Friday, July 02, 2004

Cooling my heels

After two days of tube strikes and press screenings, I was quite looking forward to getting home early last night. Having a proper meal with Mrs. AKA. A long, lazy soak in a blistering hot bath. Catching up on an ever-increasing pile of neglected paper work.

Yeah, right.

I got to Marylebone Station just fine. Then the tannoy crackled into action, informing London’s disgruntled and exhausted commuters that rail services were suspended due to a “fatality” at Wembley Stadium. No, I don’t know what that means exactly, either. Maybe someone fried themselves on the third rail, maybe William Petersen wannabes were doing forensics on a 187, maybe someone’s innards were coagulating onto the front grille of the last fast train speeding towards London.

Whatever it was, it messed with my plans. Options? Hang around the station indefinitely until services resumed. Kill time in a pub or a Burger King. Wander the Streets of Baker. Try and circumnavigate London’s archaic transport system by taking alternative routes to my destination. Fuck all that.

I did what all self-respecting strandees should do in similar circumstances (try saying that six times really fast). I went to the motherfucking movies! Chamone!

So, the 6.30pm showing of The Cooler at the Screen on Baker Street. It was quite a refreshing experience, seeing as this was the first movie I’d paid to see for quite a while, with all the ancillary pleasures of popcorn and trailers thrown in.

Loved it. Like a modern-day western, with Las Vegas as the town that chews up and vomits out the lives and fortunes of hapless holiday-makers who have forgotten that The House Always Wins, the protagonists are dinosaurs, trying to live in a world that no longer exists, which has repudiated their outmoded ethics, dreams and hopes, despite their doomed attempts to hold on to The Old Ways.

Like an expanded version of his scene-stealing career high in Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin proves once again that out of all the Baldwin boys, he is The One That Can Act. William H. Macy plays another pitch-perfect variation on the lovable loser persona that he has refined and redefined over the last decade. Maria Bello wipes the floor with the pair of them, proving that there are well-written roles for women (and vastly underrated actresses) in American cinema. And there is a glorious cameo by the mighty Paul Sorvino as a washed-up lounge lizard trying to channel the spirit of Sinatra.

A great Vegas movie that never rolls a seven and craps out, The Cooler deserves to join the pantheon alongside Swingers and Hard Eight.

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