Dedicated fans of Robert Altman will want to check out this drowsy Southern comedy, which is shot through with the director's feel for location and his musical sense of storytelling. Non-Altman fanatics might want to trea... more »d more carefully. Cookie's Fortune begins beautifully, as handyman Willis (Charles S. Dutton) staggers home from a blues club in the small town of Holly Springs, Mississippi. In the wee hours of a warm night, he has an affectionate chat with elderly matriarch Jewel Mae "Cookie" Orcutt (the grand Patricia Neal) and the gentle history of their friendship is sketched in a few brief exchanges. Soon enough, Cookie has checked out of this world to join her dear departed husband, prompting her nieces to make the suicide look like a murder---to protect the dubious family name, of course. They are the local drama diva (Glenn Close), a Scarlett O'Hara in her own mind, and her dreamy sister (Julianne Moore), who ain't quite right in the head. Will Willis be blamed for the murder? Will the inheritance go to the nieces? Will Liv Tyler and Chris O'Donnell find a place to express their lust? None of these questions is especially burning, and Altman doesn't seem terribly anxious about the answers. Instead, he aims for a particular kind of laid-back quirky southern comedy, unevenly filtered through his screen of sour irony. Like a jazzman blowing improv, some of this works and some of it doesn't. Speaking of music, the film boasts a nifty R&B soundscape devised by former Eurythmics man David Stewart, with a boost from blues belter Ruby Wilson. --Robert Horton« less
Neat slow moving Southern dramatic Comedy.
This movie is packed with stars and has a melodrama feel.
The setting is Holly Springs, Mississippi. It is located in North Mississippi not a long ways from Memphis. It is neat seeing a movie with a setting in a city less than a 100 miles away from where I live. Another thing I like about the movie is the good race relations portrayed in the movie.
Get you some Sweet Tea and enjoy this on a summer Saturday afternoon.
Roberta H. (Robin1) from NEWMARKET, NH Reviewed on 11/12/2009...
Crazy, madcap and cute movie. Entertaining and enjoyable!
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A sweet film from an American master
Ian Muldoon | Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia | 08/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A necessary corrective to the female relative who at any cost must keep up appearances, this film by Mr Altman sees him in fine form exploring small town society in the Deep South. A humane, wise film, with great acting by all concerned and some great lines " How do you know he didn't kill her?" asks the District Attorney, "We go fishing" replies the Deputy Sherriff."
Another Altman Ensemble Wins!
R. Gawlitta | Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA | 07/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you don't like Robert Altman, read no further... Why do you think Altman has the respect that he has? No one today can handle an ensemble cast of pros and make each one look like a star. Who else could've gotten old-pro Patricia Neal out of retirement? If you don't like Altman, you're obviously missing something that the rest of us already know...he's smart! It's no secret that Mr. Altman hates pretense. "MASH", "The Player", "Gosford Park", "Nashville" and on & on...the man has fun poking fun at phonies. "Cookie's Fortune" is no different. Almost exclusively working with original screenplays, he can play his game and say his piece. Anne Rapp's screenplay must've put him in director heaven. Glenn Close is pretty much the centerpiece here, a woman sure of her position and unwilling to bend. She's marvelous and totally unlikeable. The great Ms. Neal is on screen, alas, too short a time. Like an older version of her Oscar-winning role in "Hud", she's tougher than nails, and wonderful. Julianne Moore ditches the glamour, appearing mostly without make-up, belying her well-known beauty. Charles S. Dutton is customarily confident and endearing, as are Liv Tyler & Chris O'Donnell (though a previous reviewer didn't think so). Altman likes using Lyle Lovett, and he's reliable here in a small role. Ned Beatty and, especially, the great Courtney B. Vance fill out the big name cast effectively. Like all Altman films, one must pay attention to the script, because, though leisurely paced, the dialogue flies by. To reiterate the plot would be senseless, but one of my favorite lines was, in reference to the crime scene, they said Close's character has "negative blood"; when Beatty is asked why he's so sure Dutton didn't do it, he, matter-of-factly says "I fish with him!". (This is almost a running gag...I love running gags). Again, I must say, Altman is wonderful when he works with dozens of people at once, because he gives each one a distinct character and motivation, not to take away from the screenwriter, though Altman is also known for improv. "Cookie's Fortune" is subtly funny and endearing; the craziness of human nature is given full reign. This film was recognized by the Independent Film Awards, but the Academy somehow overlooked it, released too early in the year. (Most of those old geezers don't think that far back...) Glenn Close was deserving of a nomination, as was Altman. Attention to detail is an Altman trait, too, and he doesn't disappoint. Check it out...but, as a previous reviewer also said, if you like fake effects and unbelievable stupid plots populated with idiot super-heroes, pass on this one. All "Cookie's Fortune" offers is a clever character-driven script, very fine acting, GREAT direction and a lot of fun."
