The Cooler

From director Wayne Kramer
on the Cooler Soundtrack:

“Mark Isham – Putting “The Cool” in “The Cooler”

“Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a film score junkie. I love writing to film music; it sets the mood for me. Mark Isham scored “The Cooler” long before he even became aware of the project. I had crafted most of the screenplay to the luxuriant jazz riffs of Mark’s music – scores like “Afterglow,” “Gotti,” “Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle” and “Little Man Tate” – all which ultimately found their way into the film’s temp track. At a certain point I realized I would be in deep shit if I couldn’t convince Mark to score my film. We certainly couldn’t afford him, but I knew I had to take a shot and try and get him to see the film. A cold call to Mark’s agent proved fortuitous. Mark had a small window of availability and was looking for a project to fill the time with. After viewing the film, he agreed to score “The Cooler.” I was literally over the moon, being such a huge fan of Mark’s music. I explained to Mark that my film needed a thematic jazz score. I wanted it to feel lush, a little sleazy and a whole lot sexy. Mark was thrilled to hear this. Even though he owns the contemporary jazz sound (in my opinion), he rarely gets the opportunity to provide it in today’s Hollywood. For a film about the unluckiest guy in Las Vegas, I couldn’t have had better luck with “The Cooler.” Mark delivered what I consider the finest score of his career. I tell people, you may like the movie, but I’ll put money on it you’re going to love the music. And I’m always right. After every screening, I get hit up by several people requesting this amazing score. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already listened to it and know what I’m talking about. From Mark’s sumptuous opening theme that accompanies a fly-over of the Las Vegas strip, to the moody, vibrant gambling riffs that follow William H. Macy’s character around the casino floor as he “cools” the tables, to the achingly beautiful love theme that accentuates the unusual romance of the two lead characters – you’ll definitely be humming a couple of these themes on the way out. “The Cooler” is classic Isham and I’m honored to have had the opportunity to collaborate with one of the best (and nicest) in the business.

— Wayne Kramer, Director/Co-Writer of The Cooler

Mark worked with talented first-time director and writer Wayne Kramer on this highly original film, a black comedy about Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy – Fargo, Jurassic Park III), a man with such devastating bad luck that it is infectious. Bernie works as a “cooler” at a gritty Vegas casino as he repays a debt to slippery Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin – Pearl Harbor, The Hunt for Red October). But when Bernie falls for a beautiful waitress (Maria Bello – Permanent Midnight), his luck takes a turn for the better.

“I really enjoyed working with Wayne Kramer, who is a huge connoisseur of film music,” says Mark. The unique jazz-flavored score, which Mark describes as having a “late ’50s- early ’60s-Vegas-Peggy Lee influence”, was recorded and mixed entirely at Wet Dog Studio. It features some excellent soloists, including Bob Sheppard (soprano sax), Adam Peppers (baritone sax), Sid Page (violin) and of course Mark on trumpet!

Fans of this terrific Isham score will be thrilled with the DVD, which features an excellent audio commentary with Mark and writer/director Wayne Kramer. Kramer discusses how he has always loved Mark’s music, “temping” the Cooler (using temporary music) with other Isham scores like Little Man Tate and Afterglow.

The review ad says: “Mark Isham’s fantastic jazz score (is isolated) on its own Dolby 5.1 track. His is one of the best film scores I’ve heard in a long time, accenting and heightening the action on screen without threatening to overpower it. It even stayed in my head for hours afterward – and when was the last time a movie’s score did that?”

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