Cookie's Fortune

Bomb Rating: 

Director Robert Altman probably made this film just to irritate, because that's what he does.

There's a reason I live north of the Mason-Dixon line, and that's because I don't want to live south of it. I don't want to live on the south side because, as far as I can tell, the South is a sweltering cesspool of racism where buck-toothed hillbillies wearing Wal-Mart stretch pants tie black people to the backs of their trucks and drag them around for sport. My solution to saving us normal people from having to watch films about Southern folk: Release films about the South only in the South.

Anyway, director Robert Altman probably made this film just to irritate, because that's what he does. Ever see "Pret-a-Porter"? It's retitled "Ready to Wear" in my video guide, because nobody knows what the hell pret-a-porter means. That basically sums up that particular film, which is mostly about models and modeling, and pampered bulimics are really the last thing on Earth anybody should waste perfectly good celluloid on.

I have a similar fondness for films about the South. In my opinion, the American South should be like a theme park ride you visit once a year, like "It's a Small World," just to be reminded that such a place actually existed prior to the Civil War and modern dentistry. However, the character Camille (Glenn Close), reminds us that them old southern ways do remain, entrenched like mildew. They're always lurking, waiting for a chance to expose themselves, like a priest in a preschool.

Camille finds her mother, Cookie (Patricia Neal), dead, an obvious suicide. With the help of Cora (Julianne Moore), Camille makes it look like a murder, and Cookie's best friend, Willis (Charles S. Dutton), who also happens to be black, is immediately arrested. Nobody really thinks Willis did it, and his friends, Emma (Liv Tyler) and Lester (Ned Beatty), stick by him. That doesn't make the problem any less ridiculous. Depending on how you look at it, this film can be seen as insulting to southerners or non-southerners. Either way, it's insulting to enough to someone that it ought to be gracing the discount shelves of your local video store in about twenty days.

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