Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Robert Altman 1925 - 2006
This very weekend I sat and watched A Prairie Home Companion. It was a lovely thing – funny and sad and whimsical. Very much the sort of thing you’d expect from a collaboration of Garrison Keillor and Robert Altman. It’s got the sort of down-home, Mid-West low key charm you expect from Keillor and the rolling, dialogue over dialogue doesn’t really have a plot appeal of Altman.
Watching the documentaries about the movie I learned that the studio hired a secondary director just in case Altman died while making it. Now I’ve learned he really has died, and I’m suddenly inexplicably sad.
I can’t begin to say I’ve seen all of the director’s 87 films, nor can I pretend to have liked all the ones I watched (I’ve never found MASH to be all that funny, Nashville is snoresville to me, and I can’t seem to ever make it through McCabe and Mrs. Miller) but there are so many film that I love and cherish that the world’s loss, is my loss too.
Who can forget that night in Mullins dorm watching the endless, rambling and oh so entertaining Player, or Short Cuts? He managed to update The Long Goodbye to the 70’s making it relevant all over again, and almost out Bogied Bogie with Elliot Gould of all people.
He made a musical out of Popeye, and damn what the critics say, he made it great.
More recently he turned created a wonderful Upstairs/Downstairs murder mystery and forgot to tell us whodunit.
His style was more laid back than grilled cheese. He seemed to just let the camera roll and the actors do what they please. Sometimes this didn’t work and we go something more of a mess than a film. But when it worked it was pure gold.
Rest in Peace Robert Altman, you deserve it.