Author Topic: Robert Altman  (Read 32883 times)

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Alexandro

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Re: Robert Altman
« Reply #210 on: April 18, 2009, 03:37:40 PM »
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I couldn't finish Quintet. I was tired, not in the mood, it seemed just to be going nowhere.

The Long Goodbye, that's a masterpiece. A Wedding, a bold and for the most part effective attemp to just go bigger than MASH. A Perfect Couple I thought was very sweet and well done, but if yo happen to dislike the music you're doomed.

Pas

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Re: Robert Altman
« Reply #211 on: April 19, 2009, 12:44:31 AM »
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Well I've started Quintet after all...holy shit it feels like work just watching it. A lot of plotholes (why are they so well fed ???) but all in all it's not that bad. Reminds me of Le Dernier Combat by Luc Besson. Very less good.

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Re: Robert Altman
« Reply #212 on: October 30, 2009, 05:12:42 AM »
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Get out the boxing gloves: Richard Schickel vs. Robert Altman
Source: Patrick Goldstein; Los Angeles Times

I usually try to avoid getting into dust-ups with critics writing in my own newspaper, but I can't avoid coming to the late Robert Altman's defense after reading Richard Schickel's nasty, dismissive review of "Robert Altman: The Oral Biography" by Mitchell Zuckoff, a new book about the man who brought us "MASH," "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," "Nashville," "The Player," "Short Cuts," "Gosford Park" and any number of other smart, funny and challenging films.

My primary problem with the review is that if Schickel has no respect for Altman as a filmmaker, how would he possibly be in a position to give a fair review to an exhaustive biography of the man? And it's certainly obvious that Schickel loathes Altman's work, since he starts out by ridiculing "MASH" as "a basically witless film," then moves on to trash the rest of Altman's oeuvre, saying that "misanthropy -- with a strong admixture of misogyny -- essentially substitutes for ideas in his movies and his characters are, in effect, characterless."

 Schickel seems especially aggrieved that Altman was a boozer and a pothead who -- as Schickel puts it in the first sentence of his review --  "never passed an entirely sober day in his life." In fact, Schickel seems obsessed with Altman's licentiousness, admonishing Altman over and over for his freewheeling ways, as if he were the first filmmaker ever to use and abuse a variety of intoxicants. He comes off like a schoolmarm, rapping Altman on the knuckles for having a good time, calling him "permissive," "addled by his addictions" and claiming that even in "MASH," everyone in the movie "appeared to be perpetually, mumblingly stoned."

Largely because Zuckoff writes admiringly of Altman's work, as have so many other critics, Schickel throws the filmmaker's biographer under the bus, claiming that Zuckoff "basically knows nothing about filmmaking and film history." I could go on, but you get the point. It would be an understatement to say that Altman admirers were outraged by Schickel's dismissive attitude to one of the great filmmakers of the late 20th century. Speaking to this point, I received a letter from Alan Rudolph, who linked up with Altman as an assistant director on "The Long Goodbye" before carving out an important career as a filmmaker himself, making such movies as "Welcome to L.A.," "Choose Me" and "Afterglow."

Rudolph's entire letter is attached at the bottom of this post, but here is his artful description of Altman's special gifts as a filmmaker. As Rudolph writes:

"Altman was an innovator. His films might seem casual, but intentionally so. They were behavioral in appearance, but carefully crafted with ideas, and strong on consequence. Having served as a screenwriter for Bob, I can personally attest to his rigorous attention to writing. He just didn't want the result to seem written.... Bob knew that continuously working in the rough was the best way to find his jewel. His biting humor never spared reality nor himself. The painful absurdity of it all. There was nobody like him during his professional peak, and there isn't now."

Well said, Mr. Rudolph. As for me, all I would ask of anyone who might be on the fence about Altman is to seek out one of his many adventurous films and watch for yourself.

You'll never be bored and you'll almost always be amazed by what an original, unsentimental approach Altman had to the art of cinematic storytelling. The UCLA Film & Television Archive has a salute to Altman coming up soon, starting with a Nov. 13 screening of "The Long Goodbye," his 1973 comedy that is a personal favorite of mine.

