Pop Culture Gadabout
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
      ( 11/21/2006 01:57:00 PM ) Bill S.  

ANOTHER LONG GOODBYE – Just read that director Robert Altman died early this week at age of 81. Altman is one of those directors who blossomed just as I was growing into a full-blown movie geek. His first big commercial breakthrough (M.A.S.H.) came out when I was in college and devouring as many elective cinema history courses as I could cram into my putative English teaching major, and I was heavily attracted to his style of storytelling – which blended communal improvisational acting and overlapping dialog with a strong sense of visual control. Of the flicks generally considered to be Lesser Altman (and there are many in his roller coaster career), I have to confess to a strong fondness for The Long Goodbye (Philip Marlowe as a burnt-out 70's Californian), Cookie's Fortune (a great small-town ensemble piece) and even the much maligned Popeye (primarily for Shelly Duvall and that great Nilsson score). But the Undeniably Great Altmans – M.A.S.H., McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Thieves Like Us, Nashville, The Player, Gosford Park – are all such wonderful works that I can only hope some budding movie nerd is discovering 'em right now in an elective film history course. Rest in Peace, Bob . . .

NOTE: Haven't had a chance to see what looks to be Altman's final completed film, A Prairie Home Companion yet; from what I've read, this backstage comedy about the final days of a radio program may have been just the right note to go out on . . .

NOTE 2: Roy Edroso, unsurprisingly, has an eloquent appreciation of Altman up - along with a few brief words on those conserva-bloggers who (as with Arthur Miller) have taken the occasion of his death as an opportunity to slam an artist they perceive as an unrepentant Liberal.
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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