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
The Cooler (2003) contains at least one tribute to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. When Shelley is being shown the new jackpot machine during Bernie's "hot" scene, the demonstrator tells him he calls it Marnie, "y'know, 'cos she's one frigid broad!" This refers to Hitchcock's Marnie (1964), in which Tippi Hedren plays a woman who is very sexually reticent. In addition, the film's trademark extreme worm's-eye-view shots from beneath card tables (of croupiers pushing casino chips into extreme close-up) and floors (of the soles of Bernie's shoes) may be homages to The Lodger (1927), in which Ivor Novello is shot via a similar technique to increase tension. See more »
As the extras turn from the payout window when Bernie is in love and becomes "lucky", the dolly track can be seen on the floor and the actors are very consciously stepping through the rungs and looking down at it so they don't trip. See more »
Where's Bernie, they're killing us. Yeah, we need him right away.
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A "cooler" is a guy who stands next to you in a casino when you are having a winning streak that is suddenly interrupted. It is someone who has such a bad luck that people around him are influenced; he could be pretty important for casino bosses. The cooler here is Bernie and the face of William H. Macy is perfect for him. The casino boss is Shelly in a wonderful performance from Alec Baldwin. Soon Bernie will leave, but not before he has met and fallen in love with Natalie, played by Maria Bello (for me only known from 'Payback' and 'Coyote Ugly'), a third terrific performance. She seems to like him also and suddenly that means Bernie is lucky. This will give, unfortunately for Shelly and therefore himself as well, results on the casino floor. Things are getting complicated.
The story is pretty original and entertaining on itself. A sub-plot that deals with the idea of remodeling the casino into a more modern one, not if it is up to Shelly, gives him a reason to be annoyed and show his more cruel side. Baldwin is at best in these scenes. The performances take the film to the next level. Baldwin won an Oscar nomination and it is pretty clear why. You believe him the entire time, no matter what he does. From Macy we expect a good performance, he is one of the best character-actors out there. I was also pleasantly surprised with Bello, an Oscar nomination would not have been strange here; she is very good, even great in the scenes with Macy. In the end 'The Cooler' is a good film, becoming better through performances, entertaining all the way through.
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