Robert Altman – Secret Honor (1984)

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Robert Altman’s electric 1984 filmed version of the play by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, starring the inimitable Philip Baker Hall as Tricky Dick, in a one-man show.

From Time Out London:
Alone in his study late at night, Richard Milhouse Nixon ponders the pardon he’s been offered for the Watergate scandal, and contrasts his secret honour with his public shame. Cue for raving resentment galore and perceptive insights into the politics of power and money. Made with a student crew at the University of Michigan, Altman’s one-man theatrical adaptation, for all its dense verbosity, is resolutely cinematic, employing a prowling camera to illuminate the dark areas of its melancholy, megalomaniac hero’s soul. While Baker Hall, ranting with drunken fervour at presidential portraits and a bank of security videos, suggests nothing less than a sometimes lucid, sometimes lunatic incarnation of mediocrity, irredeemably tainted by fame and failure. Fascinating stuff. –Geoff Andrew Continue reading

Robert Altman – The Company [+Extras] (2003)

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From wiki: The Company is composed of stories gathered from the actual dancers, choreographers, and office staff of the Joffrey Ballet. Most of the roles are played by real-life company members. While there are small subplots involving a love story between Campbell’s character and a character played by James Franco, most of the movie focuses on the company as a whole, without any real star or linear plot. The many real-life stories woven together show the dedication and hard work that dancers must put in to their art, even though they are seldom rewarded with fame, fortune, or even a statue, painting, or album on which to look back. Continue reading

Robert Altman – The Player (1992)

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The Player is a 1992 satirical film directed by Robert Altman from a screenplay by Michael Tolkin based on his own novel of the same name. It is the story of Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins), a Hollywood studio executive who gets away with murdering a wannabe screenwriter who Mill believes is sending him death threats.

The film, loaded with movie references and Hollywood insider jokes, is a critique of the Hollywood movie business, which treats artists poorly and sacrifices quality for commercial success. It might seem surprising that around sixty big Hollywood names agreed to play cameos as themselves in the film, but Altman himself admits that “it is a very mild satire” and it offended no one.[1] Continue reading

Robert Altman – 3 Women (1977)

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David Kehr, Chicago Reader wrote:
Robert Altman’s would-be American art film (1977) is murky, snide, and sloppy, but the director’s off the hook because he dreamed it all. Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall are two Texas girls who meet while working in a California sanatorium (courtesy of 81/2) and exchange identities while Altman struggles with feminism and the American dream. As usual, the director plainly despises his characters but offers no alternative to their pettiness, although his sneaky jokes at their expense give the film its only glimmer of style. Continue reading

Robert Altman – Fool For Love (1985)

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“At the center of Sam Shepard’s ‘Fool for Love’ are two people whose hurts are so deep, whose angers are so real, that they can barely talk about what they really feel. That does not stop them from talking, on and on into the hurtful night, and eventually we can put together their stories, using what they have said, and especially what they have not said.

One of the characters is a blond slattern named May, whose natural beauty has been rearranged into a parody of the classic movie baby doll — Brigitte Bardot, say. The other character is named Eddie, and he is a cowboy who drives through the empty Texas reaches in the obligatory pickup truck with the obligatory rifle rack behind his head and the obligatory horse trailer behind the truck. One night May is working behind the counter of a restaurant in a crumbling motel, and she sees Eddie’s pickup coming down the road. She runs and hides. Standing in the shadows of the rundown motel is an older man (Harry Dean Stanton) who simply waits and watches. Continue reading

Robert Altman – McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

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Quote:
“In the opening shots of Robert Altman’s “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” the camera follows John McCabe (Warren Beatty) making his way on horseback through the green-brown hills of the Pacific Northwest. As the camera pans slowly to the right, it picks up the credits, hanging in the rain-soaked air. They don’t fade in, as most credits do. Like everything else in “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” they seem to have existed before we took our seats in the theater, before Altman started filming.

“McCabe & Mrs. Miller” is a western that, as shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, looks like old photographs lit from within, as though the subjects had created a sort of afterlife by finding a way to project their essence onto the film. The movie haunts you like a ballad whose tune you remember but whose words hang just beyond reach. And like listening to a ballad, we know the outcome of the events we’re watching was foretold long ago, but we’re helpless to do anything but surrender to the tale. Continue reading

Robert Altman – That Cold Day in the Park (1969)

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From the New York Times:
IF there is a sicker, and more tedious, overbaked and inane serving of psychosexual nonsense this season than “That Cold Day in the Park,” it will have to go far to beat the Sandy Dennis vehicle that opened yesterday at the Orleans and Plaza Theaters.

The kindest thing to say of this misguided drama, about a wealthy, thirtyish spinster, who installs, then imprisons a coltish youth in her apartment, is that it caused a healthy flurry of filming activity in Vancouver, British Columbia, by an enterprising American production unit. Good color, a sprinkling of Canadian accents and some unfamiliar-looking urban settings provide a minor freshness of background flavoring. But that is the only fresh ingredient, unlike sturdy Canadian-made features of recent years, such as “The Fox,” also with Miss Dennis, and “The Luck of Ginger Coffey.” Continue reading