Can’t Decide on a Movie?
Are you sitting down to watch a movie and not knowing what choice to make? We’ve all been there. You spend longer endlessly scrolling through all the services, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, whatever – with no real end goal in mind of what you’d like to watch.
We understand that it is impossible to see every movie under the sun, and when you decide on one, it doesn’t quite live up to what you had hoped it might, with many missed moments as you don’t really take it all in. We have reviewed “The Cooler,” released in 2003 with a star-studded cast including Alec Baldwin and William H. Macy.
If you enjoy old-fashioned movies, similar to De Niro vibes with a casino twist, you should definitely watch this one. It explores Las Vegas in a way that you might not have seen.
Let’s find out why!
The Cooler Review
“The Cooler” can be considered both old-fashioned and unconventional but in the best kind of way. This movie comes without flashy scenes, slick transitions, hooks, or gimmicks. Instead, it gives us real characters, worn out from life and relatable. These characters live in a world that seems to have an unforgiving light, and their fates have more to do with their personality traits rather than being subject to a requirement of the plot. The acting is amazing, the writing has depth and nuance, and the film’s direction knows when to lean into film noir themes.
This is the first feature, both directed and written by Wayne Kramer. In many ways, “Cooler” is similar to the Spanish hit movie “Intacto.” This is due to themes surrounding supernatural powers, fortunes ultimately becoming a curse, and the images of a life-long streak of losing means that you can have a career U-turn for the better.
The film follows a story about one man’s efforts to find his true luck or some kind of luck that doesn’t result from bad actions or intentions. Arguably, there has rarely been a more ‘pathetic’ seeming individual captured on the screen. The character of Bernie Lootz (played by William H. Macy) is the token ‘loser’ of the film. Bernie’s luck is so bad that it is almost contagious. If you put him beside someone who is on a roll in life, he can stop them in their tracks. He says in the film: “People get next to me, and their luck turns.” For this reason, The Shangri-La Casino in Las Vegas wants to keep Bernie employed so he can act as their “cooler.” Whenever anyone starts winning, all casino mogul Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin) has to do is send in Bernie, and the game is most definitely over.
Alec Baldwin plays the role of an old-style gangster incredibly well. He is both brutal and sentimental in parts and resists any urge to transform the old casino into a glamorous Las Vegas tourist trap. What makes his character even more brutal is that he commits his worst crimes out of his true friendships with other characters. This movie reminds the viewer of how powerful an actor Baldwin is. He dominates this film with intense speeches, the most memorable being when he reminds us who the ‘real loser’ in life is.
One major difference between The Cooler and other movies based in Las Vegas is the aesthetic. Most Vegas-based movies tend to focus a lot on the glitz and glamour that Vegas has to offer. Instead, The Cooler chooses ‘disgusting’ as an aesthetic all the way throughout. The ghosts of showgirls and the original Rat Pack are long gone, and instead, in Cooler’s world, all that is left is late-night sleazes, disillusioned souls, and whisky.
So, if you are in the mood to watch a Vegas film that is different from the norm, we recommend giving The Cooler a watch. With Golden Globe winning actors, this comedy that is bittersweet in sections showcases moments of violence, highlighting the threats that come from trying to outrun your doom. With twists and turns along the way, these characters and their fate will keep you on the edge of your seat.