Hogan's Alley

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Altman Dead At 81

Today we have lost one of the most consistently interesting film directors ever produced in America. His successes, M*A*S*H, The Player, Gosford Park, Nashville, etc. were films that demanded multiple viewings to soak up all the detail buried in the overlapping dialog that was his trademark.

His last film, A Prairie Home Companion, which was a critical and box office disappointment was one of my favorites from this year's crop. It is, as Altman said, a film about death, told in the context of the threatened closing of a long running radio program. Seeing it reminded me of the best of Altman's work. It is like watching a unique amalgam of ballet and poetry, both somehow magically choreographed together.

My favorite of Altman's films was The Player, his examination of the Hollywood scene that is deeply cynical and, at the same time incredibly loving. Not an easy pairing to craft. Yet he did it, and provided a noir mystery story at the same time.

We shall not see his like again.