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FLICKS FILM AND VIDEO FILE : Male Bonding : In Simi Valley, film students focus on a place where men go after they've been dumped by a woman.


OK, guys. You've been given the old heave-ho by yet another significant other. Where do you go? What do you do? You go hang out with other guys, right? You bond.

Well, a lot of that bonding action will be taking place in the film "The Cooler," a project by second-year students at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. If all goes well the crew today will wrap up a three-day shoot at the Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley.

"The Cooler," producer Tony Lord says, "is a surrealistic place in this guy's head, a prison where men go when they get dumped by women. It's the greatest place you think there could ever be. Guys are gambling, watching football. But too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing. . . . It's like going to Las Vegas and not being able to leave."

The star dumpee in this comedy-romance keeps escaping this "prison," only to be re-dumped each time he returns to the real world.

Lord and his crew picked out a spot on the ranch to film a World War II flashback scene, using the same pyrotechnic crew that worked on the "Die Hard" films and is now working on "Aliens 3." The scene involves one of the male prisoners recalling how he was fighting in the trenches when he received his Dear John letter.

In addition to the top-notch pyrotechnists, Lord said, the movie will employ a professional weapons specialist and the stunt crew now working on "Lethal Weapon 3." It helps that Jonathan Kahn, director of "The Cooler," is the brother of Michael Kahn, first assistant director of the new "Lethal Weapon" sequel.

The sibling connection also might account for the appearance of Mel Gibson as one of the guys in the cooler. In the movies, apparently, even Mel Gibson can get dumped.

In other guy-related news, the local video-rental scene seems to have heated up between the tough guys and the sensitive guys.

Here's a list of the five most frequently rented videos, as of last week, at a sampling of local outlets. Take into account that "Terminator 2" had been out for just a couple of days:

At Giant Video in Fillmore: "City Slickers," "Terminator 2," "Toy Soldiers," "Only the Lonely" and "Out For Justice."

At Video 4 You, and Video Depot in Thousand Oaks: "City Slickers," "Terminator 2," "FX2," "Only the Lonely" and "Soapdish."

At Blockbuster Video in Port Hueneme: "Soapdish," "City Slickers," "Toy Soldiers," "FX2" and "Terminator 2."

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