klutz.
Maria Bello is a cocktail waitress, Natalie, relegated to the low end of the casino where elderly day trippers bet small amounts. Feeling sorry for her, and perhaps a bit attracted, Bernie gets her transferred to the big spender zone where, presumably, tips are better. One thing leads to another and - wow - Macy is, according to a few of my female friends, a heck of a lot sexier than, say, a wannabe babe magnet like Brad Pitt.
Running the casino is Shelley, Alec Baldwin. Shelley has a problem: the casino's investors (a euphemism) want to tear down the place and build a new, modern joint that will pack in the younger high rollers. A sentimentalist at heart, as well as a gangster, Shelley wants Shangri-la - which does turn a profit as he points out to the guys demanding change - to stick it out as the last classy, old style casino. This is the stuff of eyeball to eyeball confrontation.
Natalie is the catalyst for a change in Bernie's luck - and lust. From an initially awkward conjoining, the two fall deeply in love and find they're in synch in the sack. So she's no longer a catalyst, she's the Significant Other.
Bernie has some family issues with his lackluster son and Natalie has to deal with problems with Shelley that would merit a lawsuit about a hostile workplace . Shelley - poor guy - really needs a dedicated cooler, Bernie is the best and he knows, he thinks, how to insure renewed employee dedication.
No Nevada gaming authority or cops here - this casino seems to be in a parallel universe where the honchos make their own rules independent of even the semblance of regulation. There can't really be a Shangri-la like this place in Las Vegas (I'm sort of sure).
Macy delivers a terrific performance as a schlepp who finds he has the heart of if not a lion at least a fierce tabby. Bello handles the shifting moods of her character very well-she's a good actress. And very pretty. Baldwin turns in a predictably dependable job as a tired mobster/businessman who holds true to values rejected by the new generation of Organized Crime wiz kids (one persistent pest sent to remake the casino is dismissed as a "Harvard turd").
All in all, a good movie especially because it showcases Macy in an unexpected role where he demonstrates the depth of his enormous acting ability.
WARNING: Very explicit sexuality and some in-your-face brutality. Not for kids.
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