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COOKIES FORTUNE

SYNOPSIS:
Camille Dixon (Glenn Close) is a grande dame who appears to live in the antebellum days of gentleman callers and the unequivocal need to keep up appearances. Her younger sister, Cora Duvall (Julianne Moore), lives across town and, often appearing slow and lacking confidence, bends to the will of her older sibling. Emma Duvall (Liv Tyler), allegedly Cora's 18-year-old daughter, is Cookie Orcutt’s (Patricia Neal) favourite relative; Cookie has lived alone in a well-appointed house since the death some years back of her gun-collecting husband, Buck. The aging Cookie reserves the major part of her affection for Willis Richland (Charles S. Dutton). Willis, whose love for catfish enchiladas competes with his passion for the bottle, looks out for Cookie's welfare and is particularly concerned when the old lady appears to be "losing it."

"I happen to share Altman’s love of the blues, so for me the film is a musical joy to begin with – his choices not only add the necessary languidity that the film demands, but also showcase some superb music and musicians. But that is not the only reason to pay good money to see Cookie’s Fortune. Unravelling his story with the luxury of a cat stretching in the sunlight, Altman introduces us to a bunch of characters who amuse, apall, intrigue and irritate us, while being entirely recognisable variants on the folks who live in my suburb – and probably yours. (Some even live in your house, perhaps…) His trick is to nuance his way into our consciousness, and he strings together enough scenes to do that effectively. We all know how well he directs actors, and when he has his dream team on set, you can expect kaleidoscopic performances. Once he’s got us caring for his characters, Altman gives us a soap opera and a comedy all glued together with a piece of dramatic tension and lots of local colour that gives us a glimpse of a particular culture. Sit back, go for the ride, tap your feet. . .chew on the flavours."
Andrew L. Urban

"With a body of work that includes such classics as MASH, Nashville, The Player and Short Cuts, director Robert Altman is a key figure of American cinema. He's also one its better known mavericks - a non-player refusing to be seduced by Hollywood's bottom line. That attitude hasn't exactly endeared him to studio executives, of course, but it hasn't stopped him making movies either. Though his recent adaptation of Grisham's The Gingerbread Man went largely unnoticed, Cookie's Fortune deserves every success. As written by Anne Rap, the film unfolds with the unhurried pace of the Mississippi River, running like molasses in the summertime. There's an air of Mayberry sensibility at work here, and it's not in just the echoes of Don Knotts' deputy in O'Donnell's performance or the verisimilitude of a community steeped in laid-back Southern hospitality either. But eccentricity has its drawbacks and before long Cookie's death has unlocked a cupboard bearing enough family skeletons, secrets and scandals to rival a latter-day Peyton Place. Casting has always been a crucial factor in any Altman film and Cookie's Fortune is no exception. From Close's duplicitous Camille and Juliane Moore's wistful Cora, to Charles S. Dutton's dignified Richland and veteran Patricia Neal's brief turn as Cookie, the richness of characterisation here yields the kind of simple pleasures too rarely seen in mainstream cinema these days. Highly recommended."
Leo Cameron

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

COOKIE’S FORTUNE (M)
(US)

CAST: Patricia Neal, Charles S. Dutton, Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler, Lyle Lovett, Chris O'Donnell, Ned Beatty, Courtney B. Vance, Donald Moffat

DIRECTOR: Robert Altman

PRODUCER: Robert Altman

SCRIPT: Anne Rapp

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Toyomichi Kurita

EDITOR: Abraham Lim

MUSIC: David A Stewart

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen Altman

RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: New Vision

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 24, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: December 22, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 21st Century Pictures







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