In a tribute to old-style nuance and Las Vegas nostalgia, a
yearning for the 1950s glory days, Wayne Kramer’s “The
Cooler” presents a changing of the guard that revolves around
the unluckiest man in the world.

Kate Green
Courtesy of Lions Gate
And at this rose ceremony I select …

William H. Macy plays Bernie Lootz, an easy mark whose lack of
luck rubs off on people, employed as a “cooler” in the
hazy world of the Las Vegas casino the Shangri-La. Most everything
in his life is determined by casino owner/mean S.O.B. Shelly Kaplow
(Alec Baldwin). Even his chance meeting with lady luck Natalie
(Maria Bello, “Payback”) is orchestrated by Shelly. But
when Bernie’s luck starts to turn for the better, the entire
microcosm of Shangri-La spins into an uncontrollable course of
changes.

Everything in “The Cooler” exudes coolness. Superb
acting on all fronts and some slick directing by relative-unknown
Kramer heighten the sense of symbolic wonderment presented in the
uniqueness of Macy’s character and the idea of Shangri-La
itself. Even the simplistic story structure and elementary dialogue
maintain the vintage Vegas aura.

Though “The Cooler”’s self contained,
strife-ridden world of solitude lacks the intense drama and dire
straights of a “Casino,” it certainly encapsulates the
whit and spunk of the hip Vegas it remembers.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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