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The life of Robert Altman over the course of his career as a filmmaker is told in roughly chronological order. It is presented largely through archival footage, including of his interviews and of his and his longtime wife Kathryn Reed's home movies. It includes his rocky start in Hollywood as an aspiring screenwriter, which instead led to him working as a general filmmaker for an industrial film company. This work led to directing assignments for a number of television series back in Hollywood, where he butted heads with a number of studio executives and producers who did not appreciate his style of filmmaking in his desire to insert a sense a realism in whatever the project, that realism which includes hanging story-lines and overlapping dialogue, often in multiple equally important conversations in a single setting which forces the viewer to decide which conversation he/she wants to focus. This situation often led to him trying to achieve what he wanted either in not telling or ...Written by
In 2014, a documentary about one of my favourite filmmakers was finally released. This is by no means a perfect documentary, but any film lover or fan of his work absolutely needs to see this.
Robert Altman started from the bottom of showbiz then worked his way up to directing tv shows. How? He did lots of lying. Then in 1970, he started the boom of new up and coming directors trying to make names for themselves. These new directors included Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and George Lucas, and the movement came to be known as "The New Wave of American Cinema". The year was 1970 and Altman created the well-liked 'Brewster McCloud' and the highly acclaimed anti-war film 'M*A*S*H'. Altman's desire to explore unconventional takes for his films led to making "anti-" films. 'M*A*S*H' had no violence making it anti-war. Some of these other "anti" film included anti-western (McCabe & Mrs. Miller, my personal favourite of his), and anti-friendship (3 Women).
By the late 70s, Altman was falling into a slump when his film 'Quintet' didn't live up to expectations of his earlier masterpieces. But it was the his live action take on 'Popeye' in 1980 that ruined his film career throughout the rest of the decade. Barely getting film offers anymore, he tried directing theatre. He loved theatre just as much.
Things were looking up when he made the darkly comical satire 'The Player' in 1992. He was back on top again. Everything about that film is pitch perfect. A year later he does 'Short Cuts', one of the best epics with multiple stories ever made. The remainder of his career saw some back and forth hits with his Agatha Christie inspired 'Gosford Park' and final film project 'A Prairie Home Companion' being notable highs.
It felt to me that this documentary moved a little too fast. Rather than gliding along everything, it tried to fit into some kind of allotted time. And I also felt that they should have gone into more detail on what made Robert Altman an auteur.
So this may not be perfect, but it is definitely a movie-lover's dream come alive.
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