Thursday, November 23, 2006

Robert Altman: multiple soundtracks

Thank you, Robert Altman for some of the most intelligent and enjoyable films I've ever seen. Even your bad films (and there were -let's be honest - quite a few) were worth watching: Pret a Porter, Popeye and McCabe and Mrs Miller are all highly accomplished failures.

But at your best you were simply brilliant: I especially like Nashville (IMHO your masterpice), The Long Goodbye (the second-best Chandler adaption ever made), and Gosford Park (an unlikely venture for you - a British country house murder mystery. Hugely enjoyable). I look forward to te release of your last film, Prairie Home Companion, based upon Garrison Keillor's radio show.

You were, of course, noted for a particular form of realism: multiple soundtracks and overlapping dialogue - much of it improvised. So I'm sure you would appreciate the following:

1/ (Elliot Gould in the Guardian G2, 23.11.06): "We all had a problem with the way Bob worked, which was so improvisational that you couldn't anticipate what he wanted to do next. It took us a while to get used to - we even complained about it at the time, but we came back to earth and accepted it".

2/ (The Daily Telegraph obituary, 22.11.06): "This approach was not univerally welcomed. On the set of M*A*S*H, Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould were so disconcerted by what they considered confusion that they tried to have him fired".


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