Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Altman, RIP

A rare two-post day. (I guess this doesn't count for tomorrow, does it?)

I just wanted to make mention of Robert Altman's death. As some of you might know, film was my lifeline during my teenage years: it gave me a glimpse into a world outside of the usual teenage/high school angst and pressures. My friend D. and I used to go to the movies at least once a week, and we'd often spend our weekends watching movies on video (while drinking, of course...). Amazingly, the first Altman film I ever saw was in the theatre. In the early 1980s, MASH was re-released, so one night my parents drove me downtown to the (now-defunct) Sheraton Theatre so I could see the film that inspired my favourite tv show. Naturally I didn't think it was as good as the Alan Alda MASH, largely because I had never really seen a film quite like it. People were talking over other's lines! This is not a movie, this is like ... well, real life.

It took me a couple of Altman films (and a few screenings of his MASH) before I finally clued in to the Altman sensibility. After that I was hooked. In many ways I think Altman films define American film of the 1970s: original, idiosyncratic and rule breaking. I know it's cliche to say, but Nashville really is an incredible film. He lost a step or two in the early 1980s (he became more of a theatre director and he tried to translate that style to films; it just didn't seem to work) but came back with a flourish in the 1990s and into the 21st century. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better directed film than Gosford Park.

It's sad to think they'll never be another Robert Altman film. Rest in peace.

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