Friday, August 27, 2004

Got popcorn?

So, Linda, what have you seen lately? And what did you think?

I rented The Cooler a week ago. I am not sure why that movie didn't get better reviews: William H. Macy plays one more sad-sack character. I thought I was tired of seeing a good actor typecast again and again in what was beginning to look like schtick, but Macy works magic with Bernie Lootz, the loser's loser. Bernie has the most horrible luck imaginable, so sad a sack that he's been trapped paying off a debt in a casino, ruining other people's luck. Maria Bello is another loser, an astrology-obsessed woman whose luck is, in its own way, just as bad as Bernie's.

The tagline for the movie is "Love... you have to play to win."

The movie isn't so much about love, though, as it is about the mysterious nature of luck, of winners and losers, winning and losing, high rolling and low living. It's a dreamlike meditation on the vagaries of fortune and the way that a run of luck -- good or bad -- can suddenly change direction.

Does it make sense? Not always. Neither does luck.

I wish they'd done a better job of marketing this film when it was in the theater. It has a unique mix of soft and rough edges: the casino-as-dreamscape contrasts sharply with moments of real contact between human beings. The connections between people are real and raw: conversations are casual or intense, but in sharp emotional focus; both the sex and the violence in this movie felt more real to me than anything I've seen on a screen lately.

I give it... hmmm, what are we going to do about that here? Thumbs up? Bullseyes?@@@@@ Got an idea, Linda? Whatever: I liked The Cooler.