Las Vegas has had its share of film reflections. VIVA LAS VEGAS, ITS A MAD,MAD,MAD WORLD and HARD EIGH are just a sprinkling. Bernie Lootz (William H Macy) works in the Casino’s in the world famous strip. He is a world class ‘Cooler’. To be more honest he is a magnet for misfortune or a bad luck creator. One touch and his bad luck rubs off on you. You go from a lucky high to a washed out low. Now he wants out of the strip and on to normalcy. His boss Shelly (Alec Baldwin) is desperate to keep him however. Shelly will stop at nothing to keep him inside the casino. When Bernie meets Natalie (Maria Bello), it seems that the departure is going to happen far quicker then expected.
101 Films Black label have so far introduced a series of high quality films. THE COOLER is not as high quality a release as some of the other films in the series. The film is a parable of redemption, a parable of progress. A film that looks into the eyes of a Vegas past and the corporate future. Wayne Kramer’s directs the piece with a measure of urgency but sadly it never escapes its expectation. It never escapes the convention of its surrounds. It plays on William H Macy previous character types for his role as Bernie. He is the jittery, haphazard loser. The man who is pushed to the side and under anothers control. He is well cast here but it feels often very obvious. Baldwin gives an uneven performance. He has less to offer and chews scenary in some scenes. Bello is the best actor on screen. Vulnerable and human but with a series of dimensions outside of the scripts limitations. This all said, some film fans might like to explore it deeper. It has an interesting history in front of the MPAA over woman’s sexual pleasure and that is well worth exploring.
The best extras on the list are LADY LUCK. A documentary about the making of. Director Kramer seems to sense the films lack of success and discusses the script, cast and shooting process. The commentary also unpacks some of this but it is more interesting to listen to cinematographer Jim Whitaker. He talks lighting, ambiance and framing but also how to work with teh camera. This is revealing for anyone who likes cinematography. All in all its the best thing about the disc.
· Commentary with director Wayne Kramer and composer Mark Isham
· Commentary with director Wayne Kramer and cinematographer Jim Whitaker
· Deleted scenes (SD)
· Anatomy of a Scene featurette (SD)
· Storyboard comparisons (SD)
· Trailer (SD)