Monday, April 26, 2004


Here's a few DVD reviews, one I delighted in and two that I'm dissing:

THE COOLER (Dir. Wayne Kramer, 2003) 

William H. Macy puts in another sturdy performance as Bernie Lootz, the unluckiest man in Las Vegas who has actually made a successful career out of his losing streak. You see, the a Shangra La casino owner named Shelly (Alec Baldwin) employees Macy to simply approach gamblers who are on a winning roll and his presence alone will sour their game. 

"A cooler?" a slick corporate Ron Livingston breathing down Shelly's neck questions his old fashioned methods. Seems to be a good solid system until Lootz falls in love with a friendly waitress played by the emotionally effective actress Maria Bello and his luck changes. This enrages Shelly and he attempts to sabotage their budding romance. 

A good story with nice appropriate touches of humor, drama, and a thoughtful edge, THE COOLER doesn't try too hard or go too far.

The sex scenes are even well done and have an unusually (unusual for the movies that is) realistic feel to them mainly because we actually believe in Macy and Bello as real people. Another unique element especially within a movie made up of what are normally stock elements - Shelly's hired thugs barely speak but exchange telling looks at the sticky situations and each other. 

Baldwin hasn't had a role as good as Shelly in years and he does it justice. Small parts by the always reliable Paul Sorvino and Ellen Greene are also nice touches in a movie filled with nice touches. Luck be a lady tonight indeed. 

Special Features: Not much, a pre-release memo said this disc would have deleted scenes and even an alternate ending - the only thing that accompanies this flick is a Anatomy of a Scene featurette. Too bad. 

THE BIG EMPTY (Dir. Steve Anderson, 2003)

The lure of doing a simple delivery job for a gigantic payoff, a carrying bag that may or may not contain a severed human head, a series of cameos from b-list actors, and an underdog wins all mentality. Sound familiar? Only if you've seen any independent movie made from 1994 to today. 

Jon Favreau, who I was hoping would be doing loftier stuff by now, is the underdog in this aptly named pointless piece of...well let's just leave it at piece. Other victims of this stable of indie film cliches are Joey Lauren Adams, Rachel Leigh Cook, Daryl Hannah, Kelsey Grammar, and even HAROLD AND MAUDE legend Bud Cort who all try in vain to give this some flavor.

STUCK ON YOU (Dirs. Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly, 2003) 

Kind of like the Coen brothers without the wait more like the Zucker brothers without the laughs, the Farrelly brothers again raise tasteless un-funniness to a new level. 

Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear play a pair of Siamese twins - "we're not Siamese, we're American" one of the wall-to-wall witless lines - who decide to pursue their dreams of...oh forget it. If the Farrelly's special brand of stupid scatalogiacal humour, pointless celebrity cameos (Cher! Frankie Munz! Even Meryl Streep for Christ's sake!), un-involving visual style, and insincere sentiment did the trick for you in such 'classics' as THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, SAY IT AIN'T SO, and SHALLOW HAL then you're in for a treat. The rest of us though wish the Farrellys weren't so "stuck on" such immaturity and complete absence of quality material.

More later...

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