Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Robert Altman

Yes I know everybody and his brother has already written about Robert Altman, but what the hey. His movies were like nobody else’s. This is the end of an era.

My favorite movies of his were two of his lesser-known ones. Brewster McCloud was Altman’s next movie after MASH. I don’t remember much about it, but I was really moved by it when I saw it in 1971. The only specific scene I remember is when Sally Kellerman wants to prevent a certain picture from being developed. She barges into the darkroom where they’re developing the film. She turns on the lights and says “oh, I thought this was the ladies’ room.” Funny, the trivia that stays with you for decades.

Short Cuts wasn’t lesser known maybe, but it was less popular and acclaimed than MASH and Nashville. Short Cuts is as “Americana” as you can get. Even though the setting is modern (as of 1993) L.A., historians will be holding this movie up next to the works of Mark Twain, William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams.

The movie lasts three hours but it's riveting. It'll be over before you know it. Like most of Altman’s movies, it jumps all over the place. It’s hard to keep track of all the characters and how they’re connected. Every emotional button gets pushed — humor, sadness, joy, fury, hope, you name it — sometimes all at the same time. While you’re trying to remember who this person is and how he/she relates to that person, you’re on the wickedest emotional roller coaster ride of your life.



Blogger Snave said...

My favorite of his will always be "The Player"... great writing, good story, good acting, great cameos.

November 22, 2006 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Gonzo said...

I had a crush on a woman who worked for the same agency as I did, and one day I called in sick when I wasn't really sick, a mental health day if you will, and went to a matinée of Short Cuts.

During the previews, who should walk in to the theatre but the woman I had a crush on, who was also playing hooky, and she sat a row in front of me, about 4 seats to my right.

I thought about approaching her, saying hello, and asking to sit with her...and I thought and I thought and I thought, trying to come up with the right words, playing out different scenarios in my head...and then, as you said, three hours was gone and so was she as soon as the credits started to roll and before I could catch her eye.

I've been married to that woman for 10 years.

November 22, 2006 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: I haven't seen "The Player." I'll have to rent it. I'll probably end up renting all the Altman movies I never saw.

Howard: For real? God, that's incredible. That could almost be one of those Short Cuts vignettes. Congrats.

November 23, 2006 at 1:04 AM  
Blogger Kvatch said...

Hey Tom...don't really have anything relevant to add. Just wanted to pop by and wish you and your's a Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2006 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Kvatch: Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours too.

November 23, 2006 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger I.M. Dedd said...

Altman...he was great...I gotta Netflix a bunch of his stuff...

November 24, 2006 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

I.M. Dedd: Yeah, I'll probably end up renting or buying as many of his movies as I can.

November 24, 2006 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I liked "The Player." I didn't like Nashville (boring) I don't remember MASH (except for the scene where Sally Kellerman was totally humiliated, which I thought was just sexist), and the only other one I saw was "Pret A Porter" which generally sucked. I think Altman smoked too much marijuana and sometimes he had trouble focusing.

November 25, 2006 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Elizabeth: Altman "had trouble focusing"? I sometimes had trouble focusing on his movies because he jumps around so much, but I don't think Altman had that problem.

November 25, 2006 at 3:58 PM  

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