Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Long Goodbye

One of my favorite filmmakers is dead. To be fair, Robert Altman was inconsistent to a fault. The man made wonderful films like Nashville, McCabe & Mrs. Miller (great Leonard Cohen soundtrack), M*A*S*H, etc., but he also put out some stinkers like Dr. T and His Women (just awful) and 3 Women (I'm sorry, but I think it stinks). And then there are the myriad Popeyes and OC & Stiggs of the world, those questionable projects that still retained that bizarre Altman vision--the tripod-anchored, voyeuristic camera peering in on the action, the gazillion characters (the wonderful Secret Honor excepted, of course), the labyrinthine non-plotting, and the vigor with which actors gave it their all in his movies. Even minor trifles like Cookie's Fortune are replete with A-level performances...he must have been a delight to work with. I'm not good at these eulogy-type things, and I'm surely not a film studies-type person, so I will leave you with the trailer to one of Altman's most puzzling and brilliant movies, the lackadaisical film noir (Elliot Gould IS Phillip Marlowe!) The Long Goodbye, a film--much like most of Altman's best work--more fun in the outlying details and wispy idiosyncrasies than in its advancement of traditional plot points or causal agents or rote character development. Nothing screams "noir!" like Phillip Marlowe shopping for cat food. Fantastic:

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