I'll keep you posted on future events as they unfold. Now, here's Rudolph's letter in defense of Altman:


Dear Editor,

Obviously your reviewer waited safely in his lair until Robert Altman
moved on, then bravely said what's been eating at the traditionalist
core of his film soul for years.

He negates Altman because of his life style. Would he dismiss
Huston's drinking or Hitchcock's sexual repression as influences on
their film gifts? Basically, this review says Altman was something new
and different when he made his mark, but the reviewer never really
bought it. So now Altman must be overrated and unimportant. What
has been universally accepted -- that Altman was the one of the greatest
American directors of his generation, an honor automatically inserting
his name into every serious evaluation of cinema forever -- your
reviewer claims was wayward opinion. He simply knows better.

Altman was an innovator. His films might seem casual, but
intentionally so. They were behavioral in appearance, but carefully
crafted with ideas, and strong on consequence. Having served as a
screenwriter for Bob, I can personally attest to his rigorous attention
to writing. He just didn't want the result to seem written. This wasn't a
dismissal of screenplays or writers, but Altman creating. Your reviewer
belongs to the legion of unsuccessful detractors of important artists
when bold work never before encountered was first unveiled. Some just
can't break with the past.

Directors, writers and actors don't have to replicate Altman for him to
have impacted their sensibilities. The power of a major artist is that
he or she is a force, standard, guide. What your reviewer doesn't grasp is
that great artists always lead the way. The torch gets passed, the
message out, the influence permanent. You don't have to be aware of
originators to be modified by them. Bob's insistence on doing things
his own way was essential. It's the major struggle. And Altman won.
Which is the ultimate defeat for the studio ruling class and
establishment apologists. Your reviewer uses Jules Feiffer's troubles
with Bob as an example of overindulgence, but glibly dismisses
Feiffer's description of Altman as a genius. In the critic's mind, Bob
wasn't the right kind of genius.

Altman never changed. To have "comebacks" shows he never went
away. Some of his films might have been less than others, but each had
the stuff of brilliance, and was part of a larger collection. Bob knew
that continuously working in the rough was the best way to find the
jewel. His biting humor never spared reality nor himself. The painful
absurdity of it all. There was nobody like him during his professional
peak, and there isn't now.

Alan Rudolph
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Alexandro

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Re: Robert Altman
« Reply #213 on: October 30, 2009, 09:39:08 AM »
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I read that the other day. Schickel's words are so vitriolic I thought he was going to be completely ignored or someone would come out and say it like it is.

To claim shit like that a critic needs to have more than an opinion, and even then his arguments have to be more than convincing, they need to have a point. We've seen that a million times here with GT, who drops some bombs on us like "2001 is only good for the filmmaking", or "the acting in the Godfather is bad", or "Dances with Wolves is better than Goodfellas", or "There will be Blood" is not very good, or "Inglorious Basterds is a piece of shit", and after we all roll our eyes or get angry at the guy he goes on and makes some compelling arguments that, if not for any better purpose (20, 000 words couldn't convince anyone that Dances with Wolves is better than Goodfellas, including Kevin Costner and the legion of idiots who gave it the oscar over the Scorsese pic), stir up conversation and thought on films we all hold as sacred cows.

Schickel is just aiming to piss people off or something. No arguments except what Rudolph describes in his letter. Altman was wrong because he smoked pot? Incredible. I hope Paul Thomas Anderson comes out on this one too.

pete

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Re: Robert Altman
« Reply #214 on: October 30, 2009, 12:08:01 PM »
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all he wants is for someone to google him.  and I just did.  schickel you won this round!
“Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.”
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Neil

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Re: Robert Altman
« Reply #215 on: January 24, 2012, 03:06:25 PM »
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I just watched Short Cuts for the first time

I'd never seen this, and for a film just over 3 hrs long, I was happy to be engrossed the entire time. I love the idea of using the camera to dolly into nearly everyone's small things being reconciled or realized and this goes on for nearly 2 hrs and 45 minutes and then when we start to dolly out from some of the characters several times in the end, the moves become very effective.  I enjoyed how dark this film was.  I think I enjoyed it so much because the lack of exposition.  You gain a distaste for some of the characters but only insofar as their current situation allows.  I like that idea of being self contained.  

