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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 21, 1999)
Director Altman hits
jackpot with ‘Fortune’
By Sam McKewon
There is nobody in the film busi
ness better at taking his time than
Robert Altman. He’s 74 years old, and
he’s going to take his time. He always
has, and, until he keels over, he
always will. Even his death will prob
ably be lengthy.
Understand that, in his new film
“Cookie’s Fortune,” there are few
events that transpire. For most direc
tors, this film would have included
the ridiculous, cliched scenes
because the events themselves
wouldn’t have lasted for more than 30
minutes. It’s easy to see one, even a
quality director, saying: “Is that all
that happens? Better put in a court
I say court scene because
“Cookie’s Fortune” involves a mur
der. A suicide, actually. A suicide
that’s made up to be a murder for rea
sons only one character (the one who
made it up) could possibly explain,
which she never really does, which
we really don’t care about because
she’s nuts anyway. That, in a nutshell,
is the plot of “Cookie’s Fortune.” The
rest is just genteel Southern scenery.
And oh, what a scenery Holly
Springs, Miss., turns out to be.
Altman weaves a colorful tale of cat
fish, Scrabble games, church plays
and true love together like only he
can, probably because he’s the only
one who would want to do a film such
“Cookie’s Fortune” is the story of
an old Southern lady Cookie (Patricia
Neal), the one who, for the most ami
able of reasons, decides to end her
life. She says goodbye to her best
friend Willis (Charles S. Dutton),
who also tends her house, and shoots
herself with the gun her dead husband
owned when he leaves.
Cookie has two nieces, Camille
(Glenn Close) and Cora (Julianne
Moore), who happen upon her body
first. It’s the super-pretentious
Camille who covers up the suicide
and eats - yes, eats - the suicide note,
thereby convincing her sister, who’s
the dimmest of the dim, that it was
Willis, played honorably by
Dutton, is fingered for the murder.
We know he’s going to be let go even
tually; hell, the cops know it, too.
They don’t even lock the cell door.
One cop (Ned Beatty) is positive of
Willis’ innocence. His reasoning:
“I’ve fished with him.”
So goes this meandering wonder,
which includes the ever-fetching Liv
Tyler as Cora’s daughter, Emma, and
Chris O’Donnell, a young cop smit
ten with her. On the periphery are
humorous turns by Lyle Lovett as a
catfish shack owner and Courtney B.
Vance as a state investigator for the
The joy isn’t what happens next
but what happens within the scene.
The Southern charm oozes out time
and again in the conversation about
catfish enchiladas to the right way to
take coffee (two shots of Wild Turkey
preferred) to a hidden philosophy
about life itself.
It’s funny how Altman sneaks that
in there without you knowing it. But
it’s there in the way Camille domi
neers over Cora and how she pays for
it at the end; how loyalty counts, and
how what really matters is what per
son is, not some of the things they do.
Altman’s always done it that way.
His movies are always a little funny,
and it’s always a little surprising how
easy he sucks you in to a relatively
innocuous yarn. He’s an easy-going
director - he lingers on departing
cars, he keep the camera set in one
place instead of following characters
into a room.
But he knows when to shoot a
close-up and utilize his actors. Close
Lied Center to showcase
DUKE from page 12
Baker said Ellington understood that
there was a fluidity in music and life,
and a piece should not be brought to
“The recorded version is only one
version of a piece.”
In addition to the music, pre-per
formance talks begin in the Lied’s
Steinhart Room at 55 and 30 minutes
before showtime. Baker said the talks
will consist of a 15-minute overview
of Ellington’s career, followed by audi
“I don’t presuppose any particular
range of knowledge on the part of the
audience,” he said. “Sometimes a sin
gle audience question will open up a
whole new avenue of thought.”
The performance itself is nearly
two hours of compositions culled from
Ellington’s entire career. Baker said
whittling a man’s entire career down to
a two-hour show takes “forever.”
The show will include “Drop Me
Off in Harlem,” one of his first hits,
selections from his score for die film'
“Anatomy of a Murder” and selections
from his “Queen Suite,” a personal gift
to Queen Elizabeth II that wasn’t
released until two years after his death.
Baker said the show, which starts
at 8 p.m., will combine the familiar
with the obscure.
“I try to play music that’s as com
fortable as old bedroom slippers, then
play something people have over
With Ellington’s prolific output,
there should be a wealth of material in
Title: “Cookie’s Fortune’
Stars: Glenn Close, Charles S. Dutton,
Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler, Chris O’Donnell
Director: Robert Altman
Rating: PG-13 (violence)
Five Words: “Cookie’s Fortune’ pleasure to
is so good here she’s unrecognizable.
Tyler’s perfect as the cute but defiant
Emma. Moore nails the dim-bulb
role. Only O’Donnell is average.
“Cookie’s Fortune” isn’t pulse
pounding entertainment, but it is a
good time and one of Altman’s best
films. Pleasure is in the little things in
life and God is in the details - one
part of film making Altman has mas
tered to perfection. Taking one’s time
has its rewards.
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Lincoln, NE 68588-0448
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Deadline: 3 p.m. weekday prior
205 Bicycles For Sale
Full suspension demo bikes on sale! Specialized
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216 Computers For Sale
Micron Laptop with accessories, 1 year old. Graduating
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‘94 Ford Mustang GT. Black w/black leather Interior,
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