cjrecipes | Elk Gove, IL, USA | 09/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You may never have heard of this movie but it is a Robert Altman gem. I'm afraid I can't say too much for giving too much of the hysterical plot. It is a decidedly black comedy but the characters are really 3 dimentional. It has a secret to reveal and a suprising ending. If you liked Gosford Park you will love Cookie's Fortune."
Altman and a fine ensemble cast make a memorable movie. Char
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 02/21/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Says lawyer Jack Palmer to Emma Duval, explaining the fate of her long gone father, a man she was told years ago had died while doing missionary work in Africa after he'd left his family. "He died alright, about four years later, somewhere down in Alabama in a button factory accident. Seems the hole poker machine broke loose and fell on him. They say he had 273 holes in him before they could get it off."
After all that Emma and her friend Willis Richland have experienced in Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune, it seems perfectly natural when Emma cries out in exasperation, "Willis, what is wrong with all these people?"
The important point is that they all are part of a movie of great ease and geniality. Cookie's Fortune may be a little sentimental, perhaps, but it is so sweet-natured and natural, and so skillfully presented, that I think the film ranks among Altman's most accomplished works...even if what powers it is an old lady blowing her brains out.
Jewel Mae Orcutt -- Cookie (Patricia Neal) - is aging and increasingly infirm, and she longs for her deceased husband, Buck. When she decides to use one of Buck's pistols to join him, she sets off the avarice of her niece, Camille Dixon (Glenn Close), who pulls along her slow-witted sister, Cora Duval (Julianne Moore). Camille is determined that no hint of a suicide will scandalize the family name, so she makes things look like a burglary gone bad. And, unintentionally, makes it look as if Willis Richland (Charles S. Dutton), a close friend of Cookie's who had worked around the house for her, must have done the deed. Well, there's no way Emma Duval (Liv Tyler) an unconventional young woman who is seriously estranged from her mother, Cora, and her aunt, is going to buy that. In fact, no one, even the local cops, believes that Willis would have burglarized and shot Cookie. For the next hour and a half we're going to take part in Altman's gentle examination of the people in this little cotton-growing town of Holly Springs, Mississippi. We're going to learn how to clean catfish, listen to the blues and, a little off camera, how to make love standing up. We'll encounter Camille's obsession with propriety and look aghast at her firm direction (and rewriting) of Wilde's Salome as a church play for Easter. We're going to see how skilled Lyle Lovett is at gutting a catfish and peeping into Liv Tyler's window at night. We're going to learn a lot about family relationships, even the more informally blessed kind. Most of all, perhaps, we're to learn just how much friendship and family can mean, especially when it's served up with such skill and off-beat humor by Altman and screenwriter Ann Rapp. And as good as all the actors in this ensemble cast are, Charles S. Dutton stands out. He gives a fine performance brimming with likeability and honesty, and without a trace of Hollywood nobility. Willis Richland is a guy who has responsibilities, and that's just fine with him.
The DVD transfer is certainly watchable but could be better. There are no significant extras. The disc is wide-screen on one side, pan-and-scan on the reverse."