Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Robert Altman 1925-2006

I can pretty much pinpoint the moment when I became a film lover - a REAL film lover. It happened as Keith Carradine sang "I'm Easy", and four different women believed that he was singing to them alone. That was Nashville, and I never looked at movies the same way again. You see, Robert Altman took over from that point. It was the first time I realized that film could really be something beyond just a time-filler - That it could be art.

Altman was my first favorite director, and he remains a favorite today. It was a great voyage after that first exposure to experience his work for the first time: The frightened Warren Beatty curling up in bed with Julie Christie the night before he is going to die in McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Mark Rydell's mobster breaking a beer bottle in his girlfriend's face in The Long Goodbye. Carradine again lying under a tattered blanket in Thieves Like Us.

Then, just a few years ago, I went to see Gosford Park, and marvelled that a man in his mid-seventies would create something so smart and so scabrous. At that point in his career Altman could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels a bit, but the word "coast" didn't exist for him.

Farewell, Mr. Altman. And thanks.

1 comment:

Nick Zegarac said...

I mourned the passing of Bob Altman. He was one of the last of that vanishing breed who truly understood cinema language - like Ford, Wyler, Hitchcock, Capra and Cukor. Today's directors are bent on splashing the screen with 'music video' like montages. They consider that multi-layering a storyline when all it's really doing is wrecking film's artistic sensibilities. I prefer Altman - hands down, a master on whose works one visit is barely scratching the surface.