Julianne Moore kills it in this.  Her explosion near the end, where everyone seems to be melting down was completely on point.  I remember seeing 'Closer' for the first time and thinking how effective the scene with clive owen and julia roberts talking about cheating was. It shook me.  I'd never seen such a harsh confession, because it's truly a tough situation to be in.  The details you want to know are the same one's that will ultimately devastate you and you wonder if the details are even necessary.

To me that's the essence of the film to me.  The devil being in the details.  The great thing about this is that Altman understands that showing the devils face isn't necessary to evoke whatever emotion you want to show.  You reveal the puzzle pieces and conceptualize the finished puzzle.  If you knew any more about Gene than the film allows the ending would feel completely different when he retrieves the dog.  This is why Moore's scene works so well when she's confessing.  There are so many early details that start out seeming innocent.  She said more words that show her innocence and those details don't really mean anything, but it is when she gets to the sexual section, she not only down plays it a bit, but it becomes clear where those details live within the characters.  So,  we see the films essence again.  The short cut of it is much more effective than a complete exposition.  

I think my problem with talking about film is that i treat it very stream of consciousness instead of taking time to refine my thoughts and such.  Oh well, anyway; Great film.  Very effective for me.


I've never read any of Carvers stories, but I hope they are as entertaining as this.

EDIT: I was thinking a bit more on this film and then it hit me.  One could view this under a post modern lens and say that all of the fragmented narratives are what life is all about.  There is meaning within the lack of a grand narrative.  Just thought that might be worth mentioning.
it's not the wrench, it's the plumber.

wilder

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Re: Robert Altman
« Reply #216 on: April 04, 2014, 05:05:23 PM »
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UCLA's Robert Altman retrospective begins June 29, 2014 runs April - June 2014

jenkins

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Re: Robert Altman
« Reply #217 on: April 04, 2014, 05:24:16 PM »
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UCLA's Robert Altman retrospective begins June 29, 2014
http://www.cinema.ucla.edu/calendar/2014-04
ends june 29

this one in particular is some kinda heavenly fairy singing my name:
3 Women (1977); Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)
In-person:
Dennis Christopher

and maybe this means i should see quintet for once:
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971); Quintet (1979)
7:30 pm

hidden offtopic text for wilder about things wilder has shared:
decline of the western part ii metal years is tonight. going andbut i've been told not many people are going
will watch breakfast with curtis asap, thanks
thanksthanks
Every perspective is an act of creation.

Cloudy

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Re: Robert Altman
« Reply #218 on: December 17, 2014, 08:49:45 PM »
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“California Split,” 40 Years Later: An Interview with Elliott Gould, George Segal, and Joseph Walsh in Three Parts
http://lareviewofbooks.org/interview/california-split-40-years-later-interview-elliott-gould-george-segal-joseph-walsh-three-parts/

"Gould shows up first. He’s every inch the movie star, absolutely fascinating, disarming, but down to earth, sensitive and warm — and yet, you can’t read him easily. He’s mysterious, but intently philosophical and, of course, still very funny. Amused and bemused — that Gould way of virile masculinity mixed with offbeat, unexpected humor and intelligence that’s gone unmatched. No one is like Elliott Gould. Screenwriter Walsh follows, apologizing for being late (he’s only a few minutes late); he’s gracious, sharp, and comical — and ever the charming gambler. A guy full of stories. Wonderful stories. He always knows the score but is exceedingly generous. You get the feeling a lot of gamblers are. Segal is next, a bit more reserved, but once he opens up, a man who will burst out with a laugh and a quick, brainy quip or observation. You see his Blume from Blume in Love — you see him observe and soak in the discussion. You see him think. You can see why he’s a star."

Neil

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Re: Robert Altman
« Reply #219 on: February 17, 2016, 05:11:58 AM »
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Well, just finished "Nashville" for the first time. What an ambitious film. From start to finish. Wow.
it's not the wrench, it's the plumber.

 

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