Cookie’s Fortunate

swamp thingsIt’s got a dumb name, if you ask me, but nevertheless you’ve got to see Cookie’s Fortune. It’s a film from 1999 starring Liv Tyler, Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Charles S. Dutton, Lyle Lovett, and a whole bunch of other folks you’ll recognize.

It’s kind of a murder mystery in Gulf-coast Mississippi, but not really. And it’s a character study of several characters, so it’s also sort of a comedy.

It was directed by Robert Altman, the guy who did the M*A*S*H movie and Nashville (which I still haven’t seen yet: I’m saving it). My introduction to Altman was Popeye starring Robin Williams (music by my hero Harry Nilsson) and the lesser-known Brewster McCloud (which makes a great double-feature with Harold and Maude, but that wasn’t directed by Altman no matter what people tell you). Another one that I never hear folks talking about is 3 Women, which has Shelley Duvall tellingly driving around with her dress caught in her car door. His final flick was A Prairie Home Companion, which in some ways has nothing to do with Garrison Keilor’s Prairie Home Companion on the radio, even though he wrote the script and stars in the film…

What makes Altman movies so great is that there’s always so much going on. Every character onscreen has a backstory that you can find out about if you just pay enough attention. He’s famous for overlapping dialogue, but honestly I think he’s just trying to tell you as much as possible in the alloted time.

Supposedly much of the acting in Altman’s movies was ad libbed. I don’t see how, because everything always ties back together so well, but then if you’re good you can probably just do stuff like that….

For Cookie’s Fortune, you’ll quit seeing the actors right after you start watching. Instead you’ll be seeing full-blown characters, full-blown people, that you’ve met somewhere before. You know all these folks!

You seldom see the sheriff’s lips move, but you know all about his lifelong fishing adventures. Everybody’s actions make so much sense! The lawyer has to play King Herod because he’s such a showman, yet nobody notices!

This is a great introduction to Altman’s work, so be fortunate and watch it! It’s even better the second time.

About Lyle Verbilion

I'm just wanderin' around lookin' at things. Wow.
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