Above: Robert Altman, Propped Up By His Wife,
to Pass Out on the Red Carpet at the Golden Globes
Altman Update by
Jimmy O (3-10-02)
It seems as though the worst
thing that could happen has happened: imdb.com reports
that Robert Altman has one more film in him. That's
right , the end of 2002 will bring us Voltage,
a film starring William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, and
Taye Diggs. The piece says nothing of the content of
the film, but one can only guess that it might have
something to do with class structure. Our plea: If Producer
Alan Rudolph needs a director to sign the alternative
clause of the insurance policy, we ask that it be Hardball
director Brian Robbins. If anyone has proven that
they can show up, it's Robbins.
Altman Update by
Jimmy O (3-4-02)
It was reported this week
by the AP that BAFTA-winning director Robert Altman
posed too great a liability when producers attempted
to insure the WGA-winning Gosford Park. The
insurance company wanted a back-up director listed in
case the 78-year-old director kicked the big one during
production. The choice? Stephen Frears, great director
of Dangerous Liassons and High Fidelity.
Let's thanks Steve for making sure that this piece
of garbage got made.
We're not going to deny
that Robert Altman has made at least four great films:
M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player,
and Short Cuts. We're not going to deny that
Altman has made several other very good movies: McCabe
and Mrs. Miller, A Wedding, Cookie's Fortune,
among others. It's fair to say that Altman has had a
long and distinguished career. It's fair to say that
he is one of the greatest stylists in American cinemawhen
his films work, the flowing camera and overlapping conversations
create an entirely organic storytelling experience,
rare films that sluice across a cultural landscape of
class customs and social structures.
The key phrase being "when his films work."
Aside from his signature style,
Altman's socialist rhetoric usually so dominates his
work that, rather than a portrait of a complex social
milieu, he ends up with angry, Upton Sinclair-style
leftist rants. He has such disdain for his upper-class
characters that they become caricatures. His targets
are so obvious that his protagonists become heroes merely
by creating havoc in the social customs of the upper
class. If there's a single image to define the Altman
canon, it's got to be the blurry chandeliers of the
rich, which often come crashing down in Marxist anger
as collateral damage in Altman's war against the wealthy.
It's not so much that we disagree with his leftist polemic,
our objection is Altman's drug-blurred belief that he
can turn any story, of any genre, of any setting, into
a rant about oligarchic elitism. Sometimes he buries
himself so far in his liberal rhetoric that the results
are bizarre, especially when Altman becomes pretentious
with bad materialresulting in cinematic atrocities
like Roger Bannister's picture frozen on a cave wall
during Earth's Final Ice Age or O.C. and Stiggs driving
a hydraulic shock-ed black monster truck to Dennis Hopper's
pot farm to the tune of "Sanford and Son."
So yes, we will grant that Altman has made some great
movies, but he's also made a lot of crap, too. We know
that not every Hitchcock, Kurosawa, or Truffaut movie
is a masterpiece, but they never made the consistent
amount of unwatchable abominations Altman has. What
will follow in the coming six weeks before the Oscars
is our reminder to the Academy that, though it's true
that Bob is going to die soon and it would be nice to
award him the "lifetime achievement" pity
Oscar, let's not screw Peter Jackson. Peter Jackson
merely took on the most intimidating project in motion
picture history and knocked it out of the park. Conversely,
Altman rehashed all his old gimmicks in a film only
slightly better than Buffalo Bill and the Indians.
So please, join the filmsnobs as we celebrate the most
abhorrent disasters of our hometown guy: Kansas City
and Wentworth Military Academy's own Robert Altman.
THE WORST FILM EVER MADE
Altman's Marxist Lobsters Pinch the Fingers of Plutocracy
Tanner '88: All of My Political Heroes Are Dead
Therapy: Altman Sucks the Toes of Cinema
Ready to Wear: One Can
Always Tell When Ralph Lauren Has Been Dropping Acid...
Popeye: A Barnacle on the
Dinghy of Film
Filmsnobs Final Plea to the Academy: Do You Really Want
to Reward the Man Who Has Given Us This Much Crap? Please,
We Don't Owe Altman Anything. Altman Owes Us.
Popeye. For Ready to Wear. For Beyond
Therapy. For Tanner '88. For
O.C. and Stiggs. For Quintet.