William H. Macy is one fine actor. He's got a face like an unpaid bill, which gives extra texture to his character performances. Without speaking, he can convey more with a glance than some handsome younger actors can with a full page of dialogue. This is especially true in 2003's THE COOLER starring Macy as the unluckiest man in Vegas.
For a deeper appreciation of that film, I've got another weekend DVD double feature tip for you. Watch Macy put a big chill on gamblers' hot streaks by simply walking through a casino after you watch a classic by Frank Capra. The movie was an Oscar nominee for Best Picture of 1937. Ronald Colman starred as the idealistic British diplomat who seemed born with good luck. The movie is LOST HORIZON, one of my favorites.
In THE COOLER, not only does a character refer to this movie but THE COOLER itself is an inversion of Capra's film. Bernie Lootz (Macy) is the exact opposite of Robert Conway (Colman). Capra's film opens with panic, chaos and danger. There's military takeover action in China. Westerners, white people, are privileged enough to have access to a flight out of the danger. Conway leads their rescue. We see his spirit. He cared about the underprivileged minorities also in danger. The group of evacuees on that plane, including Conway and his brother, will wind up lost in a snowbound uncharted area.
I won't reveal more plot details of THE COOLER. I'll let you discover and enjoy them for yourself. But if you know that the screenplay is a very clever twist on Capra's LOST HORIZON, it's even more enjoyable. This is an example of why watching those old classics can pay off. A film reviewer can have greater insight and awareness of the new screenplay if he or she has that classic film knowledge. You'll have more of an idea of what the screenwriters seek to accomplish. Also, you can compare and contract the visuals -- the film literature -- in Capra's LOST HORIZON and in THE COOLER, directed by Wayne Kramer. Kramer also co-wrote the screenplay with Frank Hannah. If you were an actor auditioning for one of the lead or supporting roles, watching Capra's classic would be essential homework in preparing for your audition. It's more information.
Heroic Robert Conway is driven to return to uncharted Shangri-La against all odds. It's the source of renewed life, fortune and true love. It's his destiny. Can Bernie Lootz have a long, happy life as an employee of the Shangri-La who has now found true love? You have to watch THE COOLER and see for yourself. After you see LOST HORIZON.