Monday, November 27, 2006

Altman, Part Deux

Great minds think alike, I guess: Entertainment Weekly's piece on Robert Altman opens with an anecdote from the making of Kansas City: "Eleven years ago, Robert Altman returned home to film a love letter to his jazz-obsessed youth, Kansas City. the director, who had grown up on the south bank of the Missouri River, the son of an insurance salesman, always had a soft spot for the city he'd left behind."

Chris Nashawaty, who wrote the feature obit, made an observation about Altman's films that isn't dissimilar from mine (see below post; I swear, I read the story after I made my observations): "At a time when movies are more and more the products of a corporate committee or mere afterthoughts to marketing meetings, Altman's legacy lives on for being thoughtful, fun, never dull, and, more than anything, one of a kind."

Nashawaty's story and Owen Gleiberman's sidebar on Altman's "essential" films -- M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Player and Gosford Park -- were reminders of several things I'd almost forgotten about Altman:

1)Accepting his honorary (and only) Oscar last year, he said that his 1995 heart transplant meant that he had about 40 years left to live.
2)Hitch hired Altman to work on the television series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" after the master filmmaker caught the novice's debut feature, 1957's The Delinquents.
3)Altman sold insurance and briefly acted in Hollywood before beginning his filmmaking career as a director of industrial films.
4)Altman made about a film a year during the last decade of his life.
5)Twenty-four linked characters are followed in Nashville. Can you say Bobby? (Paul Haggis's) Crash? Everything directed by Paul Thomas Anderson?

More Altman obits/retrospectives:, with an AP piece and video clips
London Times
Washington Post
New York Observer
Boston Globe

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