Robert Altman

Robert Altman

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Altman Review


Excellent

This isn't a tell-all doc about the iconic filmmaker: it's a love letter from his friends and family. With a terrific range of film clips, home movies, behind-the-scenes footage and never-seen stills, this movie explores how Robert Altman's work has forever changed the way Hollywood makes movies, simply because his inventive filmmaking style forced everyone else to try and keep up.

After getting his start directing industrial films in Kansas City, Altman made the jump to Hollywood in the late 1950s, annoying a range of studio executives with his preference for naturalistic, overlapping dialogue in television programmes. Then he made the jump to cinema and took the world by storm with M.A.S.H. In 1970, winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes and introducing the "Altmanesque" combination of earthy interaction, ensemble casts and political subtext. In his documentary, filmmaker Ron Mann cleverly asks many of Altman's actors to define the word Altmanesque, not as it relates to the movies but as it relates to the man himself.

Altman was a rare filmmaker who was loved by his casts and crews as well as the critics. Notoriously picky film journalist Pauline Kael famously wrote that "he can make film fireworks out of next to nothing", and this documentary demonstrates this with clips and backstage moments from his classics, ranging from McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), Buffalo Bill and the Indians (1976) and Popeye (1980) to The Player (1992), Short Cuts (1993) and Gosford Park (2001). The film's focus is on his movies, although it's narrated through personal interviews with Altman and his widow Kathryn Reed and features some superb footage of his sons. It also traces his ongoing health issues, from his heart transplant to his death from leukaemia in 2006. But there's little mention of his lifelong anti-war efforts or his controversial efforts to legalise marijuana.

Continue reading: Altman Review

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession Review


Very Good
Z Channel was one of the first pay cable stations ever. It's "magnificent obsession" was movies, as Z Channel became known for being the definitive place to go for those obsessed with film -- snobs, cineastes, and plain old cinema junkies.

And then its programming chief killed his wife and himself.

Continue reading: Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession Review

Afterglow Review


Good
It's hard to keep up with writer-director Alan Rudolph. He's put out almost a movie a year for the past 25 years without shortchanging his personal style and vision, and he keeps getting great casts along with production money from Robert Altman. Yet, he barely registers at the box office, so his movies get limited distribution and short theatrical runs. To see an Alan Rudolph movie you have to go find one.

Rudolph makes movies about characters living out their fates in ways we often understand and see in ourselves. And though his characters come off as real, his movies seem contrived, sliding between the edges of sweet and biting, while running off on tangents that both intrigue and bore. All at the same time. It's a disorientation he relishes: his view of life and how people really behave. With movies like Choose Me, Trixie, Investigating Sex, and The Secret Lives of Dentists, Rudolph's career is a living, breathing embodiment of quixotic variability.

Continue reading: Afterglow Review

Nashville Review


OK
Call me a heathen. I don't like Nashville.

Possibly the most celebrated film of the 1970s -- at least among film snob circles -- Robert Altman's sprawling case study of five days in the Tennessee city is self-absorbed, overwrought, and dismissive. Nor is it particularly well-made, with poor sound (even after being remastered for its DVD release) and washed-out photography, not to mention a running time (2:40) that's at least an hour too long.

Continue reading: Nashville Review

Robert Altman

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Robert Altman Movies

Altman Movie Review

Altman Movie Review

This isn't a tell-all doc about the iconic filmmaker: it's a love letter from his...

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession Movie Review

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession Movie Review

Z Channel was one of the first pay cable stations ever. It's "magnificent obsession" was...

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